Sunday, January 4, 2009
Fair to Midland discusses, reveals new songs at Curtain Club
Guitarist Cliff Campbell talks with PegNews about the band's forthcoming follow up to Fables From a Mayfly...
On June 12, 2007 at the Curtain Club, Fair to Midland’s general mood was one of stress. That night they were releasing their major label-backed album and wondering if years of work up to that point would move them forward or force them to look for other careers. As it turned out, the album, Fables From a Mayfly…, with help from System of the Down frontman and Serjical Strike Records founder Serj Tankian, would in fact propel the Sulphur Springs quintet on a nearly nonstop, year-and-a-half tour of the entire planet.
Last night, FTM returned to the Deep Ellum rock club in a slightly different mood under very different conditions. After considerable time on the road, they’re back in Dallas-Fort Worth writing and recording their new, as-yet-unnamed album.
“Lately the mood has been just start everything over again, in a new light,” said guitarist Cliff Campbell in an interview before the show. “Darroh [Sudderth] is always going to be stressed. It doesn’t matter, that’s his nature. As a whole, however, the stress just goes away, or it has lately.”
The forthcoming album is still in the writing and pre-recording stages at Pro-Rehearsal Studios in Dallas. “We’re just taking our time and we’re coming out with a lot of good songs… It always takes three or four months to really get into motion, ‘Ok, now we’re writing the good songs that deserve to be on a record.’ And that just started happening in the last month.”
The new record will be the first compilation of completely new material the band has put out since 2004’s Inter.Funda.Stifle., from which several songs were re-recorded for Fables… In a recent blog post, drummer Brett Stowers wrote that the album thus far is “a little bit darker and more cynical… but it’s not without some cool tongue in cheek moments as well.” When asked, Campbell initially replied, “It’s just more.”
“We’re very proud of [Fables], but there were things where we could have been more extreme... or more somber,” Campbell elaborated. “You always look back and think, ‘Man, I could have done this. I could have done that.'”
“So this time… the songs that are more left of center are very, very left of center. When we go electronic, we go very electronic. I’m prouder of those because we’re crossing into the realm of where the song should be. It’s not slightly this way, or slightly that. It’s completely that."
Audio: Interview with Fair to Midland guitarist Cliff Campbell
Campbell on the last year and half since releasing Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True.
If FTM had to tribute one band/artist, who would it be?
Saturday night’s sold-out show, beyond a fundraising effort to pay for studio time, was a chance for FTM to reveal some of the new music. Mixed among the Fables… tunes were three new ones, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” “Musical Chairs,” and “Pour the Coal to Her.” According to Campbell, the band has written around 10 to 12 songs, “but these three are our favorites.”
If the differentiation amongst the three new songs is any indication, FTM’s upcoming album will be just as eclectic as prior records, while pushing the envelope even more so. “Rikki Tikki Tavi” shares some similarities with the style of “Dance of the Manatee,” switching between singing and Sudderth’s classic growl, accompanied by erratic facial expressions and waving hands at the crowd. Another of the new songs put his vocal range on display, as he hit and held piercing notes similar to those attained in “Vice/Versa” and “Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes.”
Though the crowd was obviously silent during the unfamiliar material, they erupted into applause following each song. One fan was heard to remark, "the new stuff just gave me goose bumps.”
While happy to be home and writing new material, Campbell admits that he gets anxious to play shows and hit the road. “It’s usually just a burst of energy that will flow through you. You can just be sitting in a room [thinking] about being on stage and you start getting hot and your heart pumps. It’s just a really good feeling.”
Being the band Serj wants to show off to the world, there are no doubt plenty of shows on the horizon.