When alt-epic crew Farewell Republic recorded their beaming, hazegazy debut, Burn The Boats, none of the members had reached the age of 23, but it sounds like they lived through the 1990s multiple times: Swirly Corgan guitars with none of the arena cheese, shoegaze pedal chains forming shiny alliances with stoner-metal pedal chains, Shudder To Think’s disjunctive melodies sliding into a little math-rock drift. Hell, these young bucks might be New York’s best hope for alt-rock space spirituals since Secret Machines, dreaming big and mixing their records to sound even bigger. The album’s best track is “Wake,” a two-and-a-half-minute churn of Jesu guitars cascading into foggier indie shores.
What is “Wake” about?
“Wake” is about dreams. Or more specifically the moment when you wake up from a dream and realize you were dreaming. The lyrics were a product of being written after the Bush years and getting out of that nightmare.
What inspired it musically?
My super shifter pedal had randomly stopped working a couple years before. I threw it on my pedal board again hoping it would work again and it did. I was playing around with it and found that guitar sound. It came together in one day.
Your guitar sound is somewhere between shoegaze, stoner metal and alt-rock…
Basically for “Wake,” we wanted the guitar sound to be a huge wall of sound, while remaining different from the classic MBV shoegaze guitar sound. If I’m not mistaken, they do the fender guitars through Marshall Stacks. We used all fender combo amps. We wanted the track to sound like it was coming at you all at once… It was really important to me that this record had really interesting guitar tones. Of the 30 studio tracking days, probably about 10 of the days were just devoted to guitars alone. One of the things we talked about when we started the record in 2010 was how it seemed like people were sick of all these laptop bands who just had keyboards and didn’t play their instruments or play guitars. We love keyboards–we have tons of keyboards, synths, organs on the record–but it was a big priority to do something interesting with the guitar. In fact, that organ you’re hearing in “Wake” is an actual church organ. I’ll refrain from going into details of how we got access to record that.
Your bio implies you guys were from somewhere besides Brooklyn originally.
I’m originally from DC and Brian is from Chicago, but the band formed in Ann Arbor while we were undergrad students at the university of Michigan. We recorded the record right after our senior year and moved to Greenpoint to mix the record and live. To tell you the truth, we never felt at home in the Ann Arbor scene. Tons of my friends from high school and college live in Brooklyn so it’s been a great place to live and move to. It’s also not as cold.
You guys are super young. What do you do to make ends meet?
While we were mixing the record, I was working full time as a waiter at a fancy restaurant in midtown and also part time from home for a publishing company to pay for the record. Now I have a few random part time jobs I string together.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in NYC?
Our show a few weeks ago at Glasslands. First off, it felt like one of those shows were everything was clicking. Then during our fourth song, a bunch of paramedics came in to the venue. We had just started the song and I didn’t know whether to stop and looked at Brian. He gave me the “keep playing” face. There were all the firetruck lights coming through the windows lighting up the place. The crowd in the back was distracted but everyone in the front was really attentive seeing what we were going to do. I think people love whether it’s in music or sports when something is going wrong, seeing how the band or player is going to react. Eventually we just embraced the moment and got really into it when the song got big and loud at the end. People told me after it felt like almost this weird conceptual art thing: Live scoring the worst moment of this girl’s life who had passed out in the bathroom from drinking too much. After that song we had everyone’s complete attention in the room for the rest of the set. Also, she ended up being OK.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
I eat brunch/lunch at Five Leaves way too much for my budget. I live a block away so it’s hard to resist. Also love Graham Ave Meats and Deli and Caracas in W’burg. If they open up a location of the Hummus Place in Brooklyn it will instantly become my favorite place to eat in Brooklyn.
Farewell Republic play their record release show at Mercury Lounge on February 22, with Fantasmas.