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The Neighbourhood exclusive: Sweater Weather, black & white, a new album & more

The Neighbourhood was formed back in August of 2011, and after releasing two new EPs, the band finally came out with their first full album entitled I Love You.

Excited for a new Neighbourhood album?
Photo by Kevin Winter

The Neighbourhood's first album rose to be as high as 16th on Billboard's Hot 100 list, and has been on the list for 37 weeks running. had the chance to speak exclusively with Zach Abels, who is a guitarist for The Neighbourhood, about their new album, the purpose behind it, why the black and white videos, the creation of "Sweater Weather" and the upcoming new project they are getting close to completing.

Creating music that hasn't been done before or generating a tone that's new, is a very difficult task nowadays, but with that said, Abels talked about how adamant the band was about wanting to create something that was new and unfamiliar from what we typically hear on the radio.

"I guess at the time for everything that has been put out thus far, for the inspiration, we just wanted to put out new music that’s really different, and music that we wanted to hear. I think we started something different, but I still don’t think we are where we want to be yet.

"We’re all really big on tones and sounds, and so when we are in the studio and we are writing a new song, we’re just trying to create something that’s different and that’s how we go about these things. So if when we hear it, it sounds cool and it doesn’t remind us of anything, we’re like 'oh yeah let’s do that.'

"We went into each song with an empty slate. We had originally written so many songs and they didn't sound anything like The Neighbourhood, but we had to get those things out of our system, at the time. So you just write, write, write and then you find something that feels right." Abels said.

Wanting to be different is one thing, but committing to it and being uncompromising on that is another, and The Neighbourhood definitely seems to be hitting a note with their music that no other band currently is.

From creating different music, to generating unique music videos that people haven't seen, being different and new is at the core of what The Neighbourhood is. If you've seen their two music videos, "Afraid" and "Sweater Weather," you'll immediately notice that they are filmed in black and white.

We have only seen this done in a music video from European artist WOODKID, who we spoke to earlier this year, but The Neighbourhood is undoubtedly the only artist in the United States that employs black and white in their music videos.

Talking about why the band wanted to go with black and white videos, as well as the creation of "Sweater Weather's" music video, and the song itself, Abels told us where it all came from.

"When we started the band, and before we put anything out, we wanted something that we could make our own, and something that would represent to us, the best way possible. So we thought, ‘hey it would be cool if all we did was black and white,' and we [believed] that would be sick.

"I don’t know if anybody has ever done that. We also wanted to shoot everything in California because that is where we are all from and we thought it would be cool to shoot a music video there, from our hometown. We actually wrote "Sweater Weather" before we were even a band, it’s the first song we ever wrote together.

"It started with me and Jesse just hanging out at my house one day, and he heard me playing guitar and said ‘oh that sounds like I could sing over it.’ We recorded it ourselves and yeah, we made ‘Sweater Weather,’" Abels said.

As any song's creation goes, there are many, many versions where artists are trying to mix certain tones and instruments with others to see what fits with what, and Abels talked about how the earliest version of "Sweater Weather" had too much rap for what they were aiming for.

"The very, very first one was very rappy, but when it came time to putting it out, we just didn’t want to be know as a rap/rock group, and a lot of bands get a bad wrap because of that. We thought how can we have influence and still not be compared to bands of a rap/rock genre. We then maybe changed a little of the lyrics, but the overall message of the song stayed the same," Abels said.

The Neighbourhood is making themselves a new album or project. Fans of the band will be thrilled to hear the news, and they can be reassured that while this new record will be different, they are staying true to their band's mission of creating music people haven't heard.

"Yeah we’re all about progressing and what’s next, so we’re always in the mindset of what we’re going to do next. Yeah, before we even put out ‘I Love You’, we were already thinking about what are we going to do next? How do we stay relevant?

We’re releasing this project soon, it’s not quite done yet, but it’s something we’ve always wanted to do, so we’re all pretty excited that we’re finally able to release it.

"It’s a little different than I Love You. If you’re a fan of 'Sweater Weather', I think to that person, it would be different sounding, but if you’re a fan of the band, then I don’t think it’ll be surprisingly different," Abels said.

The Neighbourhood is off and running with their touring for the year. They will be running from now until the end of August and most likely have announced all of the dates they will be playing this year.

You can pick up their debut, full album I Love You today, and you should all be on the lookout for this band as it is preparing to release its next project soon.

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