Somebody Better, the soulful and catchy new single from Central Coast indie-pop trio The Million, is the ultimate example of making good out of a bad situation.
After enduring mindgames and an unhealthy dynamic with an ex-partner, the band’s vocalist and guitarist Jacob Thomas met his current girlfriend – herself coming out of a toxic relationship – and imagined what would happen if their respective exes got together.
“She was very manipulative, and I felt stuck … for so long we just kept going back to each other,” he explains of the track’s inspiration. “When someone else came along, all of the things I was ignoring, enduring, and accepting immediately came to light. The grass was way greener on the other side.”
Jacob and his bandmates – bassist Tamon Mashimo and drummer Jay Stewart – had forged a tight bond with Producer Dylan Nash (Dean Lewis and Angus and Julia Stone) during the recording of the band’s 2017 self-released EP Hydration Station, and decided to re-enlist him for the new material. The story of Somebody Better spilled out when Jacob presented Dylan with a cheeky concept: “The idea for the song was, ‘how funny would it be if me and my new girlfriend had a wake for our past relationships.’ In hindsight, it was probably a bit too dark,” he laughs. “We ended up coming up with a concept which was a bit more light-hearted: they’re such bad people that they would be perfect together.”
The track is grounded in funk and R&B sensibilities, while remaining fundamentally pop, reflecting the specific dynamics of The Million. When the group first joined forces, Jay explains, “Jake was the clean-cut, Coldplay-listening, pop music man, and I only listened to punk music until probably two years into the band before I came around to pop music.” Initially opposed to one another when they met in high school, the two were forced together in a school band and have been musically inseparable ever since.
Past members came and went before Jacob reconnected with Tamon at a Paramore concert after losing touch throughout their teens. Tamon, a passionate fan of hip hop and jazz who grew up in Bondi, was the ultimate missing piece to the puzzle, adding another layer of musical influence and inspiration. “After not seeing each other for so long, it was pretty lucky that we got along so well,” Jacob adds.
A guitarist since the age of 10 – the same year he met Jacob – Tamon made the switch to bass to fill the empty spot in the trio in 2015, when The Million was born.
In its infancy, the band encountered a common scene in their small hometown music community: a prevalence of punk and hardcore acts, with little space for an indie-pop trio that deemed a crowd dancing and singing along as a sign of success. “We got put on a lot of pop-punk lineups, and we were just playing our pop music,” Tamon recalls, to which Jacob adds, “We didn’t really fit in, but the crowds got into it anyway.”
With a growing online fanbase, The Million celebrated the release of Hydration Station with a sold-out east coast tour that emboldened them to continue to experiment with their sound and influences.
“The newer stuff is a little bit darker than the songs on Hydration Station,” Jay says. Jacob agrees, saying Somebody Better is representative of a more mature direction for the band. “There’s a bit more of a backbone. Our earlier stuff was all about the vibe and energy, whereas now with Somebody Better and the other new songs we’ve recorded, we’re combining those elements with a narrative focus. It brings a deeper meaning to the music.”
The Million had already earned a reputation as a must-see live act for their soulful vocals, earworm harmonies and bassline groove. Now with a thoughtful new direction and the same infectious indie-pop sensibilities they’re ready to transform heavy subject matter into one big dance party.