Fake Problems’ sophomore release, “It’s Great to be Alive” was possibly the single best album of 2009. They took home a coveted “Willie” award in my best of the year list last year (again, for best album), so needless to say I was beyond excited when their follow up album, “Reel Ghosts Caught on Tape” came out last month.
The band has headed in a much different direction, but are still playing to their own personal strengths. Much of the raw feeling of the stripped down previous album has been channeled into beautiful, melodic music on “Reel Ghosts.”
While on a support tour with label-mates The Gaslight Anthem, I was able to catch up with frontman Chris Farren and discuss the new direction of the album, where the name for the band came from and more.
How’s the tour been going so far?
It’s been going great. We’re old friends with The Gaslight Anthem, we actually took them on their first tour back in 2007, so we’ve been really good friends with them since before they blew up massive-style. And we’re really grateful that they took us on tour.
How did the band get started?
We were just, you know, a group of kids from Naples, Fla. who wanted to be in a band. There’s not really any music scene in Naples, so we had to kind of get out of town and start touring ourselves.
And you did the Warped Tour this year, how was that?
It’s OK. It wasn’t the worst thing ever.
I’ve heard it can be a rough tour sometimes.
It was not rough. It was really easy. It was actually the easiest tour we’ve ever been on. I mean, if you are in a van I’m sure it’s really hard, but we were sharing a bus with about 10 other people.
What was the mentality going into the studio for this album as compared with “It’s Great to Be Alive?”
My goal was to make a ’60s Phil Spector girl-group sounding record. Not a throwback record by any means, but [an album in which we] take some of the same principles in recording technique and song writing and implement that in the already existing Fake Problems sound that we have. I love it, I think it’s our best record yet.
What’s your favorite song off of it?
Oh man … I really like “RSVP” and “Complaint Department” and “Ghost to Coast,” I say are my favorites.
Personally, who are some of your musical inspirations?
I’ve been a really big fan of the early 2000s Saddle Creek kind of stuff, like Bright Eyes, and Cursive and The Feint. Also I really love Modest Mouse, Vampire Weekend, The Kinks, Elvis Costello, The Microphones.
That’s a lot of bands.
On “It’s Great to Be Alive,” the album was very deep with religious undertones. Do you consider yourself a religious person?
No, not at all. Anything that sounds like I’m pro-religion, I’m being super sarcastic. Like, “The Heaven and Hell Coalition,” I think that’s the most sarcastic song ever written, by anyone. So, that’s where a lot of that stuff comes from, just kind of sarcasm.
Where did the name for the band come from?
It just kind of came about. I started the band name when I was like 16 years old. It’s kind of calling ourselves out, as to what our lyrics are about, because we’re not a political band. We don’t really sing about anything other than, like, interpersonal relationship kind of stuff. So it’s kind of calling ourselves out, saying yeah we realize that there’s worse things in the world that we could sing about.
For somebody who has never heard a Fake Problems album before, how would you describe the group?
I think we’re a pretty tight rock and roll band. I think this new record is a lot more reserved and a lot more introspective, lyrically and musically. There’s no strings or horns on our new record, it’s upbeat but it’s definitely our most laid back record.
And sometimes you tour with strings and horns and sometimes you don’t?
Yeah, when we were touring for ‘It’s Great to Be Alive’ we wanted to capture what was on that record. So we would tour with strings and horns as much as possible. Now that we’re touring on this record I think we’re just going to keep it to the four of us.
So with the album out, where do you see yourselves going next? More touring behind the new album? Hopefully we are going to be doing a few more support tours this year, and headlining either late this year or next year. So yes, just a lot of touring.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.