Central Coast indie-pop trio The Million welcome a left-field pop earworm into the world today, an exciting next step in the form of their new single ‘Check Up’.
Whilst the band’s self-released 2017 EP Hydration Station and milestone 2019 single ‘Somebody Better’ explored past relationships and interactions, this new single finds lead singer and lyricist Jacob Thomas switching his vision more inward, after a formative experience on the trio’s Los Angeles writing trip made Jacob take stock of who he really is.
“It was written at a time when self-reflection and self-doubt were fighting each other in my head,” he says.
“It sort of just happened out of nowhere one day. I began having these internal thoughts of, “Am I good enough? Am I good at what I’m doing?”
“In that period of time, I was really questioning if I was worth anything, or more specifically if I was worth the career I was building.”
The intensely personal subject matter was expanded by Jacob & drummer Jay Stewart after a few warm-up sessions on their last LA sojourn, this particular mid-trip collaboration being alongside respected producer Colin Brittain, who’s been able to enable unique and remarkable moments for some of the world’s most revered modern acts.
“Colin played us this bass idea, which is the bassline in the song, and we just played keys on top of it and all the lyrics and melodies were flowing out. It was one of those textbook sessions. It came really quickly and felt really natural and that’s typically how our singles turn out.”
The track is grounded in funk and R&B sensibilities informed by artists Jacob was inspired by at the time – namely the psychedelic pop of Tame Impala and the rainbow–soaked melodies of Kacey Musgraves – while remaining fundamentally pop, reflecting the specific dynamics of The Million.
When the group – Jacob, Jay & bassist Tamon Mashimo – 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.”
The Million celebrated the release of first EP Hydration Station with a sold-out east coast tour that emboldened them to continue to experiment with their sound and influences, followed by a sold out Oxford Art Factory Gallery party to launch the single ‘Somebody Better’, which saw the band selected as Channel [V]’s inaugural UNCO[V]ERED artist.
Packed headline shows at the Grace Darling in Melbourne and at the Factory Floor in Sydney closed 2019 for The Million, a band arriving at a point of true transparency with their growing fanbase both online and IRL.
“I think with this song, it marks that I’m trying to be authentic now with my feelings. In the past, I might have been sad but then written a happy song to try and mask that or make someone else feel better, but I think now we’re really trying to deal with our feelings and put that into words… and put that out there for people to relate to.”
‘Check Up’ is out now on Island Records/Universal Music Australia.