Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with The Fallow

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with The FallowDuring my senior year of high school all I wanted to do was play golf. I had applied to schools all over the country and eventually ended up right here in Indianapolis at Marian College. The school has since become a university but while there (only for two years) I met a lot of great people, some of which I am still friends with to this day. One of those guys eventually would become the front man for the band I am sitting with here today. These guys have an incredible sound and they are solid from front to back. Their vocals are unique, something you have not heard before. Their instrumentals fit on any given stage at Vans Warped Tour. And their sound would fit perfectly in the hands of every high school kid around. Their lyrics also fit their sound quite nicely as well. Regardless, if you have not heard of these guys yet, you will. They will actually be performing on the second presents six bands for six bucks bill. It has been years since I have seen this guy, but it my pleasure to introduce you to The Fallow.

So I have to know, how do you pronounce the band name?

It rhymes with shallow.

Speaking of the band name, where did you guys come up with the name?

One of my favorite bands of all time, The Weakerthans, has an album titled Fallow. (Check out their entire catalog.) The word itself means, “left dormant”, and is most often used in reference to agriculture. For instance, a field will be left fallow and then planted the following season. When my previous band fell apart (and subsequently fell short of almost all expectations), I kind of had that feeling. It was like I had been left fallow during that period and this was my real chance to grow.

How long have you been performing?

We have all been on stage for as long as we can remember, in one form or another. Be it school choir or band, church plays or musicals, or local theater. But we’ve been playing together in this current configuration for about six months now. We’re only two months deep into the live show side of things, though. We took the first four months to fine-tune the songs themselves, and the live-set as a whole.

Where do you guys practice?

Right now, we’re on our fourth practice space since the inception of the band. We keep getting booted. We’re a raucous bunch. But we’re currently calling the spare bedroom at Levi’s (lead guitar) house home. It’s small… but it does the trick.

I love that logo. No really, I love it. Who designed that?

It’s a funny story, actually. We already discussed the origin of the band name… so you know where it came from. But I was talking to a good friend of the band (and immensely talented artist) Jeff Alexander about doing some artwork for us. I just gave him the name of the band and asked him to go with it. Turns out there is actually a type of deer called a fallow deer. I had no idea. But Jeff thought that was where I was coming from on the band name. But you’re right… it’s awesome. So we decided to keep it.

Who writes all your lyrics?

I do. (Ryan Brewer) It’s me answering these, if you hadn’t figured that out by now!

Where do you get inspiration for a new track?

Well, I suppose the corny musician’s answer to this question is, “everywhere… everything… life.” But if I’m honest… it’s a pretty accurate answer. It’s hard to tell what idea will strike me as interesting enough to follow through with. Actually, right now, I’m working on an idea I had in the shower the other day. Go to any other than ours… and there are drinking songs. I’m talking songs that any person can burst into at a moment’s notice… and the entire pub will join in. But we, as Americans, have been slacking pretty hard in that department. So I’m writing one. Look for that to hit our live set soon. Debauchery all around.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

This question could get out of hand if I let it. So let me try to keep it simple. Musically: The Who, Say Anything, and the last couple albums the Starting Line put out before they broke up. Lyrically: John K Samson (from The Weakerthans), Vanessa Carlton and Chuck Palahniuk.  Vocal Performance: Chris Carrabba (from Dashboard Confessional), Reese Roper (from Five Iron Frenzy), and Michael W. Smith.

I have not seen you guys live yet. What should I, or anyone else who has not seen you perform yet, expect from a live show?

I was actually just thinking about this before I received these questions. There’s a lot to be said about at artist who’s music elevates himself about the crowd. The fans sit on a lower level, in awe of the artist’s musicianship and glory. But that’s just not us. Rock and roll gets so serious sometimes. That’s just not us… at all. We’re all here for the same two reasons: to drink and to rock. So let’s have some fun. We like to guarantee that there won’t be that feeling of separation at our shows.

Do you have a favorite venue?

We really like Doc’s Music Hall in Muncie… The Rock House on the south side of Indianapolis… and Birdy’s Bar & Grill on the north side. If just going to watch a show I love the Melody Inn, Locals Only, and the Vollrath Tavern. But we’ve have yet to be able to book ourselves there. So… people who do the booking at those venues… if you’re reading this…hint hint, dudes.

Do you ever forget the words to your own songs?

Don’t think that’s happened yet with the fallow. Although it happened all the time with my old band. The only thing we forget these days is the set-list order. You’d think we’d write it down at some point.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

It’s very difficult to embarrass any of us.

So Ryan, you and I know each other from way back! We both went to Marian College together. Did you end up graduating from there?

I did. In fact, I received a bachelor’s in English. I am from the class of 2007.

Do you still hang out with anyone from Marian?

I still keep in touch with a few kids. Not many though. Turns out that when you graduate, you’re supposed to get a job and married and have some kids. I just want to bask in this state of arrested development that music provides me for as long as possible.

You guys seem to have these social scenes covered. What is your favorite social site to use?

That’s like choosing a favorite child. I think there is almost unlimited potential in all of the major social media outlets for bands to use. I like to look at it like a pyramid.

MySpace is on the bottom…you send out large quantities of friend invites and hope 50% of those accept… and then that 10% of those actually take time to listen to the music.

Facebook comes next. The percentage of those that listened to the music AND liked it will go further to find out more about the band.

At the top lies Twitter. It is entirely comprised of freaks who want to stalk your every move. Music related and otherwise. (Laughs) I love it though. I am the textbook definition of attention hog. I can’t get enough of it.

If you could only play one song for the rest of your career, which song would you choose?

We’re a bunch of cheaters. We’d probably try to find a way to put a bunch of our songs into medley and play that. But if I had to choose only one, I would pick our song The Devil and the Details. It would suffice, I suppose.

Where can I get some merchandise with that logo on it? A shirt would be cool!

We’re actually working on that right now. Patience is a virtue, world. It should be within the next couple months.

I can’t get over how good your voice is. Where did that come from?

The diaphragm, mostly. Or my mother. She has an incredible voice. My dad… not so much.

Are you guys working anywhere else, or is music it?

As of right now Bob Evans in New Castle is the single biggest supporter of local musicians of which I’m aware.

You guys are doing a lot of video, which is great. What made you focus so much on video rather than other mediums?

We’re big dummies, mostly. If we didn’t have a way to get our stupid humor out of our system… our live show would get muddled and we’d probably never finish any songs. It also made the most sense as a way to make our blogs stand out from other bands.

Do you get the chance to play outside of Indianapolis very often?

We would love to play Indianapolis more often.

Where are you all originally from?

We all hail from the metropolis of New Castle, Indiana… save Tim, our drummer. He’s from Indianapolis.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

Oh goodness. That’s a tough one. Let me as the rest of the band while I ponder my own answer.

What are you drinking on stage?

A lot of it depends on what’s free at the venue that night. Or what the generous patrons at the show would like to buy us. But, in an ideal world… it would probably be milk., Bud Light, vodka, and gin.

I noticed that you don’t use any capital letters in your band name or your song titles. Is there any reason for that?

That goes all the way back to Marian for me. I’ve had many discussions about it with many English professors. I’ve always believed the differentiation of the letters to be unnecessary and silly. If you can’t decipher the English language without two sets of letters… you’ve probably got more important issues to deal with. That’s why we have punctuation and context clues.

So My Evil Ways is my favorite tune from you guys. I assume that will be your hit single when you release a full-length disc?

I suppose it’s a possibility. Singles and hits are for businessmen and fans to decide… not the musicians. Although I do believe it to be a solid track. I’m really happy about the positive feedback it gets… as well as the nice things you’ve said about it. Cheers, Ricky.

When can we expect a full-length disc, by the way?

As soon as it is fiscally possible, I assure you. We’ll get you a free copy as soon as we get it… deal?

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Touring this great nation playing great music with great friends. And paying my bills with the great money I’m making from it.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

Playing music that people related to… in a way that made them want to give me money to keep doing it. That is all.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Music is all about two things: artistry and commission. Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel because the powers that be knew that the people wanted to see his art. Bands get record deals because people want to hear their music. But that’s not the only way to release an album anymore. The rise of the Internet (and subsequently, the independent scene) has put the power of commission in the hands of the people… in other words… people can commission their favorite artists directly. This is the most democratic the music industry has ever been. Let’s not sacrifice that. Let’s keep supporting indie music and the artists making it.