Congratulations to Winnetka Bowling League

Spend a moment getting to know lead singer Matthew Koma!

Winnetka Bowling League did it again! The band just dropped an infectious new EP ‘Congratulations‘. It’s the perfect way to wrap up the summer season. We can’t get enough of them! Each song screams California in the best way possible. Their hit song ‘CVS’ has us dreaming of receiving a sweet gift of chocolate hearts from a sweetheart. This rising band is definitely a name to follow. Tonight Mag had a chance to interview lead singer Matthew Koma. Get to know the singer songwriter below!

How have you kept busy during quarantine?

Working a lot! I have a studio that’s separate from where I live so I’m able to create which has been a total blessing. I guess for the first two months I didn’t really work as much because it felt weird to be writing songs, but now that this has become the new normal. I’ve found sort of a rhythm. It’s a lot of studio time and a lot of family time. I have two kids so that has been wild trying to get them a summer that resembles a summer.

Congratulations on your latest single ‘Come To The Beach’! What was it like writing and producing a song during quarantine?

We actually have a whole EP that’s finished and Come to the Beach is one of them. We finished in like January. It makes it equally kinda strange because it’s songs that we toured on for a bit before quarantine and we have a different idea of what it’s like to release them and continue touring. Obviously it’s been kind of a stop. It doesn’t feel as much like the quarantine record yet as I’m sure the next record will be. It just feels like the chapter resembling what we were usually doing touring and just recording. 

Was it different having to meet with everyone virtually?

It was at first, but in a weird way it’s made me more productive. It cuts down on time because we kind of just get to it. Even working on other projects or other artist records you just end wind up zooming in with another writer and in two hours you kinda have what I feel would typically take fie or six hours during the day because you’re going to get sidetracked or ordering lunch. So now it’s just like cool we are on zoom from this time to this time and we’re going to get it done. I like it and I’m kinda stoked because hopefully the future will incorporate hopefully some of this. 

What / which places do you visualize when you think of the lyrics for ‘Come To The Beach’?

I’ve lived in California for the better part of 10 years now. Definitely here! I grew up in New York which is a totally different kind of beach scene. I used to drive down the PCH a lot when I first moved to California sorta in awe that I could drive 15 minutes and be there. I still think that image comes to mind when I hear, “the beach” or people saying “we’re going to the beach” is always Santa Monica, Malibu, that particular strip. We can just pull over and walk to the sand! I love it! 

How have you seen yourself grow as an artist when reflecting on the immense success of past songs such as ‘On The 5’ and ‘Slow Dances’ compared to your latest releases?

This whole band has been such an exercise in not sorta investing in the outcome, just really enjoying the process of it. I definitely make records and have been a part of records in these past years where there was a heaviness to it, or a weight expectation to it. What’s been nice about Winnetka is that we make records or EPs for that purpose of 5 songs, put it out, tour them, move on. Next five songs, put it out, tour them.  There’s something really freeing in that, and also relieves any pressure because we’re just constantly moving and in motion. The songs that resonate, resonate and if one doesn’t for some reason or if we’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s a weird time to release an EP that’s okay too. I think if anything, this has felt like a safe place or vessel that we’re going to get to be in for a long time. So there’s no rush or end date. There’s no pressure to say, “This has to happen by this time” or, “we have to be the biggest band by this date.” It’s this fun thing that we all get to show up to and feel happy in because it feels reflective of what we’re really into and what we enjoy. Sort of not investing in that thought process of, “will people dig this,” or, “will it live up to the way people reacted to this one?” That thought process can be so toxic to something you care about. Not that it’s not an important thing to consider, but this particular aspect of creativity just gets to negate that thought process which is really healthy and nice. 

What was it like filming in a CVS with their requirements and working with your wife for the music video ‘CVS’?

It was so weird! Definitely the latest I’ve ever stayed in a CVS. It was an overnight shoot so we were there from like 10pm to about 8am or something. It was rad! It was totally cool! The song is obviously a tongue in cheek and it was rad that they were down to be on board with the gag. Zach who directs our videos was like, “man we just gotta film this in a CVS.” I thought it was so on the nose, but maybe it’s cool. 

It was the first time [my wife and I] have ever done anything like that. It was super fun and great! It’s always great when those paths get to cross and coexist.

How do you prepare for studio sessions? Do you go in with song ideas in mind and work around it, or do you let your ideas develop freely during the session?

It depends on the artist that i’m working with. If it’s someone who writes, someone who doesn’t write, or someone who wants to be involved in the creative process, or someone who has a really strong vision of what they want really indicates what my role in it is. It’s kinda always  changing. Sometimes I’m coming in with an idea and other times it’s totally winging it and listening to something they had coming into it they wanted to work on. It’s kinda nice because it’s never the same thing. It’s not like showing up Monday through Friday and being like, “Oh this is my process and this is what it is.” It’s always different depending on who it is. It keeps it fresh and fun in that respect.

Your latest EP ‘Congratulations’ is out in a month! How would you describe it and how have you been preparing for its upcoming release?

I have no idea how I would describe it! It just feels like it’s just the next installation of what came out sitting down for the third time and saying, “cool, now we’re going to make another EP.” Which is kinda been a process for this whole band of making five songs and putting it out, then going back to the drawing board. There’s an evolution and it sounds slightly different from the last collection but i think there’s definitely lines throughout all the music we put out. Definitely no preparation though, there’s nothing really to do, no shows in sight! Sort of just a group text to the band saying, “this is so cool! This is going to be out!” I think in a lot of ways honestly it’s just a nice thing for the fans that we’ve made from the past year and a half of touring. I know a lot of people have heard these songs live and have been asking when they’ll be out. It’s nice to be able to have them on people’s phones so they can listen to it for the rest of the year until things are a little bit back to a normal rhythm. 

How have you seen your fans connect with your music, especially when you can’t see them live?

In the beginning of quarantine, the instagram lives and stuff were really fun because it felt like at least at that point people weren’t upset with being reminded that we were in lockdown. I feel like that’s changed a little bit because people are trying to find a little bit more normalcy throughout their days. To be like hey everyone let’s get on our phones and all be isolated… I don’t know if people want to be reminded of that as much anymore. In the beginning obviously that was a big way of having some sort of joy, so that was really cool because we got to play some songs and firsthand see how people react. It felt like these little mini things to look forward to every week. I think as simple as it sounds, just social media because you’re really getting to interact with everybody and especially now with the kinds of conversations we’ve been having as a society, it’s been really nice to connect with people on a bit of a deeper level past just the music. Of course not always agreeing, but just being able to broach those topics or have opinions is nice and important. I don’t know that we’ve had as much communication as when there’s constantly stuff to talk about in terms of our little world and our little band. It’s definitely felt like our little crew is together which is really nice. 

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