Two weeks ago, we got an exclusive sneak peek of Malibu's debut album with a stripped-down performance of "Lose Your Mind," one of the tracks from the record on our "On The MIC" YouTube series! Now, Lenses is finally out, and Stef from The MIC spoke to the band about the album, their musical evolution, and their creative process.
SJ: Hey guys! So excited to be able to sit down and discuss your debut album, Lenses!
MB: Thanks for having us! It's Malibu time.
SJ: To start, can you explain how you guys met, how the band initially started, and how did you name the band?
MB: We all met as freshmen at Monmouth University; Scott connected all of us because it was originally his idea to form a band. We named the band Malibu simply because Ray drove a Chevy Malibu, and we're deeply uncreative people.
SJ: I would argue you guys are actually very creative people, haha. I first heard "Think 2 Much" about two years ago when The MIC first started and covered that track in 2020 and was immediately hooked. How would you say the band evolved from that 2020 release?
MB: Our taste in music has evolved a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. We had more of an "alt-pop" sound around the time of Think 2 Much, and we've since developed a more raw sound.
SJ: I definitely think you can hear that rawness on this record. How has crafting this album, your first ever album, differed from releasing singles?
MB: We had to develop a more consistent sound when producing the non-singles from the album. We also put lots of thought into the order of the album, so it flowed naturally. This is something that we've never had to do before so it was a fun process.
SJ: What is each member's role in the creative process? Do you collectively work together on each track, or does one person come in with the song, and each member adds their own parts?
MB: Usually, one of us writes the song on their own and then brings it to the group. From there, we workshop it a bit, develop the sound and write our respective parts before hitting the studio.
SJ: Let's get into the record! Lenses explores different genres. While the album starts with tracks like "Constate State" and "Think 2 Much," which are more classic indie alt-rock songs. Then you get to "Never Ending May," which sounds more influenced by anthemic pop-punk. Who were your influences on this record? Were you inspired by any pop-punk heroes or the recent resurgence of the pop-punk genre?
MB: We took influence from all around. You can hear some folk influence on songs like "Lose Your Mind" and "Take Me Away." That came from listening to Phoebe Bridgers and even more classic folk like The Band. We developed the more "pop-punk" or "alt-pop" sound by listening to bands like The Wrecks and Lovelytheband. That sound really shined on "Never Ending May" and even a bit on "Lose Your Mind" as well.
SJ: Yeah, the folksy, more tender side really came out in the deep cuts off the record like the track, "Take Me Away." And I think this is a side of Malibu that your listeners haven't heard before. You even incorporate other instruments like violin and mandolin, if I'm not mistaken. Did you have other musicians come in and take part in the fun for these parts?
MB: Ray actually played mandolin on "Take Me Away," "Lose Your Mind," and "I'll Be Happy Eventually." We also had some string players come in for "Lose Your Mind," "Take Me Away," and "Never Ending May."
SJ: The fifth track, "Lose Your Mind," was previewed as a stripped-down version on our "On The MIC" YouTube series, and it has been stuck in my head ever since. I really appreciate now hearing the evolution from the stripped-down version to the full production of the track. Did you guys have one producer for the record, or did you dabble in that yourselves?
MB: Joe Pomarico handled the engineering/recording in his studio as well as the majority of the mixing. As a band, we played a large part in the production and getting the sound that we wanted throughout the album. Eric split the mixing responsibilities on "Lose Your Mind" and "Constant State," though.
SJ: That's awesome that you guys were really hands-on in that production process. I love how "Eventually" starts with a small acoustic guitar strumming and develops. But it's also cyclical and ends with the same strumming. Your attention to arrangement is paramount in this record. How does Malibu come up with these decisions?
MB: We like our music to have a lot of ups and downs. In "Eventually," specifically, Ray wanted to balance an acoustic sound with a loud/grungy sound. It just kinda worked out where we were able to start and end the song the same way. That principle applies throughout the album. You may have noticed that the album starts and ends with the exact same sound as well.
SJ: I did! I love when records do that. The eighth track on the album, "I'll Be Happy Eventually," is a very intimate and somber track with some whispering and ukulele. What's the story behind this track?
MB: Scott was going through it during the pandemic. He found himself in a rough patch and wrote about what he was feeling at the time. He thought a ukulele would be the most intimate instrument to use with the lyrics to make the song as open and straightforward as possible.
SJ: The last track is the title track, "Lenses"! It truly challenges the listener's expectations going from a softer folk-rock sound to 1:05 when the intensity is turned on in an almost 'Wilco'-esque way. How did you decide on the track listing? Would you say all tracks align to tell a story or highlight a concept?
MB: The order of the tracks was very intentional on our part. It tells the story of a tumultuous relationship, from the highs of "Take Me Away" to the lows of "Things Fall Apart." Also, "Lenses" just so happened to have a badass outro so it was the perfect finale.
SJ: Very badass, I'd have to agree. I know you mentioned that this project took three years to complete; what did this recording process look like for you guys for the past three years?
MB: There was a lot of erasing and re-recording involved. Our tastes have changed so much over the years that it took a while for us to finally be satisfied with the end result.
SJ: Well, it really did come out great. Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss Lenses with us! I'm so excited this is finally released, and I will definitely have this record on repeat.
MB: Shawtys like a melody in my head and i can't keep out got me singing like
Nananana everyday it's like my ipod stuck on replay replayayay - iyaz.
Stream Lenses below!