One would think the boys of Carpool Tunnel have known each other forever. After sharing bunk beds, spinning each other’s records, and learning each other’s most personal struggles, their bond is as close as family. However, it was only four years ago that they met each other for the first time–on an app, nonetheless. After sporadically releasing singles over the years that are now well-known and loved by every one of their fans, Carpool Tunnel have established themselves as a staple in California’s indie rock scene.
Even still, “indie rock” is a misnomer. Although they are spiritually connected through their love for The Eagles, each member has their own influences–blues, hard rock, reggae, pop punk–that bleed into their music. One would expect for these sounds to sunder, but they instead converge into one cohesive sound so much so that “indie rock,” a term so vague in of itself, may be the closest one can get to defining the band.
Their debut album, Bloom, is an ever-expanding scrapbook of memories. The writing and recording for the album began nearly four years ago and was finished in the fall of 2019. The process is best described as a lyric in the last track of the album, “Closer”: “Where there’s an end, there’s a beginning.”
“[We were] doing all of these things living out of this house in San Francisco trying to make our lives come together to create this project at the same time,” bassist Spencer Layne told us in an interview. “As we were in the house, our lives really started to pull on us and… pull us into darker places in our lives. And by the time we made it out of the house, we felt like we had done and accomplished what we set out to do.”
Listeners often label Carpool Tunnel as a new surf-rock favorite; their sun-soaked sound may be inspired by the coast, but it is fueled by their growing love for themselves and those around them. One can pluck life lessons from each song: the unconditional nature of reassurance in “I’ll Be Your Friend,” taking what you love and running with it in “Impressions,” or cathartically flipping off whatever (or whoever) doesn’t serve you in “Forget My Name.” The good vibes on Bloom are infectious, and the band can’t help but make each song with love.
Fan favorites “Impressions” and “Better Now” were updated and re-recorded before making it to the tracklist. Standout tracks like “Forget My Name” and “Nostalgia” break the album’s expectations with their fresh melodies and structure. Each song is its own explosion that, when stitched together into an album, unintentionally proves Carpool Tunnel’s musical prowess.
The defining mantra of the album is “like a flower, you too shall bloom,” thoughtfully taken from a journal page of drummer Daniel Stauffer. Like this mantra, every lick, beat, and verse in Bloom is as sincere as a diary entry.
“We made that line the theme of our album, and that was almost two years ago now,” said lead singer and guitarist Ben Koppenjan. “It’s so crazy to think about, like how much we’ve grown since then.”
“We wanted [the listener] to have an experience where, if you went in feeling one way, you went out feeling better about yourself and like you’ve gone through something and gotten something out of your system,” said guitarist Bradley Kearsley.
Ahead of their album release, Carpool Tunnel signed to Pure Noise Records, a Berkeley-based label popular for pop-punk bands like State Champs and The Story So Far. Although the band’s sound is a bit removed from the genre, their music can be just as emotional, energetic, and cathartic as their punk contemporaries, hopefully serving as a fresh face in the Pure Noise family.
Listen to Bloom here: