Fake Problems is one of the zillion bands that will be descending upon the swampy land of Gainesville Halloween weekend for The Fest. Kira Wisniewski, punknews.org contributor, caught Farren via phone just as he woke up and climbed into he van on the way to San Antonio to play a couple shows with fellow Floridians Look Mexico. In addition to discussing aspirations of being Posh Spice for Halloween, Farren talked about the new record Real Ghosts Caught on Tape, the disgusting game of Mr. Yucky and who Fake Problem's favorite person on punknews.org really is.
Let's dive right in. Let's talk about your new album, tell us about it.
It's called Real Ghosts Caught on Tape we recorded it in LA with Ted Hutt. We took like six months to write it. There are eleven tracks on it.
What's the story behind the title?
It's kind of about unfulfilled expectations. The idea going into it was to get something that captured the vibe of the all the lyrics and all the songs. And I think that kind of sums it up because there are a lot of songs about trying to keep hope and disappointment balanced along the way.
Who's jumping in the pool on the cover? You?
That is me, yeah.
Was that planned out, like, "We want this to be the cover of this album."
No no, Casey had gotten into photography right around when we were starting to record the record and all the pictures in the booklet and the cover art were just pictures he was taking at the time. And when it came time to choose an album cover he showed us all these pictures and that one popped to all of us. We were all like, "Wow! That is a really good album cover."
Like you mentioned, you worked with Ted Hutt on this album, can you talk more about that and how that experience was?
Yeah it was amazing. We wanted to work with him for a while but the timing just never worked out. So this time we finally got a chance to and it was awesome. We've never really had a producer before. We've always just had engineers who kind of pressed record and said, "Go for it!" But he had a lot of great ideas as far as taking the songs in different directions and making each song more focused and less like a crazy two-minute spaz fest like we were normally used to. He helped us find eleven songs that really fit well together and matched each other as opposed to our other records where it's been one song and then another song and then another song that are just kind of seemingly unrelated musically.
Aside from that sort of cohesiveness from your previously releases, how is Real Ghosts Caught on Tape different from your previous releases musically?
I'd say it's a bit more reserved. It's a bit more thought out. We've always thought out all our songs, but with this record we wanted to make it a point to stay away from the crazy parts in songs that just entertain ourselves. We played for the song and did whatever suited the song best.
So you're in the van right now on tour, where are you going?
We going to San Antonio. We're going to play a show with our friends Look Mexico!
Awesome! Talk to us about the current tour.
Well we just finished a tour with Gaslight Anthem; which was amazing. We've been friends with them for like four years now. We went on tour with them in 2007 in like basements and really small clubs. So it was really cool to be with them and play places like Radio City Music Hall and all these gigantic venues they play now. It's really inspiring.
How was Radio City Music Hall?
It was awesome. There were so many people there. It was so big. It was the biggest show ever. And Radio City Music Hall - the staff- they sent us flowers! I mean they send everyone flowers but they sent us flowers in our dressing room that said, "Have a good show!' And it was just really cool.
Right now on punknews.org the featured video of the week is you guys and Casey getting a special haircut. How did that come to be?
Casey just woke up one day and was like, "I want a haircut." Casey has been growing out his hair for like two years and I haven't seen Casey with short hair for a very long time so it was kind of a shock, but I guess he just got sick of people calling him a girl. I guess someone followed him into a bathroom and said, "Hey you can't be in here! This is the men's room." I think he said that was the last straw. So he decided he wanted a haircut. And in typical Fake Problems fashion we did the most elaborate thing ever.
Who and what is Mr. Yucky?
Oh Mr. Yucky... Mr. Yucky is when you lick your hand and then you wipe your hand on someone else's mouth when they're not expecting it. We've got a Mr. Yucky montage coming on our next tour video. It's gotten pretty out of hand at this point. It's pretty gross.
Are you usually the victim of Mr. Yucky or the instigator?
Lately I've been more of the instigator. I've been able to avoid it and just dish it out as much as possible.
If you were keeping tabs who would you say has gotten the most Mr. Yuckys done to them?
Derek's definitely gotten the most Mr. Yuckys for sure. By far.
Have you accomplished the triple Mr. Yucky?
No, but I did a double Mr. Yucky the other day but no triple yet.
Who did you do the double to?
Derek and Sean. I just reached my arms both of them and did it at the same time, it was really good.
Is that caught on tape as well?
Um…yeah. I'm pretty sure it is.
I was talking to some friends last night about doing this interview and about Mr. Yucky and somehow that segued into vomit stories. Do you have kind of vomit stories to share from this tour?
I haven't thrown up in a while, so I don't. But I do think that Sean mentioned that Derek threw up in Sean's hands the other night. I don't know the story or what happened there. I just know that Derek threw up in Sean's hands. So your imagination can just go wild with that one!
Not sure if this will run before CMJ, but you're doing some exciting CMJ shows - talk about those.
Yeah we're playing a Fred Perry show, Makers Mark, Paste Magazine, Ben Sherman. I'm just looking for free clothes. Hopefully I'm going to walk out of this experience with a whole bunch of new clothes. That's my number one objective.
At least you've got your priorities straight there.
Yeah. And we're playing some other cool shows. We're playing with Neon Indian and Surfer Blood and we love Surfer Blood. They're one of our favorite new bands.
That's pretty exciting. So this interview is actually part of a "Pre-Fest special" so let's talk about Gainesville. For people that have never been there, can you give a quick summary of it?
Yeah it's a college town where for some reason a bunch of drunk punks live too. And they love it. I know people who move from other places just to live in Gainesville, not for college but just because it's some sort of punk Mecca. They have good food there. I like the food. I like eating food in Gainesville, that's for sure. And The Fest is always a great, great time.
For first time Festers - any words of advice?
Take it easy. Don't blow your load on the first day. I've gone to The Fest and just gone buck wild on Friday and then by Saturday I'm like dead. And there's still cool stuff to do on Sunday, ya know? So take it easy on your body.
Who are you particularly excited to see at The Fest?
I'm excited to see Bomb the Music Industry!, Frank Turner and The Menzingers.
The dilemma everyone faces when going to awesome music festivals like The Fest is trying to see everyone they love - give me the sales pitch on why a reader should go check out Fake Problems above all else?
Because we're super fun to watch to play live. We've heard that a lot from other people too, so it must be true. And this year I think we're going to play a bunch of old songs that we don't normally play. Like from our first record and first EPs and stuff. We've figured that was a pretty punk thing to do. And since it's a punk festival we might as well punk it up. Keep the scene alive. Be punk. I'm just throwing out some slogans - some possible punk slogans.
Those should always go in a sales pitch.
Keep the scene alive.
The Fest is happening again on Halloween weekend, are you guys planning on dressing up?
I think yes. I think we're going to dress up as the Spice Girls. But I'm not sure yet. Don't hold me to that. I want to dress like the Spice Girls though.
Which Spice are you?
I want to be Posh Spice. That's who I want to be but we'll see. In an ideal world I'm Posh Spice. That could be the lead quote for this interview.
Who would your other band mates be if you could just assign them right now?
Our tour manager John would definitely be Scary Spice. I think we said Derek would be Ginger Spice. Casey would be uh, Posh. I mean, I'm Posh. Casey would be fucking... Sporty! And then Sean would be Baby. We've got it all laid out. We're ready to rock!
There you go. You're all set! So what's next for Fake Problems?
We've got these two shows with Look Mexico, CMJ. Oh we actually have two shows with Matt & Kim coming up too! Which will be awesome because we love Matt & Kim. And then we've got CMJ and then we have the Fest. And I'm not sure exactly what we're doing in November, but I think in December we're going on tour with the Flatliners and playing one of those Bouncing Souls Home for the Holidays shows. And then 2011, we're just full throttle again. Touring anything we can, doing anything we can.
Very cool. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the punknews.org community?
Oh yeah, keep on keeping on punknewsers! Keep on commenting. Keep it posi. PMA!
Do you read the comments?
I do sometimes yeah. But sometimes I stop myself from doing it because I don't know, sometimes it can be a bummer. But sometimes it can be really funny. My favorite person on punknews is Richard Verducci - how 'bout that?