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DM) How is your new tour going?
JF) It's going great, superb.
DM) Any exciting adventures happen on your new tour?
JF) Well, after a show we did at the Mercury Lounge, we came out and found that our van had been robbed. Then we drove down to the hotel. We were in eyesight of the hotel, taking a left, and a cab tried to get by us in bike lane, and they smashed right into the side of the van. We lost justthe cell phone and the CD player.
DM) How's the reaction been to your new album?
JF) Everything's been really positive. We're really excited because we don't seem to have any negative reactions.
DM) How does the band feel about it themselves?
JF) We all really like this record, a lot. We took a little bit of a sidestep with our last record, and we weren't really happy with that record. But this one came together pretty much the way we saw it. And I think it has a pretty good feel to it.
DM) I've never heard the first record. How does this record compare to the last one?
JF) With the last record, people were telling us we had great live shows... why didn't we make a record more like that. As it turned out, that record soundsthe least like our live shows of anything we've done. It's a little produced, maybe more and bigger electric guitars, that kind of thing. This record has a lot more ethnic instruments. I guess that was a little more electrified. A little heavier. Not heavy like metal, but a heavier sound. There's some really good songs on the last record, but I think overall the songs are stronger on this record.
DM) Are there any songs from that first album that you cover now?
JF) Well, that last record was our second full-length record. Our first one was was "Diamond in the Coal", and we do "Spending My Inheritance" off that record. And we do "Da Na Na Song" ("Back Where We Came From"). Probably those twopredominantly. We do one off our first EP as well. So we've been rearranging some of the older things with the mandolin and dulcimer because we use those instruments more. I've been playing that stuff a lot.
DM) What do you play, outside of the "standard instruments" on this album?
JF) The dulcimer is one, some dobro guitar... we had a guy play some Hammond B3 with big Leslie speakers. That was kinda cool. It's something we don't have with us live, but it is on the record, with lots of different stuff. We had this thing called a stump fiddle. It's like a one-man band sort of thing... it's like a stick with bells and whistles and shakers, so you keep time with it by bouncing it on the floor, and you can use the stick to play patterns. It's kinda bizarre but we use that on the album.
DM) What's the history of the band? How did you start up?
JF) I actually had a band with Ron, the drummer, and we took that band into the studio with Brett, the guitar player, as the chief engineer. So he was part of the band. Pete, the singer, was in a college near the studio, and he was bringing in his band. Since everybody in the band all graduated him, so we really became friends hanging out at the studio. Then Paul did an internship at the studio and then we ALL had jobs at the studio from hanging out there so much. Then we all proceeded to get fired from the studio at the same time. There was a big shake-up there. It wasn't really any of our doing. There was a mass change of personnel. So that's how we met; we were all friends.
DM) Now, where is the band going musically from here?
JF) I think we're going to stick to this vibe with the more ethnic approach to things. And this recording process we put everything under a really big scrutiny. We kinda went for a feel. And because of that we can hear little mistakes or things slightly out of tune. The end result of that is a record that had a lot of personality I think. We're going to go along those roots and not spend so much time going for the perfect kick drum sound and go for more of the feel of the song. I think we're going to be touring on this record for at least another year. We're putting all those things on the back burner for now.
DM) That seems pretty heavy touring for a year.
JF) Well, the Emphasis single hasn't even come out yet. They were promoting "Fear Falling", because that was already on the radio when we got the deal.That started taking off now. That just moved to the top 20 of rock radio. They're going to keep pushing that as far as possible, and then "Angeline" will probably come up some time in March, probably as the new Emphasis single.
DM) Now, when I listened to the album itself, I was impressed at how it sounded more like "standard rock" and seemed further from alternative rock which is so popular now. What were your musical influences?
JF) Well, we kinda just did what we were comfortable with. We're definitely now alternative or hip, but this seems to work with us. We didn't set out to go make a unique style. It's not that unique. Hopefully just the purity of everything comes true. We just want to write good songs basically.
DM) What do you do for fun outside of the band?
JF) I'm a real outdoors type of person. I love going fishing and other outdoors things. Ron, our drummer, is really into arts and films and stuff.
DM) Does it every confuse you when you try doing something "normal" and you run into a screaming fan?
JF) It's starting to get bizarre like that actually. We were just talking about that while driving into the city. You start becoming more than just a person.
DM) When did that first hit you?
JF) In our home area. We have a fairly big thing going back in Pennsylvania. It's just starting to happen now. Like outside of those areas. We're starting to get that strange perception. We get strange looks, and people are talking and pointing. It's kind of bizarre.
DM) How did that hit you the first time?
JF) It's very weird. You try to keep everything in perspective. The whole vibe about our band is "no head cases", so you try to keep the egos in check.It's really lack of egos sometimes. You look at these people and they want to hold you up as something. You're just like the man who took out my garbage last week,and I'm just like you.
DM) Have you ever missed taking out the garbage or the normal stuff?
JF) We can still go to our houses and hang out and have a life. I'm sure for somebody who has a lot more commercial success than us... it's harder to do that. Brett, for example, lives up in the mountains, so he can get away and go up there and have a life when we're not on tour.
DM) Are you noticing a rapid change over the past couple of months?
JF) Definitely everything has accelerated over the last few months as far as that kind of thing. It's a lot weirder.
DM) How did you personally start in music?
JF) I actually got my background in church. Then when I got into high school, I got involved in different bands and stuff. Then I decided I wanted to go to college so I was a voice performance major in college. I went an extra semester so Icould get certified to teach school. So I taught high school music for three years when I got out of college. Then things started to accelerate a little bit. So I kinda got out of that a little bit.
DM) What college did you go to?
JF) Mansfield University. It's a little state school in Pennsylvania. Actually Ron and I, the drummer and I were roommates there. And Terry Silvers, our manager, went there as well. Terry was actually a music merchandising major and then got a job here in New York at INS recording studio. And then when the band started becoming successful, we needed a manager. Since he was interested, we hired him.
DM) Well, my final question that I always ask is, "Is there anything I didn't ask that I missed?"
JF) No, you got everything. You were right on it.