By: Ava Butera
Although their name leads on that they are solely a bowling league (which technically is true), Winnetka Bowling League is the best new thing alternative music has to offer. Established writer & producer, Matthew Koma is back with his own project, and it’s one that I am sure others will discover soon enough and enjoy as much as I do.
Without knowing anything about the band or where they reside, at first listen you are instantly transported to a dreamy California given the lyrical content and ambience WBL’s songs evoke. Whether it be the effervescent ‘On the 5’ or the poignant ‘Feeling California’, the band has established not only a sound unique to them, but original thematic elements. This band is definitely one to watch.
I had the chance to catch up with lead singer and mastermind, Matthew Koma, and discuss impactful albums, lyrical content within Winnetka Bowling League’s songs, and eating at Giordano’s. Check it out below!
MELODIC MAGAZINE: It’s obvious that you guys are a California band, based on the lyrical content, and even the vibe Winnetka Bowling League gives off and it’s so cool! How do you feel California has impacted you guys as a band?
MATTHEW KOMA: I’ve been living in Los Angeles for about ten years, transplanted from New York. Oddly, most of these songs were written during a trip back to New York, sort of reflecting on the time here in California. I definitely feel like my life is here now, so, from the people to the air, it offers a heavy influence for sure.
MM: In “On the 5” you say “ I want to go back to that summer in San Fran / Listening to nothing but Revolver and Pet Sounds”. It seems as though those albums have influenced you musically, but what other albums have impacted you as musicians?
MK: Some of the big ones growing up were “My Aim Is True” Elvis Costello, “Born To Run” Springsteen, “45’s & Under” Squeeze…
MM: Is your music solely autobiographical or is some of it fictional? I love the song “Feeling California” and the story told within the lyrics is brilliant! Are the little blurbs discussed within the lyrics true?
MK: It’s mostly autobiographical or at least taking cue from something that is…”Feeling California” was more of a commentary on the parts of LA culture that become even more ridiculous / obvious with some distance from it.
MM: I’ve done a lot of research and literally couldn’t find the answer to this, but are you guys from NorCal or SoCal? You talk about San Francisco in your music, but some things you describe are often associated with LA. Where are you guys from? Where are you guys currently based?
MK: My brother Kris and I grew up in New York, and we met everyone else out here in Los Angeles. I spent a lot of time in San Francisco when I first came out to LA, there was a songwriter there I worked with a lot so I’d drive up almost every weekend to write & record. The name comes from my bowling league in Winnetka which is in the San Fernando Valley.
MM: I’m not sure who’s answering the questions since this is via email! But the next few questions are geared toward Matthew! I know you’ve previously worked as a producer and songwriter. How does it feel to finally have your own project?
MK: It’s really fulfilling to be doing something that I feel 100% represented by. After years of helping other artists realize their visions & releasing music that were more collaborative efforts than a singular vision, it feels even sweeter. I feel like we’re just getting started and it’s SO early. There’s so many songs and so much music that we’ll be able to release.
MM: I read online that Jimmy Iovine discovered you and then eventually signed you to Interscope! How was that? Did you work solo at Interscope or is that when you started producing?
MK: I was really fortunate to link up with Jimmy early on in my career. He and I bonded over a lot of the records he produced so it was a trip to hear some of the stories behind those recordings. I initially signed there to make a solo record but wound up mostly working on other artist’s records. I sort of accidentally fell into working on a lot of electronic records / featuring on them. That didn’t really line up with what my artist direction was , so it was a bit of a confusing time. After spending a bunch of years focused on outside records, it felt really good to step away and do what I’ve wanted to do.
MM: How is working on your own project different from collaborating with other artists?
MK: It’s a totally different process. With other artists, my job is to help realize their vision and make sure their getting the music to the place they want it to be…that it aligns with who they are. When writing / producing stuff for Winnetka, I get to be a little more selfish and go to a different place. I prefer working on my own stuff. There’s a freedom to it.
MM: How excited is WBL to finally go out on tour? I know you guys have played some shows in California and NYC, but have you toured in the past as a band? I don’t think I saw that anywhere.
MK: This will be our first tour and we’re beyond excited. We’re fairly new, so show one of the tour will only be our third show ever.
MM: When should we expect an album from you guys? Or another EP even? I’m so obsessed with everything you’ve put out. I need more music to consume!!
MK: We’re just putting the finishing touches on a new EP for next year. I definitely look forward to working on a full album eventually, but there’s something nice about making these 5/6 song collections and not being overly precious about it.
MM: Lastly, this question is mainly for me personally, but when should we expect you guys to make your way over to the Midwest? I’m in Chicago and am absolutely dying to see you guys live!
MK: We’ll meet you at Giordano’s.
Keep up with Winnetka Bowling League:
Instagram // @winnetkabowlingleague
Twitter // @WinnetkaBowling
Watch Winnetka Bowling League’s Music Video for ‘On the 5’ here: