Falling Up is an experimental alternative rock band from Oregon. To date the band has released 7 albums with the most recent album being a completely fan funded, independent album. In the interview I caught up with lead singer Jessy to talk about their latest release “Your Sparkling Death Cometh,” the reason why they left long time label BEC Recordings, how their fans and Kickstarter helped fund the new album. We also talked about what the process was like recording this record independently. Jessy also offered a free song from his solo project The Gloomcatcher for free to those who subscribe to the newsletter below:
(interview after the break)
Adrian Hummel: What was going through your minds when you announced the break?
Jessy of Falling Up: Well, we were a little bit frustrated because we were moving in this direction that we didn’t want to go and it (the break) was nothing super permanent, we weren’t being super decisive. We also wanted to do tours with different bands that were our friends, that weren’t necessarily on the label or weren’t in the crowd that we were touring with. We just kind of had these different plans we wanted to do and branch out in a different direction and it just kind of didn’t work out with what the label was planning, with our vision and that’s when we decided to split with them. It was a mutual decision because they were like “we don’t know what we can do with you guys anymore” and we were like “we don’t know if it’s the healthiest thing anymore” and that’s when we decided to split. But really it was more about trying to re think what we wanted to do and how we wanted to apply and really kind of go back to the reasons we started the band in the first place and the reason we started playing music in the first place. It took that year to really realize that talk with one another and then decide how we wanted to move forward with it. It was weird because the reason why we announced it as a permanent break was because we weren’t sure if we were going to be playing again. If once we came to that decision with “What do we want to do with the future of this band?” and that possibility could have been we don’t want to continue anymore. We kind of all aligned with this idea of still wanting to make music and we were even talking about still wanting to tour and pick things back up, but we wanted to do it really independently and really relaxed. Kind of the idea going forward is really protecting ourselves as independent artists and protecting the music we were doing and what we want to do. Our focus was, we can really do anything we were doing before as long as we were protecting the thing what we love the most, which is our music and our art that we are showing everybody. That was the idea and then we went on into the Kickstarter thing, which is a great program. It was kind of cool because we didn’t know after not touring for a while and being out for about a year if people even wanted a new record. It was really nice to have something like Kickstarter because you are able to know if this group of people at least wanted to hear new music. At least we know we have some basis to go off of, and it was really great to be apart of that program. We have just been self-releasing things and doing things really independently and it really feels like what it was like when we first started out. I was talking with the guys the other day we had this website when we first started touring with Crashings and I always put blogs up there and would share funny stories on the road and I was really talking with people and connecting with people and spending my time getting to know people who were interested in what I was doing. It feels a lot like that, because we are able to do that now, we are able to answer emails and talk to people, and really get to know the kind of family that surrounds us with our music.
Adrian Hummel: Was there any doubt with the Kickstarter that maybe you wouldn’t raise the money for the album?
Jessy of Falling Up: Yeah it was a little scary and we did have a back up plan. Over the last couple years I have been building a studio and producing. We have the ability to do the album on our own, minus any kind of funding. It wouldn’t have been the record we would of wanted, as far as sound quality of it if we didn’t have a budget. We did probably think we could do this, but then the question came up that if we can’t even get a budget from our fans that want us to do the record, then how to do we know if we are shoving music down people’s throats that didn’t want it? The Kickstarter campaign is a really great program but its scary for people because a lot of people still don’t understand it because some people may think “I am not going to pay money for something that I don’t know what the quality of the music is going to be.” It really is kind of an interesting thing because the fans can get into the shoes of the label and see ok “do we believe in these guys and if we believe in them then we should put the money, and if we don’t, we don’t.” It really puts the fans to the test and it’s like how much faith do you have in a project that you have no control over other than just funding it. It was defiantly one of those things we had a lot of discussion about what would happen if we don’t get it and there were moments when I didn’t even think, we haven’t had anything going on in the last couple years, even when things came out we just toured lightly. Kind of the proof was on our Facebook, since I announced the possibility of new music back in November of 2010 our Facebook fans started growing, and growing and we were getting more and more daily and that was kind of proof that the Kickstarter would work.
Adrian Hummel: If the opportunity came up and a label presented itself to you, would you even be interested in that?
Jessy of Falling Up: I would, I think it actually would be a lot better now because we know the ins and outs of a label and we know what we can do independently and how we can do it and the level we can get to independently. I think it all kind of intertwines into this idea if a label came up to us and says here is what we have to offer, I would have a list of things that I would want right off the bat for things to be taken care of within the label. When we got signed we were 18 years old fresh out of high school, we didn’t go to college our idea was we were going to give the band a year to see if we can really pick it up and a couple months after we graduated we got a call from a label. Of course we were going to sign a contract and of course we didn’t even read it, we were just stoked out of our minds because every kid dreams of that. It was just this big thing and we really didn’t even know what was going on and now it really opens my eyes to knowing exactly what’s going on. The advice I would give for bands that haven’t toured, that don’t have fans, and that are just starting out, I hear all these people say you need to go independent just do it yourself. I think its hard because the label wants more of the growth and the name to be attached to them, but the idea whether you go on a label or not is to just protect what you have and that is the biggest thing. The thing that I would go into, if a label came to me I would just say here is what I have. Here is what I can do, which is write music, record music, and perform it, and if you like these songs then we can share in them. But, I am going to protect them with my life because this is all I have. What the label has to understand is they have other bands, they have got other things going on, and your not just that labels band, or their only band. I could see if it were the labels only band that they have then it would be a different story. They got all these different projects and you only have what you have. That’s kind of the idea, I would just be really protective of what we have, just guarded it and guide it the way we want to be whether that’s in percentages or even more the idea of what the vision and brand is. That is what I would want to protect even more than just percentages and money because perception is everything. If you’re not perceived right by people then what’s the point? If you’re getting misrepresented by what you actually do and what your heart is it just doesn’t feel good.
Jessy of Falling Up: We are really pleased and that was kind of the goal going into it. A little bit of each member had a little piece in them that contributed to the album and our experience was an education in a way because we have been in and out of studios for the last 8-10 years. It has been a learning process for us and each individual person has their own individual thing like Jeremy is a fantastic web designer and he is really good at viral ideas and marketing. He works for a really great place in Austin, Texas and he was really professional about all that stuff. Josh our drummer has been going to school for mixing and engineering for the last couple years and has been mixing projects and getting fantastic at that, he mixed some solo stuff that I did and some other projects here and there. He got really great at that, and then I have just been in and out of the studio writing and producing and when we had the opportunity to do this record we went down to Casey Crescenzo who was our last producer for Fangs. He was like “come down and use my studio and I’d love to just hang out and be there and whatever you need me for,” so we went down there and had a great studio to use with great equipment and just kind of made it happen. It was a really great experience because it was like now is our chance to kind of put the music to the test and see what we could do and see where the decisions we have made can intertwine and I am super stoked about how it turned out and how it came together and utilized each of the things that we could do to make this record the best thing we could make it.
Adrian Hummel: Listening to some of the new songs, one of my personal favorites is Blue Ghost, do you have any that really kind of stick out to you in this record?
Jessy of Falling Up: Actually, Blue Ghost lyrically was one of my favorites that came out. The bridge section in it I was really debating, because we tried to not copy and paste and it wasn’t like one take and we tried to keep it as less digital as possible and didn’t want to do all the auto-tuning and stuff like that. We just wanted to keep it raw and real and at the same time keep it a rock record. But at the bridge I had this idea to do the T-Pain auto tune stuff and it was a debate because well if I put it in do you think people are going to think that everything in this record is going to be auto tuned? We had to really T-Painish and really auto-tune it so people could tell here is my voice without it and here is my voice with it. So, it was one of those things that was kind of fun. I think one of my favorite moments on the record and probably favorite song just because it was a special time when we were making it was MSCRON and namely just the end where there is this jam section. It was kind of a tribute because we just kind of went off things into more of the experimental area. We wanted to put a song or two on the record that still held that side of our music up. Just the end of that song was a really cool moment and a complete accident. I had bought this guitar pedal that was a pitch shifter and it bends the guitar a couple octaves and I had it plugged it into the guitar, then I found this little knob that changes the key here and there and bounces in-between polyphonic harmonics. So I realized that it could be utilized as a solo if you just kind of resonate a string and mess with the pedal. It was literally one of those moments were like “oh my gosh, this is going to sound cool!” Hit record and it was one take, did it. It was a really cool moment because it just worked out perfectly and it couldn’t of been planed and those kind of moments I like in the studio, your not planning it and it just pours out of you.
Adrian Hummel: Does that ever transcribe in trying to remember how to play that live?
Jessy of Falling Up: Yeah, yeah it does. It is always an interesting experience when going from that to live. We try and keep our set open sometimes like we did on the on the song Islander. We would play live and have this section that we would just do something different. We just leave this certain part open to just jam and it was always our favorite time of the show, but probably from the fans they were just like get it over with. It was an interesting way to keep things fresh and light all the time. As far as translating a lot of the songs especially to live from all the production that you do on a cd. That’s were my OCD comes in, I have to have it sound pretty close to the cd. Like if there is a vo-coder on my voice, or if there is 3 or 4 synths going on I want those synths to be played live. During the last couple years when we were touring everyone was playing a keyboard; every body was doing something because I had to have it sound like it was on the cd. It can get a little obsessive; sometimes I like the idea of making a song a little bit different live. At the same time its kind of nice to able to hear what’s going on the cd.
Adrian Hummel: Now that you guys have an album out is there going to be a tour coming up?
Jessy of Falling Up: We have talked about it and we don’t have anything planned right now, but we have been discussing it and we are wanting to. There is a lot of rumors and a lot of things on our Facebook and website about “oh, the new record is coming out and they are not planning on touring, there is just going to be making music and what not.” We are wanting to tour, its just a matter of finding the right one and we are being really picky about who we go out with and how the tour is presented. We are discussing a big almost every state nationwide tour and we are going to try and make it a little more like how we did our record. I guess “independent” would be a bad word for a tour, but its more underground. It will obviously be announced dates, but not super propaganda, not super media, it will be more like we are going to be here and you might find out about it a month in advance that we are going to be here at this date. That’s kind of what we are planning and we would kind of like to do a blitz tour that would be this underground movement.
Adrian Hummel: The last thing I want to ask you Jessy is now that you guys are independent and it sounds like things are going really well for you guys, what’s the biggest way people can support you?
Jessy of Falling Up: There are several ways, if people want to buy the record there is a really good avenue for us is through Bandcamp and we have it set up on our website. A lot people are more comfortable through iTunes and Amazon Mp3 because they are used to it, but Bandcamp is basically the same and you get a direct download of the record, but it makes it really easy on us and it’s a great service for the band because iTunes doesn’t always work and they are kind of glitchy. I would just encourage Bandcamp for the first option and the physical cd is available too. Also, really we love reviews and those help out a lot. Good reviews and bad ones, “what do they say bad media is any media.” Even if it’s a bad review I just like to hear peoples thoughts on it. That also is a way to help spread the word. Blogging about the cd, their thoughts and what not is another one. After that the next thing would be just spreading the word that we are going to be touring and getting stoked for that. Anytime people want to drop us a line on our website we made it really easy for people to email us, and that comes directly to us.
Adrian Hummel:Well Jessy thank you so much for hanging out and talking about the new record.
Jessy of Falling Up: Thank you very much for the support.