James Sunderland and Brett Hite were down on their luck.
Both aspired to make it big in the music industry, and working a dead end retail gig as sales associates at Lululemon was far from the dream. Total strangers prior to their stint at the athletic clothing store, the two became fast friends as they bonded over mutual interests and life struggles.
Today, Sunderland and Hite have transformed their friendship into FRENSHIP – the Los Angeles-based musical duo that achieved unprecedented recognition after their 2016 mega-hit “Capsize” totaled half a billion streams and notched multiple gold and platinum certifications worldwide. Now, the guys are taking their cozy blend of hypnotic pop and indie rock on the road for the 36-date North American Good Morning, Goodbye Tour, which will hit The Foundry in Philadelphia on Friday, April 13.
For Sunderland and Hite, who hail from small towns in Colorado and Washington respectively, embarking on their first-ever cross country headlining tour is the culmination of years of blood, sweat and tears. Before moving to L.A., both were chasing seemingly unachievable dreams. Sunderland longed to be a DJ, while singer-songwriter Hite’s audiences were often limited to local coffee shop goers.
The two were 1,000 miles apart, but a major uproot and chance hiring at Lululemon brought them together in what can only be described as serendipity. Outside of work, they hung out regularly, quickly realizing how well their personalities complemented each other. Since neither was making much progress in his individual endeavors, they decided it would be worthwhile to make music together. What did they have to lose?
“We were at our wits end trying to rethink our whole music careers,” Sunderland reflected.
Going into the experience, the duo was open to anything when it came to its sound. Hite still remembers his first suggestion like it was yesterday – “Let’s try to be Mumford & Sons meets Skrillex.” As interesting as that would’ve been (maybe the next EP?), what they unintentionally landed on was something rarely found in the industry – an honest and raw yet catchy mixture of genres.
“We both had such drastically different tastes,” Sunderland said. “You round us together and you get something unique, and FRENSHIP was born.”
The duo started off strong, crafting their first song “Kids,” followed by numerous singles including “Morrison,” “Nowhere” and “Knives.” But things weren’t taking off as quickly as they’d hoped. In a last-ditch attempt to get FRENSHIP off the ground, Sunderland and Hite put some PR money behind their songs “Carpet” and “Capsize,” both of which were released in 2016.
“We were running out of money, things weren’t really going that well,” Sunderland reflected. “It was kind of our last effort before we had to figure out what we were going to do again.”
“Carpet” had a fair amount of success. But it was nothing compared to that of “Capsize,” which went absolutely viral after its appearance on Spotify’s New Music Friday. The rhythmic jam featuring Emily Warren racked up nearly 410 million streams, landed a spot on Top 40 radio and, most importantly, got FRENSHIP on people’s radar.
The following year was a whirlwind. FRENSHIP earned the No. 2 Breakout Artist nod for 2016 on Spotify and a Shazam 2017 Emerging Artist award, recognitions that made it an in-demand breakthrough act at concerts and festivals around the globe. In addition to playing Lollapalooza Chicago and Outside Lands Music Festival, the duo opened for indie band Bastille on their European and U.S. treks.
After months on the road, Sunderland and Hite craved a serene space to clear their heads and re-acquaint themselves with the songwriting process. Leaving its monster streaming, radio and touring success behind, FRENSHIP ventured to Ojai, California, where it let the creative juices flow. The result was the duo’s single “Love Somebody,” which received 3.5 million streams in its first month.
The song began as an ode to Sunderland’s ex-lover whom he wanted to send off with a heartfelt song.
“Kind of saying it didn’t work out but I hope you find happiness with somebody else,” he explained. “It’s like the goodbye song I never wrote.”
For Hite, “Love Somebody” conjured up an outlook on life and love he wishes for people even at their very youngest.
“My nephew was a year old at the time we wrote it, and I remember thinking the song could be ascribed for what I hope for him – to feel joy, to feel pain, to experience all that life has to offer and, at the end of the day, to love and be loved by somebody,” he said.
FRENSHIP finds beauty in that the track holds separate meaning for both members, which is something they hope listeners experience as well.
“I like the fact that it invites different interpretations,” Hite said. “The best songs are always perceived one way by one person and a completely different way by somebody else. When we write, the binding thing in the end is that it means something to both of us.”
“Love Somebody” will surely be a fan favorite during FRENSHIP’s tour, which kicked off April 3 in Kansas City, Missouri. Attendees can also expect to hear hits off the duo’s EP Truce such as “1,000 Nights,” and of course its latest single “Good Morning, Goodbye,” which dropped two weeks ago.
Despite FRENSHIP’s somewhat mellow vibe, Sunderland and Hite promise a concert chock full of energy and...choreography?
“There are a couple of steps we hit every night,” Hite laughed.
“It’s fun overall the show,” Sunderland added. “I think it helps make a lot of the music make a bit more sense. That’s where people will start to fully understand us, when they see us live.”
FRENSHIP | April 13, 9pm (doors at 8pm). $15. The Foundry at the Fillmore, 29 E. Allen St. concerts1.livenation.com/event
Here’s a quick look at five other musical acts coming to Philly this month.
Lead singer Zou Zou Mansour has been compared to the likes of Iggy Pop and Joan Jett. The band itself has been described as “raw” and “fiery.” It’s a combination that has made Soraia a well-known name and a top sound in South America, after a version of the Kinks song “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” hit No. 1 on South American charts. Now, all that success heads to Milkboy this spring. | April 12, 8pm. $10-$12. Milkboy Philly, 1100 Chestnut St. milkboyphilly.com/event
The Cactus Blossoms
Two brothers, who started blazing their trail as a cover band, have blossomed, so to speak, into a full-fledged band with a host of original songs with a sound that pays homage to music of yesteryear. This spring, the duo will enjoy a two-night residency at Fishtown’s legendary music house, Johnny Brenda’s. | April 15, 9pm. $15. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. johnnybrendas.com/event
From Soundcloud to the big stage, this Brooklyn-based gangsta rapper has found himself on the Billboard Hot 100 and has collabed with the likes of Trippie Redd and Fetty Wap. The colorful (literally and figuratively) 6IX9INE who also goes by Tekashi 6IX9INE (his momma named him Daniel Hernandez), will hit the stage at the famous Trocadero Theater this spring. | April 21, 8pm. $30. The Trocadero Theater, 1003 Arch St. thetroc.com/event
Feels Good: A Tribute to Raphael Saadiq
A night of smooth dedicated to the man who defined it as a musician, artist, producer and songwriter for more than 20 years. Saadiq, who has composed music for the likes of Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and Solange Knowles, is as much a staple of R&B and soul, a note that will play tribute this spring at World Cafe Live. | April 27, 8pm. $15. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. worldcafelive.com/event
Minus the Bear
Known for hits like “Pachuca Sunrise,” and “"Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” the band, which has been around for more than a decade, is still selling out major show houses and will look to do the same on this tour which hits the Electric Factory later this spring. The headliners, they’ll share the stage with opening act The Coathangers. | April 28, 8:30pm. $25. The Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St. livenation.com/venues
– KERITH GABRIEL | @SPRTSWTR