By Mark Keraly. Published on 4/7/2002.
You experienced a personnel change between your CDEP, "Sin, Sorrow, and Sadness," and the full-length, "Too Bad You're Beautiful." Was that change over creativity issues, or did the whole "band thing" not work out for them?
Brian: You can't ask me, I'm the new guy.
Francis: Basically the way that went was, we had another guitar player in the band, Steve, and he was a bit older than us. He was 27-28 years old. He had a career, like a real job that he planned on sticking with for the rest of his life. We started the band, it was just to have a good time, it wasn't serious. He thought he would be able to stick with job. Then when we started touring extensively, I quit school and all the other guys quit their jobs, we were like, 'Ok, you gotta quit, we gotta go.' And when it came down to it, he just couldn't do it. So he left, and we found this guy who has absolutely nothing else to live for but this band.
Brian: This is pretty much it.
How does it feel now to have the LP underneath your "belt," as well as touring pretty consistently in support of the record?
Brian: Great! Not many people get to do this. I guess when you're a little kid and want to be in a band, or whatever. It's just kind of like a far away thing. Now that we get to do this all the time, it's amazing. We get to play shows and meet kids all over the place, it's just awesome.
Francis: We pretty much just get paid to drive around with our best friends and play music.
Brian: Just hanging out.
Francis: That's almost unheard of.
Brian: Just goof off all over the place.
That sounds amazing. You're lucky guys... How did you hook up with Ferret Music?
Francis: I guess, we pretty much just sent packages to every record label, a shit load of phone calls harassing people. Then we played a Long Island show with Skycamefalling and Martyr AD, two Ferret bands. Carl Severson of Ferret [Music] was down at that show and checked us out, and the next day he gave us a call and said that he wanted to work something out.
Good deal. Does FATA plan to release any new material in the near-term? When the band does, do you feel that there is a burden of expectation given the fact that fans of FATA go crazy for the band?
Francis: As far as the new material, the next new thing we're releasing is we're recording on this Warped Tour Compilation on Side One Dummy Records, we'll have a new song for that. I'm expecting it to take some heavy criticism. I think with every band, the follow up on every release is under a microscope.
Do you guys think it will match up to what you have done in the past? What are your expectations as far as that?
Brian: I hope it's going to do real well. A lot of bands make records, and get criticized for changing really tiny things, but everyone loves it. Then they put out their next record, and it's a little bit different and people are all like, "Oh, that band changed." Or whatever. It's all just part of a band growing.
Francis: We're going to get bashed, but that's ok.
It's pretty clear that FATA songs exhibit a lot of different musical and
genre-defining elements. What's the writing process like for FATA songs? How long does it take to work out each song?
Francis: Actually, it doesn't take long at all to write the songs. Usually, myself and Scott get together and we lay down the music. But if it's not flowing, we pack up and go home. Whenever we write, it should either be done in like... a song will happen in twenty minutes or it's not going to happen at all, we'll pack up and go home. Maybe we'll go a few months without writing anything, but then maybe we'll have a week where every day, everything just flows.
Has every song taken about twenty minutes, or have any songs taken longer to write?
Francis: It's really all like, we're writing, it's flowing, it's flowing, then we say, "Ok, I don't know where to go from here." Then we say, "Ok, go home, we'll see you tomorrow." We won't finish the song until the song finishes itself. As soon as we start forcing parts it just doesn't sound correct.
Obviously, I have to ask this question. What are FATA's musical influences on both an individual and then on a group level?
Francis: Chris Isaak.
Brian: That's a good one. The ex-bass player for Sly and the Family Stone. Further Seems Forever. That's on the rotation constantly. Necro.
Francis: I don't think we really listen to what people think we do.
Brian: It's pretty much a ritual now, we have Chris Isaak blasting.
[Side Note: At this point Scott Gross enters the room. Things get a little crazy, but I'll put it together as best I can.]
Francis: There he is!
Scott: Ok! Go!
How do you determine who will sing for which song since the vocal duties are split between Ben and Francis? Is it based on who writes the lyrics or does something else determine it?
Francis [to Scott]: You got that one? You can field it if you want.
Scott: No, no, go ahead.
[Side Note: At this point, Scott takes my questions.]
Scott: What else you got there? It's like two pages! Anyway, you field this.
Francis: (laughing) Can you repeat the question?
Scott (Still with my questions): How do you determine who will sing for which song since the vocal duties are split between Ben and Francis? Is it based on who writes the lyrics or does something else determine it?
Francis: There's really not that much thought that goes into it. Basically how I said we wrote the songs, that's how we write the music. It's just all based on feel.
Will one guy ever sing the other guy's lyrics?
Francis: Usually what he sings, he writes and what I sing, I write.
Brian: What's the next question?
Scott: What would you attribute FATA's quick rise in the hardcore scene? The kids seem to go nuts at the live shows. I'm good?
Scott: Well, this is the thing. We wasted a good 3 or 4,000 dollars making demos and passing them out to people. We didn't make a dollar for the first three or four months of this band.
Brian: Personal sacrifice.
Scott: Personal sacrifice. I think we all sold half our equipment. We sold one car.
Francis: We did sell a car.
Scott: We donated sperm, blood, [and] plasma.
Francis: You know, I don't know whose car. (laughing)
Scott: It's all about sacrifice and busting your ass. Wait, don't write the busting your ass line. Can we edit this thing? (laughing) You edit this right?
I'm putting it all in!
Scott: (laughing) Good, that's good! Want to go on to number nine?
Yeah, go for it.
Scott: Would you be embarrassed if we called you out on some of the voice samples and song titles on the album come from? Not at all! I'm proud of that shit! Even though we cannot say it on record because... we will get sued. It's quite illegal. But, our favorite show is Dawson's Creek.
Francis: Mike just entered the room.
Scott: Apparently Skycamefalling's equipment just shit the bed. But we do love Dawson's Creek.
Francis: But that's not where we took the samples from, right?
Scott: Yeah... yeah. Ok, number 10. On "Short Stories with Tragic Endings," what was the reason behind inviting Melanie Willis of One True Thing to finish the song? Further, why were the lyrics of the last segment of the song not included in the liner notes? Alright, so here's the deal. We had a choice between two people. Can I use the other person's name?
Scott: It was either her or Jolie. It basically just came down to convenience. Melanie lived in Long Island and flying in the other girl was kind of a problem.
Brian: She lived in Massachusetts. It was just a lot easier for Melanie.
Scott: As far as not including it. Its kind of like, well let me go into this. Number one; it's on the back of a lot of t-shirts. So you can kind of figure it out from there. Number two; Melanie is extremely artistic with her voice. Number three; they're extremely personal, maybe more so than the other songs. So it's kind of open to interpretation instead of just being able to read it like a book.
Ok, want to move on?
Scott: Sure thing, buddy. Ready?
Brian and Francis: Yeah.
Scott: For all the kids that love FATA and the crossover style of music you play, there are also a number of kids that dislike the band and its music. Do you have any idea of why that is? Do you ever get hate e/mail for the music you play? Alright, they'll play around and I'll answer your question. (laughing)
[Side note: Brian and Francis were "playing around."]
Scott: Alright, this is where we stand on the whole anti-FATA style of crossover thing. You know... it's cool though. The more controversy a band can cause, the more the band gets out of that.
Francis: We're all about controversy.
Scott: It gets your name out there, whether or not it's positive or negative. People dislike... what do people dislike?
Francis: People dislike a good taste in their mouth.
Brian: When people start to like something, other start to dislike it.
Scott: Like I don't understand why you can't bring punk rock kids and hardcore kids into the same room. Actually that's why these shows are awesome. Back in New York, you don't see that as much as you do here. Do you live here?
I do live here.
Scott: So you know what I'm talking about.
Brian: We never got hate email, did we?
You might now. (laughing)
Scott: Turn that thing off! (laughing) Can we edit this now?
Francis: Wait, Ben got hate email. He stole someone's money though. That girl in Michigan.
Scott: Wait, don't put that in there. (laughing) Oh Jesus! Nah, you can write everything down.
Damn right, I will! (laughing)
Scott: This is the best interview ever! Write that down! (laughing) Want to move on?
Yeah. Let's go.
Scott: Are you having fun?
I'm having a blast.
Scott: If you're having fun, we're having fun. Let's go. Number 12. What is the driving force or motivation behind FATA? Is the band playing music for themselves, listeners, or is it just an outlet for emotional baggage? For this we've got to get a little sentimental, a little personal. I think, hmm... for the five members of this band basically right now, From Autumn to Ashes is the only thing we're holding on to. Some of us have girlfriends, but there's some loopholes to that statement. We basically dump every ounce of spare energy we have into FATA.
Francis: You're going to get me in trouble with that loophole statement!
Scott: Hey! I feel we really write music for ourselves only, because that ties into that song ten. We do write some stuff we know we're going to get in trouble for, just wait till you hear the next album. We're dead.
Brian: We're dead in the water.
Scott: It's definitely a personal thing, the emotional baggage thing... I like that. I think live [shows] takes care of the emotional baggage part more than writing the actual music. That's where the songs really bleed out. That covers number twelve right there. Number 13.
Francis: Wait, I want to read 13.
Scott: I don't want you to read 13.
Francis: I'm going to question you, alright young man?
[Side Note: At this point, my question sheets are passed to Francis.]
Scott: Watch how I handle this.
Francis: You guys seem to be touring constantly... you guys seem to be touring constantly? How can you afford to support yourselves? Are you working odd jobs in between tours or something?
Scott: Alright, check it out. Don't write "check it out."
Scott: We're probably going to get in trouble for this too. In all seriousness, it's kind of like the hardcore anthem that you're kind of broke and trying to make it. Can I say?
Francis: We're comfortable.
Brian: We're doing ok.
Scott: Actually at this point we don't go home and work jobs. We make enough money that while we're on tour we have enough money to pay the bills and split up personal expenses. The thing is though. You have to work out certain systems with the money while you're on tour, so that when you get home you have more. Stealing Cup O' Noodles from a gas station saves you that $25 at Denny's. That $25 when you get home buys you the cigarettes, the hair dye, and you can take the loophole girlfriend out to dinner once in a while.
Francis: You're digging yourself a hole right now, you know that.
Scott: Alright, next... field me.
Francis: Oh, I'm going to field you right out the door if you get me in any more trouble.
Francis: I want to go back to 13 and say I haven't worked a day in my life except for two weeks at Starbucks.
Brian: I'll add to that one too. I got fired from a shoe store.
[Side Note: everyone started talking so I raise my hand a little.]
Brian: What, my man got fired from a shoe store too?
No, no... I just had a question.
Brian: Go ahead, go ahead.
How do you get fired from a shoe store?
Brian: It's a long story, I can't get into it for legal reasons.
Scott: Yeah cut the tape! That's enough!
Brian: Basically, it just didn't work out.
Francis: When you guys are on tour, what do you do to pass the time?
Scott: OH MAN! Oh wait, I can't say that.
Scott: We write a lot, a lot of paper gets used. We go to the beach, we all swim.
Francis: We're going to publish a book.
Scott: Yeah! It's a book on the cleanest restrooms in America for touring bands.
Scott: Yeah, OH! That's copyrighted!
What else do you guys do?
Francis: We paint trains.
I got another one, when's this book coming out? Because I want a copy.
Scott: It's a photo-documentary. Oh, you'll get a copy!
Last thing I expected... alright. Next.
Brian: What are your feelings about the band's success since joining the Ferret
roster, selling a lot of the album, and touring rigorously?
Scott: I think at this point in the game, Ferret is doing more than any label on the hardcore plane could absolutely do. Carl has been amazing. He's pushing the hell out of us and we're grateful for it. I don't know how far it can go, there might be a transition sometime, but we cant really get into it now because it's a little early.
Brian: "Reflections" was on the "S, S, and S" CDEP. Why did you decide to
re-record it and include the extended guitar and percussion introduction? How come you added the poppy-punk part?
Scott: Want me to go? I got an answer. Basically we wanted to have a ten song full-length instead of a nine, but we didn't want to play the same song over and over again so we added about six minutes to it and spiced it up a little. Number seventeen. The band is scheduled to appear on some Warped Tour dates. How did this come about? Two words. Matt Pike. We just got a new booking agent, and he's busting his ass. You're also playing the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival this year. How did that happen? I have no idea. (laughing) We're very lucky.
What was the process like setting that up though?
Francis: Someone just called us and asked if it was something we'd want to do.
Scott: Do you have any expectations for these two pretty major live events? Food!
Scott: Where would you like this band to be in five years? Are there any other hardcore bands out there whose career path you wouldn't mind emulating? It's time to get in trouble.
Scott: We are going to completely go opposite the hardcore scene with the next record. It's going to be a hardcore metal record, but its going to have a lot of other stuff in it. And our ultimate goal is something like $43,000,000 maybe. Maybe a little more. So you can email us and email@example.com and make fun of us for that and we'll email you back in five years and make fun of you. When it counts!
Scott: Hoobastank!!! Best band of the year! What are some of the most memorable moments you've experienced with FATA?
Alright we each get one. I fell out the goddamn window at the M&M hole! I was playing guitar and smashed right through the window and the next thing I know I'm unconscious with glass in my head.
Where was this?
Scott: M&M Hole in Jersey. I went right out that sucker! Alright, go ahead. Go clockwise.
Brian: I don't know if he's thinking this, but it's very memorable. Putting maggots in Poison the Well's Van.
Brian: We had this van war going on with Poison the Well for a couple of days, and I think they put urine in our radiator or something crazy like that. They did all sorts of stuff. Finally we were in Philly playing a show and Fran here took things a little too far and there just happened to be all this trash in the street that had been there for months and he decided to dump it all over Poison the Well's van and little did he know that there were maggots crawling around in there, so they all got into their van. It was pretty funny.
Oh, that's terrible.
Brian: That was pretty memorable. (laughing)
Scott: Where's this interview going?
Francis: My most memorable FATA experience? There's a few. Like every fucking day it's a new experience.
Scott: Then let's move on to number 21.
Francis: I got an experience, but I don't think I should put it in the interview. Nevermind, I can't talk about it.
Scott: What would you guys say has been your best onstage experience? Philly Fest. No, lets get into it! You see these six inches of scar tissue?
Scott: Well some wiseass decided to hit me with a high hat stand. I ended up in the emergency room missing two front teeth and a funny bone! Major reconstructive surgery! That's memorable! I don't know what could top that.
Francis: As far as positive. Tonight should be pretty good.
Scott: Anyway, boys. What's the last album you bought? Chris Isaak and Nickleback.
Ben (out of no where): Pete Yorn and Jack Duffy.
Brian: The last one I paid money for? (laughing) The Necro CD.
Ben: I bought that for you.
Brian: That's right. You bought that for me.
Francis: Bright Eyes, Fevers and Mirrors. I paid money for that.
Brian: I'm going to have to go with Earth Wind and Fire. Greatest Hits.
Francis: You stole it!
Scott: You can't say that on the interview! Oh! Can I add a memorable moment?
Scott: Down in Gainesville Fest, I needed hair dye. Our asshole roadie steals it and I went to fucking jail for it! Three weeks later, I get a fine for $300 because he got in trouble for it! That's memorable!
Brian: That's memorable.
Francis: That time we set Skycamefalling's hotel room on fire.
Scott: We blew up Skycamefalling! We threw a thunder bomb in that guy's room. We gotta edit a lot of this stuff out!
Wait a minute... what happened?
Francis: Our hotel room was right next to Skycamefalling's at Hellfest. We threw fire crackers into their room, and got them...
How'd they react to that?
Scott: They got kicked out of the hotel room! The sheriff dragged them out and sprayed them with mace! They slept outside.
Ben: The drummer was getting hit with a nightstick, and he was like, "Get away, get away." And the sheriff told him, "If you don't get out of bed right now, I'm going to beat the shit out of you!"
Did they get you back?
Scott: They sprayed us down with a fire extinguisher!
Francis: This is going to be the most indecipherable interview.
Scott: That's good, that's good. Are you having fun?
Yeah, man... I'm having a great time.
Scott: Good, because this is all about you. (laughing) What are some of the 2002 records that you're looking forward to the most?
You're asking me?
Jeez, I don't know.
Scott: So when the interview turns on you, sometimes you have to (snaps his fingers).
I can honestly say that's the first time this has ever happened. I'd like to thank you.
Scott: You're welcome. I'm touched. How about Killswitch Engage! In Flames has a new one coming out. Chris Isaak put out an interview a few weeks ago that was amazing.
Francis: Who else? I don't like anybody. (laughing) Wait a minute, there's a new Piebald record that I have yet to buy. Print that. I am the only guy in America that likes Piebald.
Scott: Oh, rewind that!
Francis: I love that band, I want to say it.
Scott: Cut that out, we'll give you twenty bucks. If you could open for one band in the world, who would you choose?
Hoobastank! That would be high on my list. Sum 41.
Francis: I want to do the Smoking Grooves tour.
Brian: Dr. Dre.
Scott: Petie Pablo! (sp) '...wave it 'round your head like a helicopter.' (laughing)
Brian: DMX. Wait, do want like bands that play instruments?
Anybody, who do you have with instruments?
Brian: Tito Puente.
Scott: Maybe Carlos Santana.
FATA opening for Madonna?
Scott: We actually called her up about that. We called Maverick Records. We thought her fanbase might be into us. She wasn't into it though.
What'd you hear back?
Scott: Actually, I don't know because I made it up. But it a good story.
You lied to me?
Scott: No, I fabricated.
That's a pretty big fabrication.
Scott: That's a loophole.
Alright, is there anything else you guys want to say? I think we've covered pretty much everything we could possibly cover.
Scott: We said a lot. It just went on and on.
I hope I didn't bore you guys, then.
Scott: No way! This is the best interview ever!
Scott: Keep that thing running.
Francis: How much tape do you have?
Scott: Here's the thing... can we have a guest?
Sure, why not?
[Side Note: They called in a guy from outside.]
Scott: This is rookie. Rookie, say something on the record.
Rookie: What am I doing?
Scott: Say anything.
Rookie: Fuck off!
Scott: That's it! That ends the interview! Perfect!