Grammys, Aussie Coffee & Lizzo: This Is What Happens When Boo Seeka Interview X Ambassadors

5 February 2020 | 12:09 pm | Sam HarrisBen Gumbleton

Ahead of their Australian tour, X Ambassadors' Sam Harris had a chat with Boo Seeka's Ben Gumbleton, who will be joining the group as tour support.

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Ben Gumbleton: Brother, how are ya?

Sam Harris: Hey, how's it going, man? How are you? I'm doing pretty good. I'm doing pretty good just here, trying to get through rush hour traffic in Los Angeles.

BG: Oh, you’re still in LA are you? Are you heading to New Zealand first or are you in Japan or something prior to that? 

SH: So I'm not sure, actually, I got a look at my phone and have a look at the calendar to see where we're at, but I think we're in New Zealand first and then we come over to you guys and then I think we go to Japan.

BG: Oh awesome, will this be the first time you’ve been to Australia?

SH: Yeah, man, it's my first time, well our drummer has been there on vacation. He's been over to your side of the world before. But it's my first time there ever. And I've said this to a couple different people I've spoken to, but I'm like, so excited to drink the coffee there because I hear that there's a really good coffee scene in Australia.

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BG: There is man, if you like your coffee, I don't think you'll be disappointed in Aus. We've been fortunate enough to tour around as well and I still can't wait to get back to Australia to good coffee.

SH: Oh, my god. Wow. Alright, cool!

BG: Yeah man, I look forward to taking you around and showing you around Aus. We're really looking forward to the tour, so thanks very much for having us on board.

SH: Of course. Of course. Of course.

BG: But hey, let's get through these questions; so from what we've read online, you guys, are from Finger Lakes region in New York. Is that correct?

SH: Yeah, upstate New York, it's about like a five hour drive from the city, from New York City, like central New York. That's kind of where we're from. 

BG: It is it on a lake?

SH: It is. So there are the five Finger Lakes and we live in Ithaca which is right at the bottom of one called Cayuga Lake. 

BG: Gotcha. So our first question - I'll buy you so many coffees if you can get this first question - can you name any Australian lakes?

SH: Absolutely none. Not a single one!

BG: I knew this was going to be a good one once you said you’d never been to Australia. I was like 'ah shit he’s never going to get this one'. 

SH: (Laughing) What about lake Sydney or lake Melbourne?

BG: (Laughing) Ah there's no lake Sydney or Melbourne but there are a couple of lakes in Sydney and Melbourne. But to be quite honest, when Michael wrote this question I could really only think of three myself. So I was like 'how the hell are these guys going to know?' 

BG: Could you tell me the first album you bought? And you do you still have it? 

SH: Yeah, I actually just found it the other day! The first album I ever bought was a copy of Californication, the Red Hot Chili Peppers record on CD. And I still have that same CD.

BG: Wow, that's crazy. That's almost as good as knowing a lake in Australia.

SH: Amen, almost.

BG: All right, so your first album, VHS, was released in 2015. Can you tell us what VHS stands for and also the best-selling American VHS of all time?

SH: Oh, my god. Video home system or a video home?

BG: Yeah, I think that's it. 

SH: And then the most popular VHS tape of all time - I wonder if it's like Titanic or something?

BG: Well, that's a pretty good guess. It was a good answer but it was The Lion King, 32 million tapes! 

SH: Oh, The Lion King, eh? That makes sense.

BG: Yeah, that does make sense. All right next question - a bit of Aussie slang for you. Do you know what fair dinkum means? You’ll hear a lot of that, I reckon. 

SH: No, no. What does it mean? 

BG: Well, fair dinkum can kind of be good or bad, so it's kind of like someone saying - I'm trying to think what you'd say in American terms - are you joking or are you kidding me? Or, you know, like if someone tells you something and you can't believe it, that kind of thing.

SH: Can you use it in a sentence for me?

BG: So if you were to say ‘This is my first time to Australia’, someone would go ‘fair dinkum, really?!’

SH: Wow, OK, cool. Alright.

BG: You'll have to learn that one. You'll have to look it up online and learn it. But the first thing they say to us, you when you land in Australia. 

SH: Alright. Cool, I’ll sound really dorky when we’re there!

BG: Alright, so in your touring touring part who is usually the last guy standing at the bar?

SH: Oh, man, Adam. Adam, our drummer. Yeah. He's your drinking partner.

BG: Haha, done! Me and Adam are going to get along like a house on fire.

SH: He doesn't really drink when he's not on tour. But then when he's on tour, he drinks. Like he'll drink until the wee hours of the morning.

BG: Okay, that's good to know. I'd like to know these certain things before we go on tour with someone. So were you guys in any other bands before X ambassadors? If so, what were they called?

SH: So my brother and I were in a band in high school together. We called ourselves The Fuzz Brothers. And before that I was in a band in middle school and we called ourselves, Subject To Change. We thought that was really clever - it wasn't. And then before that we were the same band but we were called we call ourselves Pocket because we ate a lot of hot pockets. Do you know what Hot Pockets are?

BG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love Hot Pockets, but I reckon that’s a sick name. That's really a really good name! 

SH: It is a good name. Well, I still stand by it.

BG: Yeah man. I’ll raise the flag for that name any day. That's epic. 

SH: Fuck yeah. 

BG: Tell us about your first show together, do you remember the first time that you played as X Ambassadors?

SH: Yes. The first show we played as X Ambassadors was a show at this place called Goodbye Blue Monday. It was in Bushwick. It was downstairs from our rehearsal spot. And we are crammed together on a stage that was maybe 10 by 10 feet, not big at all. And there was, there was a benefit for somebody's play that they putting on. They were trying to raise money for it, and they were a friend of mine like, so I was like 'oh, my band will play' and we played and we were awful. There were maybe like ten people there, so we didn't make any money. We had like maybe eight songs, maybe six.

BG: That’s pretty good for your first show. 

SH: Yeah it was pretty good, you know, we've been working on material for a while. I'll be it you know, the material was still pretty shitty, but, you know, we did it. 

BG: Were any of them Pocket songs? 

SH: No, like some of them were leftover Fuzz Brothers songs.

BG: Lovely.

SH: Yeah, but no Pocket songs made it to that show.

BG: Are you guys an ex of anything else, notable in life other than the X Ambassadors?

SH: Haha I am an ex… nail-biter. I just stopped biting my nails for the first time, and it's really crazy. It's crazy to have real nails again.

BG: Was this like a 2020 resolution?

SH: No, it has actually been a couple years now, but I was on the road and I kept getting fuckin' sick and I was trying to figure out why. And my doctor was like, 'oh, do you buy your nails?' And I was like 'yeah, why?' and the guy is like, 'that’s probably why! You're touching so much stuff with your hands all the time, your picking up all these germs and putting them right back in your mouth!'

BG: Oh wow, that’s crazy! 

SH: Crazy, right!

BG: Man, I mean it all makes sense honestly, but I did not even think that would make you really sick, it's just something you would not think about! 

SH: Right. So now I don't get quite as sick on tour anymore!

BG: Man, well, that’s good for me to know, I don't bite my fingernails, but I have a tendency to just pick them all the time on the road so I don't really have any cuticles left. So that's good for me to know that I'm not going to want to stick my hands in my mouth and make myself sick (laughs). 

SH: Yeah, definitely, definitely don't go down that road. 

BG: I feel like I'm going to bond with Adam over drinking and I'm going to bond with you over not biting our nails. 

SH: Exactly. Exactly. 

BG: And my last question was, have you guys recently collaborated with anybody?

SH: We did. So we worked with Lizzo on her album. We co-wrote and produced a song called Jerome, a song called Cuz I Love You. And another song called Heaven Help Me. And actually, Jerome last night, won a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. So I was pretty excited! 

BG: I saw that online, congratulations, guys. That's fucking amazing. That's really cool!

SH: Thank you man. Yeah, it's really insane. It's so insane. All credit goes to her. She's like no other artist we've ever worked with before. She’s really fucking great! 

BG: She's tearing up Australia at the moment. She's done so many amazing things for... we’ve just been through some really terrible bushfires and she's been doing so much amazing benefit work and kind of raising money and putting her hand in her own pocket kind of thing and just all of her interviews man, she’s such an inspiring woman. But how can you not love Lizzo? She's amazing.

SH: Yeah, we were actually, we talked on the phone a little bit while she was in Australia and she was telling me all about the stuff that she'd been doing and the animal reserves that she'd been visiting and all that stuff. It's really amazing. You know, she's an incredible woman.

BG: Yeah man. Well once again, congratulations, because that's that's crazy, bro. 

SH: Thanks man!

BG: Well, that's that's everything for me. 

SH: All right. How’d I do?

BG: I think it was epic, well we’re really looking forward to hanging out with you guys!

SH: Yeah man it's gonna be a lot of fun. I cannot wait to get to Aus! 

BG: Awesome man. Well, enjoy the rest of your time before I see you guys and congratulations again. Thank you, man.

SH: Thank you!

X Ambassadors kick off their Australian tour (with support from Boo Seeka) in Sydney on Thursday 6 February. Head to theGuide for all the info.