Foreign Born Interview (Part 1 of 2)

foreign born
The Los Angeles four-piece, Foreign Born (blog), has been touring around and creating material for several years now without getting the attention and bigger audience they truly deserve. With their recent signing to Dim Mak Records an LP, On the Wing Now, slated for release August 21, though, it looks as though they may have finally made their break!
Below is the interview I conducted with Matt, the frontman, in which we discuss the web, blogs, odd jobs, musical influences, and much, much more are delved into and discussed! So read on ... Part 2 of the interview goes up tomorrow!
Foreign Born - In the Shape
(1) Explain to me a little about your history and development. You've been together for some time now, but weren't picked up (by Dim Mak) until recently. These days, you hear about groups that play a few shows and immediately are signed ... not so with Foreign Born. Any explanations for this and what are your feelings on it?

FB started to exist just after Lewis and I received our degrees from San Francisco State in 2003. I think he was magna cum laude, and i was "lucky to get a diploma". I moved into Lew's place in the Richmond District for the summer, and FB was born during that time on the heels of a huge collaborative jam we had for a friend who was leaving town. Our room mate John Martin was on bass at the time, and we played some well received, very chaotic shows around town. I met the future members of FB on Halloween, Garrett (drums) was a vampire priest and I think I was "struck by lightning" with a cardboard lightning bolt over my head. Anyway, we hit it off, and went down to LA to rework some recordings and ended up re-recording them with Garrett and Ariel (bass). The energy of these first recordings inspired our move down to LA that Spring. We all moved into together and began chipping away at the avalanche of songs we were writing.
It did take us a while to find some kind of home.. I think this is mainly due to the fact that we didn't fit neatly into any category. We weren't and still are not geared toward the concept of immediate gratification. Not enough pizazz? I don't know. Our band is an investment. We are not going to be a phenomenon, or an overnight sensation (obviously). We are working through the world with our particular trunk of ideas, trying to communicate the things we've absorbed. We've been mystified but what people in positions of power have been "looking for" in musicians - why they support some rather than others. But in the end, although we could have used the dough, I think our self-reliance has allowed us to stay closer to reality (kind of).

(2) I picked up your On the Wing Now album last year, but you've re-recorded it, from what I understand. How was that for you and why did you do it?

We didn't actually re-record it, we just re-mixed a few tracks and changed the song order a little. We originally self-recorded this album in the fall/winter of 2005 and were itching to get it out, so we pressed 500 ourselves in the summer of '06 to sell on our tours.

(3) I'm curious to know where you come from musically. There are clearly many influences that shine through in your songs -- although, to say the least, you've a very unique style! What sort of stuff did you grow up on?

My early years (5/6 years old) were spent on a strict meat and potatoes diet of Beatles and Beach Boys, and then, a little later, Michael Jackson. I went through all sorts of phases throughout the following years from L.L. Cool J to Megadeath, but once I hit Nirvana and Mudhoney, I was on the track I would follow. I later went on to embrace old country blues a great deal, listened to a lot of Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry, Bessie Smith. Other major phases included getting back into the Beach Boys (almost unhealthily so), Kinks, Neil Young, The Fall, Leonard Cohen, Neil Michael Haggerty, Randy Newman, Burning Spear, Willie Nelson, etc..
As for the rest of the guys, Lewis is a classical and world music buff, currently coming off last year's soft rock kick and into the canyon of New Age. He's also been obsessed with African music (resulting in our new band Fool's Gold). He was in a communist surf band in high school, and also played jazz and dub reggae! He's also a strong Fleetwood Mac devotee.
Ariel is a life long Clash fanatic with fervent leanings toward the Talking Heads and Stranglers. Can't stop talking about Daft Punk concerts!
Garrett's musical past, as far as I know, was concerned with Toto and Dream Theater! His father is a drummer, so he grew up among stacks of snare drums and cymbals in Venice. He also likes Fleetwood Mac.

(4) I always like to know about the process of writing and recording for groups. What do you four tend to do when it comes to sitting down and churning out some material?

The process usually begins with either Lewis or me having the original thought. Sometimes Lewis will have the whole song's chord progression already finished and I'll just come up with the melody, or I'll have a large part of it written and Lewis will contribute with structure and changes, and generally busies himself at making it his own. Lewis is also a new music composer and has much method to his madness. He is especially masterful at righting kick-ass chord progressions.. Their structures are very solid and easy to write melodies over. Sometimes he'll have a vocal melody here or there, but that's usually my bag along with the lyrics. We then mind-meld with Ariel and Garrett who fuck around with it on their terms. Ariel has a great ear for structure and production. He produces bands for dollars and provides insight of inestimable value. He'll have some radical idea we didn't think of that turns the whole song on it's head! Which is pretty much always a good thing. Then there's Garrett, our tour de force! He brings everything we come up with to life. I think a lot of people who come to see us play, come to see him play drums.

(5) What are your plans for the future? You're releasing your album, but is there anything else that's coming along with that?

At the moment, we are standing on the groundwork we've laid for the album's release much like a moving walk way at an airport, but it's been that really long one at O'Hare.. We are currently working on video ideas and trying to secure some tours for the Fall. We just booked this all women's choir, that sings Eastern European folk music from UCLA, to play at our record release show! Which I am very excited about. And just writing new songs. We have more than enough in the works for our next album and are ready to jump in to that pool as soon as we're through promoting "On the Wing Now".


May said…
FB is so fabulous. I'm glad others think so too.
jenny anderson, tunred me on to you.
she loves you guys , good fourtune to you where ever you are. fools gold is rad