Interview with The Greeting Committee and their new single "Can I Leave Me Too?"

Photo by Elizabeth Miranda

Indie darlings The Greeting Committee have just released a new single. "Can I Leave Me Too?" is a break-up postmortem, cloaked in fuzz, and bittersweet in all the right ways.

The Greeting Committee, which comprises Addie Sartino, Brandon Yangmi, Pierce Turcotte, and Austin Fraser, formed in 2014 in Kansas City. The band self-released an EP in 2015, made their label debut with the EP Meeting People Is Easy in 2017, and subsequently released their debut record This is It in 2018. Most recently, songs from This is It were featured in the Netflix movie To All The Boys I've Loved Before: Always and Forever.

Their new single, "Can I Leave Me Too?" opens with the poignant line: “Why does everybody drive the same car you do?/ I’m scared of myself without you.” Of the track, vocalist Addie Sartino says, “My girlfriend drives a Nissan Rogue, and after we broke up I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing that car,” says Sartino. “I remember thinking, ‘There’s no way there are this many Nissan Rogues in Kansas City’ — but I think that’s a pretty universal thing to have happen when you’re going through a breakup.”

Ahead of the single, Nixie caught up with the band to discuss the production of "Can I Leave Me Too?," how they look back on their debut record, and what's changed for the band since their music was featured in a Netflix movie. Read on for more!

First of all, I just want to say that I’m a fan of your music, and I really love your debut record, This is It. Your writing is very sharp, and sonically, the record feels very developed and solid. How do you all look back on that record?

Pierce: Thank you! That’s very kind of you to say, especially since I don’t think we felt the most confident going into that writing and recording process of This Is It. Writing the first two EPs felt like a breeze, but when we started talking about and writing This Is It, we had a hard time finding what direction to take. We were pretty young at the time and still figuring out how to really write music together. We had a lot of ideas but had trouble executing them. A good chunk of what became This Is It came from a couple of songwriting sessions that we did which, more or less, helped push us past the finish line.

Production-wise, we wanted a sound that retained the pop-iness of the songwriting while differentiating our music from the Top 40. The sound that we got was definitely a lot more lo-fi and indie, but looking back, we all feel that the music has aged better than if we had gone with a more commercially-friendly sound. We sure did learn a lot from that process.

You’ve been a band since 2014, so I imagine that you all have been through a lot together. In what ways have you changed or grown together, both musically or in your relationships with each other?

Pierce: There are so many ways. Your late teens and twenties are probably just as formative as your adolescence. I think the biggest way that we’ve changed is that we’ve learned how to better communicate with each other. We hardly ever 100% agree on a musical idea, but we’re better at conveying and executing ideas. As we’ve grown, our writing has also become more democratic and allows for different people to shine depending on the song.

Addie, I read your essay in Rookie, “The Ways I Wear My Pride.” I have to say I relate to a lot of what you are saying. But that was published in 2018, and I know sometimes I feel like a different person when I look back on essays I’ve written years ago. Do you still relate to your feelings in that essay?

Addie: Honestly, at my lowest place I couldn’t even listen to music or think about it. That’s how far away I was from myself. It wasn’t until far later that I was able to piece together what had happened and how it had changed me.

Three of your songs were featured in the Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever, which is awesome! Congrats on that! How did it feel to hear and see your music in such a popular movie?

Pierce: It was truly a surreal experience! The whole process happened so fast when we recorded everything back in the summer of 2019. With the pandemic and everything being virtual, it was hard to quantify the sort of impact that our involvement in the movie brought, but it was such a blast to see so many new people discover The Greeting Committee because of it. It’s an experience that I never guessed we would have ever had, but we’re grateful for our involvement and everyone who made it possible! I got chills the first time I saw the scene where we are all playing on the rooftop. Although, looking back, I can’t help but laugh at how strange the whole experience was.

Your new single “Can I Leave Me Too?” is the first release since the appearance of your music in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. What has changed for you since then?

Pierce: I feel like so much has changed! “Can I Leave Me Too?” honestly feels like the most true TGC music release since we released This Is It. Of course we put out the EP I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry back in 2019 and then the song “Beginning Middle End” this past year, but “Can I Leave Me Too?” feels like we get to flex our muscles a little bit. I think we’ve all matured and learned so much about who we are individually and as musicians. One good thing that came out of the pandemic for us is time. Where we are usually crunched on time because of a tour or other sort of release, we didn’t really have a lot else to do, and “Can I Leave Me Too?” was one of the first songs to come out of that.

When I listened to “Can I Leave Me Too,” I noticed that it’s sonically a lot bigger than your previous releases. Is this a new direction that you’re headed in as a band?

Pierce: I think it’s impossible to know what sounds we will pursue in the future. When “Can I Leave Me Too?” was written, there was never any intention that it was going to be a “big” sounding song. In most of the demos, and even before the song was mixed, the song was intentionally pretty sparse and we weren’t necessarily going for a big sound (although we knew there was room for growth). What ended up being the biggest game-changer on this song was Dave Fridmann who mixed the song.

To those who aren’t super familiar with the mixing process of a song, mixing helps give the recorded song that last extra 20%. Every mixer is an artist in their own right and no mixer is the same. Based on his previous work, Dave seemed like the person who could give “Can I Leave Me Too?” that last 20% that it needed — and boy were we right. Dave was a big reason why “Can I Leave Me Too?” is sonically bigger than previous releases. However, if you’ve ever been to a live performance of ours, you’d know that our performances tend to be a bit more exciting compared to our recordings. I think “Can I Leave Me Too?” does a good job at showcasing an existing part of what The Greeting Committee has always been.

I read that “Can I Leave Me Too” is a post-breakup portrait. Can you tell me about the seeds of this song, the place you were in when you wrote it?

Pierce: While I can’t totally speak for Addie on the narrative of the song, lyrically, I know the song comes from a place of grief and the mundane parts of life that you go through after a breakup.

Musically, the song started off as my attempt to recreate some of the sounds from one of my favorite Bon Iver records. Because the whole band was quarantined during this time, I felt a lot more freedom to try things that wouldn’t normally fit into what we usually write as a band. I ended up writing most of the song with Addie’s and my shared love for Lorde in mind which I knew would make her love the instrumental more.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2021? Is there more music on the horizon, or perhaps a tour (since live music seems to actually be back!)?

Pierce: Hold on tight. New Greeting Committee music will be here sooner than you think!


Listen to The Greeting Committee's new single "Can I Leave Me Too?" below.