Radio UTD’s Kavita Nokku catches up with Pool Kids, discussing their inspirations, anxieties, and the importance of kindness. Stream their latest self-titled release here.
(Interview has been edited for Clarity)
Kavita Nokku: Thank you so much for letting me come speak to you guys.
Christine Goodwyne: Of course! Yeah, thanks for coming.
I know you’ve maybe heard this a lot of times, but why the name Pool Kids?
CG: We were taking a long time trying to figure out what to name the band, and I just put a post on Facebook asking all of my friends to send me all of their band name suggestions. And “Pool Kids” was the only one that I didn’t completely hate. I’m still not in love with it, but it was the best of the bunch, so we just needed to decide on something. So we just went with that.
Nice, congratulations on the new album.
Caden Clinton: Thank you!
I see there’s a lot of rave reviews coming up. What is your motivation for being in music?
Nicolette Alvarez: God, that’s a hard—that’s a little bit of a deep question. It’s just the only thing that’s ever really gotten me excited. Like, ever since I was a kid, I’d get really excited listening to music, and I would just draw countless pictures. I just wanted to learn how to play guitar or something. And there are countless pictures of me as a little kid, drawing me in a band with my friends and stuff, so this is just really the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.
NA: And the connection I feel with my bandmates is really special. I think it’s the human connection element, and it’s just the only thing that I get excited about.
NA: I think that’s my answer. What about y’all?
CC: I really enjoyed playing it, but as I get older and tour more, it’s really more about meeting people that’s become fun. And really a big drive is, “Who can I meet next? Who’s the next person I’m gonna become friends with?”
NA: That’s amazing.
CG: For me, it’s just—it’s the only thing I’m good at.
NA: Come on.
CG: At all. No, it’s actually true. I was kind of deciding between a few things. I wrote for this satirical publication a little bit in college, and for a minute, I was like, “Maybe this is my future! I wanna try this.” And then I just could not churn out ideas fast enough, and I was like, “I should just stick with what I’m good at.” And, yeah, that is music, so…
I guess this is the homogenous blend of just passion.
CG: Andy would probably have a very poetic answer. For the listeners, Andy is waiting for our tacos right now across the street.
I did read a news article that you had to go through a lot of difficulty in your last venture. What happened there?
CG: Oh yeah. So we were at the tail end of recording our album, and we still had a lot to figure out. We were at the point where we were trying to fix certain parts of certain songs that weren’t working. And we went to bed that night after staying up ‘til about two in the morning recording the last track, and woke up a few hours later to the assistant producer letting us know that the studio downstairs was flooding. Which is where all of our gear was, so all of our gear was submerged, pretty much, except for the guitars and a few other things, but… So the last three days we had of recording ended up being spent fixing, drying out the flooded studio, and, like, dragging these expensive rugs that got ruined out of the studio. And dealing with all these people they had to hire to come in with all these huge fans and everything.
CC: Getting serial codes for all the wet stuff for the studio.
So do you think musicians normally are not anxious at all, or do they have a lot of anxiety about such things happening?
NA: Oh, most musicians we know have a lot of anxiety, if it’s not just like, “Are we all gonna work on an interpersonal level while recording? And not let personalities or ego get in the way?” We didn’t have any of that when we were working, and we don’t in general as a group. But I’ve seen that tank a lot of bands, just interpersonal stuff. Between that, being so far away from home for so long, and that really dragging people down, and not making money on the road, and having to really stretch dollars. You get stuff stolen on the road. I’m constantly scared about getting robbed or the van breaking down in the middle of nowhere. I’d say most people that have chosen this lifestyle also carry all of that around with them constantly.
So did you feel it when it flooded?
NA: Oh, it was like a nightmare. It was like a nightmare come true.
CC: The first anxiety was when you wake up, and you see the flood. Not necessarily my gear. You’re like, “Did I just cause a flood in a multi-million dollar studio?”
NA: Yeah, “Are we on the hook for this?”
CC: “And how am I gonna pay this off?” We end up finding out it wasn’t our fault in the slightest. It was the city, it rained and water just came in through the sewer. But until we were told that, we were just like, “Well, we just flooded a studio.”
NA: Yeah. That was all bad.
CC: I couldn’t even think about my stuff being ruined because I was like, that’s all flooded.
Everyone: Andy’s here.
Andy Anaya: Hello.
Sorry I’m bothering you like this before your show.
AA: No, not at all!
My name is Kavita.
AA: Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you, too. I was just talking about musicians and anxiety. What is your relationship with anxiety?
AA: Uh, I have a deep relationship with anxiety. But, I feel like music is one of the things that, like, brings me down and calms me and, yeah, it’s where I find my zen—it’s on stage when I’m going crazy.
CG: What an interest. He’s just screaming about what happened at the taco place. We had a bit of an incident.
I’ll let you have your dinner with one last question.
CC: You can keep going if you like.
CG: Yeah, we’re good.
I want to know what you would give as advice to new bands that are coming up. I’m sure a lot of high school people look up to bands like yours, who have gone through the highs and lows and everything. So what is your advice? Everybody think of one.
CG: I definitely have advice.
NA: You first.
CG: First of all, don’t break up, if you have a band. And also, okay, so, like, start. Just start. Start writing your music, don’t stop until you have a full release, don’t sit around on half-finished demos forever. Get it out, finish the product, and also don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Don’t just release it, and then wait for a big band to ask you to tour. Start booking your own things, start booking your own shows. Earn your stripes playing basements and stuff like that. And if it’s not sticking with people, and people aren’t getting excited about your music, just go back to the drawing board and work on your music again, and then start the process again. And then the other things will come easier. So, yeah, that’s my advice.
CC: Another thing is like, it doesn’t happen overnight. If it does, there’s usually years and years of work into that overnight success. But there’s some bands that do have that overnight success, and you should never think that’s gonna happen to you, because then you have a skewed reality of when you release music. And it’s like, “Wow, I didn’t blow up.” Because the thing is, you might blow up on the next release. It’s just like, when you see the bands blow up overnight, don’t even think about it.
Right, right, right.
NA: I think Christine’s first point of not giving up on a music project or just keeping the band going is one of the best pieces of advice, for sure. It’s crazy, it really feels like if you just hit it hard and stick with it long enough, something will come of it. If it’s maybe not this project, if you continue with it, the connections and friendships that you’ve made from that initial band might lead you somewhere, that’s a big thing. Keep practicing is another big thing. I check myself on this a lot. You’re never gonna be at the point where you need to stop maintaining your personal skills as a musician. And we should all strive to keep being better. And just keep listening to music, that’s like the one thing that keeps me excited about all of this more than anything, is just listening to new bands that get me really excited and be like, “Woah, I want to sound like that.” Or, like, listening to older stuff. I don’t know, just keep consuming and stay excited.
AA: I would say being nice goes a long way, as well.
NA: Oh, absolutely.
AA: You know, nobody is gonna want to work with you if you have this inflated idea of what your band is or who you are as a musician or an artist or whatever.
CG: Even the way you conduct yourself online.
CG: We have a lot of conversations with other bands behind closed doors, like, “What do you think about this band? What do you think about that band?” And sometimes, just the way people conduct themselves online is losing you opportunities that you don’t even know about.
And it stays online.
AA: Exactly. Like, people do not forget. As petty as that sounds.
CG: And people talk.
The internet doesn’t forget. I leave you with just one more: How many hours do you practice, and who’s the one motivation—singer, musician?
AA: Oh, man. I practice quite often. I play guitar. I mean, sometimes I’ll go through stretches where I don’t play guitar for a handful of days in a row, and then, you know, maybe that fourth day or fifth day, I play guitar seven to eight hours a day. I just do not put it down. I’ve been playing guitar for a long time, longer than most people have even been in bands, or that our friends have played, and yeah. It’s just, like, it’s my therapy. And yeah, I just dedicate a lot of time to practicing. And as far as an idol, playing idol, Nick Reinhart from Tera Melos is my favorite guitar player, and not necessarily because of their technical ability, even though they’re a great shredding guitar player with lots of cool techniques. I just think that their view of the instrument is just so unique and alien, and it’s amazing to me. So, I really appreciate his playing.
CG: I write more than I practice, I would say. Which I guess in some ways could count as practicing, because I am playing the instrument and stuff. I practice vocals a lot more than guitar because I feel like I struggle with it more. I don’t know how to put in hours on it, because I’m also not consistent with my practicing. I mainly grind practice for a few weeks before a tour. I mean, I write all the time, but I sit down to practice mainly before tours. Idol… I guess you didn’t say “idol,” but, inspiration… I mean, Hayley Williams is the easy go-to. I really admire the way she’s able to jump around on stage so much, while still carrying the notes. Because I’ll sound fine at sound check when I’m standing still, but then as soon as I’m moving around onstage, my voice sounds a lot worse. But she’s able to do both, which I really strive for.
Does sound nice. Caden?
CC: On tour, I don’t practice. It’s kind of hard when you drive all day, and then sound check. And then when I get home from tour, depending on how long I’m gone for, I’ll take a week or so off to spend time with friends and be like, “Hey, I’m home for a little bit.” And I’ll also try to get bad habits out of my system that I may have got from touring. And then after that, I’ll try to spend at least an hour a day in the practice space. But then, sometimes I go for, like, three. But, other than that, I try to go run the Pool Kids album twice in that week, so I can always be up to date on that. But I mostly just find things online and work on that for a while. And then the biggest inspirations are people like Travis Barker, Luke Holland, Tony Royster—a lot of because of their playing, but mostly because of who they are as people, I think that’s really interesting. They’re really nice people, and I think that speaks more than how you play.
CC: If they were not nice people, I don’t think I would enjoy any of their playing at all. So it’s like, a lot of the people I do look up to are genuine people.
Well said, well said.
NA: My deal is similar to Christine’s. I’m definitely kind of inconsistent, with the exception of leading up to a tour, I’ll definitely start grinding. Or if I just get the bug in my system, and have a project I really want to tackle really bad. Like, a couple years ago during quarantine we were all locked in, Christine I think had this really good idea of, “Let’s have a Pool Kids challenge. Every single day, work on a specific skill and let’s compare from where you were from day one to day 30.” And most of us did that, and a bunch of people online participated, too, and that was really cool. So I was in it during then, but I’m not always that good, necessarily. But I’d say my number one inspiration… that’s a hard one, because there’s different people whose philosophies I agree with a lot when it comes to music. I think I’m gonna stick with Charli XCX for now, because she’s just so prolific—
CG: I almost was gonna say—
NA: —and so dedicated, and she just clearly loves making music and producing music, and very intently thinks about everything she does and is very purposeful with every single choice she makes. And I just love that about her.
Awesome, awesome. Yes, we’re done, thank you so much.
Everyone: Thank you!