Foreign Trade mixes various influence for original sound

Zach Sweat

Photo by Zach Sweat
Matt Rumbley, Mariah Johnson, Hade Smith and Scott Buckingham (picture) make up Foreign Trade.

As any musician knows, standing out from the endless sea of would-be artists and mundane bands is the first step toward breaking out from the crowd and becoming a successful group.

With a diverse sound and wide array of influences, progressive indie rock group Foreign Trade hopes to set itself apart from the other bands by combining each member’s unique style.

Taking their influences of surfer rock, various 80s artists and more modern bands such as Interpol, the group’s members began constructing a distinctive sound that they collectively refer to as “organic.”

“A lot of bands make music, but they don’t really have their sound,” said Hade Smith, Foreign Trade’s drummer. “The thing that really separates us most is the different styles we all have.”

Originally composed of front man and guitar player Matthew Rumbley, bassist Scott Buckingham, both UNF students, and Smith, Foreign Trade formed in the band’s hometown of Melbourne about a year ago.

“I would say we’re pretty unique just because we all bring something different to the table,” Rumbley said.

Smith said he and Rumbley had been playing together and writing a few songs for several months but never truly established themselves as a band until Buckingham returned to Melbourne and the trio began collectively writing songs.

“Scott [Buckingham] ended up coming back to Melbourne and we hooked up with him because we needed a bass player,” Smith said. “We just started jamming, wrote a couple songs, and that’s how we started as a band.”

After forming and writing a few songs, the band then played in a few shows at various venues around Melbourne.

Rumbley said Foreign Trade did not have a fourth member in the beginning, but the band still included lead guitar in their songs and had someone performing with them to fill in until they could add an official band member.

When the group found guitarist Mariah Johnson, a recent UNF grad, the search for a lead guitarist and the final band member was over.

“Once we found Mariah, we just knew,” said Smith. “It all kind of just like met and came together and we were like, ‘Ok. This is what we’re going to [sound like].’”

“If she wasn’t awesome, she would not even have made the band,” Rumbley added with a laugh.

Since forming and moving the band from Melbourne to Jacksonville, Foreign Trade has performed at several events in Florida, but mostly at venues throughout Jacksonville including Jackrabbits, Burro Bar and 1904 Music Hall.

Rumbley said the most memorable show he performed so far was at a bar where a fight broke out during the performance.

“We were playing one of our songs and this really drunk like 300 lb biker guy came up and nudged me off the mic and [started screaming] and I was just like, ‘Alright,’” Rumbley said. “Then he went in the crowd and started fighting one of our friends. She actually kicked his ass.”

Aside from the band’s live shows, Foreign Trade has begun selling albums and band merchandise.

In Aug. 2012, the band released its official EP, Tomahawk, on bandcamp.com. The EP features seven songs and is available for $5.

One track on Tomahawk titled “Sunny Days” was featured on a compilation album of 12 of 2012’s best  tracks by Jacksonville musicians. The album, called JAX 12//12, was released by Jacksonville Florida indie musicians in Dec. 2012.

The band has had a steady stream of performance opportunities during recent months with several shows coming up in the next few months both this winter and spring in Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Gainesville.

Anyone interested in finding out more information on Foreign Trade should check out the band’s Facebook page, follow them on Twitter or Instagram, or simply visit foreigntrademusic.bandcamp.com for a preview of the EP, Tomahawk.

Email Zach Sweat at [email protected]

Click here to watch video from Osprey Radio’s interview with Foreign Trade