Somos lead singer/bassist, Michael Fiorentino, talks about the band’s succes in support of the new album, First Day Back
You can listen below for the full audio interview I did with Michael for this article.
As I entered the sold out Middle East upstairs in Cambridge, I bumped into beardly men clad in flannel, tattooed punk women with stylish pompadours, and the stench of PBR was thick. All these humans were packed in like sardines to see Boston’s own, Somos.
Somos is a new wave punk band that has gained much notoriety since the release of its debut album, Temple of Plenty, which was released in 2014 on Tiny Engine records.
Fiorentino and his band tirelessly write, record, and play tunes that emanate from a place of fiery passion for social justice and transcending the limits of punk, emo, and indie rock.
Chatting with Fiorentino reveals an incredibly well-balanced man with an endearing twitch—something I also manage on a daily basis, the incessant urge to never stop fidgeting. Fiorentino has a well-sculpted and thoughtful mind for politics, which he covertly shares through many of the band’s lyrics.
“I already am a political organizer, and I would be devoting more time to being politically active but the time restraints of touring make it hard,” Fiorentino said when asked what he would be doing if he weren’t in the band.
So Fiorentino uses his music and the stage to make his political statements known.
Fiorentino dedicated the band’s last song of the night, “Dead Wrong,” a fan favorite, to the Black Lives Matter movement—a movement he called, “the most important and influential political movement of our generation.” Amid resounding cheers from the crowd, the band kicked into the song.
The show was sold out, which came as a surprise to Fiorentino—given it is the band’s first headlining tour.
“We are nervous in the sense that this is the first time we have ever tried to headline,” he said, detailing the support for the tour being the enigmatic Petal, and the Weezer-esque garage rockers, The Superweaks, “so I am very curious to see how well we will draw.” Judging from the size and rowdiness of the crowd, the tour was off to a great start.
Since this was night one of the three-week tour, Fiorentino recognizes his classwork is pretty important since he is only a few classes away from graduating from UMass Boston.
“It’s actually kind of good to be in school while touring because it gives me something to really focus on throughout the day,” Fiorentino said, “so that not everything on tour is about the tour and I have something else to put my mental energy towards.”
Fiorentino is thankful for the online courses offered at UMass Boston for making him able to have a flexible schedule that fits his touring and music production schedule.
“I’m getting much better at balancing everything, but initially it was really hard,” Fiorentino explained. “My professors in the American Studies department are awesome at working with me to create ways that I can miss class for tour, but make up for it by doing some extra work.”
That night at the Middle East, Somos was celebrating the release of its brand new album, First Day Back, which is a foray into dreamier, more atmospheric aspects of the band’s influences. Picture Bloc Party and the 1975 meets the Clash.
Try it. Picture it. That’s this record.
Fiorentino is aware that the shift in style on the new record would be somewhat polarizing, but in a way it was clear that this did not deter him or his bandmates whatsoever.
“A sophomore album is always tough,” Fiorentino said in reference to the old cliche of the sophomore slump, “but we figure that we need to put out what we want to put out because we can’t just cater to the Temple purists.”
Fiorentino attributes the evolution of the band’s sound to dreamier influences from recent Alvvays and Turnover albums—which I genuinely believe would mark a brilliant transition for Somos if it decides to explore a more shoegaze/dreampop vibe on the band’s next album.
What I enjoy most about First Day Back is that Fiorentino experiments a lot with his vocal delivery, adding various forms of reverb and other effects to create a vastly different tonal experience than the straightforward delivery throughout Temple of Plenty.
Somos’ sound is unique within the scene explicitly because of Fiorentino’s deeper vocal register.
“A lot of people start singing when they’re younger, but I didn’t start singing until we started this band,” Fiorentino said, explaining his initial hesitations about being a vocalist, “so I’m sort of insecure about it, but I’m getting more comfortable with it.”
Both Somos records clock in at well under 30-minutes, an homage to Fiorentino’s punk roots, and also a stylistic choice that keeps the band willing to trim the fat and keep their songs succinct and unique in that regard.
“We just try to be as direct as possible with our music,” Fiorentino said.
In doing so, Somos creates a sound that is both accessible and digestible in a single listen because the listener is not being tasked with any sort of unrealistic expectation to ingest a massive 70-minute opus. Instead, the tunes are short, sweet, and full of dynamic elements that will satisfy most any listener.
Fiorentino is aware of the oversaturation of bands in the new wave of punk/indie rock/emo scene, but he keeps a level head and focuses on just writing new original music.
“We feel like, in this moment, we’re really apart of something,” Fiorentino said, noting that the year they broke out—2014—many bands of their wave began to change the way audiences thought of how emo, post rock, hardcore, pop punk, and indie rock could interplay. Bands like Foxing, From Indian Lakes, Dikembe, Tiny Moving Parts, Have Mercy, The Hotelier, Prawn, and Pity Sex have all transcended the confines of standard genre definitions and have motivated numerous bands to rethink their approach to music production.
For now, Fiorentino and the band are focused on their now-ongoing tour and writing some new tunes in preparation for possibly releasing a single this summer.
“So much music people listen to these days is more single-centric rather than album-centric,” Fiorentino said, explaining the band’s goal to release more smaller pieces of music before another album, which makes sense since vinyl had made a massive resurgence into the realm of music distribution.
UPDATE: Somos hits the road again this summer with Free Throw and High Waisted! Check them out at any of the dates listed on the band’s Facebook!