INTERVIEW: Friend Slash Lover
by Cyrus Rhodes
There’s a unique quality to this catalogue that breaks the mold when compared to the overly predictable, forgetful rock that’s been filling the airwaves lately. What am I trying to say – well let m start by saying there is nothing predictable and forgetful about FSL. Not every square inch is filled with musical ambience delivered under duress – but musical space this allows the music to breathe on its own with passion that cannot be faked. Equally as impressive is how marketable this band is as they have effectively found the voice for all frustrated Alt-Rock fans out there. It covers so much ground and despite this it manages to not spread itself to thin across to many lines – nicely done! This is harder to do than it sounds and can only be a by product of being ones self musically. I’ve always said if you can play it a party, then it’s marketable. The music is extremely marketable – with a raw sound that is passionate and entertaining very much like the band.
IMD What do you want fans to take from your music?
FSL Whatever they want to put into it.
IMD Who are some of your top musical influences?
FSL I find myself giving different answers to this question, depending on my mood: Depeche Mode, David Bowie, John Lennon, Sigur Ros, New Order.
IMD What was the best concert you have ever been to?
FSL Probably Sigur Ros at the Wiltern in LA, several years ago. The sound was so rich ad beautiful, it really struck me and stuck with me. I bought tickets and went the next night by myself. There's nothing like it, really. I sat next to Iggy Pop, who was wearing a suit, with his legs crossed. A perfect gentleman.
IMD Tell us a bit about your latest EP, The Grey Area?
FSL On one level, The Grey Area deals with relationships: with yourself, with each other, with a higher power, with your surroundings. Trying to make meaningful connections (S2PD HMN) while not noticing the good things right under your nose (Unaware). Sometimes our projections are more real than reality (As Seen On TV) and we struggle to bring meaning into our lives (The Grey Area). Maybe you never get enough sleep, and when you do finally doze off, you might believe that you can fly (Carry Your Weight), but beliefs aren't real and they can let you come crashing down (Dear God).
IMD What’s the best and worst things about being an artist based in your location?
FSL I love this question. It ties into my theory that your strengths are your weaknesses. The best and worst thing about being based in LA is that it's a world-class city full of world-class talent. If you don't impress people right off the bat, you're kind of screwed. If you do impress somebody, they can put you on a TV show or movie soundtrack or on the radio. It's the land of opportunity...supposedly.
The Grey Area deals with relationships: with yourself, with each other
with a higher power, with your surroundings
- Friend Slash Lover -
IMD How did this latest project get conceptualized?
FSL It sort of evolved over a couple years. It was going to be much different when we set out to make a big, full-length rock record. I starting getting less and less interested in regular rock music as we went along and I scrapped several recordings.
IMD What’s the best thing about performing live?
FSL You definitely connect with people in a much different way when playing live then through a recording. I mean, I love the art of recording and I consider it completely separate from the live aspect of music. But playing live can fill in a few gaps for people who might be trying to figure out where you're coming from. When I get into a band, I like to see them from every angle, from recording to playing live to interviews. Sometimes, they don't hold up to all that scrutiny, though, which can be a bummer. Ha.
IMD Is there a song on your latest 6-song release that stands out as being your personal favorite? Why?
FSL Damn, that's a tough question. The songs change so much from the time you write the initial idea on acoustic guitar to the time it's layered in the studio. It's sometimes a complete surprise which ones come to life and which ones die in the process. “S2PD HMN” was supposed to be a simple acoustic track and it evolved into this big, epic, build-up with a super aggressive drumbeat. I love that. But “Unaware” might be my favorite on the album because it's just simple and sweet and I always like to listen back to it. The next album is kind of split between these two paths equally.
IMD What is your favorite video in the iPhone Music Video series so far? Why?
FSL I think “Carry Your Weight” is my favorite, because of the mental process I went through to arrive at it. I mean, I had already completed a video for that song. I was on the fast-track, getting a new video ready to release each Monday morning. I bought a remote-controlled toy helicopter with a built-in camera that shoots video straight into my iPhone and I wanted to experiment with it (I would later shoot the “Dear God” video with it). So, I shot a bunch of stuff all around San Diego with the helicopter and then I drove to LAX to capture the planes landing and I edited the whole thing together... but my best friend told me it was boring and I should keep trying. (!) Dammit. Some artists surround themselves with Yes Men, but I guess I'm a masochist, since everyone I show stuff to always tells me to redo something. I do work in Hollywood, after all, so everyone is jaded and not easily impressed. So then I had the idea to try something completely different and shoot dancers sort of reacting to the theme of the song and supporting each other in various ways. I had never really directed people like that before, and I certainly don't know anything about modern dance, but I love a challenge. I improvised and wound up lighting a lot of it with a tiny flashlight. I showed it to a director friend and he said it looked great but it was still missing something, so I went and shot myself singing the song, lit only by flashlight, to tie it all together. It's a pretty cool look for being made on a phone, I think.
IMD What made you want to record a cover of XTC's "Dear God"?
FSL I was in Santa Barbara, at a regular vocal recording session with our producer, Thom Flowers. We just started talking about great alternative music from the 80s (we're both obsessed with that era) and how “Dear God” was so controversial at the time. Then it dawned on both of us that I could totally sing that song and it would work for my voice. We wound up recording most of the song that day instead of what we were supposed to be working on and it came out great. What started off as a fun distraction became one of our best recordings.
IMD Is there a tour in your future?
FSL Not the near future, but hopefully some day..
IMD What’s next for FSL?
FSL Believe it or not, the next thing is a big art installation of all my “memes.” Another layer of Friend Slash Lover is fine art I do with visuals and words. You can see what I'm talking about on the site (www.friendslashlover.com or http://friendslashluvr.tumblr.com/). I'm a lifelong graphic designer, so my brain has been trained in marketing slogans and branding campaigns, so I'm playing with that idea and writing quirky slogans and pairing them with images, or etching them onto mirrors. I like how the viewer becomes part of the piece as they stare at their own reflection in order to read the phrase. You become the image and the phrase floats in front of you... The working title at the moment is, “It was my idea to steal that idea.” I'm approaching a couple galleries now with proposals, so wish me luck. ;-)
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
Copyright © 2013
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