Home Music A Silver Screen: In Conversation with The Neighbourhood’s Jesse Rutherford

A Silver Screen: In Conversation with The Neighbourhood’s Jesse Rutherford

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Having said that, you’re starting to post again, sparingly. Do you have any new rules, lessons learned from the hiatus?

I think Chip has given me the ability to not feel like I’m losing something if I’m not posting every day. I still struggle with it. When you’re on the internet at all and you’re part of that flow and you’re actively participating, it’s hard to not think about it in the back of your head. I think I got to a point when I was off of it for so long that it wasn’t even in the back of my head, which was really nice. 

It was hard, because I’m on it again, I’m high on it again. I got hooked. I went to rehab and then I relapsed and now I’m getting high off of it again, and it’s actually working so I think as an addict I’d be able to be like, “No, no, it’s cool. I can just have one drink, and then I’m fine.”

But I know that that’s not the truth. I know that my brain is fucked and I started it back up again, but that’s part of the Chip thing and why Chip exists at all, because I feel like I need to be there and I want to be seen so bad that I’m going to make myself into this thing so you’ll have to fucking look. When Tekashi69 first made it onto all of our social pages and news feeds, you couldn’t help but click on it. You just couldn’t help it. So that’s part of the thing here.

I love that Chip is literally a shiny object. We’re all just fascinated birds, pecking at it.

Yeah, like what the fuck is this? What does it do? What does it make? Okay, it’s music. All right, let’s see what that sounds like. That’s the one part that I feel happy about with all this. I’ve had great things said about the music from people that I respect, so that’s been really cool.

Anybody in particular?

My sister. My sister’s about 10 years older than me and she is my barometer for truth. She’s led a different life than me. We’ve had very different paths, and I’ve questioned that all the time, why she had to go through the things she had to go through and yet, I get to do the things that I get to do. She grew up listening to Pantera and Metallica and Black Sabbath and was a very dark  teenager. She had the fucking crystal ball in her room with the door locked, blasting the music.

I’ll put it this way: my sister loves me. She’s proud of me for being her brother, but I don’t think she’s ever been a fan of The Neighbourhood. I think some of the shit we do, she’s like, “Oh, that’s cool. I like that. Good job, Jess.” But for the most part she’s not, which I love—she’s not just a fan of everything. 

I sent her the “Devil’s Advocate” and “Pretty Boy” videos. When she heard “Devil’s Advocate,” she goes, “Dude, yes. This is what I’m talking about. This shit, this is what you know how to do that nobody else knows how to do. This is so cool.”

Then she listens to “Pretty Boy,” and she said, “Yeah, I mean I guess it’s pretty cool, but I don’t really like love songs, so.” And I was like, “What!? You just blew my mind then stabbed me. In one way I was like, “What do you mean you don’t like my love song?” But in another way I’m like, “God, I love that she’s able to do that.” 

When the whole record came out in context, my sister called me and left a voicemail, and I brought her to tears. Finally, after all these years. So that was an emotional thing for me but also really full circle to be making my sister feel something like that.

And then on the other side of the spectrum it’s The Weeknd like, “Yo, bro, your shit’s tight,” you know what I mean? So it’s like, “Fuck yeah.”

You just went full circle in another, very different relationship—this was the band’s last album on Columbia. I can’t imagine a lot of bands successfully fulfill a four album deal and still have this kind of longevity ahead of them.

That’s what I’ve heard. I only know my situation, but it feels good. It’s not totally over, and in a way it’s this weird moment where it’s actually going the best that it went the whole time, so of course it’s like, “Now we’re going to leave? Hmm. All right.”

You clearly have a love and appreciation not just for music, but for discovering and supporting new artists. You had Travis Scott opening for you super early, same with The 1975, you were early on supporting Dylan Brady and Kevin Abstract. And most recently you have this excellent song “lost cause//” with KennyHoopla. Could you just talk a little bit about the importance of keeping up with new music and working with new artists?

To be fair, I’m not the best at keeping in touch or knowing how to keep in touch with people sometimes. Taking someone on tour is great because you get to know them enough, but yet you get your own space also and you get to be doing what you want. You get to be peacocking the whole time and going up on stage and performing and getting that out of you with each other, and you get to win individually but with each other. I see a lot of those artists that we’ve taken on tour that I’ve asked to open for us on tour take flight success-wise much higher than us in certain ways.

I’m sure in certain parts of the world, The Neighbourhood is maybe selling more tickets and all that, but when you see these kids that you’ve taken on tour get co-signed by people way bigger than me… In the past I definitely would catch feelings over it.

But now with this publishing thing, having an option to say, “All right, if I really want to do business with you and you’re a new artist and you’re doing well and we’re already with each other and hanging out, then what about a pub deal? You don’t have one of those yet. Here’s a bag and here’s some good terms. Keep doing what you’re doing.” 

I’m not trying to be anyone’s label or manager or anything like that. I don’t want anything to do with it for the most part. I think everybody wants to do their own thing. 

We’ve also taken artists on tour that have done nothing, so it’s not like every single one was just a sure shot. I’m just happy, and it’s exciting to know someone before it really starts going, so to see 100 gecs happen, to see Brockhampton happen is just like, “Oh, my god.” I remember Brockhampton put out their first mixtape that they did as Brockhampton. You guys at Pigeons & Planes actually posted about it. That’s probably where I saw it. I remember just being like, “Oh, this is it.”

All-American Trash?

Yep, that was it. But regardless, I’m okay now, so I’m not worried about getting anything that I thought I should have. I just don’t believe any of that anymore. I think 2020 definitely re-aligned my prescription, my vision, and set things into perspective more and I’m just honored to be part of any of that at this point in time. It’s all love for any of these artists that we’ve been with on the journey.

You have to be in it for the long haul. I’ve done it several times, where you think, “I know this person, and I know that person. This kid’s definitely a star. If I just put them in the right places, I think something will happen.” 

Then if it doesn’t happen the way that you thought it would, you’re dealing with someone’s life and their emotions. They’ve put their trust in you. And if it doesn’t happen, you’re talking about a 19, 20, 21-year-old kid. You’re just like, “Oh, fuck, now I’m responsible for this, and they’re going to be leaning on me, thinking that I have some sort of an answer because I know more people.” But the reality of it is, none of us knows what works or doesn’t anymore. We just don’t.