By Mike Romero
“Why should people listen to us? Why not? It’s the best music on the planet.”
What sounds arrogant in print is incredibly charming in person. Spending any time at all with Poolhouse is a blast. A project born in quarantine, the band exudes the kind of camaraderie and closeness that can only come from extended time in close quarters. The band has been living and touring together since they played Buzzards & Bees music festival in 2021. Their familiarity with each other, rather than being exclusionary, makes non-roommates like me feel right at home.
As talented as they are cool, Jake Buckner (lead vocals, guitar), Jonny Steed (lead guitar), and Lucas Olivier (bass) were a force to be reckoned with during Velour’s Winter 2021 Battle of the Bands. Their two performances that week were flawless – demonstrating a practiced polish that’s difficult to replicate without putting in hundreds of hours of hard work. And they’ve definitely put in the time.
Poolhouse is one of the few bands in the scene that has managed to make a living doing music full time. Their manager, John Buckner, helped organize the first LoveLoud Festival years ago. The charity Stand4Kind was a big part of that first festival. “The head of Stand4Kind reached out to [John] for a band that could play in schools as part of anti-bullying assemblies they do throughout the country,” says frontman Jake Buckner. “They asked if he knew a band called Poolhouse.” He laughs. As John’s son, it wasn’t difficult to get in touch.
The night prior to this phone call, Poolhouse played a show at Velour where there happened to be some high school ambassadors for Stand4Kind in attendance. “They livestreamed the show to her and said we were the band they wanted,” says Jake.
So the band moved in together to save costs. By living together, eating together, and pooling the money they make from shows, they’re able to pursue music full time.
“We accepted the Stand4Kind invitation and now we perform our own music in school assemblies during the day alongside some amazing speakers with crazy stories, and play regional venues on nights and weekends. It’s pretty awesome that we can play our songs and share our dream,” Jake says. The band is also grateful that they can make a difference and give back. “Just watching social media and now being in the schools with thousands of kids each day, it really hit home how much mental stress, anxiety, and depression are constantly surrounding us. It’s especially difficult for teens. We were all just there a few years ago.”
These consistent shows have not only changed the way Poolhouse sees the world – they’ve also had a monumental impact on their musicianship. “Now that we get to practice and write every day, we have really tightened up our sound both on stage and in the studio,” says bassist Lucas Olivier. “We feel a lot more comfortable live, which allows us to have more fun at shows.”
All of that energy comes through on their new record. I had a chance to listen to it outside of Kluck’s Krispy Chicken this past July. I was parked out front with their manager, and the stereo was on full blast – the only way Poolhouse deserves to be heard. The band has been in the studio working on the new EP with producer Nate Pyfer for the last year.
“Nate Pyfer has always been hugely inspirational for me,” says guitarist Jonny Steed. When Jonny was a student, Pyfer taught a class at his school that left a huge mark on him. “He really opened my eyes to what I could actually do in the music world. Before working with him, I viewed myself as just a guitar player with limited possibilities. He changed my life by opening so many creative doors for me. The spastic, interesting process that he has really brings out the absolute best in what he is working on, and he killed it with our next songs.”
“Mario Kart is also something Nate takes very seriously in the studio,” says Jake. “I think I’m the first one to beat him in years!”
While I can’t speak to their Mario Kart skills, I do know that working with Nate Pyfer and production assistant Mason Winter was a great call. All of the members of Poolhouse are multi-instrumentalists, and Pyfer and Winter both enjoy experimentation. Having lots of talent on hand to experiment with made the record way more daring than it has any right to be, coming from a band this young.
Their bold, daring sound is also due in large part from the guys behind the board. In addition to Pyfer and Winter, the band also enlisted the help of mixing engineer Chris Coady and mastering engineer Joe Laporta. Coady is known for his work with some of the late 00’s and early 10’s biggest indie/alt darlings: Grizzly Bear, Beach House, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Laporta works at Sterling Sound in New Jersey, and his mastering credits include artists like David Bowie, The Weeknd, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Vampire Weekend, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, and more.
Their first singles were catchy, shimmery, and polished (“Blue” and “Strawberry” are my personal favs), but like most local songs lacked the professional punch and polish that big records need to make waves. Coady and Laporta are game changers. Big things are coming for this group. Everyone around the band can feel it.
Poolhouse already has over 120 shows booked through the first part of 2023 to support this new EP, taking them through New York, Tennessee, Hawaii, and more.
“Making our show as big as possible is our focus,” says Jake Buckner. “Our radio promotion will start in October to 44 college stations. Depending on how often and how quickly our songs get played, we have a college tour set up for late fall or early spring to support the stations.”
Singles from the upcoming EP, entitled Tape Machine, will drop between now and Christmas. Their first two singles arrive in September: “Sour” on September 8 and “Employee of the Month” on September 28.
Poolhouse is also planning their biggest Provo show yet. Before they head across the country, they’re returning to Velour Live Music Gallery on October 7. It’s definitely not a show you want to miss.
Until then, enjoy this live performance of their song “Fake My Heart Out” shot exclusively for Provo Music Magazine. You can also follow them @poolhouseband on Instagram and TikTok. Their music is out on all streaming services.