Outside the Frame
A couple months ago we were floored by a young rock band headlining The Music Box in San Diego, CA. We tracked them down for a HEADLINERS UNTAPPED interview this week. Read on to discover Outside the Frame and hear about their band’s writing process, their philosophies on learning to play music, and some of their favorite memories from shows!
Photo: Jack Furgerson
1. How did you guys meet?
Nate: I met Max. We went to the same middle school. I met him in 7th grade, but in 8th grade we finally had more classes together. We kind of just started talking. We liked a couple of the same bands, played some of the same games and stuff, and kinda merged friend groups. Then we just started playing music together. We’d jam for years and years. Finally, junior year we started to take music pretty seriously, so we had to write song and that sort of thing. Then we played with a couple different drummers and recorded music.
I met Daniel in a music class. Because of covid I never met him before because we couldn’t overlap. I was talking with somebody about Royal Blood, and he was like, “did you say Royal Blood?” We had covered the same songs in our band before, and then we just decided to jam one day. He was a perfect fit.
2. Do you have a favorite memory from a show?
Daniel: Okay, this was kind of weird. We were playing at Cal Coast Amphitheater. This is kind of any annoying memory, but to me what sticks out is the security guy wouldn’t let us in. We were trying to go sound check. We were all excited. We pumped each other up back stage. We were ready to go to the stage, and he was like, “I can’t let you in with those passes.” It was our first big, big show. We were all excited, and to be told, “no, you can’t…” We were like, “uh, what do we do?” Then the boss came and he was all like, “oh they’re good.” He personally walked us to the stage. That was really special to me. That memory lives with me for a long time.
Nate: Yeah, all of that show was a big one, but I guess specifically I always wanted to do a “wall of death” at a show, so that last Music Box gig where we just split the whole room just to have everybody run into each other for that one breakdown was so, so fun.
Max: My memory is more like, after-show. We were finishing up at Queen Bee’s, one of our last gigs. It was a more punk type of crowd. They just wanted to mosh and jump around. It was a show didn’t really promote too much. After we played, and the other bands played, I was walking to Target or something to go get drinks, and these girls were walking on their way back saying, “hey, you’re Max from Outside the Frame!” I was like, “whoa, yeah that’s me.” She’s like, “we’ve been following you guys for the past year. We really believe in you guys and think that you have a future.” I was like, “oh, that was a genuine reaction from a fan.” They were like, “oh yeah, you guys are releasing your song Carousel. That’s our favorite song. We can’t wait for it to come out.” Like, I just hadn’t had a genuine fan interaction like that in a long time.
3. Speaking of Carousel, what was it like writing and recording that song?
Nate: We wrote Carousel a while ago. In the summer of 2020, me and Max pretty much every day for two weeks just wrote and demoed songs in my garage back home. We were planning on doing an album, but then realized, wait, that’s a lot of money. So we ended up choosing like 5 to 6 songs from that. So, Carousel, we wrote as one of the last songs or right after that batch of songs, just to kind of keep writing.
Daniel: It was the last song we wrote in the batch, and it came right after this influence from Royal Blood’s new first track, that Trouble’s Coming track that dropped. We were like, “aw dude, let’s write something like that. Put some more kind of dance beat in. Like, let’s get a little groovy with it.”
Nate: We just decided to do something really different with it. With recording, Bear is our roommate, our best friend, fourth member basically. He an audio engineer. He was working at this really nice studio in the music building we actually got to use, so were tracking it there. Super nice console and stuff like that.
Daniel: Well, and we did a lot of writing while we tracked. There were a lot of nuances that came out just from a couple months of recording. Like, “that doesn’t work. We gotta do something different. We gotta bring in an electronic element, a different guitar, a different part.”
Nate: It was fun because it was both a learning experience of getting into the flow of recording a full thing like that, and doing it all by ourselves. And then also a lot of experimentation with different textures and new instrumentation. That sort of thing. It was a really cool experience. It went for a while, and we finally got it finished because Daniel like, “ok, I’ll mix it.” We got it just done, and it turned out really, really great.
4. What advice do you have for people just starting their musical journey?
Max: I would say just kinda keep at it. Actually, I deal with this more often than not because I have a lot of roommates that I live with. Last year I had to live with like eight guys, and them seeing me in a band kind of inspired them to really pick up music from nothing and get going. And every time I would help them out or teach them. Sometimes going by the book is great. Learning the way to do everything perfect, all the theory, everything like that is good. But a lot of times, where our artistic creativity comes in is kind of from the stuff you don’t know. Maybe sometimes you do something wrong or play something wrong, but it has a creative function to it.
You can get burned out just but doing the barebones songbook kind of stuff, and learning the theory. I was telling my friend Ky who’s starting music, just be yourself when you’re learning music. Learn what you want to learn. Learn what sounds good to you. Follow that enthusiasm rather than do what you think would be technically proficient.
Daniel: Mine piggybacks off of that. Don’t overthink it. We do it all the time. Artists just overthink everything. It’s the same thing as Max was saying. Sometimes it’s not gonna be the proper way to do it, and if you like it obviously something about it’s correct. Don’t overthink it.
Nate: I would say really do your best to keep it about just making music and just holding onto that sort of feeling of just jamming in the garage with your best friends. Keep it about that no matter what level you get to ‘cause that’s what it should be all about. As artists it’s really easy to get burned out on the business side of stuff and, “what do I need to do next? Why am I not getting streams?” And that whole thing. If you keep it about just having fun and creating, that’s where you’re going to keep the motivation to keep going I think.
5. What do you rebel against with your music?
Nate: The name Outside the Frame, it’s a lyric from a Queens of the Stone Age song, but it’s kind of going against what’s mainstream. I think it’s really easy, even just musically, for artists to fall into tropes.
Daniel: Or even just bands around you trying to sound like the next guy who’s coming up in your scene. I think a lot of things we struggle with, the fact that we don’t sound like anyone else that we’ve come across, I think has been a bit of an isolating factor. But maybe that speaks to our artistry that we stand out in a way.
6. What is a favorite local band that you guys have?
Daniel: I run sound at Queen Bee’s, so any given week I’ll see fifteen to twenty bands just cycle through. Weirdly enough, one of my favorite bands to play with and hang with, and they’re just really cool people, is Lucid Dream. They’re a little more punkish. They just played Che Cafe last night, and we’ve only played with them once or twice, but I’ve played with them a bunch. I know them from high school. They’re a really cool group. They like to have a fun time, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re just there to play music. I like that.
Nate: He’s being modest. His band Blank Space. They’re our boys. They’re really nice dudes. They’re great. They’re super talented. Lucid Dream for sure, and then Rain on Fridays. It’s really cool to see girl-fronted bands do so well, especially when I think any music scene is going to be mostly dudes, so it’s really cool to see that.
Max: They stole all my answers.
7. What plans do you have coming up?
Nate: Let’s just say that we’re really focusing on kind of writing and furthering our new sound, and this is very much another sort of soul searching period for us trying to figure out what the next move is.
Daniel: I was going to say crossroads. We’re really just trying to find what the right decision is on what direction we want to go: that kind of aggressive sound or that electronic sound. We’ve definitely experimented with both. We’re trying to figure out what’s meaningful for us, not just what we feel is going to do better. That’s the answer we’re trying to find: what’s going to make us happier to go on stage and play.
Max: We’re creatively all kind of in a hibernation mode. We’re going to be writing a lot the next few months, and we’re planning some gigs. We’re going to try to maybe get some cool stuff going for Halloween. I think that’s our next big checkpoint for us. So, Halloween we’re either going to be doing a house show, a venue show, or any of the likes.
Nate: Or all of the above.
Max: We’ve also been looking into LA, so if there’s anyone who’s in LA that likes to listen to us, we definitely are thinking of coming up there soon.