Former Friends of Young Americans Talk The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux, Sonic Youth and A Tribe Called Quest
See also: Former Friends of Young Americans Stream New Album, Estas Diluculo
Where we're going, we don't need roads; just a synthesizer, eyeliner, and a touch of androgyny. Welcome to Flashback Friday.
It may not be easy to lump locals Former Friends of Young Americans into any one specific genre, but if you listen closely, you can hear the subtle nuances provided by some of the band's '80s influences.
From the waning whimsy of The Cure, to the noise-wrangling pop rocking sounds of Sonic Youth, the untamed vocals of Siouxsie Sioux, and the jazz jams of A Tribe Called Quest; keyboardist Jessica Kelley, drummer Masa Schmalle, guitarist Matt Townsend and frontman Toby Fatzinger had plenty of inspiration.
FFoYA is currently working on a new album and has a string of shows lined up including a set at Filmbar on Friday, July 27, an appearance at Factories' July residency at Long Wong's on July 28, and one last local show at Lost Leaf on July 29 before they hit the road for a California coast tour.
Check out our email chat with the band as we discuss how they were impacted by the '80s.
Up on the Sun: Can you guys name some of the '80s music that guys like/liked listening to? Who were they and what did you like about them?
Matt Townsend: Throbbing Gristle. They were an avant-industrial band that actually split up in '81. They used found sounds, noise, and a lot of very edgy imagery -- especially for the time.
Sonic Youth was formed the same year Throbbing Gristle broke up. Way ahead of their time, they were one of the first bands I remember seeing that used two guitars, bass and drums to craft noise.
Sonic Youth's use of noise in a pop song was a huge awakening for me. I remember seeing them on some PBS special when I was like 16 and was blown away.
Toby Fatzinger: The Cure was huge. I absolutely loved those brooding melodies from the get-go. I loved all the subtle sounds and noises they weaved in and out of their well-crafted pop songs. I also loved the evolution of Joy Division to New Order. I was kind of a melancholy kid, so Joy Division's sound appealed to me right away. Then when I got into New Order, I was slightly embarrassed that I was so into this, basically dance music. But it was really good and those electronic beats just jumped right out at me. It totally popped and I was hooked, despite all the damage it did to my standing in the crowd of cool punk kids in high school.
The Cure resonated the most with me as a fan first, but in the long run they might actually be my largest musical influence. I absolutely loved Robert Smith's bass lines. His formula for songwriting allowed for so much space to sprinkle in keys, guitars and other instrumentation. They actually used noise to facilitate pop hooks, which still astounds me. In the 80's everything was guitar driven -- one dopey guitar riff after another. Robert Smith was one of the few, if not the only, that used guitars to sprinkle lovely textures throughout his tunes, built on technically simple but melodically intricate bass lines.