One of Utah’s hottest bands, The Backseat Lovers, performed at Velour on Saturday, January 26 in front of a sold-out crowd to celebrate the release of their first full-length album When We Were Friends.
Opening for the Lovers were another trending name in the Utah music scene—Sammy Brue and the Grinders. Blue Rainboots then hit the stage before the headliners make what was their fifth appearance at the venue since the band’s conception less than a year ago. In June, they won Velour’s Battle of the Bands—just a year after frontman Josh Harmon and guitarist Jonas Swanson met each other waiting in line for the music hall’s open mic night.
The new record was released officially at 10 p.m. that night, at which time it was available on all major streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music. Copies of the CD, along with t-shirts and stickers, will be on sale at the event as well through the band’s merchandise company Shaggy Badger.
Last summer saw The Backseat Lovers pick up steam after every show they played. They released a five-song EP titled Elevator Days in June, but wasted no time laying down the tracks for their new record. They recorded at Pale Horse Sound in Sugarhouse—the project that ultimately became When We Were Friends. By October they began releasing singles from the new self-produced record. In late January, the first single from the new album, “Maple Syrup,” had over 130,000 listens on Spotify alone, peeking a glimpse into the band’s potential.
After spending the summer building a following in Utah County, Swanson borrowed his dad’s work van in November and the Lovers hit the road for their first gig out of state. Hoping to build on the momentum they had gained, they played The Basement in Rexburg, Idaho, which is nestled underneath a cookie shop in the college town. Too cold to sleep in the van, the four bandmates slept in the green room of the venue.
The four-hour drive to Rexburg marks the beginning for The Backseat Lovers, who have big plans for the new year and beyond. They are currently in talks with festivals and other club owners to put together a tour. So far, they have five gigs lined up from Provo to Logan and two shows in Southern California to round out the winter. They have the itch to get as much as many out-of-state gigs as they can. The Lovers’ drummer, who goes by Juice, said the band is ready to “break out.” Harmon nods and admits the group does not want to be pegged a Provo band.
Harmon, whose dream was to play Velour and Kilby Court, has now set his sights on a much bigger dream—playing Red Rock Amphitheatre within two years. Maybe the band will open a show at the iconic venue, Harmon joked when he realized he might sound crazy.
Three of the four just graduated high school last year, which speaks to the modest bright-eyed enthusiasm they employ. It starts with lead singer Harmon, who, at 19, asserts the confidence and charisma of someone who has been there and done that. Swanson, the one churning out riffs, is 18, bassist Ethan Christ is 19 and drummer “Juice” Welch is the elder statesman at 22 years old.
You can find links to their new album, When We Were Friends, and their tentative tour schedule below.
February 2 — Provo, UT @ Bill’s Warehouse
February 15 — Pomona, CA @ The Fox Theater Pomona
February 17 — Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
February 22 — Provo, UT @ BYU (charity event, details TBH)
March 15 — Provo, UT @ The Rad Shack
March 16 — Logan, UT @ Whysound
Ty Bianucci is a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Golden State Warriors who started on the sports beat for The Review, but now contributes investigative stories. He, along with two of his colleagues, were awarded the Sunshine Award in 2018 by the Society of Professional Journalists.