Talk about stoking the hype machine. I sat down with Richard of Sound Scene Revolution, Toby from Red Scare, Brendan and Neil from the Falcon and had a frank discussion about the band, the label and the aborted interview I did a year ago in the same room.
There's quite a bit of "questionable" content below, no wonder Brendan kept asking if we could edit this in production. Read on, fair reader, and you'll discover the secrets behind oral agreements in the record industry, Neil's union-busting and…well, there's a lot in here.
You can hear the whole thing at our friends Sound Scene Revolution, and they're giving away some stuff too. Check it out.
So, we're at The Bottom of the Hill, we have a number of different people here so if you guys can go around and introduce yourself so I can be saved the trouble. Toby: I'm Toby, checking in. Up next we have Justin from (dramatic pause) West Virginia.
Justin: And technically this is kind of a Sound Scene Revolution/Punknews.org double entendre so I'm here officially this time instead of just fucking around. So, Brendan‚?¶
Brendan: My name is Brendan and uh‚?¶I'm a huge international rock n' roll celebrity. (doing a James Cagney impersonation) And I'm Neil.
Neil: (doing the same impersonation) Yeah, see!
So we have Brendan and Neil from The Falcon and Toby, you are from? Just so you not "some random dude". Toby: Oh, I could be and I am.
Toby: Unincorporated South King County.
Brendan: Toby Jeg is a record mogul.
Toby: A empressario.
Brendan: An executive and a empressario, only that he doesn't actually hold parties at his house. Which is actually very crucial to the definition of a empressario.
Toby: I have had‚?¶
Justin: You don't have parties at your house? Since When?
Toby: We have all been to parties at my house (transcribers note: I have never been to a party at Toby's house).
Brendan: Parties, like parties of four sleeping on the ground but not so much revelries.
Toby: I am an enabler I put out Brendan's Falcon records on Red Scare, it's wonderful stuff.
Brendan: And I take in Toby's penis in exchange.
That's a terrible contract. Justin: So that's how it came about, you were just huffing the dong one day?
Brendan: It's really more of an oral agreement that we have. (laughs)
So we'll ask a couple of real questions just to satisfy everyone. Brendan: It's good to see the dignity that this whole thing is starting off on, kind of a high. It's like one question and it's downhill already.
Toby: Neil didn't introduce himself.
Brendan: Oh no, he already introduced himself.
Neil: (doing James Cagney impersonation) Yeah.
Brendan: (continuing impersonation) I'm Neil, see?
So I guess the first question is, the original Falcon EP was the first Red Scare release. Toby: That's true, I think Brendan described it best he said, "Remember, you know, when I called you and I didn't really have a band and you didn't really have a label?" And that was kinda true there wasn't really a band and Red Scare wasn't really a label.
Brendan: It was the seamen that secretly snuck into the teenage girl at the drive-in, that created the unwanted pregnancy, that eventually gave birth to a whole bunch of things that are unsuccessful. (laughter erupts) Man, I think I'm wasting my five star stuff here. Once I get on stage I'm gonna be sucked dry.
Toby: You should bring me on stage so you can‚?¶
Brendan: No, I'm going to be sucked dry before I go on stage by [Toby]. (laughs) See? It's happening again.
Justin: Should we leave before that?
Brendan: No, no no.
Toby: The listeners should appreciate that your very essence, some of your best shit, is getting sort used, taken up, by this.
Brendan: Yeah, hopefully when these people get back from the show tonight‚?¶We're actually going to have to make some pretty decent time cuz we got a lot of songs to play tonight. So I'm not going to get to be as verbose as I sometimes like to be.
Toby: I heard there were solo acoustic numbers.
Brendan: Uhm‚?¶There's acoustic guitar solos. (laughs)
Toby: Red Scare 101 is The Falcon, next question.
Fantastic. So to this point how many records has Red Scare lost money on? (I step back and nearly trip on something) Toby: I can see the force of that [question] nearly knocked you over.
Brendan: Wow, he didn't think this was going to be like a fucking Geraldo "kick you in the dick for a couple minutes" [interview].
Toby: Like an expos√©. I think it's all broken even.
Brendan: I think he's actually asking how many records you've put out. I think he's embarrassed about the financial situation. (pointing at me) Look at him, he's turning red. He's like 6'9" and he's turning red.
Toby: Oh, I get it that was a joke. 111 is The Riptides so there's been 11 releases. Two or three of them are re-issues, two of the old Lillington's records and the old Enemy You record. So eight new ones and three re-issues.
You got a favorite of the bunch? Toby: Uhm‚?¶no. I like Teenage Bottlerocket's record a lot because that was like a band we kinda broke, even though they had Kody in the band and shit like that. People love them and it was a great record and I kinda took a chance on it because I paid for everything. I'm glad it was received so well. I consider them‚?¶
Brendan: (to Toby) I think you need to hold that mic up to your face or it doesn't work.
Toby: (sighs) Okay.
Justin: Like you're making love to it.
Toby: I like Teenage Bottlerocket a lot but they're all great. Like, The Methadones, all of them are awesome. I like 'em, I think other people might. Ask Brendan that question, what record do you like the best?
It was the seamen that secretly snuck into the teenage girl at the drive-in, that created the unwanted pregnancy, that eventually gave birth to a whole bunch of things that are unsuccessful.
Which of the Red Scare [albums] is your favorite? (Justin's phone rings) Turn that fucking phone off, I will kill you for that. (Justin then answers his phone) Brendan: Are you really answering the phone in the middle of an interview?
Toby: Put it on speaker at least. Is that a pink Razor?
Justin: It is a pink Razor. (talks for a few seconds).
Toby: You can edit this shit right?
Sound Guy Nariman: We can, but we won't.
Toby: So Brendan, tell me, if you had to pick a Red Scare release‚?¶
Brendan: I'm going to have to say The Falcon because I've never listened to any of the other releases. (laughter erupts) But I listened to the Falcon every day.
Justin: Listened to it every day, since it leaked on the internet.
Brendan: Yeah man, that's true, I was psyched.
Toby: He was so excited he could Soulseek it.
Brendan: I was so excited I was the first person on torrent‚?¶torrent? Is that a site?
Justin: Torrent's actually a file.
Sound Guy Nariman: Torrent is a site as well.
Brendan: I was the first person on computer. (laughs)
So you have the new LP coming out next week, right? Brendan: Yeah man, a week from yesterday.
Justin: You have to have this transcribed by then.
Brendan: So it came out today, boy that first week presale was amazing.
Four hundred million, no one could have guessed. So‚?¶ Brendan: It actually went "babies". It's like, gold, platinum and once you get to two hundred million it's just babies. They're priceless. (laughs) I mean that's what my great aunts always say when they see babies, they're like, "Oh, she's priceless".
Justin: So do they put a baby in a frame when they give you that?
Brendan: They smash the baby down, and press it between glass. We get an album out of babies.
Toby: They have diamond and that's ten million.
Brendan: My mom's got a lot of albums of me when I was a baby. See this is word play. Would you like to have the mic for a while Neil? (doing James Cagney impersonation) Yeah, I'd love it.
Toby: Neil's gonna take my mic. Pass the baton.
So the album comes out Tuesday, was it harder to record a whole album as opposed to the five song EP? Brendan: Actually I think the recording of the LP, I think, was significantly easier than recording the EP.
Neil: A lot more fun, a lot more able to express ourselves in the moment.
Brendan: I mean the big deal is, by the way that's Neil's actual voice.
Neil: (doing James Cagney impersonation) Yeah, see? I only talk like this when I come from Brendan.
Brendan: (continuing impersonation) Meh, I'm Neil. (laughs) Recording the EP was, as you might imagine, rather difficult. We did it for free and we did this one for a little bit of money.
Neil: It all went to me because I was the engineer.
Brendan: $28.37 and Neil got every inch of it.
Neil: Great tuna melt.
Brendan: He went and got a Toro tuna melt, downtown at one of the fancy restaurants. (someone walks in, apologizes and leaves) That's right, back out slowly. So this was actually a lot easier. I mean, obviously, we had a lot more to do and we had a lot more resources to do it with. (I pull out some trash from my pocket and throw it away) What is that, like a tiny little bag of heroin? (laughs)
Sorry, I'm just throwing out shit from my pocket. Justin: That's how we get the good interviews.
Brendan: This can or cannot be edited?
Sound Guy Nariman: It can, but we're not.
Toby: His mom already knows he does heroin.
Brendan: So, there's a lot more stuff to do but it was a lot easier. It's like, you know, Neil and Dan and I are no strangers to being in a studio. It was really a remarkably great experience to be in a studio with essentially no engineer and that's not to take away from Neil's ability as an engineer but it was just the band in the studio. It was kind of like the feeling of the first time you drive your moms car when you're 16. You're like, "Holy shit! It's just you and me in the car and we're just cruising around". From my own personal experience it was me and Chris and we drove out behind my High School. We drove to the Burger King in Barington. I think we had some Pepsis and smoked cigarettes. I didn't have any Pepsis or smoke any cigarettes in the making this Falcon album, making it significantly better for me.
Toby: Neil, what was your first driving experience?
Neil: I was just trying to think of that and I cannot recall.
Justin: Was this your first record engineering?
Neil: My first full length, yeah.
Justin: What have you done before?
Neil: I did a Killing Tree EP.
I started having these like late night anxiety attacks about these kids listening to my mixes thinking, "what the fuck did he do? This sounds terrible".
But they're not really a band anymore. Justin: They don't count. (laughs)
Neil: They're not real bands?
Brendan: I was just laughing because I realized I was breathing really heavily into the mic. I was just like (huffing and puffing).
Neil: I've done a bunch of demos and EP's for bands
Brendan: (doing James Cagney impersonation) I did the Holy Roman Empire, see? (laughs)
Neil: I usually work with Matt Allison on a lot of stuff so this was my first opportunity to do everything from setting up the microphones, to mixing and finalizing the master.
Toby: You got some good tones?
Neil: Yeah, we got some good tones.
This is where Toby rips you for fucking up the album. Toby: No no‚?¶
Brendan: You're mishandling the entire situation, [Toby] doesn't know what "good tones" even means.
Toby: Well I'll be.
Brendan: When he thinks of good tones he's thinking of chiseled, tan men on Miami Beach.
Unknown voice: That's where Toby's from, Miami Beach.
Brendan: Really? I thought it was Hawaii.
Voice: Somewhere in the Pacific.
Brendan: Well, that'd be Hawaii. (laughs)
Toby: Well I did have a proper question‚?¶(thinks)
Sound Guy Nariman: Great tones?
Toby: Well great tones, that wasn't a question but boy do I regret bringing that up. (laughs) Seriously it's in there‚?¶uh‚?¶never mind, next question.
So I'll ask you Neil, as he was the engineer. First LP [for the Falcon], first full length [as an engineer] was it more liberating or were you way nervous like, "oh god, if this sucks, I'm going to be the one who fucked it up"? Neil: Yeah, I had moments of nervousness, in between tracking and mixing because we had four months in between. We went out on tour with the Alkaline Trio while it was tracked and these kids would come up to me everyday and be like, "Have so much fun when you go home and mix The Falcon". I was like, I don't think about other people ever really listening to it, I always just think about being in the studio and doing it. I started having these like late night anxiety attacks about these kids listening to my mixes thinking, "what the fuck did he do? This sounds terrible".
Brendan: I think it's also worth noting that we did, and I'm not trying to suggest that we subverted the idea of rock n' roll recording by any means. We did take some chances with some slightly bizarre sounds, like the main guitar sound that we went with on this recording was definitely weird. It's not something that I've ever really heard.
Neil: I remember we didn't even really do anything to get it, we just kind of plugged in a guitar.
Brendan: It's just one of those things were there's got to be a level of apprehension once you start doing things and you start laying down all these things. I mean from the guitar sounds to the drum sounds to the actual style of playing to all of a sudden I'm playing electric guitar solo over acoustic arpeggio and I'm singing in falsetto. We're doing a lot of kooky shit on this record and it's real easy to lose sight of the big picture, especially after it's unmixed. You're like, "wow, I've heard this unmixed record like a million times"‚?¶
Neil: "Where's the real song?". What's great is I would get the tones in about 20 minutes and Brendan would come in and we'd work through the song and give suggestions about background vocals that should be louder or guitar parts that were too loud or something. We smoothed the whole thing out together and I think it really worked super well.
Brendan: The mixing was a great process. I mean it was just the two of us and obviously we're like old hats at working with each other.
Neil: We pick apart songs just in the van, when we're listening to other people's records. How we would do it different, or change cymbal volume, stuff like that.
Toby: Give us an example.
Neil: Every single band we listen to.
Brendan: Interestingly enough I would like to say Neil and I actually wrote and recorded "Miss Murder", verbatim. It sounds exactly the same. The tones are all the same the lyrics are all the same and it's just a coincidence that A.F.I. did it to. (laughs)
Justin: Did you wear the same mascara?
Brendan: No, no no. I didn't dress like a Jersey City whore when uh‚?¶(laughter breaks out) (doing James Cagney impersonation) Yeah, see?
Justin: This may have to be edited.
Oh, that's staying. Neil: What song is this? I don't think I've heard it.
My entire goal of this podcast is to get a letter from A.F.I.'s lawyers. Justin: You've already made fun of once.
Brendan: I'm not really making fun of A.F.I. There band is whatever, it's like if that guy wants to dress like a New Jersey fucking prostitute that's his fucking prerogative. You know? (laughs)
Toby: I think that says something about you, that you're okay with that.
Brendan: That's right. I fully support New Jersey prostitutes. In fact you might say I directly support them with my own‚?¶
Your own funds, so to speak. Brendan: Well, technically they've all been from Connecticut.
Justin: So as far as, the one question I thought of, are you guys Angels and Airwaves or Plus 44 to the Lawrence Arms, because Chris is doing his solo project.
Brendan: That's true, Chris is doing a solo project.
Justin: So are you Angels and Airwaves or Plus 44?
Brendan: Well, I mean, we are Angels and Airwaves in that‚?¶I mean, I wouldn't say I'm so much Jesus as like maybe sort of a new interpretation of Jesus.
if that guy wants to dress like a New Jersey fucking prostitute that's his fucking prerogative. You know?
Neil: Like Dave Koresh?
Brendan: Jesus Two. It's like fucking that guy who says he's Jesus and it's like obviously, no he's not Jesus. I mean feel kind of the same way about myself. No, I'm not Jesus but I am very much like Jesus. In that I am, you know, the son of God. So I don't know what that means I think we're somewhere in between Plus 44 and Angels and Airwaves.
Justin: So are you going to do a rap side project with Tim Armstrong? That's really the meat of the question.
Brendan: We're trying to get Tim Armstrong, we can't. So far Fred Schnider is penciled in, from the B-52. We've got some serious interest from uhm‚?¶That slut from A.F.I. Whatever her name is. (laughs)
Brendan: I think she's dead.
Toby: That was Da Brat wasn't it?
Justin: That was Left Eye.
Toby: Oh, she's alive? Left Eye, that's right.
Brendan: That girl from A.F.I. could be completely virtuous, I don't know.
Neil: We actually found her in Toby's apartment.
Justin: Had her in his closet.
Are we talking about women that Toby keeps alive in his closet? Justin: Dead in his closet. (laughs)
Brendan: Man this interview is shaping up to be as funny as the last one that didn't ever see the light of day. (laughter erupts)
Justin: That interview was amazing. Let me tell you people.
Toby: At this juncture something to be said about the flakiness of Punk News staffers.
Justin: I was not a staffer at the time.
Brendan: You know I do have to‚?¶.Eh, never mind.
Justin: Naw, c'mon.
Justin: Give it.
Toby: He was really fond of that interview. He still talks about it to this day.
Justin: I was really fond of that interview.
Toby: It's just like‚?¶
Brendan: It's lost in the anus of history now.
Toby: In the anus. Alright, so we talked about the Punk News interview that you did with the bearded guy over here. No I was told, (conferring with Justin) that was The Falcon, right? (Justin nods) You did an interview with a website called emotional punk dot com? (transcribers note: this was mostly joking, I've never visited the site and am merely jabbing at the name. Easy for a guy who runs a site called Sound Scene Revolution) Brendan: I sure did. I cried the whole time.
Justin: I really like Andrew, Richard is making fun of him on his own.
I don't know the website and maybe it's a phenomenal website, but "emotional punk"? (transcribers note: "Sound Scene Revolution"?) Toby: I read that interview. Well it's the name of a fucking site. There's a site called Punk News, what does that mean? (laughter breaks out).
Off the hip I'd say it's about punk and news. Toby: Well, it sounds like a straight laced thing you'd get on your porch on Sunday morning.
Brendan: You know what? If I could interject here. It's easy to kick someone in the dick for what they name their site but when you got to slap "dot com" at the end of it, it sucks anyways.
Justin: (with gusto) Sound Scene Revolution! (laughs)
Toby: What it comes down to is that all the other fucking URL's are taken.
Brendan: It doesn't even matter. It's like name a website, seriously‚?¶
Toby: That doesn't sound lame?
Brendan: At the end it goes "dot com" and that makes it suck. There's reasons that there's not more bands and book titles and TV shows that end in "dot com" or "dot org".
Toby: I will say, the last thing I'll say, the emotional punk interview, I read it today, it's really really funny.
Funnier than this one? Neil: Yeah that guy Steve did a good job.
Brendan: I farted twice.
Neil: That was [Steve's] first interview too.
Justin: I was actually irritated because I was reading it and I was like, "Shit, they got to them first". I was pissed.
No, I'm not Jesus but I am very much like Jesus. In that I am, you know, the son of God.
Now we have to kill you. So after this no one else can get an interview. That's how it is. Justin: After you play. After that whole Santa Cruz debacle we need to get at least one show out of you.
Brendan: Hey man, if it wasn't for Santa Cruz we never would have sold out Bottom of the Hill. (laughs)
Should have not shown up today and you could sell out The Fillmore next time. Neil: I think this is our last chance.
Justin: People would be like, "fuck those guys".
So I want to talk to Neil for a second, because this is a rumor I've heard, is it true you wrote "Swing Life Away", the Rise Against song? Justin: Lord, not again.
Neil: No, I didn't write it.
I've heard a ton of people say that [you did], do you get asked that a lot? Neil: Tim wrote it, maybe 80%. Then we were just hanging out one after noon.
He was like, "want your name on it?" Neil: Well, we finished it and I helped write some lyrics and did like vocal melodies and stuff. Do a lot of people assume you wrote that? Neil: Yeah, because it got printed that I was the sole writer on the Punk goes Acoustic comp. It says, "Written by: Neil Hennesey".
Brendan: Interestingly enough, Neil wrote The Suffer and The Witness in it's entirety. Completely uncredited.
Do you get any revenue for that? Any royalties? Neil: No. You have to be part of a union to be part of a major label to get paid and I'm not part of the union.
Toby: Neil's a union buster and Neil I want to say your politics are right on. They're right on buddy. (laughs)
Neil: Thanks Toby.
Of course Toby picks up sound engineers outside of Home Deopt. "You want $5 to produce an album?" Toby: They get good tone.
Justin: That's horrible.
So I want to ask kind of a real question, you guys have members from Alkaline Trio and Lawrence Arms, do you find you pull more fans from either band? Brendan: Man I find we have so many fans I don't know who's from where. It's kind of hard to determine. Kids they buy the record‚?¶I try, as much as I can, to be in the record store whenever a kid is buying one of our records.
Neil: You do a pretty good job. Keeps you on the road.
Brendan: I do an alright job and every time they pick it up I'm like, "Hey, hey hey! What is it that's making you pick up this record? Is it the guy from the Alkaline Trio in the band? Is it the guys from The Lawrence Arms? Or is it, perhaps, just that I'm standing here? Or is it the great review that you read on Punk News dot org that gave us five stars?"
Justin: That was a great review, I didn't agree with the five stars but it was a great review.
Brendan: I don't think it really got five stars.
Justin: I don't think so either. (Brendan laughs) I think it got three and a half.
Brendan: So anyways, the kids I've contacted, it seems like kind of a mixed bag.
Justin: (to Neil) So this is the first time you've played guitar since Baxter, right?
Neil: On a record, yeah. I did some guitar playing on the Cardinal Sin record.
Justin: On the newest?
Neil: Yeah the Hurry up and Wait.
Justin: You engineered that, did you work on that one?
Neil: I did, that was a fun one.
Justin: I actually saw them open for you guys in Columbus a long time ago.
Neil: In the uh, Bernie's Distillery?
Justin: Yeah, Bernie's Distillery.
Neil: That's one of my favorite places. One of our collective favorite places to play shows.
Brendan: Man, that's where Sean Nader's stuck the pill up his ass and the roadie from The Black Out Pact fucked the mom.
Neil: And she squirted all over their van, cuz she was a squirter. (laughter erupts)
Brendan: Take that‚?¶random mom.
Neil: That was a 1, 2, 3 right there.
Justin: I don't think there's any way to top that.
Neil: That's also when Nader (look up) tried to stick the pill up his ass, it actually fell out and fell onto the floor of Bernie's Distillery and he said, "Oh, I'll just wash it off and take it".
Brendan: He goes, "The pill, I think it fell out of my ass, if you find it give it to me. I'll take it again but I'm not sticking it up my ass again". I was like, you know what? The only thing that may be dirtier than your anal cavity is the floor of Bernie's.
Justin: I've done things there that you don't want to have on you.
Neil: Great moment in time.
Brendan: Love that place.
Toby: I live by that rule though, you stick something up your ass just once. (laughter erupts).
Brendan: No you don't. I've watched you stick things on me up your ass multiple times.
Neil: You mean everything once. Like go through the entire catalog of the dictionary.
Brendan: Is this interview over?
Neil: I think it's slowing down.
We got one more question that we got to get to, because everyone wants to know. Is The Falcon ever going to tour? Neil: Uh‚?¶Well, we're certainly not ruling it out. It seems improbable that we'll tour‚?¶Well, it's impossible for us to physically tour with the line up that's on the record because it's a three piece and it's definitely a four piece band. I'm interested in doing something and you know, it's obviously going to have to be in a different sort of capacity then what we record but..uhm.
Toby: Just answer the fucking question.
Brendan: What I was gonna say was only the most shallow fucks in the world wouldn't come just because Dan isn't playing the fucking bass. Right? Jesus.
Justin: He doesn't really do anything does he?
Brendan: Well, he does play the bass extremely well and sing extremely well and whoever fills his shoes has a lot to live up to and probably will do a piss poor, sub par job. But, how shallow do you have to be to not go see the piss poor, sub par version of the band. We'll do a piss poor, sub par tour it'll be called, "The Falcon: Better than the Album 2009".
Interestingly enough, Neil wrote The Suffer and The Witness in it's entirety. Completely uncredited.
Justin: Can we have one more question? Ska? C'mon, it's fucking awesome. How many years were you away from the ska and fucking knocking on it.
Brendan: Uh, I never knocked on ska.
Justin: I think you knocked on the ska in our interview where no one but me knows what it says. I think, in fact, you had some words to say about that other band of yours.
Brendan: Listen, I'll tell ya this. I was, you know‚?¶one of the main things that drives my creative process in The Falcon is taking things that are fucking terrible and trying to figure out how to make them not terrible anymore. And is there anything worse than popular, pop-punk ska? I've said this before and I'll say this again, popular, pop-punk emo. (laughs) But, you're not gonna make that good. All the fucking buckets of‚?¶uh, roosters in the world aren't going to polish that turd. So, instead I choose ska. I choose ska as my weapon. I sharpened and honed the tip and point of ska‚?¶
Toby: I'd like to say that I just got a text message that says, "Hey Toby, I have this really hot, Dutch friend who wants to get into the show. Can you swing it". I don't know who this is from it's a 415 (area code) number. This is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Can we swing it?
Justin: Can we bring the interview, while you swing it?
Brendan: I'm super duper thirsty and I gotta, kinda watch The Draft, are we done?
Toby: Sign off Neil, sign off.
Brendan: (doing James Cagney impersonation) Hey, this is Neil, I'll see ya later.