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Interiew: Fairuza.
Writer: Brinepacer
Date Posted: 15/06/01

Fairuza are an excellent fast rising Dublin post rock band. Drawing comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Muse, with (in my opinion) shades of Shellac at times, Fairuza visited the party town of Tralee in april, where i cornered the brothers Kryz (Vocals/Guitar) and Carroll Reid (Drums) to suffer my inquisitions on Major Labels, the absence of Bassist Dan, and the lovely Fairuza Balk.

P: Pacer
K: Kryz
C: Carroll

P: We may as well start at the start - Fairuza, where did that come from?
K: It's from an actress that i wrote a song about, when, 94 or 95.
C: More 96 or 97.
K: She's an actress; she was in Gas food lodging, Craft…
C: She's in "Almost Famous"
P: Yeah, the new Cameron Crowe film... So ye're playing alot of gigs around Ireland at the moment?
K: Yeah, we're doing it kinda intermittently, going away from Dublin.
P: have you got commitments back in Dublin?
C: As in jobs?
P: Yeah that or college or anything?
C: I work full time for (company that shall remain nameless) in Dublin, Kryz is a cinema projectionist and Dan's a full time musician - bass player.
P: What do you think about that Steve Albini ideal of not relying on music and being indipendant as it would make you make changes to your music?
C: To support yourself from music?
P: Yeah, given the chance, would you yourself by playing music? Both: Yeah (laughs).
K: I think yeah, in a heartbeat - Steve Albini has the luxury of saying that i think, to a certain extent, because his job is producing, so that's his day job...
C: Would he make much from that though?
K: Well, he produced "In Utero", and he got over $100,000 for that, and stuff like that as opposed to working as it applies to us...
P: You said you had a band before Fairuza that was somewhat successful?
C: Octopus underground.
P: What was the story with that?
C: It was a four piece doing... Funk metal i suppose it really was. It progressed to indie and then we basically had the wrong people in the band at the wrong times and it didn't work the way it could've worked. We did it for a few years, got close to being signed or whatever... But tin the end it was... Well, it was the worng music at the wrong time aswell, and we took a break from it for a while and came back with Fairuza.
P: You were saying that there are some people who came over from that band to Fairuza.
C: The two of us.
P: And was it because of problems with the other two people that you decided to go like this or was it the music you were playing?
C: It wasn't two people; over the course of time there were two different bass players and two different singers at various times in the band. We all get on fine with them now, it was just at the time it wasn't working the way it should.
P: You were saying that you're having stuff in Hot Press soon...
K: Yeah there was a letter sent into the current issue of hot press that was complaining that they're not giving enough coverage to certain acts, and when it mentiond us hot press put our photo on the top of the page, and then they phoned us and asked to do some things. i spoke to Fionne Reed From hot press aswell, so there'll be a short interview in the issue out this thursday and there'll be a full band interview the following issue aswell, well we think, we're not sure - she wants to do it and she mailed us and said she wants to do it but we're not sure when its going to get done.
P: could you see a large amount of coverage coming from that?
K: yeah, its gonna be right before a headline gig in eamon doranns, thast wy we want to get it in that issue right before that. But yes and no - hot press is good to get but their circulation is about 20000 copies whereas the melody maker before it went under its circulation was around 29000 copies.
P: which is fairly bad for an English inkie.
K: It's terible for an English... over here, 20000 circulation is ok...
P: but obviously it'll work in your favour as most of the peolple who read hot press are in the industry.
K: Yeah, that's exactly what we're hoping.
P: And do you play alot of gigs around Dublin?
K: We try not to over gig - we played a bunch of gigs before christmas under a pseudonom and didn't tell anybody about it, didn't invite anybody, not even our girlfiends.
P: and what name was that?
K: we called ourselves cosm; it's a virtual amplifier on the VS880 recording studio.
P: what kind of bands do you play with in Dublin?
K: We play with, similar-ish, Future Kings Of Spain, there a group that i produced a couple of times and the're good friends, and we've done a few gigs with them.
C: And we will continue to do igs with them in particular. We'ver got a few bands that are trying to help each other out, bands that are quite close, mudically quite closee and personally aswell.
P: what kind of music would you consider yourselves playing if yo had to?
C: Argh!!
K: What were the three words dan said?
Both: Hot Fuckin Shit (1aughs)
C: It's a horrible question, every band hates getting that question. Like the kinda stuff we listen to kinda dictates...
K: Well you heard us, what would you say?
P: Post Rock.
K: Post rock, ok.
C: Jackie Hayden said that about us didn't he?
K: Yeah he did.
C: Or he said we'd got away from doing that, can't remember which.
K: I think he said something about the whole post rock thing gone mixed with something else. But yeah , i would go with post rock.
P: And say if you cold choose a gig you were playing with a four-band line up, what other bands would you choose?
C: Weezer.
K: Redneck Manifesto. Future Kings of Spain.
C: Weezer. (Laughs) Well it depends if its local bands or international bands.
P: Well we'll say it's a festival and you can pick out as many bands as you want...
K: Oh god, who would you most like to meet? (Laughs)
C: Eh, i'd love to meet Stone Temple Pilots; i think they're a great band.
K: Red Hot Chilli peppers just because John Fruscante is... the... undisputed king of everything and eh...
C: Willow. A few disruptions later...
P: If you could sign with any label which label would you pick? Well, i suppose first we should distinguish, would it be a major or an indie?
K: Well we made the decision quite recently that it shoud be a major.
P: Have you signed at this stage?
K: No but we've been talking to a guy who used to be with a major and he's now whit his own indipendant, we're recording some demos with hime in may, but ah... Indies cool, but you need the financial backing, a friend of mine is good friends with willow and alot of his cronies and those guys don't have a penny. And they're gret, they're brilliant, but what thy will always say is do yourself a favour and pursue amajor recording contract just because of the clout they can give, because yo've mar more to lose but you've far more to gain. Indipendant is great but you can do it yourself, we've been doing it ourselves
C: Yeah, especially in Ireland, we can do Ireland ourselves without signing to anyboday cos its not that big, and we have alot of contacts and we have friends who have alot of contacts and if we really wanted to we could do it that way. But we're looking to, get out of Ireland effectively and tackle America.
P: Have you any releases so far?
K: as Fairuza no, we just have this three-track demo rigt now thats going arould and we're fue to recor in May. Then we're gonna go arould Europe hopefully, do some gigs, come back, record in august, release in september and then we're gonna come around here again. Ten in January we're gonna do a pretty big college circut tour here and in the UK as part of a... kinda similar to the Heineker Rollercoaster tour, but more, alternative.
P: have yo been doing alot of gigs where there was no bass player present?
C: That was the second time. And it was the last time. (Laughs) And we said that after the first time.
P: Hows that been workng out as compared to playing properly.
C: Am that was much better tonight compared to the first time we did it. For me being the drummer, i don't like playing a full gig to a backing track as such and wearing headphones and listening to a click track. When you're playing with the full band there's natural tempo variations in the music, you just speed up and slow down naturally when you're plaing the song. If it's a part of the song you're really getting into you'll naturaly speed up but you can't do that with that, its very restrictive. I don't really like it myself but we had the gig booked, Dan, because he's a full time mucician he has other commitments aswell and tonight they just clashed. We couldn't do anything about it; we didn't want to cancell the gig.
P: Theres quite a few different tempos going on in the songs, is there any particular influence there?
C: Its just whatever works with the song, there's nobody we'd listen to ... well, PJ Harvey is brilliant at doing, alot of her stuff is 5/4, which is realy really good and which we love. With octopus underground we used to do an awful lot more tempo stuf and trying to be clever with the music but that's not what we're doing now, what we're doing now is a differnet type of thing. If the song works with a 3/4 timebeat or a 5/4, then we do cos we can do it, and if its 4/4, thats fine.
P: How does the songwriting process work?
K: I write the songs. It depends how much we're rehearsing at the time. If we're rehearsing three times a week, which is what we like to do, then I'll have a new song in my head and i'll bring it to rehearsal and we'll play it, we'll jam it out, the tree guys. If we're not rehearsing which we're not at the moment, cos we're kinda touring a bit, and aswell as that our rehearsel room which we rented shut down recently, so we've nowhere to rehearse at the moment we're looking for a new place. In that instance I record the songs myself at home on a four track with a drum machine and then i'll play them to the guys... Thats how fairuza came about initially, i'd recorded a bunch of songs and i gave tem to caroll and daniel, and it was great, we went to the first rehearsel and everybody knew the songs, i'd play the bit and caroll would know the drumline and he'd be playing along and dan would know the bassline cos i'd show it to him, and we'd come to the first change in the song and everyone would stop
C: We'd all go, whats the next....
K: Cos we all know the songs from the tape. So, yeah, that's how it works.
P: and is there a huge difference between the demos you do yourself on the fourtracka and the finished songs?
K: Yeah, i record with a drum machine, which is... Its just shit, it can't do anything i can do. In terms of the structure of the songs and things theryre usually pretty set, but nothing set in stone is my... Sio when we get to the live situation it usually moves around a little bit but... A good example is "Glases are girls and cups are boys" which is a song we played tongight and its a long, long instrumental piece and it moves on different pulses throughout the song, and the way that i recorded that with the drum machine and everything is the way we play it now, with one or two minor changes. But even something that long, we listened to it, we loved it the way it was, and we decided not to change it, except sometimes it 11 minutes long, sometimes its 6 minutes.
P: Do you find that playing with the bass player on the TV it makes a huge difference to the song, are ye able to restrict it?
K: We thats the first time we did it, but it is cos, theres a lot of, not nodding and winking but alot of...
C: The feel.
P: I noticed tonight there was alot of kind of, i think it was you (Kryz) were watching the tv and you'd not to Carroll if something was changing.
K: Not really, usually Caroll knows all the changes very very well...
C: We haven't been rehearsing, so tonight was a bit difficult because we haven't had a chance to rehearse, the two of us, with the TV as such, so we're kinda wingin it to a certain extent. The songs are as we play them live, so we'd know the songs, glasses would've been the exception to that cos we haven't played that live and its usually slightly differnt every time we play it.
P: what was the decision initially that led you to record the video, was there something that happened that you realised you'd need it, or was it kind of a back up all along?
K: Its not a back up all along, we did it specifically for this gig, we recorded that video recording yesterday in one hour, as the set was only an hour. Dan came back from New York and he had a commitment for the first two weeks in April and then we're touring the second two weeks and he said, "go ahead, book that gigs", and i'd the gigs booked. Then he came back because the people he was working for that they'd extended it to a month, so he was caught by the balls. But he's up and down, i mean tomorrow we're in galway, he's gone straight up afer the Tralee RTC gig, he's on a train up to dublin, he's got a gig to do in dublin tonight. Then he sleeps and hops on a bus first thing in the morning cos we're meetng him in Galway for the afternoon show.
P: Is it someone we'd know he's plying with in Dublin or is it just general kinda stuff?
K: At the moment he's playing with a play in the Andrew Lane theater called "1900 the pianist on the ocean", which is really really good, a play by Alessandro Baricco i think his name is, i know cos i typed up the web page on it so...
C: Dan has played with Sinead 'O Connor, Mary Coughlan, people like that; he's been on the Late Late show wih Sinead 'O Connor.
P: Has he been doing session work long?
K: Thats how he makes his living...
C: He's been doin gthat since he awas in ireland which is... a couple of years...
K: About four years now... He's been in the group about...
C: Comin up to two years... Year and a half.
P: And how did you hook up with him?
K: I met him working in town in a restaurant, he was a waiter and i was a chef. We needed a bass player for Fairuza, and he was like, "Yeah, i'm a bass player". And we tried out a few people before we tried out Dan, i don't know why... I dunno if i took him seriously cos he udsed to say "I'm a bass player" and he used to wear these funny glasss back then, we used to call them the poindexter glasses.
C: And he was American aswell, so it never sounded serious.
P: Well, being an American bass plyer you'd kinda expect him to tun up in a little beret or something (Laughs)
K: well, he came down to the rehearsel room and it was just like (mock shouts) 'all right! He can play, yeah!'
P: I've seen around on all the posters, you have the web page address, would you consider that a way for people to find out the band or would it be more a case of, see the gig, check out the page?
C: Probably the latter at the moment. We're kinda building up a fanbase, buildin up people, getting to know who we are. We always have fliers, and the first gig we did in the temple bar music center in Dublin, we had a video projected behind us aswell cos they've a big screen and we had the web page comin up on that, and the hits went up, there was a hundred hits the next day sort of thing.
P: Is it a noticeable thing, do the hits always go up when you play?
C: Yeah, theres always a bunch of hits the next day. And like the fliers we have tonight, they always have the web page and the e-mail address, and people can just contact us. Web (page) is something to look at, big time.
P: How do yo feel about people trying to get rid of napster and trying to get rid of the whole MP3 format?
K: It terrible, they should keep it, and napster is great, and the people who are downloading off napster are the biggest music fans on the planet.
P: Well, CD sales have gone up something like 14% since napster came out.
C: Well, thats the thing, peole will go into napster, download a track or two off an album that they're thinking of buying, and go out and buy it. The bands are still benifiting from the sale of the album, because Napster is kinda putting the music out there for people to get. We've MP3s on our webpage but we don't have the full songs. We just put up the samples to give people a taste so they come to see us...
P: Right, second last question. As you were saying, you'd be interested in signing to a major label. If you were to, and they asked you to make changes to your music, like say "If you make this more rock-y you'll sell another 200,000 albums", would you make that change?
K: I don;t think it'll ever be that straight, i don't think it'd be like "well if you do this"... Your basically saying if we'd sell out.
P: Not necessarily, you could still play as you want but to change it slightly?
C: I can't see a situation where an A&R guy from our label that we're signed to comes to a rehearsel and hears one of our songs and tell us how to change it, because we wouldn't accept that from anybody. But if there was an overall feel to the music that we were advised we should maybe change, we'd probably think about it anyway...
K: We'd take it onboard as criticism, but ultimately....
C: We write the songs, and we're making money for the record company, writing the songs, we're benifiting from them and they're benifiting from us, and they might think it would make a difference, but it could be worse. The music is our music as it is.
P: Right so, last question. 10 years time, where would you hope fairuza would be?
K: (To Carroll) You can answer that (laughs)...
C: We'll be living in Los Angeles, hangin out with the chilli peppers...
K: We'll be bitter, bitter old musicians. I'll be the hardcore herion addict, Carroll will be top of his IT chain and dan'll still be playing his fuckin bullshit, dum dum dum dum (Laughs). I dunno, smashing pumpkins before they bacame crap.
P: Which is a long time ago...
C: I guess we're just gonna, wait and see what happens now, and, depending on how this year goes, it might dictate where we're gonna be in ten years
P: You planning alot of stuff for this year?
C: Well, its all started for us this year really, and its moving really well, and its moving in a good direction so far, so we just hope it continues for the year, and we'll see from there.