Radio UTD’s Olivia Foster catches up with Addie Sartino of The Greeting Committee. Stream their latest release, “Hopscotch,” here.
(Interview has been edited for clarity)
Olivia Foster: Alrighty, I am Olivia Foster, and I am here with Addie Sartino from the Greeting Committee. How are you doing today?
Addie Sartino: I’m doing great, thanks for having me.
Yeah, thanks for being here. This is, as I said, really really cool to me.
Makes it more fun.
Exactly! That’s it. This is really exciting for me. I had a junior year playlist and “Hands Down” was my favorite song on it. And it was like, my little anthem playlist, so I’m geeking out.
Oh, I love that!
This makes me want to write essays for AP Lit. Alright, so, I guess my first question for you today is, you just came out with a new single recently, “Hopscotch.”
How are you feeling about releasing a new single?
I feel really excited. I feel like it’s the best, most seamless writing process we’ve had, and I think Pierce and I had a lot of fun working on it together, and working on it with our friend Jake from Hippo Campus who produces some of our music with us. We plan to keep producing with him, because it’s always a good time. I think we’re really trying to focus on putting the fun back into making music and prioritizing that, so it was a good time.
That’s awesome, I didn’t know Jake Luppen helped out with that. I love his music, oh my gosh.
Yeah, I love Hippo Campus. And he’s such a talented producer. It’s crazy.
Mhm, yeah. Hippo Campus is probably my favorite band of all time, and honestly, listening to his solo stuff, like Lupin, he’s crazy talented.
He really is, yeah. He’s got a very wide range of what he’s able to do, and I think the most important part of it all is he’s so nice and generous with it, and I think that’s really rare to find and I think it’s very admirable.
That is awesome. You got even cooler. I didn’t know you could, but you did. So I guess, what inspired “Hopscotch”?
Honestly, the amount of change that Pierce and I have gone through over the past eight years but specifically the past year in general, I think really played a part in the sonics of “Hopscotch” as well as the lyrics. Sort of looking back at who you were and who you are and connecting the dots in those, and maybe taking accountability for your own actions but also recognizing that you did the best with what you had at the time, I think is “Hopscotch” in a summary.
I absolutely love that, because I wanted to ask you about the second verse specifically. It starts off with “Now I’ve stopped trying to like the bands that you like / They always brought me down.” I love the whole second verse. The whole song in and of itself really does feel like a self reflection of not necessarily hating who you were, but feeling okay letting that person go and knowing that you’ve moved on.
No, you’re actually very, very spot on. I think I did spend a lot of time growing up self-loathing, and it’s something that I actively have to work on. I didn’t know until I reached adulthood that certain choices I made were clearly a reflection of low self-esteem or low self-worth. I thought, you know, I’m a pretty confident, charismatic person externally, and so I just believed myself to be that. And then I kind of looked back and I was like, “Well, if I really loved myself, I probably wouldn’t have put up with X, Y, and Z.” So it’s very nice to be a therapized adult and make decisions that are healthy for myself.
I think that second verse was definitely a reflection of like, I would listen to these bands so that I could have something to talk about with a person who doesn’t even care about me. That’s an effort that I’m putting in that really only damaged me, and I think it’s also really universal, though, like you were saying, a very personal aspect of it. Because, there are bands that I’ve listened to that do just make me sad. I remember a friend being like “Maybe you’d be happier if you didn’t listen to so much sad music.” I love sad music, I’m always going to listen to it, but yeah there are certain times where I’m like, maybe that’s not the best for me right now. It definitely goes all the way around.
Yeah, I was looking at the lyrics in the class that I was in before this, and I wasn’t even paying attention. We were doing some Spanish debate and I was like, “Nah, this is more important.” The lyrics are just really enrapturing. It’s an amazing, amazing song, and I have to ask—is it preluding an album coming out, or an EP or anything for the future?
We have more music coming, but this is not attached to an album. Which is actually really exciting for us, and we’ve never done that. I think any release we’ve had is a part of something bigger. I think “Elise” might be the only song outside of this one that has no other attachment. And I think it’s very freeing and very fun for Pierce and I to put something out and then see our reaction, other peoples’ reactions, how we’re feeling about it, how they’re feeling about it, and kind of find a way to navigate what we want to do now that we’re having this fresh start as a band.
That is awesome, because you guys have been together for eight years now, right? 2014?
Yeah, eight years. It’s like eight or nine, it’s always somewhere in the middle of that, so almost a decade. Which is really crazy.
Wow. That’s awesome though.
And you mentioned having changed a lot over these past eight or nine years. Looking back and now being so considerably successful—I mean, you guys were in To All the Boys, and you’re getting to tour, you’ve opened for some amazing bands over the years—looking back at where you started, how does that feel, just knowing that you came from Overland Park, Kansas, and are doing all this and living this life now?
I think we surround ourselves with people that really humble us, and that’s intentional. And I think because Pierce and I have stayed located in Kansas City, it’s easier to do that than maybe if we lived in New York or LA. It’s almost hard. I think Pierce and I both struggle with congratulating ourselves, maybe would be the way to put it? Because we’re always pushing forward for something new and something bigger, because that’s just the state of the industry.
I know that he and I, one thing we got from doing band therapy together, was really figuring out how to reward ourselves from time to time, and how to celebrate our successes, because we are very, very, very lucky to be where we are, and it can be really easy to lose sight of that when you’re consistently pushing forward. Going on tour is a really nice reminder of that, of like, wow, five-hundred people in Fort Collins, Colorado, wanna see us. That’s bizarre to us. Or, whatever the number is in this random city, feels very surreal. And I think a big level of not acknowledging it comes from just how crazy it is and how hard it is to wrap our heads around it because to us, we’re just the same friends we’ve been since we were younger. Or, going to the grocery store—we go home and it’s like we do a completely different lifestyle, so it’s very interesting balancing it all out. But we’re very lucky.
No, that actually sounds really awesome.
So, what is the music scene like in Kansas City? I have to ask. I’m really curious now.
I think that we were very, very, very fortunate to start our band in Kansas City when we did. The local radio station, 96.5 “The Buzz,” was not a corporate-owned station at the time that made a lot of decisions for them. They were much more independent and were able to play our music and other music they liked. They were kind of known for breaking bands. Like, Catfish and the Bottlemen is really successful in Kansas City because of that radio station. Mumford & Sons and some other various artists really got a shot there because the program director at that radio station kind of said “eff it” to a lot of radio rules and because of that made a really awesome scene in the Kansas City community for music. And so we got to be on the up-and-come of that and grow up with a lot of our fans in Kansas City.
I think that’s another gift we were given by being that, is that a lot of the people that were at our shows when we were sixteen are people who are also at our shows now that we’re twenty-four and twenty-five. And Kansas City shows in general—like, our hometown show is now a show that people from other states fly into, because it’s known as a big deal in our community that we’ve built, and our fan-base. And it’s a very welcoming one. We really pride ourselves in having a fan-base that’s really welcoming to each other and very kind. We really don’t tolerate anything else. And we’ve got people who hold us accountable to help us do that as well. The Kansas City music scene is awesome, it’s constantly fluctuating. There is a nonprofit that I really love in Kansas city called Artist Mentorship that really tries to supply music education and mental health education by using music for under-served communities in Kansas City. There’s a lot of effort that goes on in Kansas City that I’m very proud of.
That is awesome. I keep responding to everything with “that is awesome,” but I swear it really is.
No, thank you.
As you’ve developed and as the music scene around you has fluctuated and developed, how do you feel that you guys have grown as artists in the past eight, nine years?
I think it’s really interesting that, because we started when we were 15 and 16, and because we so quickly signed a record deal, our entire progress and growth musically is on display to the world, and you can really hear it if you go back to our 2014 release, It’s Not All That Bad, and then if you were to go listen to “Hopscotch” or the Dandelion record. I mean, there is a lot of growth, and I think sometimes I can get maybe hypercritical of it or embarrassed by it when really, I think it has only played to an advantage for us, because people have been invested in us since the beginning, and when they hop in maybe later on down the road, they have the ability to look back and to see maybe why people have stuck around and to know that, I think our catalog kind of proves that we’re constantly trying to improve and challenge ourselves and grow. And I at least hope that that’s what people walk away with, because that’s the intention on our end.
I know as someone who’s been listening since I think 2018, I’ve definitely noticed that. I think you guys are all really talented musicians, and you have been, but it’s really amazing to see the progress you guys have made. I don’t even know how to put it into words, but it’s so notable, just looking back from say “Is This It?” to “Hopscotch,” or your most recent album. It all feels so much like you guys that it’s really interesting to just note how it feels almost bigger and more sure of itself, in a sense. I really enjoy it.
Oh, thank you! I would say for sure that there’s confidence. And I’m glad that people can hear that there’s been a growth in confidence. Yeah, I just think we’re very intentional with what we’re doing. I know it comes up a lot: How can we do this in a way that feels fresh and genuine and challenging ourselves while not alienating people that have stuck around with us? Because, before I’m a musician, I’m a music lover. And I know with my favorite bands, you don’t want to hear them do the same thing over and over again, but you also don’t wanna feel like they’re strangers. So, you know, that’s difficult. We’re not gonna get to everyone. We’re not gonna get to keep everyone around. But we definitely consider everybody when we’re making our music.
And I absolutely love that. I hear you and I’m like “Oh, it’s The Greeting Committee.” When I watched the third To All the Boys for the first time, I heard just a couple words and I heard your voice, and I turned to my friend that I was watching it with, and I was like, “That sounds just like The Greeting Committee.”
That’s crazy. Yeah, I love that. That makes me super happy.
I was really jazzed to see you guys there. I was really happy. And I guess, talking about your favorite artists and your guys’ favorite artists, I know there are definitely some distinct Lorde impressions.
I can hear it and I love it. I’m a big “Supercut” fan, so—
It makes me really happy. Do you guys have any other really big inspirations or artists that you look up to or take inspiration from?
Yeah, I’m so glad you caught that, because that’s definitely Pierce and I’s favorite Lorde song as friends and a writing duo, so that’s very intentional. I’m really happy you caught that. I think Pierce and I both gravitate toward pop music a lot. So it’s been fun to go from being this slightly DIY indie band to getting a chance to make music that we enjoy more as listeners. You know, sometimes you’re limited by your own nature and your own sound, and I think that we’ve really found ways to express ourselves in a way of what we actually like more. I don’t know if that makes sense, exactly. I think collectively, we just send each other music back and forth of what we like. Pierce made a playlist that we can both add to. I know he really likes Omar Apollo right now. That reference seems to keep coming up when we’re writing. My classics are always The Strokes, The Killers, any classically great indie band. And then yeah, mixing in Lorde, Taylor Swift, Paramore, Mitski, a lot of these female powerhouses in music I just admire a lot, and I think that that shows up in our music.
I would definitely agree with you that it does. I, honestly, being someone who listens to a lot of indie rock, I would also consider you to be more of a female powerhouse, especially with you being so quickly recognizable. You hear a Lorde song or a Mitski song, and you’re like, “Oh, it’s Lorde, it’s Mitski.” And I would say the same for you.
Oh, that makes me so happy to hear, thank you.
Yeah, of course. I really appreciate how you guys just feel really grounded. Just, listening to your music is so grounding, and I … “soothing” feels like the wrong word here, but kind of calming in a way, if that makes any sense?
No, yeah, maybe like “comfortable”?
I want our fans—and I don’t really like the word “fans,” even. I guess I should say “listeners.” But like, I want our people to feel connected to us, and I don’t want us to feel unreachable. I mean, that’s why our social media is the way it is. We’re people as well. And I know that sounds so cliche, but I mean it so genuinely. Like, it kills me to have to sell VIP tickets where people have to pay money to meet me. It’s like, no, you can meet me at a grocery store or walking around. I don’t wanna be this unattainable person. Because I want to meet everyone, I want to connect with people, just as much I hope that they would wanna connect with me. Because I know that for me, music saved my life, and I know the impact it can have. Really, it doesn’t have to do with me as much as it does what Pierce and I are able to create, and so getting to bond over that and how personal it is to us, it feels very good to us to have that come back and be reciprocated.
Well that is beyond awesome. That’s just really beautiful.
So I know that you have a busy day ahead, and so I guess my last question for you. I found an interview from November 16, 2015.
So almost exactly seven years ago. You have a quote right at the end. You say: “I want to constantly be evolving. Hopefully”—and to paraphrase—“if you put all our songs next to each other, you’ll see the development that happened.” Looking back, all the way to then, do you think that, as you guys were starting out, that old you and old The Greeting Committee, would be pleased with everything that you guys have been doing, and just really satisfied, I guess?
Oh man, that makes me emotional hearing that back. I think I probably needed to hear that. Yeah, I think younger Addie and younger Pierce would be. I think it’s really important to remember our younger selves. I always say “if 10-year-old me would think it’s cool, it’s cool,” or “if 15-year-old me would think it’s cool, it’s cool,” because that is a way to ground yourself and to remember where you were versus where you are, and to not get so caught up with it. So hearing that quote was definitely a moment of grounding for me, and I will carry that with me for the rest of this tour as a reminder of, yeah, I would be really happy to know that we’re doing what we’re doing now if I knew that then. So, aw, thanks for pulling that out.
Yeah! You guys, especially looking at your Instagram and everything, you seem very similarly-grounded to how you were when that interview came out. You guys just seem like real people.
As someone who—I am a massive indie-listener—it’s so nice to see and to have that comfortability, and being able to listen to you guys and just knowing, real people created this, and real people really put themselves into this. And so I hope you guys know how appreciated that is.
Well thank you, that’s very nice to hear and what we plan to keep on doing. Of course, there are gonna be obstacles and limitations at times. I won’t be able to always show up the way I want to, but for the most part, I know that I’m going to try my hardest, always. It’s something that we’ve managed to do for the last eight years. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to keep doing it for the next eight. So I hope people are always able to reach us when they want to reach us.
I would definitely say that you guys feel really accessible and grounded. So, yes…. I should probably let you get back to riding the van to Dallas.
Just listening to music, yeah. It’s what I’m gonna get back to, which is what we’re here for.
What are you guys listening to right now?
Okay, I love this song called “The Florist” by Abby Sage. I cannot stop listening to it. And then “CRÈME BRÛLÉE!” is spill tab’s new single, and I love her and I love the single. I think it’s very cool.
Okay, I’m gonna listen to both of those, because I have not heard of them.
Awesome, yeah. I think you’ll like them.
Awesome. Well, thank you so, so much, and good luck at your guys’ show tonight.
Thank you, I appreciate it. Have a good rest of your day.
You as well.