I had the chance to interview Matt Langston, lead singer of the popular teen band Eleventyseven recently. When I talked to Matt, he and his band had just finished playing their set at the 2006 Icthus Festival. It was something different for me as I am used to dealing with indie rock bands primarily from the New York City rock world, and so a "teen sound" band was something new for me. Being an equal opportunity writer though, I thought I would tackle the job. Besides, I had already reviewed their video for the song "Myspace" on Blogcritics and, since I liked the concept behind that song, I thought I might as well get to know Matt.
I thought I'd try to introduce the band to a wider audience because, in my opinion, the song "Myspace" has an "evil grin" sort of humorous wisdom behind it that it seemed would fly with a much wider audience than their target teen market. I learned a few things from the interview and I ended up being happy with my decision to do it.
After we chatted for a couple of minutes and got to know each other a little bit, I asked Matt what made him get into the music business and to what he attributed the band's success to date. He said, "We didn't set out to get into the Christian music industry. Everything just sort of fell into place for us. When you are with like-minded people things just seem to work. We don't do this to market our faith, we live it instead".
His answer took me by surprise because I had already listened to their new CD, Land of Fake Believe, several times and hadn't even realized that it was "Christian" rock. I guess that statement made me rethink my definition of what Christian music is. In the case of Eleventyseven, I think it means creating music which doesn't somehow violate your basic religious beliefs. I find that much more digestible than music which is just blatant proselytizing.
I asked Matt how long Eleventyseven has been together and where they saw themselves going musically in the next few years. After all you can only be a "teen" band for so long and I always find it interesting to see what comes next for people in the entertainment industry who are, for one reason or another, typecast by what they do. Matt said, "We got together in High School and have been together for four years now. We were signed by Flicker Records which was then bought by Sony."
"I want to stay in pop music," he continued. "I love the 'hooks' in it and the durability of it. 'Scene' bands come and go and I want us and our music to last."
I told Matt that I felt that their song "Myspace" was really witty in a sardonic way and a biting social commentary on the blogging world. I also said that I felt the song totally transcended the "teen" audience because of the popularity of blogging among people of all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages and asked him if he thought that this song would be the one which got the band wide exposure in front of a more diverse audience.
"We hope it gets us wider exposure," he replied. "The subject matter is a hot topic. It (the blog world/Myspace) has become as much of a hangout for people as a bar, club or mall. I hope people take the time to really think about the message in it and apply it to themselves and to think about the futility of spending all their time creating a false persona."
Having discussed that particular song, I wondered where the band gets their inspirations for the music they create. Matt said, "I'm an isolated writer. Ideas come to me when I am driving my car by myself or when I am thinking about conversations that I have had with people. I take that stuff and elaborate on it and expand on it 'til it turns into a song. Once or twice I have gotten ideas from nursery rhymes — but that is rare," he quickly added.
I grinned at the nursery rhymes reference and asked him what music he listens to and what other bands that he takes inspiration from for the sound of Eleventyseven. I personally hear a lot of Good Charlotte-type punk influence in their music. Matt said that he likes '80s pop like The Pet Shop Boys and WHAM. In more modern music he mentioned Weezer and mxpx. He added that he thinks that Imogen Heap is phenomenal. He also mentioned that when they aren't making or playing music, the band likes to spend time with their families. When touring, some of their pastimes include catching up on their email (Matt said that he tries to answer all of his email from fans personally), playing HALO (on and off the road) and staying in shape. He said that being cooped up in the van all day really makes the exercise necessary.
If you would like to check out Eleventyseven's music you can do so on their Myspace page or on their band website. There you can listen to their song "Myspace" and watch the video as well. I liked Matt a lot after talking to him and l think that they are creating really good music for the teen market right now but are in a process of evolution artistically which will allow them access to a wider market. Are they just growing up with their original fans? I don't know but I think the results are good, very good.