Few bands get multiple offers for gigs before they have even played their first show. Family Vacation, however, has received praise from many in the music community before even hitting the stage. The band, which is comprised of four Temple sophomores, recently had one of its songs aired on WXPN radio.
The band is made up of drummer Adam Shumski, a jazz performance major; guitarist Matthew Kerr, a secondary education and history major; guitarist Luke Harsel, an advertising major; and main vocalist and guitarist/bassist Cody Bluett, a fine arts painting major. With the exception of Shumski, all play guitar and frequently play both guitar and bass.
Family Vacation released a well-received EP in the fall. The members’ senses of humor feed off each other so naturally; it could be said that these musicians have become like family.
The Temple News talked to the band about the positive reception from the Philadelphia music community, its upcoming album and plans for a summer tour.
The Temple News: How did you all meet?
Matthew Kerr: [Harsel] and I met as freshmen. I saw he was wearing a “Built to Spill” jacket. We bonded over similar music tastes.
Luke Harsel: We basically all met at Qdoba. Beulah was the band that [caused] the main bond between [Kerr and] me. We were all in the same hallway in freshman year in 1300.
LH: We jammed a lot last year. We weren’t really a band, because we couldn’t think of a good band name…like that was the reason.
Cody Bluett: I sort of knew them but was kind of intimidated because I knew they all played music together.
Adam Shumski: If you had to describe our band’s history in a few words: intimidation, hummus, no name and burly.
CB: I joined the band late September. [Kerr] came to me with our first single, and asked me to play bass with them. I thought I’d give it a shot, because I was looking for people to play with. I just jived with these guys.
AS: It was angelic.
TTN: You recorded an EP in the fall. What was that like?
MK: We recorded the drums at Presser Hall and [in the dorms]. We wrote, recorded and produced all of it in a month. We wanted to get something out there.
TTN: So you released the EP before your first show?
LH: Yeah, we had our first show in December. The EP was released in November.
AS: It was funny because when we put it online, we immediately got…offers to play shows.
LH: XPN has the blog called “The Key,” we’ve been pretty lucky to have [its] head guy, John Vettese, really have an affection for us. He’s really nice. I was emailing a lot of different people at like 2 a.m. and forgot I had emailed him first.
AS: We got on WXPN’s website before the EP was out.
TTN: What is your songwriting process like?
MK: One of us will come up with an idea. We’ll write a really rough song and bring it to the band.
LH: Our songs aren’t really finished until it goes through each of us. When we listen to the original recording, it sounds so weak compared with after all of us contribute.
CB: It’s really collaborative, and that’s the best part about it. There’s not one leader.
TTN: How do you describe your music? Or how have others described you?
CB: We’ve gotten jangly pop, indie rock.
MK: I either tell people we’re a Prince cover band or action and adventure. All of our best songs are not on the EP.
LH: We’ve grown a lot since the EP. We’d much rather have people come see us live than listen to what’s on the EP.
TTN: When and how did you pick the name?
MK: The end of last year. We have a song on the EP called “vacations” and one of the lines in the song is “family vacation.”
CB: It just kind of rang.
LH: We named the band before we named the song.
MK: Our first EP is nostalgic and talks about growing up and stuff. So I think Family Vacation kind of fits.
TTN: Speaking of family vacations, are you planning on touring?
MK: We’re going on tour with the band Keepers this summer. We’re going to Boston, Brooklyn, [N.Y.], South Jersey and maybe Montreal.
TTN: Are you planning to release an LP?
CB: We’re starting that next week. We have the artwork and track list already.
TTN: Do you see this as being something you’re involved with for a while?
MK: We all plan to be in Philly for a long time.
TTN: Do you have any upcoming shows?
MK: We’re playing on March 8 at Sprinkle Kingdom, March 26at Billiards Room, and March 30at Yacht Club.
LH: We’ll be listing all shows on our Facebook. So if anyone reads this and wants us to play a house show…
MK: Or wants to go bowling…
CB: Or get Domino’s with us…
Maura Filoromo can be reached at email@example.com.
Full disclosure: Luke Harsel has sold advertisements for The Temple News. Harsel did not play a role in the reporting or editing of this story.