How did you get "Free At Last" made? It was such a great album, and
has the process for making "“This Town Is Starting To Make Me Angry”
any different? Do you still work a "day job"?
JF: Initially, I wasn’t supposed to be the producer on whatever it was
that was going to become my debut album. Someone else was going to produce. But I got another offer, almost out of the blue, to be the
producer on my own record. So even though I had no real producing
experience other than my little homemade recordings, I figured "what
the hell, you only live once, I’m going for it." I was extremely nervous about screwing the whole thing up. There was a LOT of learning on the job. Ironically, it was all the things I’d learned by being in the studio with other producers that got me through. I made an effort to keep costs minimal, but whatever I needed for the project, I got, which was awesome. Signing that first album contract was actually when I quit doing any other kind of job besides music. (I’d slowly been weening myself out of the civilian workforce for the previous couple of years, but having a decent advance allowed me to go full-time muso.)
Tell us three of your musical heroes and what makes them so special
JF: Disclaimer- If it’s only 3, these choices might change in the next ten
minutes, but here goes:
Besides being completely and utterly original musically, his modus operandi was literally "screw the music business, I’ll support myself and do the music I want, when I want, how I want." I honestly don’tknow if he was even widely known as a musician during his lifetime. He
WAS however a living legend in the insurance industry. It’s not my
goal to become an insurance legend, but you have to admire the brazen
integrity of his choice. Charles Ives = Badass.
Amazingly subtle and humorous songwriter, and just a monster
composer/orchestrator as well. He makes beautiful music that for some
reason just hits home for me. I can’t explain it, it just feels good
and familiar and funny and sad and inspiring at the same time.
As instantly quotable as – or more so than – Monty Python and Douglas
Adams. (And dirtier. Much dirtier.)
Okay out with it. Which town on your EP are you referring to when
you say it’s making you angry??
JF:There’s no specific town. I wasn’t even thinking in terms of "municipality" really. It’s just a turn of phrase that sounded funny to me. I think I was blabbing it in the shower one day or something, and it eventually found a tune for itself. It’s kind of an old-school way of speaking. Nobody really says "this town…" It brings up Depression-era imagery. Dudes in breadlines, bars overflowing at 10am, that sort of thing. And I get the sense that there’s a lot of that kind of vibe going around these days again. I think pretty much anyone in any town or city or suburb could be mumbling that to themselves and not be too far off. However, if we’re naming names, let’s say Washington DC 🙂
On "“This Town Is Starting To Make Me Angry” you offer yourself as
"a fool" on the prayer "Dear Lord." How did that song come about?
JF: Assuming I’m talking about myself specifically, which I may or may not
be. I’m not telling. Anyway, the actual terms are, I believe: "dumb old drunk", "prick" and "whore", which are a little more…direct. It’s not exactly meant as
a prayer, per se. More like an exclamation. It’s intentionally vague,
though. But I guess after a song leaves the mastering studio, it’s not
up to me how things get interpreted. That being said, there are
common threads that intentionally run through this EP, and some of
that is dealing with neuroses like self-doubt, cynicism, modern urban
disenfranchisement, introspection, identity crises, etc… (whatever
you want to call it, but basically "Fight Club".) The original demo
of "Dear Lord" was written and recorded in the same morning, in the
midst of an absolutely hellacious hangover after a kind of sucky live
show experience I had a few years ago. I rolled out of bed, picked up
the guitar, pressed record and softly lamented to myself like the
crybaby that I am. Of course, halfway through the song I basically
tell myself to shut up and stop being such a wuss.
What do you find works best for your creative process when bringing a song together? Does it evolve from jams, riffs, lyrics ?
JF: I It can literally come from anything, and in my experience it has. For
some reason I come up with a lot of ideas in bookstores, the grocers, and the shower. Now, if only I bathed more often, I’d have a lot more material! Sometimes a song will come together very quickly (like a matter of minutes), and sometimes I’ve got to walk away from what seemed like a good idea, maybe for a day- maybe for 6 months – before it yields anything that works. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise, but most ideas turn out to be total crap.
Any good experiences on the road you’d like to talk about?
JF: The last residency in New York City (last summer) was lot of fun. We
basically took over this indie/punk club in the Village (Arlene’s Grocery) for a month or so. That was just an all-around awesome experience. Crowds were fantastic and supportive, and the shows were just really fun to play. After-shows were fun too 🙂 There is much mischief to be had in Soho. And the very first East Coast tour I ever did was memorable too. It was basically up and down the frozen tundra of the Northeast coast, from October to December in a station wagon with just myself and one other person and our equipment in the backseat. I probably have a different weird story for every night of that tour. Lots of Spinal Tap moments for sure. We played bars, clubs, colleges, house-parties, and even one show at like this mental institution in Maryland, I shit you not.
Will you follow up with mini EP with a full length album?
JF: I’m actually knee-deep in the full-length LP as we speak.
Tell us where you’ll be playing soon and if you’ll join up with
International Pop Overthrow festival (or any music festival) this year.
JF: I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I’ve been turning a lot of gigs down
due to recent studio and composition-related work. I’m sure when the
album is finished (or if some spectacular opportunity presents itself)
I’ll get out there, but right now I’m laying fallow for the time
Thanks for the interview, I’m a bit embarassed to say that I’ve missed your shows at Arlene’s Grocery – it’s one of my favorite concert haunts! I can’t wait for your next full release!