Brian sat down for a chat with the illustrious Brendan Kelly of The Falcon. The Chicago-based project includes members of Rise Against, The Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio. They just released their first EP, titled God Don't Make No Trash or Up Your Ass With Broken Glass on Red Scare.
[Ed.'s Note: asterisks mark where the recorder was garbled beyond comprehension. What you see is what I believe Brendan is trying to say.] Okay, so, just for the record, who exactly is in The Falcon, and what do they play?
I'm in the Falcon; I actually play guitar. Todd from Rise Against is the guitar player on Revolutions Per Minuteâ¦he is the guitar player. Dan from Alkaline Trio plays bass, and Neil from the Lawrence Arms plays the drums.
How did this project come about?
Wellâ¦ we did the Fat Tour in Europe, there was [thing*] with the Mad Caddies and Todd, and I kinda wanted to do something with him. Some sort of likeâ¦ I pick my favorite bass player, my favorite guitar player, my favorite drummer and it could maybe happen - and it did happen. We don't ever practice, we don't ever play; I mean so far. I think that's how it got started; it was just sort of a little jokeâ¦ and it just went from there.
I'm sure both you and Dan were already accustomed to writing main song parts with another personâ¦ is that how the duties were basically split up here?
No, absolutely not. In the course of The Falcon I did all the songwriting. I mean, the whole thing is so new that I don't really don't know what's gonna happen with this type of songwriting. But as far as this started outâ¦ it started out more as a favor to me [than anything else], and we went a lot further than we thought we were going to, so it sort of developed into a real thing.
So this is basically your outlet for expression outside of The Lawrence Arms right now?
Right, right. I'm still active in doing The Lawrence Arms and writing songs for that, but these songs - it's a little bit different. It's something I kinda wanted to do. The thing with The Lawrence Arms is that there's a difference betwen my style and Chris's style and singing and writing songs and everything like that, which really plays largely to how I construct my songs in The Lawrence Arms. I kinda wanted to do something where I could do I do all the writing and I knew that - I mean, for example, when we were in Greatest Story Ever Told, I knew I could get away with writing really short, snotty songs because they were gonna be surrounded by some longer, sorta melodic songs. But, I mean, you could listen to a full record of just 50-second songs like that, and it would be so annoying. So this is just sort of an experiement for me to try to write something a little bit different from what I do in the Arms.
What's it like working with Dan again?
It was awesome. I mean, Dan and Iâ¦ he lives down the road and our wives are really good friends and we hang out all the time. It's like he mopes around, you know, [but] he's also really busy with the Alkaline record right now. It's fun, but you know, when you've got your bandâ¦ big bandâ¦ it's hard to get together all the time.
What's up with the whole "or" thing in the album and song titles? I didn't really think it was a "Dr. Strangelove" reference or anything [like that]â¦
[laughs] No, it's more likeâ¦ how can I put this the right wayâ¦ ? For a long time, I thought naming songs [was] such a hectic thing. I've always tried to put funny song titles together, but these days it's likeâ¦ every place I fucking look it's someâ¦ stupid ass band with their long clever fucking song title. It kinda drives you a little bit nuts, so I kinda didn't really want to be a part of that. I have the long funny song titles I thought of, but then I kinda also wanted to saw it down to regular song titles that just came from the songs. And I meanâ¦ it [maybe was] like a big fuck you to some stupid fashioncore band [with*] dying in their nameâ¦ I don't know, maybe. When it came down to it, we just left them all double.
You and [Neil] as well as Dan are probably all pretty busy with your respective bands. Are you guys going to try to do a tour at all?
Oh yeah. I mean, the thing about The Falcon like i said is that it's just so new. We just released this EP; it just came out. We just don't really know how much interest there's really gonna be. Definitely as much interest as there isâ¦ [we'll do] as much as we can do to support that interest. Right now there's just really no plan. We didn't know how it was gonna go. I don't think [it was, "let's go out and do shitty tours"] or we cared about itâ¦ we have enough hell on the road as it isâ¦
Lyrically, did you go into writing this at all similar to how you wrote Greatest Story Ever Told or do you think you were trying to be a little more extensive?
Definitely more extensive, like you know I was sayingâ¦ I was really looking at a fucking situation where I was doing all the writing. I mean, Greatest Story Ever Told is like really literary exercise for me and for Chris. And this is all, I guess, a response to that. I wanted to make it a little more visceral. But [at] the same time, I want the songs to live like I said for themselves and not just be kind of a blast. I really [don't quite want it to be*] where people are like: "Hey, this sounds just like The Lawrence Arms, why doesn't he just continue doing The Lawrence Arms?" This is a different outlet, and so it should be utilized as such.
Are we likely to see any music videos result from this?
Definitely not from the EP. I mean, I don't think Red Scare is really gonna do anything with this release. I don't know if we're gonna spend the money. But who knows what we're gonna do in the future. I don't thinkâ¦ I wouldn't put it past us to do a video if we did a full-length. I mean, obviously that's something to do, but not right now.
Do you think anyone in the band besides you was intentionally trying to accomplish anything with this project that they couldn't otherwise get out of their main band?
Hmm, well, I don't know. Like I said, I know when this started out it was kind of just a favor to me. (In response to the question itself) Todd obviously, but he plays in The Killing Tree, but he doesn't really play anymore. We just came at it from a different perspective, as something for him to do. I can't really say what Dan and Neil do or don't get out of playing in The Falcon, or Dan-Alkaline Trio Neil-Lawrence Arms respectively. But, the way we recorded this thing was hilarious. We recorded it all in our living rooms; it cost no money to make. So, definitely [a] different experience for all of us.
What did you record it on?
We went into Atlas and recorded the drums, but Neil and I and Matt Allison [didn't want to do it there*]â¦ so we recorded the drums using like one set of room micsâ¦ Dan recorded his bass in his living room. Todd recorded his guitars at the Rise Against practice spaceâ¦ I don't even think he was really supposed or allowed to go into it anymore. I recorded vocals in my living room and I recorded my guitar in the Alkaline Trio practice spaceâ¦ I meanâ¦ we really did it all at different times. There was never more than two of us at the same time when we recorded it. Neil and I recorded the drums and Todd and I recorded my guitar and my vocals, and Danny recorded the bass on his own and Todd recorded his guitar on his own. It was totally a wacky fucking experience. It was a lot of fun though.
It really seems like your vocals are taking this weird progression through the last few yearsâ¦ it isn't so much more or less gravelly as it isâ¦ I want to say high-pitched but I don't know if that's the word I'm looking for, butâ¦ it's more exploring your range I thinkâ¦
Yeah, well, you know, obviously, I meanâ¦ everyone talks about [it] and I think it's reallyâ¦ stupid, and I don't mean to be this guy but it's likeâ¦ everybody [that] plays rock 'n' roll music sits there and talks about themselves like how they're "exploring the limits" of what they can do physically and mentally and all that kind of shit. And I guess, I'm not really trying to say that, but I've been singing in bands for like the past 12 or 13 years andâ¦ you gotta do something to keep it inerestesting, right? The more and more I sing, my voice gets into better and better shape, so i guess I'm able to hit more notes. I don't know how much it's [progressed]; I think it's more of a natural evolution.
Do you think, collectively, the rest of the band could out-drink you?
Oh hell no. Hell no. [laughs] Todd, he's a pretty serious [*]â¦ I guess we all drink pretty hard. Maybe we'll have to have a contest.
As far as distribution goes, is Red Scare likely to go beyond Interpunk?
I hope. The plan is to really go beyond Interpunk. It just really is up in the air right now because this thing is so new and it's happening really fast â¦ [for now, we're obviously using] Interpunk and the internet to get distribution. As far as to get a little bit more attention, [we'll] probably get a distribution deal to get it into stores and stuff like that.
On a totally unrelated note, how did the Daily Show bit go for you?
It was fun. I had a really awesome time doing it. It's probably my favorite show on TV, and I really like Ed Helms too, so i was glad to do that with him. He interviewed me for like three-and-a-half hours, and you knowâ¦ what you see is what you get I guess. I mean, they make fun of everybodyâ¦ [so I was definitely no full exception*]. [But if I didn't] know, I would [still] go back and do it again. It was a lot of fun.
Is there any final words you want to add about the band?
I don't know - I really don't know what to expect so far. The main thing is, The Falcon is a good time; it started out as kind of a joke - maybe not a joke, just something to pass time, and it developed into something more serious. Hopefully we can play shows, and we're definitely going to make a full-lengthâ¦ so I guess, take that for whatever it's worth.