The band is gearing up for the release of your new album, Holding A Wolf By The Ears. What can you tell us about the record?
Right now I believe that any artistic creation is just a side effect of the life you lead, but Iím trying to change my mind about that because Iíll end up doing something stupid looking for inspiration. Musicians do give themselves too much credit though. They walk around with an inflated ego, under the delusion that they are talented when they are really just at the mercy of their environment. Itís a gift to play music and a lot of people lose focus of that. They get preoccupied with soundscan numbers and MySpace popularity. This record is about having a fever to play music because it makes you feel good. Its about people communing with shared interests. Thatís important. If people are not reading the lyrics and thinking about what it all means then we are wasting each otherís time.
You have been quoted saying ďWhen youíre holding a wolf by the ears, itís a dangerous situation and there is no way to escape without injury. For us, itís like a build up of energy that canít be restrained forever,Ē & my first impression after hearing the record was that it seemed that this record is your release to get out that energy that you've been building up for the past while. Would you consider this true?
Yes, and taking a five month hiatus contributed to that build up of energy. Itís like an injured athlete having to watch the season from the sidelines.
Why was Brian McTernan selected to produce this record instead of Gggarth Richardson (who worked on the last two full lengths)? Do you feel that the band needed new ears to work with because this record needed to come out sounding fresh and as if it was a new beginning for FATA?
In October of 2004 Josh Newton and I made a record with Brian McTernan. It was a profound experience and we formed a lasting friendship with him. GGGarth is a great producer but we were hoping to make something less refined than our previous albums. I tracked the drums without a click track so that the tempos would have some movement. We wanted it to sound like our live shows instead of a ďmetalcoreĒ pro tools plug in like so many bands are using.
Now when ex-vocalist Ben Perri left the band, you had the option of either throwing in the towel, searching for a new vocalist or stepping up as a front man, knowing everyone was going to be judging the second it would be made public. Why did you decide to take the hardest route over the other two options?
Because I thrive on adversity. ďThe more things get suggested the more Iím uninterestedĒ. If you tell me that I am incapable of something I will exhaust myself to prove you wrong. Itís weird. Then when things are easy and comfortable it drives me mad. People say that great art stems from misery. So maybe we subconsciously cause disaster so we have something to draw from. Inspiration. What a dirty trick. Youíll be a master and hate every second of it. This musician will self destructÖI donít really know. I like a challenge I guess.
From what seemed to be a bitter split between FATA & Ben, you two have recently spoke and you have stated that you think it was the most "honorable" thing he could do for the band. Why is this?
If he didnít quit we would have broken up. To me, the most important thing about a band is whether or not the source of their music is pure. Are they writing from where its at? Is this guy living his lyrics? I hate when people fake it. Itís so obvious. For better or for worse, I mean every word I say. It wasnít right for me to be forcing my opinions on Ben. Iím sure I was writing lyrics for him that he did not agree with but he sung them anyway.
How have the dynamics of the band and/or the songwriting process changed since Ben's departure?
Josh and Brian have been singing more backing vocals. The song writing process has not changed but I think the overall union of the band is stronger now because we all want the same things. We have a common goal; getting on stage every night and doing our best at performing songs we believe in. The trouble is that sometimes what you believe in changes with no advanced notice. Maybe that is what happened for Ben.
Seeing as though Ben fronted the band for all the previous efforts, do you still perform a lot of older material or is your set mainly tracks from "Holding A Wolf...?"
We have been playing a lot of old songs on this tour. I always hate it when bands release new albums and completely discount their old stuff. It does feel like a new band to me, but I still like to pay tribute to the old band. I recognize that we have a responsibility to the people who have supported us for the long term. Plus, I really do have a lot of fun playing those songs live.
The band recently filmed videos for "Pioneers" and "Deth Kult Social Club." What can you tell us about the videos and why were those two tracks selected to serve as the singles?
"Deth Kult Social Club" is a live video that was shot on Long Island in the end of February. The video for ďPioneersĒ is an adaption of the short story ďThe LotteryĒ by Shirley Jackson. They are the first and last songs on the record so we made videos for them. I donít know if I would call them singles. We just thought they would be fun songs to make videos for. I would like to make a video for every song on the record if there are any film school kids out there with some free time. Josh wants to make a zombie video. Iíll take any excuse to dress up like a zombie.
You're all currently on a co-headlining run with Haste The Day. How has the tour been going so far & are there any other tour plans in the near future?
The sky is the limit on this tour. Our bus is Valhalla on wheels. There is an art studio in the back lounge and always a pot of homemade soup in the front lounge. Lou Reed is on VH1 Classic. I have a pot of coffee on the burner and the information superhighway at my finger tips. What more can a guy ask for? We had a day off in Chicago and we got to see TV on the Radio. We also had a day off in Seattle and we saw Red Sparrows. It was amazing. We will be heading to UK/Europe after this tour.
Other than being in two established bands, you also are a tattoo artist. Is this something you've been doing for a long time & will continue to do for a while still?
Iím not a tattoo artist. Iím an artist who gives tattoos once in a while. More often than not they come out pretty bad, but those are really the best ones. I give tattoos that spark conversations. Thatís a great function. I really like to do tattoos of William Steig line drawings. Iíll do those for free any day of the week.
A lot of readers were asking if you're still going to be working on material for your side project Biology & if there are any upcoming plans being worked on for a new release?
The gears are always turning. I wanted to ride trains to ten different cities and record 1 new song at ten studios with a new cast of musicians at each studio. Hopefully people we have never met before. It would be interesting to see the end product. It might be a terrible idea. Itís hard to say. This wont happen any time soon because FATA will be doing a full world tour over the next six months. I just like making records, even if they donít get released. I have a lot of tape recordings of songs and poems that are collecting dust. Some tapes have been lost or recorded over.
Would you ever consider putting out a DVD in the future?
super awesome terric interview to say the least. In all honesty, Fran is one of my top favorite guys in the scene. He has a great head on his shoulders and is such an interesting fella. Not to mention his lyrics,sound, and bands are amazing. I cant wait to hear the new album cause my Hot Topic EP is getting played too much and I crave more NOW!!! I want Fran to give me a tattoo...for real. Biology...mmmmmm cant wait for that too. It's going to be atleast a year though I guess, but thats cool. This guy has his plate full.
I have a lot of respect for this guy and I think he's an amazing artist. First, I would love for him to do one of those william steig tattoos on me and second if he released a big album of all the random stuff he records I'd pay good money for it.
Good Interview especially if Francis on it
this guy is amazing artist amazing musician and amazing lyricist
I dont know him personally but he's probably a great guy
wow didn't know that he's a tatoo artist
Francis is one of my favourite musicians from the musicians and bands i know of
it's probably the best thing for FATA that Ben left if he really don't like and agree with what he sings
that could be hard for any band.
can't wait for the new album but it will be amazing im sure.