The Greeting Committee’s new album, crafted by internal compromise, is uncompromising

Addie Sartino on the power and pitfalls of unpacking anger
The Greeting Committee. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

The Greeting Committee. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

On Sept. 24 The Greeting Committee—composed of Addie Sartino, Austin Fraser, Pierce Turcotte, and Brandon Yangmi—released their sophomore album, Dandelion. With only 10 songs, the album is 30 minutes of can’t-skip hits. Like their previous releases, Dandelion has a way of wrapping up the listener into the emotions of the songs. The lyrics and music blend together in such a way that one can’t help but stop everything they’re doing to listen.

Dandelion’s sound is decidedly different than their previous releases, demonstrating the band’s growth and marking a new era for The Greeting Committee. We sat down with Sartino to discuss what she loves about the band, releasing a breakup album while in a happy relationship, and how the band has grown alongside their fans.

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The Pitch: Congratulations on Dandelion! Can you start by talking about your writing process for the album and how that differed or stayed the same as your other releases?

Addie Sartino: I would say the writing process for Dandelion was different than any other writing process we’ve had. Mostly because our expectations of ourselves were just a lot higher. I think we wrote a lot of songs that didn’t make the album that were probably songs that our fans would like but didn’t tell the narrative the way that we wanted to, or didn’t meet our expectations for ourselves. We really wanted to push ourselves in this album and do something that was different than what we had done before, but also something that wasn’t too alienating to our fanbase. We also started with having so many more ideas than we had ever had. We had a Dropbox folder that we would drop them into, and there were probably 50-60 ideas that we pulled from to get 10 songs.

Was the new sound and change everyone’s been loving about the album an intentional change or did it just come about through the writing?

I would say it was an intentional change. I know that Brandon wasn’t as interested in writing on his guitar as much as he had been in the past. So that definitely brought a big difference because the instruments he was choosing to write on were more keyboard-based. But then we did have the intention to have some guitar-based songs because I love guitar-based music in general. So many bands that we love in the indie scene do that, where they have this guitar-based album, and then it goes into all these synths and you’re like, ‘what just happened?’ so we wanted to help the balance of that. But I would say that even with the keyboard sounds, it’s still kind of held Brandon’s grittiness that he’s had in his guitar-based writing. There was definitely intention there.

Talk to me about that collaboration with the band. You guys have grown up together from high school. How is that changed how you work with each other and how you write, with those decisions about what instruments you want to use, or what kind of lyrics or songs you want to use?

Yeah, The Greeting Committee is definitely the result of four people disagreeing and compromising. There’s definitely that rub. But I think that’s what makes it unique is that it’s four very different individuals, getting together to make something together. It’s definitely changed throughout the years, just based on us growing as people and what we’re interested in and what we like. We tried really hard on this album to be respectful of each other and open to different ideas. In the past, there’s been some gatekeeping of if you don’t like an idea, then you don’t invest into it. Instead, the mindset shifted into ‘if I don’t like this, how can I make myself like it? What can I add to it? What can I bring to the table that helps me attach to it?’

So would you say then that this album is the most representative of you guys as a band?

That’s so tricky, I haven’t thought about that. I guess so. Yeah, I would say it’s definitely more of everyone’s voice than what’s been in the past. Statistically speaking, Brandon brings in the most ideas, if you look in The Greeting Committee’s catalog. For this record, it’s not one band member dominating the record. Not that that was a bad thing by any means. When I made this band, I selected Brandon to be the first person that I wanted to work with because I so enjoy his craft and his talent. But Pierce kind of gave him a run for his money. And Brandon will admit that. Pierce had a lot of ideas that he put in, and with that, throwing out a lot of ideas means that there are more ideas likely to stick.

Dandelion Albumcover Final Tgc 1

The cover art for Dandelion. // Courtesy The Greeting Committee

Looking back at your discography, what do you hope people get out of these 10 songs and this sound and these lyrics versus the messaging in previous releases?

For me, personally, I’ve always wanted our music to make people feel less alone because that’s what music did for me growing up. I think that what’s unique about our band is that a lot of our fans have quite literally grown up with us. I think you can definitely hear that and our catalog. I hope that people can hear that, and that seems to be something that keeps coming up. I think that is why we have such high expectations of ourselves. What’s great about this body of work is that it came off of I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry. In that EP we literally focused on nothing but the four of us and what we wanted. We didn’t listen to outside people. Dandelion is that but in an album form—kind of extending that of ‘What do we want? What is the most authentic to us?’ That’s what the album came to be.

Was any of that affected by the pandemic or was it a sort of a vision you had in your head before?

I would say that when we wrote I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry, that’s when we were really in a place of, we just need to go back to what we like. Not that we don’t care for This Is It or that we don’t appreciate it. But that album was definitely influenced by what we thought we needed to be doing and what people were telling us we needed to be doing. And everything that came out of this as it was sort of a rejection of that. I think [Dandelion] was just a continuation of that idea and how to elaborate on it and how to make it even better.

You’ve talked about this in previous concerts, where you say, ‘We love This Is It, but also it wasn’t fully us.’ Now that you have this second album out is it the most recognizable release you’ve made? Or do you have a new respect for This Is It now that you can kind of look back on it?

This Is It is a coming-of-age album. I think that’s why I’m very fond of it, though. On the other hand—I’m kind of dissing it right now—but I do feel very close to it because I can so vividly go back to where I was when I was writing those songs and the experience that I was having. There’s a lot of themes that fit into [This Is It]. For Dandelion, it’s very much so feeling like I’m watching my life instead of living it and that grief that I was going through, and that’s not as big of a playing field. There are benefits to both for sure. With This Is It we wrote five songs back to back for that album. Whereas for Dandelion, we hit a wall after every single song we wrote. It was way more tedious to write than This Is It and I think that’s just because we were so much more intentional.

The Greeting Committee. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

The Greeting Committee. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

Dandelion is the breakup album. How does that feel to have written a breakup album when you’re now back in a happy relationship? I know you joked about that on Twitter and the line in “So It Must Be True,” where you say “here’s your love song you only get one cause you pissed me off.”

I think it’s funny. I get a kick out of all of it. But I only wrote those lyrics once I was back in the relationship and feeling safe. When we were apart, and when I was grieving, I was too sad to listen to music, I was too sad to write music, I was too sad to be sad. I didn’t feel any emotion other than numbness and being kind of pathetic in a way. It wasn’t until I felt secure being back with Elise that I could actually let all this out. It’s funny because I would play or the demos and I played her “So It Must Be True” where that line is, and she’s patting my back, like ‘let it out.’ She’s a good sport.

She was actually in LA with us when we were doing the actual recording process. There were a couple of times where she had to step out of the room and kind of collect herself and I went out to talk to her. She was like, ‘I think it’s really important that you wrote something so beautiful, but hurts me because that means it’s very important.’ That’s what music is supposed to do. So she was always very proud of it, which is great. It hasn’t always been that way. I mean, when we were 16 and 17 I remember she was pissed about all these songs that were about other people. And it’s like, ‘I didn’t even know you then, that’s so not fair.’ She’s grown a lot and gotten used to it.

I was really petty too. “Wrapped Inside Of Your Arms” I actually wrote around the same time I wrote “Elise,” so five years ago, and it was something that I pulled back out when we were needing ideas. I didn’t want it to go on the album because I was being so petty of like, ‘she always gets a love song! This one’s about me.’ It made the album because my bandmates liked that song, not necessarily because I was pushing for it. The only way that I could rationalize it being on there was having it follow up “So It Must Be True,” because I just thought that was funny. It’s like, “here’s your love song, you only get one because it’s what everybody wants.” And then the next song on the album is the love song of the album.

Was it weird to access that anger and that grief after you were safe again?

I think that I unpacked that in my own therapy. I felt the need to do that because I’m so vindictive in a way. I just couldn’t make sense of it. If I’m angry, and we’re not together, then I’m just sitting with this anger and that feels unfair to me. I don’t want to put more negativity on myself. But when we were back together, I felt like I could be angry again, because I was angry towards her. And I wanted her to be the one that felt that. Obviously, there’s a healthy way to do that.

When we got back together we went to couples therapy because we wanted to do it in the healthiest way we could. But you know, it hurt me and hurt her as well. It wasn’t this breakup of ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ It was more of a breakup of like, ‘you’re all I’ve known since I was 16 and I need to figure out who I am. I don’t know if who I am is with you or not.’ The music definitely helped with that and gave an avenue for us to talk. A lot of the time I’m talking through my music.

Addie By Elizabeth Miranda

Addie. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

It seems like that process within your relationship is parallel to the process of your songwriting with the band. Where you’re all each other has known since you were teenagers and now you have to figure out a new way to embark on creating music together. I think that to me is the clearest evidence of the growth on the album. This is a new sound, but this is still very much The Greeting Committee. 

That’s a really good point. I literally hadn’t thought of that. I mean, because I was 15 when I started The Greeting Committee, and then I was 17 when I met Elise so I mean, The Greeting Committee is the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. Elise broke my heart but the boys break my heart every month. That’s being in a relationship and figuring it out with one another.

Do you think you’ve learned more lessons that would carry into your personal life through having to stick it out with the band?

I got home an hour ago from band therapy because we have to figure that stuff out together. I would say it’s helped but almost in the opposite. I was actually talking to a friend and I said that my breakup with Elise actually prepared me for kind of how I’m feeling right now in the band. Begging people for affection or to be this role in their life isn’t healthy. It needs to be that I feel safe and sturdy in myself. That’s hard for me to say, because I’m not that person. I’m the person that’s more like, ‘I’m going to grab it and I’m going to make it mine.’ I think that’s important in my career especially, but for personal relationships, it’s learning how to not suffocate something, learning to let it be what it is, and be the best version of yourself you can be. They definitely go hand in hand for sure. I learned different things from each of them and apply them to other areas of my life.

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I feel like your guys’ appearance on To All The Boys was just sort of this huge mountainous achievement. Bur at the same time, when I think of you guys, I’m not thinking about the movie. I’m thinking of everything that you guys have accomplished. How did it affect your reception as a band? Did it increase your guys’ growth or was it just a fun thing to do?

I think it was hard to tell what the effect since it was all online because we were so deep in the pandemic. It definitely helped to have us be in a movie. I think if anything my biggest takeaway, was just being able to be like, ‘Grammy and Grandpa, look, I’m in a movie.’ That’s an easy way to show off to your extended family. What a unique experience. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing that most people don’t get to go through. Also, I watched the movies so I was super pumped just to see that third one. I’m glad that that’s not what everyone thinks of. To me, that affirms that other things we do are just as important.

I think we’ve been organic about our growth and I don’t think we’ve skipped any steps. That can be frustrating when you’re watching other people, but there’s also a lot of comfort that comes from knowing that we’ve literally taken every step. I mean we did have a jumpstart the fact that we put “Hands Down” out and less than a year later got signed. We definitely got to skip out on a lot of the grind that people go through but it just happened later, I guess. I hope that whenever we do have a moment of success, that our fans feel like they’re entitled to feel that as well. Because I really do I feel that way when something happens for us. I’m just excited for everyone else to get to experience the excitement of it.

The Greeting Committee. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

The Greeting Committee. // Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

What’s been your favorite concert or the most impactful concert that you guys have done?

I mean, selling out Uptown was a dream, for sure. I was so terrified that no one was going to show up because it was in a snowstorm. But people showed up and that was crazy and scary and fun. Other than that, I would say when we go on tour, and a show feels resemblant of a hometown show, that’s always special. Columbus, Ohio is typically like that for us. On our last headline run, Dallas, Texas really popped off and that was cool. I think just going to other cities and having people know the words is so special. Also forming friendships with fans and being excited to see them in their cities. I know who to look for when we play certain cities.

Do you have a favorite city besides Kansas City where you feel most at home? 

I think we all probably have different answers. I know Brandon is appreciative of playing things like Uptown, but I know that he misses playing venues like Record Bar and having it feel so intimate. For me, though, it’s the more the merrier. I want to have everyone to hug and have it be this big thing and my family’s here and I want to impress them. I would say Columbus is a home away from home type of show. They’ve just always been good to us. DC is always pretty fun. Minneapolis is good to us.

Who would be your ideal tourmates if you could assemble your own in a perfect world? 

I know for this tour, I really want this artist Dizzy Fae who was actually a recommendation when we tweeted. I would love for that to happen. A lot of the people I would want to work with us just have a similar touring history, so it wouldn’t make sense. It’d be a co-headline if anything. Opening for The Killers or The Strokes would be insane. I think if we toured with Beach Bunny, that would be fun. I think that would go well for all of us. Lily, actually came and sang a cover of “Valerie” with us at our Chicago show on our last headline, and it was pre-Beach Bunny blowing up, which was cool. I love Samia. That was such a fun stage to share.

What do you want your fans or people who are just now discovering The Greeting Committee to remember you for or to think of when they think of you?

I want to be remembered for caring about everybody who listens to my music because I do. I really, sincerely enjoy talking to everybody. I notice when people that have been to concerts aren’t there anymore and I think about often. There are some Kansas City fans that specifically come to mind that pass in my thoughts every week. But it’s not enough for me to just feel that way. I want them to feel that I feel that way if that makes sense. I want there to be love and care when they think of how we feel about them. I want them to be filled up inside—in a healthy way.

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