How The Band ‘Home State’ Made Their Side Hustle A Spotify Success Story

Evangeline Axiotis
Evangeline Axiotis goes by many nicknames, (mainly inappropriate ones), but most people know her as a music festival junkie. She's currently going through a quarter-life crisis. Her biggest supporter is her dad who constantly reminds her that raving is not a real job - but she hopes to change that soon. She can also recite any Biggie Smalls song by heart.

Alex Friedlander, David Berliner, Matt Gralla, and Jordan Glaser (not pictured) are four twenty-something guys living in New York City who came together to do what they love – make music. Their band Home State is relatively new, but make no mistake, they’ve been chasing this dream for a long time. They all have full-time jobs to support their music, while late nights and weekends are dedicated toward turning this passion project into something much bigger.

They got just a small taste of their dream a few weeks ago when their first single “Without Your Love” was released on Spotify and made it on to some big playlists like “Fresh Finds” and “United States Viral 50.”

Alex is the lead singer, David is on the drums, Matt plays the guitar and keys, and Jordan, who is the newest member of the group, does a little bit of everything (vocals, bass, and guitar).

We sat down with all four bandmates and friends at Matt’s apartment in the West Village.


20something: What’s the story behind your band’s name, Home State?

David: “We were thinking about the common thread between the different musicians we were playing with. Everyone went back to growing up with music, and so the element of home was literally something we thought about a lot, but also less on the literal side, what is your home state, what is your happy place? Playing music makes us feel most at home.”

Matt: “I think the cool thing about it is that for everyone it means something different. Home is such an ambiguous term. Home for me is being comfortable with people and with myself. I think it means just being in a good place.”

It was clear that Home State meant something more than a location, or a point of origin. So I wanted to find out what their happy place was.


20: What are your “home states”?

Matt: “I have so many things going on all the time, so whenever I can get to a point of not thinking, that’s like a home state for me. At my house, with my family and friends, playing music on stage I’m not thinking, I’m just in the zone.”

Alex: “Yea I think for all of us we could say that playing music is definitely one of the times when we’re most present and we feel most at home. I hate speaking in front of a group of people, but when I’m on stage with a group of people, there’s nothing I’m more comfortable with.


20: For people who haven’t heard your music, pick one word to describe it.

Jordan: “Vibey”

Alex: “Sexy”

Matt: “Feels”

David: “Tasty”

(Everyone pretty much agrees that vibey hits the nail on the head.)


20: Your first single “Without Your Love” was selected for a couple of big Spotify playlists. What were your reactions?

)All of them are laughing at this point.)

Matt: “This guy I’m friends with – not a guy you expect to listen to alternative music – he messaged me and sent me a pic of Fresh Finds and said this is pretty cool. I saw the pic with Spotify on the top of it, so I thought, ‘Oh, this is cool, my friend already put our song on his playlist’ – then I’m like, ‘Wait did you find this or is this your playlist?’ That’s when I realized what the playlist was, that it was a massive playlist:”

(BTW, “Fresh Finds” has ~500K followers, so it’s kind of a big deal.)

David: “I was walking to work and I was like there has to be a mistake. I have to get to my computer. So, I walk in and the guy who sits behind me has his Spotify open and he’s listening to Fresh Finds and that’s when it clicked. Those followers actually meant that for the first time, people that didn’t know us were going to happen upon our music. For me personally, there’s no more rewarding and kind of unbelievable situation. It’s not just cause it’s my mom and dad playing it on repeat.”

Alex: “His parents are our biggest fans. They like and comment on everything before anyone else. But it’s very cool on the backend of Spotify, you can see on a map of everyone listening to our song around the world. I thought we were only on Fresh Finds for a day, but I found out we were actually up there for an entire week.”


20: What do you envision to be the moment you look at each other and say, “We’ve made it?”

David: “When my parents aren’t the only two fans.”

Jordan: “If the next two releases end up on big playlists.”

David: “I was in disbelief about 25 thousand plays. Everyone else was basically like that’s nothing. I think the competitiveness and the hunger are there. I think we’re hoping to use this to create more opportunities to play live.”

Matt: “If we get a good spot on a serious festival I would feel pretty good.”

Alex: “We were watching the Pearl Jam documentary the other night and I was pretty relieved to hear that they didn’t play to a crowd of 65 thousand people until they were 28. So we have at least a year left.”  


20: What would be the ultimate venue for you guys to play?

Matt: “The garden – It means so much to me. I’ve grown up around that place my whole life. In my mind, it’s just the pinnacle.”

David: “We couldn’t be worse than the Knicks are so…”

Matt: “Although I do prefer the sound and layout of Metlife.”

(Everyone is laughing.)

David: (talking to Matt) “Oh, now you got opinions? Yeah, sorry garden…”

(The dynamic between these guys is hysterical. David and Matt go way back and love to rag on each other.)


20: Where can we find you on the weekends? Do you have spots that you frequent?

Jordan: “You could find me at Output”

David: “You can find me, Matt and Alex on the couch, worried sick about where Jordan is.”

(Everyone’s cracking up. Jordan is the youngest member of the group and is the partier. He’s still in the better half of his 20s, so he’s still got a lot of gas left in the tank. )


According to David, the only thing that rivals their collective love for music is food.

David: “Matt is the leading chef of the group.”

Matt: “Yeah, I cook a lot.”

Alex: “I would say Jordan is definitely a close second.”

Matt: “What, his chicken with broccoli? C’mon that doesn’t count.”


20: What’s the best thing that Matt’s made?

David: “That’s tough. We go back a long time.”

Matt: “I know stuff that I would say.”

David: “Apple cider brine pork chops.”

Matt: “I literally was going to say that too. I think my pork chops are pretty fire.”

Alex: “I’m a big cocktail guy. Our single release party was at The Gordan Bar, which is an awesome cocktail club. We saw how awesome it was to have an intimate concert for people in a non-traditional music venue. That’s something we’re definitely looking to do more of – is bring our music into cool spaces that you wouldn’t normally go to see a show.”


20: Okay, it’s time for a game of “Most Likely To.” Who is most likely to wake up in bed with a burrito?

Alex: “Jordan (laughing). Remember when you came home with two Joe’s pies the other day?”

Matt: “I had to wake up Jordan last weekend. We were supposed to meet at like 4 pm on Saturday and I kept texting and couldn’t reach him. Finally, I call him and I’m like are we still on? And he’s like ‘Can you pick up some pizza on the way?’ That was his breakfast.”


20: Who’s most likely to Irish exit at a bar?

David: “I have to go with young Matthew.”

Matt: “I’m like the anti-Irish exit, I’m always the last one to leave.”


20: Who would be the first one to die in a scary movie?

(David points to Matt and shouts “YOU!”)

Matt: “If it’s a ridiculous death, like one of a roller coaster goes flying like Final Destination, then me. But if it’s who’s like the weakest link and trips on a pothole, then it’s this guy (points to David).”


20: Who’s most likely to have a heart to heart with a homeless guy?

Jordan: “Alex.”

Alex: “I’ve had some really nice heart to hearts with homeless guys.”

David: “You got them on our mailing list.”

Alex: “We have a lot of new subscribers (laughing). I actually had one recently. I sat in Joe & the Juice with who I think was a homeless guy. He told me he owned a music company and gave us some suggestions but smelled like he hasn’t showered in several years.”


20: Are you guys coming out with any new music soon?

David: “We are indeed. Our second single is called “Out of Touch.” We’re going to release it in the next hopefully month or so. We’re pretty excited about it. It’s actually a song that Matt and I have been working on for what feels like 3 years and it’s gone through so any iterations.

Matt: “It’s more of a funkier song than ‘Without Your Love’”

Alex: “And we’re heading back in the studio later this month to start working on a third song.”


20: Any plans for an album?

Matt: “It may eventually become an album, but I don’t think we have any plans right now to release a whole album at once. These days it’s harder to keep people’s attention with a whole album rather than one single at a time.”

Alex: “We want to get people excited.”

Matt: “We want to keep people interested and constantly feed them new stuff they can listen to.”


To keep up with Home State’s journey, follow them on Instagram and check out their website for more info about upcoming shows and new music.