1. Rumor has it, you recently recorded an album. Is this true? Where did you guys record it? How long did it take? Does it have a title?
Yup. The new record is called Lonesome Traveler, we recorded it in Nashville, TN with Grammy-winners Mitch Dane producing and Vance Powell mixing. The same fellas as before. Hope you appreciate the name drop. We were in the studio for about 3 weeks, and the mixing process was the 2 months following.
2. What is the main difference between this new album and Sound.Color.Motion?
Ha. Let's see, what's going to sell records? I think this record is a little more mature, and a lot more honest. When writing it, I focused on sorta pouring my guts out and not holding back the embarrassing stuff. Regardless, I think it'll really appeal to a wider audience.
3. Discuss the addition of Brian Campbell. How has his presence helped redefine the band? What creative angles does he bring to the table?
Brian, we all call him "Rabbit," has really brought a lot to the table. When Timmy [Moslener] left in 2008, it was a rough loss for us, and though we supported his decision and wanted what was best for him, we knew he'd be very difficult to replace. However, Rabbit has really been a great addition. His style is a lot more blues/jazz influence, but still plays parts that are conducive to our sound as a band. He's probably the best natural musician I've ever known. He has a fantastic voice, and a great natural ability to harmonize, and really just is able to read what I am (as well as what the other guys are) thinking musically, on the fly. In addition, he is quite possibly the kindest, most thoughtful person I've even known. He's really breathed new life into us as friends, and as a band. I can't say enough good things about him...one complaint though, is that he is good at pretty much everything. Which drives me crazy. From breakdancing to sports to music to humor to charming my girlfriend, he's basically better than me at everything.
I am better than him at backing up the van and trailer. So I got that...I got that.
4. It has been well-documented that you guys have had ongoing struggles with record labels. At this point in the game, is getting still signed a priority, or are you still content to go at it DIY?
Ha. It's a funny misconception that we actually enjoy being DIY. We've done almost everything we can do to pitch ourselves to labels and management people and booking agencies...it's frustrating to see the lack of progress. We've showcased for countless labels, not to mention more than a few management and booking people, and everyone seems so interested at first, and say all this great stuff, and they "definitely want to work with" us, and it feels like a done deal...and then nothing. They just disappear. It makes us pull our hair out. And the only lasting interest is from labels that can't really offer us anything we can't do for ourselves, and aren't already doing. I think we write great songs, have a great live show, we've paid our dues, over 500 shows DIY in 40-plus states, and still, nobody wants us. I just don't understand what anyone wants anymore. Pop-punk, I guess. 80's sunglasses and old-school hightops, with a downbeat in every song, a cocky grin, and a diver's license that has a birthdate of 1991. We are getting a little old, ha ha. However, we still believe in it. We're currently pitching this new record to basically everyone we know that is a somebody or knows a somebody. We call it our desperation campaign, ha ha. Hopefully it strikes with somebody that will believe in us, and they get on board, and help to take this somewhere.
5. How has the state of Pennsylvania helped shape the songwriting process? That is to say, does living in a blue-collar, All-American city like Harrisburg help shape the creative ideas behind your songs? Or is it a complete non-factor. Ah, hmm. Good question. I think it has an effect. Simply just on us as people; we actually didn't grow up in the city of Harrisburg per se, but all grew up either on farms or around farms. We all come from families that range from below middle class to pretty much poverty level (not an exaggeration). So, obviously, I think that is going to impact one's worldview and types of songs that one writes. In addition, when your school bus plays country music on the way to school, that sorta thing never really leaves your blood. [laughter] I think that country and western influence comes out a little bit in our music, though I wouldn't describe us as alt-country.
6. Describe the impact and influence of social networking sites like YouTube, Twitter and Myspace in helping the band achieve their goals? Are they intertwined? Would Farewell Flight be where they are today without them?
I think it would definitely be fair to say they've played a big part in getting us to where we are now. Myspace especially, has been useful not only in allowing people from all over to be introduced to our music, but in the booking process as well. YouTube has not been a huge thing for us, and we are slightly new to Twitter. When it comes to social networking sites, it seems like a new one pops up every ten minutes, so it's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. I think with our respective ages, there's been a slight learning curve, but it's something I think we need to embrace and learn. I think I'm probably speaking mostly for myself and Marc here; I think Marc especially secretly hates the internet, ha ha. I do think it's fair to say, however, that if the internet still didn't exist, we'd still find a way to pursue this and tour and get our music out there.
7. It is well-documented that you guys are one of the hardest-working indie bands currently making music. How hard is it to give 100 percent every night? Certainly with a host of potential maladies: illness, van problems, poor sound/lighting and small crowds, it would be tough to give 100 percent night in, night out? Discuss this if you can.
It can be exhausting after a while, to be honest with you. The hardest part is playing to an empty or near empty room, sometimes the latter is worse if they're disinterested. It's tough to get up there, and play the best set that we can. We used to allow ourselves to slack off on nights like that, but it happened too often that 2 of the 5 people in the crowd drove 3 hours to see us. Nothing will make you feel lousier about a half-assed set than that. We've resolved ourselves to play the very best we can regardless of the surroundings, or how many people are there. Illness is a tough one, too, especially for me personally as the singer. When your voice is almost gone, and you're swaying from a fever 3 or 4 nights in a row, it gets old real quick. As far as poor lighting and sound, it sucks, but nothing can beat a rowdy crowd. I remember a show in Michigan, where we were packed into this this little bar basement, and there were almost no lights, let alone stage lights. And, the sound was terrible, but there were like, 60 people crammed into this room, singing along to every single word. They were so excited just to be there. And they shouted for an encore at the end, and everyone, I mean everyone except maybe 10 people, came on stage and danced. I got pushed away from the mic, and somebody I didn't know sang the rest of the song...we literally couldn't see our instruments most of the set cause it was so dark, and it sounded awful yet...easily in the top 3 shows of all time. Maybe number 1. Fans make it all worthwhile.
8. What is the songwriting process like for the band? Does someone write just lyrics? Does someone just write music?
I'll be working or driving or shoveling snow or something, and hear the song in my head, usually with most of the directional ideas for the parts, as well as maybe some of the lyrics, and most of the melody. Then, I either call my voicemail and sing myself a message, or use this handy-dandy hand recorder Marc got me for my birthday one year. Then, at some point, I'll use my little home studio with Pro Tools to record demos of the songs. This is where I finish most of the other half of the song, including the song structure and the rest of the lyrics. I'll try to make it sound the most like it is in my head that I can, using a program for drum parts, and add bass, guitar, piano, organ, percussion, vocals, etc. Basically, get a decent working demo going. Then, I'll email it to all the guys, and they listen and get a feel for the song. We'll jam it out together, and see what works and what doesn't. Sometimes they take the parts and run with it, cutting here and adding there, and make it better. And, other times, they'll scrap a part and come up with something way better. Then we tour on it for a while, and see how it feels. Then we hit the studio, and make more cuts and change little things here and there, and it gets mixed and mastered and that's the almost final version of the song. But I like to think that the actual final version of the song is after we've toured on it for a year or two. We write different parts, sing it a different way, and the song morphs subtly, yet tastefully into something different. and as it evolves night after night, we get used to that way of playing it. It's weird when I go back to listen to original recordings, because I forget how we used to play them, and am surprised here and there, as i hear and remember the old parts. it's fun.
9. You've been known to bang away at a piano, are you classically trained, or self-taught?
Yea and no. I took very basic piano lessons when I was about 11, which lasted for not quite a year. I tended to be lazy, and not practice, so I sorta just stopped after 9 months or so. I remember being consumed with the guilt of wasting my mom's hard-earned money, and figured I should just stop. Not guilty enough to make me practice, though, ha ha. Anyways, fast-forward 2 or 3 years, and I got into jazz, and started taking jazz piano. basically lasted about the same amount of time though. there was a time a few years ago when I was sorta proud that i wasn't classically trained. Like, I thought that made me some kind of "Rain Man" when it came to music. now, however, I realize that though I have some natural ability, it's not enough to get me by. After working with "real" musicians in Nashville, it makes me wish Ii had practiced more and made more of an effort. Oh, wasted youth. I know enough to get by though, and can get my point across musically as much as I need to for now.
10. What do you hope fans take from a Farewell Flight live show?
A shirt and record combo deal. And some fond memories.
11. What do you hope listeners take from the new album?
Hope and encouragement. I want people to find acceptance in knowing they aren't alone in their hopes and fears and insecurities. I guess I also hope to challenge people to be better, and to be more honest with themselves and with others, by not holding back or hiding behind the images we create for ourselves. And, that it would spur people on to love others more. I think I also hope others can learn from my mistakes.
12. When can we expect to buy the new album?
Well, as mentioned before, we're currently pitching this to anyone we know who can maybe help us out by helping to support and promote the record, as well as booking, management, and record companies. We're focusing hard on that for now. Unfortunately, a lot of industry people can lose interest in a project that is already released to the public. If someone wants to pick it up and run with it, then it'll be released in the timing and manner that they choose. However, in the event of the failure of all that, we'll simply release it by ourselves like the last one, and hope for a miracle. Time period for that situation is looking like April, which seems far away, but in record releasing time lines, it's just around the corner. We want to get it to the fans as soon as possible, and we promise we're working as hard as we can (and then some).
13. List five books, movies and CDs that have captivated you in the last few months.
Ah...let's see. I'm always bad at this. Here are some that have made me cry, or I enjoyed recently (doesn't mean they're new...) Movies: The Time Traveler's Wife, Brothers, Management, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pixar's Up, The Princess and the Frog. Books: In The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick. That's an account of a whaling shipwreck of The Essex in the 1800s, amazing story. Friday Night Lights, The Notebook, The Road. Music: Lately i've listened to a lot of these albums: The New Frontiers Mending, Relient K Forget and Not Slow Down, Gaslight Anthem The '59 Sound, Good Old War The Only Way To Be Alone, Lydia Illuminate, Ryan Adams Heartbreaker, The Championship Midnight Golden, The entire Pedro the Lion / David Bazan catalog.
I listen to my friends' bands a ton too. We're blessed with friends that make some of the best music I've ever heard, seriously. Check out the following:
Lorien, from Nashville, TN.
Nick Bays / The Patient, from Columbia, SC and somewhere in IL. He's my favorite songwriter that I know.
Kingsfoil, from York, PA. Listen to their single, "Love is a Carnival Goldfish." Vince Dynamic , from MI somewhere. He's an amazing songwriter.
Dear Future, a band from Illinois.
Plu, a band from Little Rock, AR. RIP to them. They are one of the best live bands ever, and are possibly reuniting.
Seabird from Cincinnati, OH.
House of Heroes. They are so good they're stupid.
Abandon Kansas. An Oklahoma group, and the only band we know who works harder than us.
14. On a scale of 1 to 100, how would you rate Barack Obama's first year in office?
Ha ha, you wish. I think there are too many bands out there doling out political opinions like they work for FOX News or CNN, and the world doesn't need another one. I play in an effing rock and roll band, so people should form their own opinions, not mold them after an uneducated singer. But...an honest question deserves an honest answer, so rather than a number, I would say that I think this year has shown that Obama is neither the Antichrist, nor our Savior. And that, in the words of Ghandi, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Not expect one man bound by bureaucracy, politics, and a hand-tying 3-branched democracy, which is obviously for the best and for our freedom's sake, to fix everything. If one expects that from a leader, then one might be more satisfied with a dictator or emperor.
Also, I'd like to say officially that Farewell Flight supports no political party or leader. We have our own private, individual opinions, that vary greatly from each other.
15. Name five things you love about the Keystone State? -WXPN in Philly
-Coming home to my bed and mama's chili
-Yuengling Lager and Lionshead
-Proximity to BWI airport, which takes me to my gorgeous girlfriend.