Artist of the Month: Fake Problems

With their bright and lovable, Phil Spectoresque 60’s inspired rock; Fake Problems is one band that should be on your radar. The Naples, Florida foursome made up of Chris Farren (vocals/guitar), Derek Perry (bass), Sean Stevenson (drums) and Casey Lee (guitar) has been making music together since 2005.

To date the band has released several EP’s along with two critically acclaimed full-lengths, How Far Our Bodies Go (2007) and It’s Great to Be Alive (2009). With their relentless touring ethic it’s no wonder they have gained a legion of fans around the globe. In 2006 they performed in 150 concerts in a tour of North America. They have shared the stage with Against Me!, The Gaslight Anthem, Riverboat Gamblers, Smoke or Fire, Look Mexico, Lemuria, Anti-Flag, O Pioneers!!!, Street Dogs, Frank Turner, The Briggs, Nothington, Baby Calendar, Murder By Death, The Builders and the Butchers, and The Hold Steady.

This past September, the group released their third album, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape on SideOneDummy Records. A departure from the large orchestration on 2009’s It’s Great To Be Alive, it features the band striped down to the bare musical elements; vocals, guitars, drums and bass.

Their minimal musical instrumentation and slick production has made for an outstanding recording. Ghosts Caught On Tape is an album that you will love from start to finish. Right from the get go, it delivers first rate rock at its finest. The opening track “ADT” grabs your attention with it’s pairing of upbeat toe tapping. pop melodies and emotionally expressive lyrics. As it moves along, you become more engrossed with the excitable raspy and hazy vocals on the soul influenced “5678.” There is an influx of 60’s pop and  poignant lyrics in songs like “Songs For Teenagers”  and “RSVP” that creates a crafty and exciting sound. I just can’t get enough of the music on this album.

Stand out tracks: “ADT,” “Songs for Teenagers,” “Soulless” and “Done with Fun”

ESBMusic caught up with lead singer Chris Farren of Fake Problems to talk about their new album, their experiences touring, and how they keep in touch with their fans:

ESBM: Fake Problems started as a solo project and then merged into a full band, how did that come about?

CF: Actually it wasn’t ever really a solo project. Since the beginning, the songs I was writing for Fake Problems were always intended as full band songs – I just didn’t have a band at the time. I never played any shows alone and as soon as I could get a band together, I did. I’d much prefer to collaborate with my friends than compose full songs alone.

ESBM: This summer you guys played Warped Tour, how was that experience? Did you guys find an increase in your fan base?

CF: It was ok. I’m not sure Warped Tour is the right scene for Fake Problems – I often felt like we didn’t really fit in or belong with the rest of the roster of bands. We did get along famously with some bands though – previous friends Polar Bear Club, Swellers, The Flatliners, Riverboat Gamblers and made some new ones, Never Shout Never and Anarbor, most notably.

ESBM: You just played CMJ in October, was that your first time playing the festival? How did you like it?

CF: We’ve played CMJ a few times over the past few years but this one was definitely the best. It was FANTASTIC honestly. We played ten shows in four days, got a ridiculous amount of free stuff and had a great time. We also got to hang out with Surfer Blood, who are fellow Floridians and an amazing band.

ESBM: Some of your music features a lot of different types of instruments from violins to brass instruments, do you incorporate those into the live show? How does it translate?

CF: Our latest record actually has nothing extra on it – just drums, guitars, bass and vocals. We’ve had other elements on our previous records but this one we wanted to really strip down and do everything ourselves; make moving arrangements without overdoing it or having to add more layers. I think we were successful.

ESBM: The “highlights and lowlights” videos are fun and entertaining. Who came up with the game of Mr Yucky?

CF: Derek came up with the game, Sean came up with the name. It’s pretty disgusting, but it keeps us on our toes.

ESBM: You have put out a lot of albums and EP’s what would you say is your favorite album? Who are your influences?

CF: Our newest record, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, is by far the best album we’ve made. We got a lot of flack from a lot of people for going for the sound we wanted to achieve, and in the process we started to second guess our instincts. I’m really glad we stuck to our guns and made the record with the songs and vibe we wanted. It gave us a whole new confidence as a band and as songwriters.

ESBM: You recently played Radio City Music Hall when you opened for Gaslight Anthem. What was that experience like?

CF: It was amazing! The crew at Radio City were very nice. It was crazy when we walked in and first stood on the stage – it’s freaking massive in that building.

ESBM: You have a pretty extensive touring history, what was your favorite tour?

CF: It’s hard to say – we’ve had a great time on so many tours over the years. Murder By Death, Against Me, Frank Turner, Gaslight Anthem – were all great to us, just to name a few.

ESBM: Your official website has an incentive to “Facebook” for a free song. Are you guys into the social networking thing, Are you really into tweeting and Facebook? Do you find that you have Have you found that social networking opens up a new fan base?

CF: I’m not sure if it opens up a new fanbase, but it is the ultimate way to keep in touch with the fans we do have. I’m able to, on a daily basis, talk to our fans on a personal level. I love that.

ESBM: When listening to Real Ghosts Caught on Tape, it sometimes sounds as if it could have been punk rock if it was produced by Phil Spector in the 60’s. Was that bright, jangly wall-of-sound a conscious influence?

CF: Phil Spector was my number one influence in writing the record – I wanted to write a classic-sounding pop record with hints of that production style.

ESBM: What is next in store for Fake Problems?

CF: Touring! And lots of it. We’re already stacking our 2011 with a lot of really cool things – we’re kicking the year off with a tour with RX Bandits & Native – then Murder By Death – then SXSW. Not sure what else yet, but we’re keeping our options open and planning a full scale headline tour sometime before summer.

For more information on Fake Problems check out their official website, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Get Real Ghosts Caught On Tape now on iTunes!

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