Comprised of Cincinnati, Ohio natives John Vaugh, Ben Lapps, and Matthew Carter Alvarado, PUBLIC began their musical careers in 2012 with their first EP Red. They’ve played for major festivals such as Forecastle, CMJ, and SXSW and are recognized for their TikTok famous song “Make You Mine”.
PUBLIC’s newest single “Splash” features a funky bassline and a strong catchy pre-chorus that according to some listeners can sound like “drown your best friend and eat your parents” but still catchy all the same.
Though the actual lyrics “charm your best friend and meet your parents” are not nearly as morbid, according to PUBLIC themselves, this upbeat and lively tune came about during a tough time in their lives.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CROWDSURFER: What was your inspiration for “Splash”?
Matthew Carter Alvarado, Bass, Synth, and Vocal: The initial idea for “Splash” came about in January 2018. The band had been going through a rough patch – we were wearing ourselves thin grinding on tour, didn’t have a team other than our parents and each other, and we weren’t quite sure how much longer we could maintain our career for.
On the way to the recording studio, I recorded an unintelligible voice memo of what would become the chorus melodies for the song, the only coherent words being “Splash of Sun”.
Fast forward to 2020 and that same idea still seemed both relevant and relatable. Instead of dwelling on the inability to grasp what the future held, we wanted to twist that dark idea into something vibrant and joyful, finding energy and hope in the prospect of someone or something bringing a light to our lives.
CS: What was the process like making this single? Was it one that seemed to write itself or did it seem to take more thought?
Matthew Carter Alvarado: Compared to co-writes we had done in the same room as other songwriters and producers, we had definitely felt some difficulty finding our groove when trying to coordinate across our computer screens. However, when it came time to write with producer and now close friend, Lindgren, we immediately felt like we were on the same page.
As the band boys went about diving into the vocal melodies and themes, Lindgren was on the other end composing the instrumental demo of the track. I think it was the first time we had felt both relieved and excited to have so much chemistry across a platform like Zoom that had once seemed so flat and lifeless.
It was a giant breath of fresh air having a product come together so quickly and effortlessly and gave us a good kick in the right direction, both mentally and emotionally, for future co-writing opportunities.
CS: How has quarantine been treating you? How has creating music changed during a global pandemic?
Ben Lapps, Percussion: It feels very strange to be at home for such a long period of time!
We have practically lived on the road for years, so we’ve definitely had to adjust during the quarantine. Personally, it has been very good to be home spending quality time with my wife, Phoebe. In that way, it feels like a special time. But at the same time, we absolutely miss being able to play live shows and see our fans.
Creating music has been a very different experience. We are basically writing everything over Zoom. Our newest single, Splash, is actually a song that we wrote over Zoom. It has actually given us more opportunities to work with people all over the world. Never would have guessed that we would be doing so much writing this way, but after a few sessions, I feel like we really started to understand how to make it work.
CS: What is a message you would like to give your fans?
John Vaughn, Guitar and Lead Vocal: First, I want to thank them for being supportive. Pretty typical, I know, but as an artist, it really does mean the world. It’s not something I think you can understand if you haven’t gone through the grind. But our fans really mean the world. We love them and we want to keep giving music that makes them smile.
With that note, be sure to watch PUBLIC’s music video for “Splash”!
And a big thank you to PUBLIC for taking the time out of their day to answer our interview questions!