CJ Marshall

Discussing The Home Team’s DIY Project Managing & New Album

We’re just a couple of days away from the brand new record that many of us have been waiting for – courtesy of The Home Team.

Admittedly, this is a band that has had quite the year, but if you think back to just three years ago, they were an underground pop punk band. . Now in 2024, they are still loved by many, but that ‘many’ has grown from one scene to the mainstream. The Home Team is an electric R&B-infused pop rock band that has a heaviness to what they’re making, but not too much so that they don’t mean business… because they do. They slowly started to grow out of the underground scene and explode in a broader way with their 2021 album Slow Bloom, but the rise was gradual. With The Home Team, nothing leaned toward them looking like overnight success, and until it was time to announce the band’s third album, The Crucible of Life, they were just budding into the mainstream. Now, with that record on the way, it is clear that they have hit the scene hard. Everyone is waiting for Crucible.

Now, we would first like to state that the band could simply have written the singles “Loud, “Brag,” and “Overtime” and still have created more for the scene than most bands do in their whole career. The hooks and choruses are nothing short of genius, and the full album showcases that, too. Every track will make for a great live show and the most memorable breakout era for the band. 

The Home Team is also co-headlining the Summer School Tour with Stand Atlantic, Scene Queen, and Magnolia Park (coming to Starland Ballroom on July 27). We had the chance to chat with the band’s founding member, drummer Daniel Matson, as well as the band’s vocalist/frontman Brian Butcher, to dive into all this month has to offer for fans new and old.

The Crucible of Life comes out on July 12 – this Friday. What’s going through your head?

Brian: I mean… a lot of relief. This album was pretty hard to make in general, but it turned out a lot better than we expected. I’m really excited for everybody to hear it. More than anything I’m just excited for the future of the band after this album and after this sound gets out to the world. It’s a lot of relief. It all worked out in the end and we’re really really proud of the record, even though there were a lot of times where we were under the impression this could go south. 

Daniel: We all pretty much have the same exact view on everything; this recording process was the first time with our new label and so we wanted to (as a sign of good faith) play ball, do things their way. We realized, though, that we really, really need to do things our way. The recording process itself had some really high highs and some really low lows. I think we were a little too close to it and a little jaded from the parts of the recording process that didn’t go the way we wanted. After we finished tracking everything… we were all pretty bummed. “This is not the record. We could do so much better.” After touring a little bit and getting some time away from the record, and looking back now, we’re all pretty proud of what we’ve made. We’re even more excited to get working on LP four, because we know we can do even better.

Once you took some time away and came back at it, did you have to rewrite the songs or just polish it up?

Daniel: It was more not hearing the songs for a while. Music is insanely emotional, so there were a ton of emotions surrounding the recording process that we had never really felt before because we had never had as intricate and expensive of a recording process. It was about getting some space away from negative emotions and approaching it with a clearer head.

Brian: I will say that, for me, there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t redo necessarily, but I did most of my vocal recording at home in the comfort of my own neighborhood. That was really important for me because there was so much of the process that was influenced by a lot of other minds – quicker than I could keep up with it. When I came home from tour last summer, about a year ago, I was like, “I need to buckle down and figure out what I want from these songs.” I tracked pretty much all of it that summer after we wrote the instrumentals and vocals. I changed a lot. [It’s] definitely for the better, I’m happy I did. It was really validating to hear Bob from Thriller Records (the owner) say, “Yeah, man, you really stepped all that shit up.”

You can hold yourself to your own standards, too. When everyone else is saying, “It’s great,” you are allowed to be like, “I know I can do it better!”

Brian: Sometimes it’s not even that much of, “I think I’m going to do a better job,” it’s that if I don’t think something’s good enough, I’m a little too nice to tell somebody that, especially if it’s their idea. I’m just going to roll with it until we go home and say, “Yeah, I’m not using any of that.” [Laughs]

While we’re talking about the recording process, when you recorded Better Off! [2018] there were no expectations. There was no hype. Slow Bloom [2021] put you on the map. You’re blowing up faster than ever before. With The Crucible of Life, there are a lot of new ears wondering what you sound like now.

Brian: It definitely contributed to how we felt throughout the process. Yes, it was a lot more pressure. All of the sudden there was a lot more money involved. There were a lot more people involved. If we didn’t do a good job, we were going to let a lot of people down. 

Daniel: Specifically on the budget side, when we did Better Off!, we paid for all of it ourselves. We paid $10,000 to record 10 songs – we got a deal on recording that record. With Slow Bloom, the label budget was $6,000 and we covered the rest of it ourselves. With the Crucible of Life, we were put in studio situations that didn’t yield any good results, but cost a lot of money. There were way more expectations. One of the things we talked about early on with Bob was that this record had to be our best. It had to top Slow Bloom. Now we have all the eyes and all the hype; everybody is waiting to see what the next one is. Without naming any specific names, I’m sure you can name a dozen bands that put out an album and you were like ,”Oh shit! The next one is going to be killer!” Then the next one’s a stinker. All the hype goes away and they fall off the map for you. For us, there was so much going on emotionally with the way the record got made. I didn’t really end up feeling a lot of that [pressure], because a lot of other things came directly into our face that we had to battle through. I kind of forgot that until afterwards. Now I’m feeling the pressure every time we release something. “Oh shit, I’ve got to post some stuff. I’ve got to make sure people like it. What’s the reaction like?” I’m feeling the pressure now more than when we were recording it.

You guys have an incredible DIY ethic. Tell me how – even as the scope has gotten bigger, the fanbase has gotten bigger – you’ve maintained true to that. 

Daniel: We all come from a DIY background. Our first ever tour was in 2013, but we really consider 2015 the start of the band because that’s when we first released music with Brian. We did 15/18 DIY tours [on the West Coast]. 

Brian: [Laughing] I’m sorry! I think that number grows every single time we mention it. I think we used to say, “Yeah, we did like 10 or 12 DIY West Coast tours.” Then, “Yeah, we did like 30 West Coast tours.” Let’s put it this way: it felt like 30 West Coast tours!

Daniel: We did three a year from 2014 to 2019. 

Brian: Which is about 15!

Daniel: Even on our most recent headliner with Broadside and Honey Revenge, we were in a van. There were seven of us still in our van. We could probably afford to move up to an RV, but we thought, “Let’s do one more tour out of the van we already own and set ourselves up financially for the next couple of years while we’re doing more support tours.” That van broke down in the middle of the desert and left us stranded. It was all good! Anyway, yeah, we’ve always been in the position that nobody knows our art and our business as well as we do. Nobody is going to be as motivated to make it succeed as we will. From the start, we booked our own tours, set up our own studio time. We got a little bit of money from a record label, but really we were the ones doing all the work. We’re always hands-in-the-pot working on our music videos. Every aspect of our band is pretty carefully curated. We work directly with our designers to come up with ideas for merch. We’ve just always had a DIY ethic. Now that we actually have a team behind us, it has changed my role to managing other people, which is new for me, but I’m working on it!

Brian: Project manager style!

Daniel: I am a big project manager now as opposed to logging into the financial spreadsheet and updating that shit myself. 

That is so wonderful to hear! Especially coming from your roots in the metal scene, everything metal is so DIY. It’s nice to see that mindset carry over in everything you do. You did mention that Honey Revenge/Broadside tour with three headliners, and now have the Summer School Tour with four headliners! Tell me about this tour. 

Brian: Summer School definitely feels like with our powers combined, and we are doing cool stuff! I’m really, really grateful for the other three headliners on this and the openers! I think it’s going to be a rocking tour. I honestly think the culture of the tour is going to be really healthy. I’m not trying to jinx anything! We’ve met everybody on the tour now. We know every single band and we know they’re all cool. I think it’s going to be such a chill tour. There’s a crew, too – one that is just part of the tour. I’m not used to that at all! I never got to play Warped Tour. I don’t know what it’s like to have people load and set up my gear for me. I just feel like it’s going to be fun! 

Daniel: We still don’t tour with a guitar tech – our crew is always as minimal as possible. We try to do as much of the work as we can. This is a new step up. We’re playing some really big rooms. 

How did that start? Was there one band that pitched it to you guys?

Daniel: It was actually Stand Atlantic’s manager’s idea. They pitched the idea to us in January or February. It was pretty early in the year. I think it was a situation where all four bands were in the position of, “I will do this if it’s us four. I’m not going to be the first to agree and have the other three fall off and have three other bands hop on.” All four of us had to agree, so we were all talking saying like, “Hey, are you taking that Summer School offer? What’s the deal?” Everyone was like, “I will, if you will!” We ended up all doing it and landed on the same tour. Everyone is very psyched. 

I do have to ask about the sound of the new record, The Crucible of Life. How do a bunch of heavy metal dudes write some of the coolest R&B sort of punk combined with pop style songs?

Brian: We do all listen to a pretty eclectic variety of music, especially when it comes to the four of us individually. There are a lot of bands and sounds that we all collectively agree on. Individually, we all listen to a bunch of different stuff from each other. We’re constantly showing each other new music in our respective favorite genres. What’s cool about that is it ends up inspiring the four of us. Each of us end up inspiring the other people in the band because we show them something they never would have heard themselves. I think that’s a pretty big part of how we got to where we are sound wise. A lot of things that John has shown me – our guitarist who is the primary songwriter – I’ve taken a ton of influence from, and I don’t think I would have ever found those artists otherwise. 

Daniel: We started The Home, to put it bluntly, to sell out. We had all done hardcore and metal bands and reached the ceiling of our personal abilities. For me, it got to a point where I did a deathcore band from start to finish. I looked at the bands above me and was like, “I am not as good as them. I will not be as good as them, so we should transition into something more accessible.” It didn’t really work with Better Off!!, so we were like, “If we’re not going to make a living off of this, we should at least just write music we like instead of writing music we think other people would like.” We wrote Slow Bloom and it turns out people liked it. People can tell when you’re being genuine, and it ended up working way better for us.

With Slow Bloom and Crucible, I feel like everything is so original. It’s just The Home Team. Do you find, with the fourth record, is it more difficult now that you’ve developed your own sound? Or does it make it easier?

Brian: It makes it easier.. or at least it makes it more exciting. Pretty much only we can decide where it’s going to go. I have a lot of ideas on where I want it to go. The things we really like about Slow Bloom and Crucible of Life – we want to harness that and move into new territories that we’ve talked about going and haven’t done yet. With it being as unique as it is, it makes it easier for sure to see the vision moving forward. Luckily, I think it makes it harder for other people to see the vision going forward but for us we know exactly what we want to do with it on the fourth LP. 

Are you writing for LP Four or just know the direction?

Brian: Yeah! I haven’t written anything myself yet, but John, our guitarist, has been cranking out some demos already and they sound rad! He knows the vision better than anybody else. I’m very excited for the things he’s been showing us. 

You rarely see this: the first single, “Loud,” is the last track on the new record. What was the choice behind that?

Brian: That was my idea! I have two answers to that. One is the simple answer: Doja Cat did it on her album, Planet Her, and I wanted to copy her. She put the big single last. Two (and this requires an understanding of how the album flows) is that the second to last track was the one we were talking about potentially having end it. The ending is a little bigger. The thing is, “Danger,” which was the last song on Slow Bloom, is extremely explosive and huge. This new one is not that. It teeters on that, but it’s not that. It’s a great song! It’s called “Love When You’re Used,” and it’s a great song, but I don’t really want it to have to compete with “Danger,” just because of that Jeff Lumis solo and the way the guitar riff pans out. I just didn’t want anything to have to compete with “Danger.” Instead, I thought, “Why don’t we put the poppiest, the catchiest , and right now the most popular song last instead, so it’s not even close to competing with ‘Danger’ as the last song? It’s undeniable that the song is going to be successful, so we should have it cap it off.” The way it flows, too – I love ending with “Loud.” The specific outro just feels like it wraps it up the album really nicely.