KF: It’s a bit of pop really in the sense that the songs are very based around melodies, with a lot of the musical fat trimmed off, and sonically it’s quite easy to digest. Within that framework there springs inspiration from all corners of the musical canon with lyrical ideas that dig much deeper than the Disney-fied Pop that’s lately been clogging the airwaves from here to Neptune.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
KF: People, places, a time of day, a fleeting moment, an eternal question, truth and lies, humor, old books and movies, history, relationships, my own life, things overheard on the train, anything really. There’s a new song we’re recording right now that’s about sleep cycles and the circadian rhythm and asks how much timing affects the outcome of our plans.
CH.89: What made you want to start a band and how did you come up with the band name?
KF: I’ve played in bands since I first picked up a guitar. Why start one? Because it’s fun. When a group of musicians gets in a room to play music, at its best, there’s no other place we’d want to be.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?
KF: It’s always different. And a lot of it is tempered by the business folks who are constantly wanting to take the easiest road or conform to exactly what the trend is at the moment. For me it usually starts with 2 things: gathering up a bunch of experiences, great works of art, new ideas etc then hibernating on these things for enough time to let something new sprout. I can listen to a song and think, I should do something like that–but before hopping right into the recording process I let the impulse get lost and mixed up with other impulses. By the time I reach the recording process the whole thing has taken on a new shape, like a hydra of conflicting impulses. In the past the goal was always to record a great LP, but after running the LP through the hands of our handlers it tends to get parsed down into a single or EP. The upside of this is that sometimes this process refines things. Other times it warps the whole point of the record in the first place. So there ends up being a lot of unreleased material and scattered concepts. Combat Pop is one example where it made it through the maze intact.
KF: New ideas.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
KF: It’s a lot of work and a lot of play. Finding balance as an artist can be a difficult task because it really is up to you. Some weeks I may work 90 hours on music. Other weeks I don’t lift a finger toward it. I find that having a full life outside of making music keeps me grounded and energized and fresh.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
KF: Both are helpful. When writing a song, it can be refreshing to sit down at a new instrument and just play whatever passes through your hands. Having no filter at certain stages of the process is really important in mining for gems. However, once you book studio time or rent gear and get other musicians involved, having a game plan is key. I spend a lot of time choosing mic setups and choosing instruments etc before ever setting foot in a tracking room. I try to nail down every arrangement ahead of time. Giving yourself parameters helps you focus and really lean into and milk the workflow; because it’s really easy to spend a day fiddling around with all the gear in a studio and not actually make any music. If you have a new idea about tracking drums or a room tone, it’s good to have those in your pocket when you walk in. Don’t be afraid to record on the fly, but taking the time to set things up is the way to go in my opinion. Take half a day to dial in drums if need be. Learn the room, listen back to make sure the performance and the playback have a clear relationship so you know how to play the room exactly. And it actually helps with spontaneity because when you don’t have to worry too much about the technical set up and it’s been handled, then you can take risks with spur of the moment ideas and know that it will be usable. Having a good engineer is massive. Most of the time I engineer everything myself–but those times when I have another set of hands and ears to lean on, someone who is open and supportive and has no skin in the game other than helping you conceive the record in your head, that is truly when great things happen.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
KF: No. Taste and style is 51% subjective. There are undeniably great works and personalities that influence our own tastes which has a certain level of collective objectivity to it. The whole taste/ability gap philosophy of an emerging artist has some merit. But on the whole, often times the most stunning creation is transmitted through an artist and the artist can’t even remember the finer points of how it came to be. This is that weird thing that is impossible to prove but it’s a phenomenon shared by many creators when a work of art kind of passes through you as a complete piece. This has nothing to do with style or taste and everything to do with being open and available.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
KF: Making a living and being satisfied with what you’ve made.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
KF: Living half my life in the fifth dimension. And occasionally when a really good scene comes alive, being a part of that corner of space and time.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
KF: Pablo Picasso blue period. Herman Millers flamboyantly over the top honesty. Kubrick. Tony Visconti. Craftsman of all crafts.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
KF: Technology opens doors and makes many things possible. It is a majorly useful tool for creating. However, a major side-effect of this ease of creation is that young artists are missing out on the physical challenges and limitations of creating art, which to me is a fundamental rite of passage for any earthbound artist. Take a photographer for example. How many young photographers started out taking pictures on an iPhone? Then moved on to a dslr? They learned the binary reproduction of physical tools. They press a button and a photo appears. They have space enough to take a thousand pictures of one subject and choose the best shot later. How many learn the original processes of capturing an image–the use of silver nitrate, the true nature of light and magnetism interacting in a moment of time? How many struggled through the limitations of having only two rolls of film and being absolutely present enough to make the right decision in the blink of an eye to capture the shot? How many have climbed the mountain and waited for days for the light to mingle just so with the landscape? How many have used a darkroom to develop a photo and nurture this aspect of the art form? In music it’s similar. The limitations of recording to tape forced the creators to weigh every choice heavily before moving forward. Having 4 tracks to mix down to, choosing what instruments to buss to free up another track, gain staging to allow yourself to overdub without losing much quality, all these things created a dynamic during the creative process that was really fundamental and satisfying to the growth of an artist. I started off making recordings this way. When I finally moved into protools it took a year or two before I was exploiting the number of open tracks available. It helps you make choices ahead of time and adds a certain gravity to the process that I feel really adds value to the end product.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
KF: No. Anyone can view the world however they want whenever they want. And yes, artists by nature ask more questions. And when you get used to creating something out of thin air, you start to realize how made up reality is. Social systems, economy, industry, laws: these things are all imaginary the same as art.
KF: Traveling is one of the best things anyone can do. There are so many beautiful places in the world and I’ve seen 2% of it. I had the best trip of my life visiting the west coast of Ireland. I grew up going to the Sierra Nevadas often and I still think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
KF: I really do like American authors from back in the day. From Twain and Poe to Hemingway and Miller and the birth of the sci-fi movement really gained ground here. That said, every good book I read becomes my new favorite.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?
KF: Combat Pop will be out in early 2018. I’m clearing the deck right now so keep a look out for a lot of new music next year.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
KF: It means following your passion at an ever clarified level. It means searching for truth in a cultivated and possibly entertaining way. It means daydreaming a lot and finding a way to pluck those daydreams out of the ether and forge them into existence. It means being open and curious.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?
KF: It’s subject to change.