When We Were Small

Things weren't always so sunny for the Little Ones.

Proud owners of a shiny new major-label contract, the Little Ones are proof that something’s happening in L.A.’s Silver Lake, the hilly hipster enclave that also produced Irving and Silversun Pickups. Yet as frontman Ed Reyes says, things haven’t always been so sunny for the blog-buzzed jangle-pop quintet. “We’ve always done stuff on our own and never really paid attention to the scene,” Reyes says, “so it’s always surprising to us that we could be a part of it. I mean, when we first started, we could barely get a gig in L.A.”

When first started, the Little Ones actually were quite little: Reyes formed the band in 2004 with guitarist Ian Moreno, with whom he’d played previously in the emo-rock outfit Sunday’s Best. The pair wrote songs in earnest, but as Reyes says, “It was kind of hard with just two people. To fully realize it, we felt we needed to bring somebody else in.” That somebody was Lee LaDouceur, a keyboardist who also happens to date Moreno’s sister. The three picked up where Reyes and Moreno had left off until the value of a drummer dawned upon them; enter Moreno’s high-school pal Greg Meyer. Finally, Reyes asked his brother Brian to join as bassist. “At that point,” Reyes says, “we scrapped all the old songs and started coming up with new songs we were happy with.”

They were happy enough with seven of those songs to pool their dough and self-release an EP called Sing Song, a likable little charmer that rarely wants for a hand clap or a catchy chorus. Though they’d only played live a few times in L.A.—”We were kind of afraid of playing out,” the singer admits, “because in this musical climate, you’re not really sure if people are gonna dig it”—Reyes sent out copies of Sing Song to clubs and labels, which scored the band two shows at New York’s A&R-infested Mercury Lounge. “There was a lot of interest from all over the place,” he says, “which was really scary and interesting and exciting at the same time.” A worldwide deal with Astralwerks soon followed, as did a considerable wave of music-blog hype.

“Blogs can’t break bands,” Reyes says. “But they do offer the opportunity to be heard.” The singer insists that touring is still the best way to establish a career in the music biz, which is why he and the rest of the Little Ones plan on spending the time they’re not using to complete their debut full-length on the road. “We’re grateful every night to be playing in front of people,” he says, “because we know how fucking hard it is to get a show.”