FMMF 2016: Day 2 – Q&A with PUBLIC

Hailing from the Queen City, indie pop/rock trio PUBLIC graced the Haydocy Stage on day two of Fashion Meets Music Festival.


Following their energetic set that included a cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” and a crowd that nearly doubled in size, The Indie Sound got the chance to discuss touring with Walk the Moon, their new single “Perfect,” and autographed pictures of Whoopi Goldberg.

Featured Image: PC – Graham Goebel Photo

The Indie Sound: So the last time I talked to you guys was two years ago for Spark news magazine when you were preparing to head on your first-ever tour with Walk the Moon. How did that end up?

John: It was awesome, it’s kind of why we have a fanbase at all, not totally but it established a lot of our core fanbase now.

Matt: It was great not only to tour, but to do a sold out tour. Like every date was sold out and full of kids that were pretty much our genre of music that we played to. Super cool, super nice guys.

TIS: What would you say your favorite memory from the tour would be?

Matt: The Walk The Moon guys are so kind to us being from Cincinnati and on that tour they really showed us the ropes. So on the last day of the tour in Philadelphia, they gifted us a bottle of champagne and wrote us a really nice note, that was pretty special.

TIS: Were there any big learning curves when it came to touring for the first time?

Matt: Our van ended up dying in New York, and I think it was just because we left too many power outlets in the car that was draining the battery and ended up just wiping out most of everything in the car engine wise, so we had to get like $900 worth of repairs.

John: It was just a hectic thing to go through in the city. It was right after we played the Bowery Ballroom, that was a very hectic show then we had to keep our cool during that whole thing and make sure we could handle it. Luckily we had like a day buffer or something. Matt’s relatives in the city also helped us out. But the show in general at the Bowery, there were some industry people that were coming to look at us and that was a big learning thing at least for me.

“We played the show and I felt like I was a little too self conscious because I knew people were there to look at us, and then it kind of effected the way my game was on stage, and since then I’ve learned to literally play the same set no matter who’s watching or who’s out there.”

TIS: So you guys finished the Trendsetter Tour, where fans had to vote in and all that stuff. What was that like?

Ben: Our fans killed it.

John: We toured around at some small schools and really had to prove ourselves if we could capture them while we were onstage, and we made a lot of new friends. You could be in a cafeteria or in a theater or even be in a really awesome pop up stage on their lawn, it’s kind of all over the place. So in that sense, it was like, we’ll show up and let them take care of us and not really know what to expect, which is kind of why I was saying to show what we’re made of when we get there.

Matt: The cool thing about Trendsetter was these schools specifically put themselves into a slot to have the Trendsetter tour go through, so it’s not just a bunch of random schools. Every time we would get to a school, these venues, all the kids are super excited to have us.

TIS: I saw that you guys were giving fans random gifts at Christmas and autographed pictures of celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, what was that all about?


John: That’s one of my favorite things that we’ve ever done.

Matt: We put so many hours into that, it started with like, ‘Let’s sign photos of random celebrities,’ and we went out and bought a ton of arts and crafts stuff…

Ben: We made ornaments, stockings…it was crazy.

John: It was a blast. I think this year we’ll start making them way earlier, like we had it all laid out, then realized it was a day before and we needed to make 100 more somethings. So literally like all day for like 2 days we’re in this room making arts and crafts just having a giant blast. It was Christmastime so we had family coming into town.

Matt: We ended up throwing together some Christmas song at the end, I think we just recorded ourselves doing a mashup of Christmas songs.

John: And then we threw on a home recorded version of “I Need You” from our first EP, so it was very interesting and fun. I think it was a very good testament of how our fan base deliver on that kind of stuff when we try something new. It was amazing how many people bought an ornament made by a band.

Matt: It’s awesome because sometimes I think we get caught up in the shirts and that they’re all the same thing but we’ve got ornaments that…sometimes they’re not perfect. (laughs)

Ben: This one time we tried to make a giraffe and it … kind of worked.

John: We’d run out of a color so it’s like, ‘Oh, the jellyfish doesn’t look like a jellyfish, it’s a hamburger.”

TIS: I feel like of most bands I see, your fans are the most involved and eat that kind of stuff up and love it.

John: I feel like anything that’s more of an extension of ourselves and us personally, rather than this printed commercialized thing to give them, that’s what they like and what they respond to. I mean that’s what I would go for, too.

TIS: How would you compare FMMF to Bunbury, or FMMF from when you first played to now?

Matt: We actually went to the first year of FMMF, and we were on one of the little side stages in a bar. We’re exposed to Bunbury every year because we’re from Cincinnati, and we’re right there. So the growth of this jumping up, it’s cool to see where we started off in a bar and now we’re going to a main stage where Passion Pit’s playing, on another stage there’s New Politics, DJ Khaled played yesterday, that’s nuts.

John: I think it’s a different vibe, you can’t really help but compare because they’re both things we’re playing, but Columbus … there’s a very city feel to everything we do here. The city’s more polished down here, things are a little newer, buildings are more updated, it’s just a different thing than Cincinnati, but both have their charm.

TIS: Shifting back to the music, I see you’re releasing a new single soon, “Perfect,” and said there is a ‘new era of Public coming.’ What can we expect?

Matt: The last thing we released was “Heartbeating,” that was an LA-produced thing. Since then we’ve been demoing out a lot of songs and as we’ve demoed out songs, our influences have also broadened, and we’re listening to more alternative music, more pop and I think when we first started out with songs like “Heartbeating,” we were a little more indie-oriented and driven by rock, so I think our musical taste…and we’ve also gone through a lot of growing just as people…

John: Personally for me, when I look at us, there’s a lot of growing that’s happened.That inevitably comes out of your music, and our writing technique has changes a lot too. First we were writing as a group, just jamming, now it’s like me writing separately, now for this new stuff it’s like, Matt’s writing by himself now, I’m writing by myself and we’ll also come together on stuff, make it sound collaborative. It’s just an interesting, different mindset. I think we’re becoming more vulnerable with stuff, which is a big step for us I think.

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