The Backseat Lovers, who will be joining us at the Big Agg Show Aug. 30, are a brand-new musical force to be reckoned with. The foursome, who achieved notoriety after winning Velour Live’s famed Battle of the Bands in Provo are quite new to the Utah music scene, though you wouldn’t know it.
The group formed in an unusual way. Some may call it coincidence, others, fate. No matter how you look at it, this group evidently formed for a reason. Frontman Josh Harmon, who plays guitar and sings for the group, was waiting for “local legend,” drummer Juice Welch, who was serving an LDS mission before he could start the group. After Welch returned, Harmon added guitarist Jonas Swanson to the group upon meeting him at an open mic night at Velour. Neither of them got on the list for that night, so they started jamming on a park bench outside the venue.
“We just had a really good connection,” Harmon said in a FaceTime interview with the group Aug. 10. “So, I was like, you should come play with me and my drummer. We’re all right, we’re pretty good.”
Bass player Ethan Christensen joined the group when Swanson brought him to one of the group’s practices when a different bass player couldn’t make the practice. Shortly after their first practice, they played two of their songs at a very small show but had to take a hiatus for about a year due to distance and scheduling difficulties.
Swanson and Harmon were finishing up their last year of high school. Welch and Christensen were starting college, and the whole group was spread out across the valley. Harmon and Welch continued to work on music that winter, and this March, the group began recording their EP, Elevator Days.
“It was pretty difficult being all spread out,” Welch said, “But me and Josh kept playing, and then the stars aligned, and we were able to start playing again with the four of us.”
That led them to Velour’s Battle of the Bands. Past winners include names like Imagine Dragons, The Aces and Neon Trees, to name a few. This show was The Backseat Lovers first official show as a group.
“It was our first show on an actual stage with a PA system and everything,” Harmon says. “It was pretty nerve-racking that first night, but we didn’t really think much of it. We just thought, let’s play to a big crowd and have fun.”
After winning the Battle of the Bands, Harmon said the experience really “kicked it into gear” for the group.
“It was all really casual before then. But after we won we had all sorts of doors being opened to us. We’re definitely very grateful for Velour and what they’ve done for us.” Harmon says.
“After Battle of the Bands, I feel like it really strengthened us as a group.” Swanson says. “It was really casual like Josh said, but after doing the Battle of the Bands it really brought us four together. It’s pretty awesome.”
The band feels lucky to have started their band in Utah. Harmon describes the experience as “very positive” and says the local music scene is “unique.”
“You know, there’s a lot of colleges and a lot of young people that do appreciate live music,” he says. “We’ve made a lot of good connections just with our fans… it’s nice having the support from the locals.”
Since their first official show, the band released their first EP, Elevator Days, in early June 2018.
Harmon, who wrote all the songs on Elevator Days, says “It’s basically a collection of songs explaining what it’s like to be in high school and be a selfish teenager that makes bad mistakes and stuff.” We’ve all been there.
The five-track, indie-rock EP includes one of their most popular songs so far, “Out of Tune.” It’s a dancey, upbeat track about missing the days “when girls were scary” and being “just a couple of posers with guitars.” This track will feel familiar and nostalgic to anyone who has ever been in high school, especially if you are an aspiring musician. Plus, it’s just plain fun to listen to.
The group performed this song live during Battle of the Bands, and their energy and charisma onstage are hard to ignore. The group flows and moves together. After watching it, if you told me that this was their first official performance as a band, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Josh Harmon’s charisma onstage is impossible to miss. Cracking jokes with the audience about how he would play a second song if he could give off a vibe that makes him appear very at-ease. Jonas Swanson on the guitar produces a sound that brings, in Harmon’s own words, the atmosphere to their songs. Each member provides an essential contribution to the group that, should a part be missing, would leave something to be desired. Lucky for them, they don’t have to worry about that.
Though the group is relatively new, they have played in Logan before. During their winter hiatus, Harmon and Welch played a show at The Cache with a bass player they recruited from Facebook. The group really enjoys Logan and are especially excited to play the Big Agg Show.
“Seeing the lineup has made us pretty excited to be playing with the bands that will be playing with us,” Welch says. “We’ve heard a lot of good things about the show in itself, and we’re pretty excited about the energy onstage and from the crowd. So yeah, we’re pretty excited to play.”
As for the future, the band plans on moving into a house together to help with the distance and to focus more on the group full-time. They hope to accomplish as much as they can with the rest of 2018 and are looking forward to creating solid relationships with their fans. They also hope to put their name in the back of people’s minds.
“I think the biggest thing is to get our name out there. If people think The Backseat Lovers, we don’t want them to think of us as just another garage band,” Harmon says. “We want them to think ‘Oh that’s the band that has this song.’”
Besides playing shows, the band has been in the studio recording another five-song EP that should be coming out within the next couple of months, in addition to a single that is expected to be released early September.
Elevator Days by the Backseat Lovers can be found on Spotify and iTunes. If you want to keep up with the group, you can follow them on Twitter @backseat_luv, Facebook and Instagram @the.backseat.lovers.
You can catch The Backseat Lovers and other local artists at Aggie Radio 92.3 KBLU-LP’s Big Agg Show August 30 on the USU Quad. For more information on the show, you can visit the Aggie Radio website or find Aggie Radio 92.3 KBLU-LP on Facebook.
Photo: The Backseat Lovers. From Left to Right: Jonas Swanson (Guitar), Ethan Christensen (Bass), Josh Harmon (Vocals/Guitar), Juice Welch (Drums)
Photo by Cassie Anderson – @cassieandersonphotography