Interview: False Fed
I think people were a bit surprised really. It’s nothing like what anybody was expecting from members of bands like Amebix, Nausea and Discharge.
False Fed are a new band who have just released their brilliant debut album Let Them Eat Fake on Neurot Recordings. The band consists of vocalist Jeff “JJ” Janiak, guitarist Stig C. Miller, bassist JP Parsons and drummer Roy Mayorga, and these members have been in Discharge, Amebix, Nauesa and Ministry to name a few, and have joined together for this new album that manifest their ominous and dark sound. Gavin Brown caught up with JJ, Stig and JP to hear all about how False Fed got together and to get an insight into Let Them Eat Fake and what the band have planned next.
E&D: How did the creation of the album go and are you pleased that it’s now out?
JJ: Yeah, it’s been three years in the making. it was over the pandemic and every single bit of lockdown. A lot of trials and tribulations, it’s the first time we recorded an album that way, all from home remotely, so it was just lots of trial and error headaches and having to fucking redo things 10 times. I lost count how many times I recorded the vocals, but we got there at the end. We’re happy with the finished product.
Stig: It’s been a difficult thing to do, but it’s also been rewarding. We had to really work hard, and we had to go over the same thing again and again, but then again, we weren’t really good at what we did when we first started, and we got better as we went along. The learning curve is kind of fast and we had to learn quick.
JP: I think a lot of it as well was,if we were all together in the same room, we would have been playing the songs that many times anyway, it just happened that we had to record everything we played and it kind of kept an organic-ness, that’s putting a positive spin on it. As far as how it’s been received, it seems to be going down really well at the moment. Everybody’s saying nice things about it. I haven’t come across anything bad.
JJ: I think people were a bit surprised really. It’s nothing like what anybody was expecting from members of bands like Amebix, Nausea and Discharge. Everybody was probably expecting some d-beat powerhouse crusty punk, and it just totally was not that at all. I mean, for me personally, the one thing I wanted to do was not do that. I just didn’t see any point of just doing more the same.
E&D: What were the biggest influences on on the record?
Stig: I don’t think there was anything. I think we just kind of freestyled and went for it. JP would send me a bass riff, and then we worked out the beats per minute or whatever. Sometimes he’d send a bass riff with drums or synths and I’d try to arrange it to something I could play to. I couldn’t play to everything he sent me but I found I could do more with the bassier end of things. I’d send it back to him and he added things and it was just a case of that. Then we’d send it to JJ and he’d do his thing and then we’d compile it and send it to Roy.
JJ: It wasn’t any one thing as far as influences goes, definitely no bands or any particular sound that we were going for. I didn’t know what we were really going for or know what we wanted, but I knew what I didn’t want. So what we did, we didn’t want it to be shit. We all wanted to take something that was a bit different. Theres just no point in doing more of the same.
E&D: Did you always want to make a dark, dark album sonically and lyrically?
JJ: Yeah, of course. I mean, I’m just a dark horse! Yeah, I mean, that’s always been my vibe, most of the music I listened to was dark sounding. I’ve always liked music with that darker vibe and foreboding sounds.
E&D: The album has melodic elements in places as well as the darkness. Did that just come out naturally as well with the music?
Stig: Yeah, it was a natural thing really.
JP: I think it kind of flowed that way. Again, going back to what Stig said about me sending my bass riffs over and stuff, there was always an idea, or more of a feeling that you could put notes to, and then stick it, send something back, and then you hear something else. We’ve got time to do it at that point, because of the pandemic, so we could sit there with keyboards and let the song actually breathe for a while, or JJ put a vocal on and again, it just changed the song. That was the beauty of the process really. I think all the melody was just kind of accidental. In some cases, it just kind of appeared and we just had to go with it. It let the song breathe and grow.
E&D: Is that a way you would like to create and record again?
Stig: Probably not. It would be a good way to work out demos, we’d be in a situation where we’re all in the same room after we’ve worked out demos, but this way was really out of necessity. There’s no other way we could have done it, we made use of this technology which we’re finally getting our heads around, learning a bit more about basic engineering and recording. I was doing this for my own solo stuff anyway, learning about recording and doing things I haven’t really had to do before. It is a good way to put demos together, because when you’re in a practice room and you’ve got a riff and everyone else is making a fucking noise, you’ve gotta get them to shut up and then I’ve got this fucking riff playing that same fucking time or whatever. The good thing about this is you’ve taken out all the shouting and screaming from a practice room and you’ve gone straight to the kind of finished product which you’re polishing up as you’re going along, so you can hear whether it holds up as just a song without being super loud in a practice room.
JJ: It was definitely easier in that sense, because everyone at the practice room is playing at the same time. I’ve band in bands in the rehearsal room where nothing gets done.
Stig: it was a different way of working. I kind of enjoyed it. There was a lot of frustration and learning new things but I think all of us learned pretty fast when all of us got the knack of it.
E&D: When it came to lyrics on the album, was it easier to come together, given all the chaos happening all around the world?
JJ: I would never say lyrics are easy for me. Some people could just scribble anything down and some people are really natural at just writing stuff. For me personally, I’m probably my own worst critic so I’ll write something and if I think it’s shit, I’ll rewrite it like twenty times. It’s an in depth process that just repeats over in my head. I just want to make sure that I’m happy with it but yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s an easy thing. There’s plenty of stuff to bitch and moan about and lots of stuff to write about. It’s just a matter of communicating that the right way.
E&D: Stig, you worked with Roy in Amebix . How was it working with him again and having him both play drums and mix the record?
Stig: When we first started doing stuff, JP was writing drum passages by hand finger or using different drum programmes to line up the tracks, so we had all the beats per minute of all the tracks and the tempo changes mapped out roughly how we wanted them. That gives a basic feeling of what it could be like with a drummer playing so you’ve got all your audio tracks recorded along to basically a drum programme or tapped out drumbeat by JP but we needed someone else to play drums. We’d asked a few people. JJ had people that wanted to play drums and then couldn’t for one reason or another, didn’t they JJ.
JJ: Yeah, it just didn’t work out but Roy came through in end.
Stig: I enjoy working with Roy because he understands. You don’t have to tell him, he knows what it is you need. He just brings that to it. I totally trust him to mix because he’s a great producer, and I knew he’d get that bottoms end feel to it, nice heavy drums and nice heavy bass and also some nice guitar and vocals. He’s done a fantastic job I think. He’s very fast as well.
E&D: How did the idea for this band come about in the first place?
Stig: It was JJ’s idea.
JJ: Yeah, it was kind of weird. I was talking to Nergal from Behemoth and he had mentioned about a project and we talked about it and nothing ever really come out of it but I just hung on to that idea. I really liked the idea of just starting something completely new and totally fresh, not bound to any one specific genre or be shackled by the chains of d-beat or this beat or whatever. I just wanted to be free and do something. What, I didn’t know but I wanted to push myself a little bit more so I hung on to that idea. I spoke to JP, we’ve been friends for years, we’ve known each other for a long time. JP is a fucking great musician. He can play any instrument and he’s got a different musical background from the punk world, which was a step in the right direction for me really, because it’s totally fresh and totally different from what I’d be used to when we started working on some ideas and laying some stuff down to come up with some basic tracks. JP laid most of that down, like Stig was saying, with drum programmes and all that. The next step was getting more people involved, which was finding a guitarist next. I wanted somebody that was musically open minded. I’ve met Stig a few times, and you came to mind always, I always loved his work with Amebix and everything so I got in touch with him, and he jumped right on board, we sent him the tracks, and we got working straight away. The first track we did was ‘Superficial’, and we sent that to him, he sent it back with his guitars on and that was like, “wow, this is fucking awesome”. This is totally not what I was expecting, but in a good way and we just took it from there, we just kept going with the demos and then finally, it was time we needed a drummer in the band and that’s when Stig called upon Roy, and that’s the birth of False Fed.
Stig: Obviously, Roy is a busy guy there was a few delays with that, but it’s not his fault. He’s got other things to do, but when he did actually go, and he did, it was really fast, putting these drum pieces down, If you’re playing the live drums, it’s a lot different than playing to a fucking computer drummer. It’s nice to loosen up and play with the real person, so we recorded everything that way. A lot of people gave their time freely or very, very cheaply to make this happen for us, so a big thank you to everyone that did that for us.
E&D: Was Neurot the perfect label for False Fed to release the record on?
JJ: Yeah, I think it was the perfect label really. A lot of the bands on Neurot are very experimental sounding, it’s not the run of the mill stuff and it’s not really genre specific, they have a lot of groups on there that play different types of stuff. When we started actually getting some music together, it was, what is this? I don’t even know what genre it is, what do you call it? To me personally, I don’t give a shit. It’s music, either its good or not. Me, I’m not precious about genres. I don’t care what genre it is. If it’s good, it’s good and it speaks to me, that’s what matters. With Neurot, they’re an open minded label and I thought we would probably fit in well on that label. I knew Steve from Neurosis, and I got in touch with him and sent him some tracks, he was totally into it and he wanted to work with us and put the album out
Stig: They were enthusiastic about it. Neurot as a label is really eclectic for me. As JJ said, they’re not stuck in one genre and neither are we, with this, there are elements of all the genres that we’ve been involved in.
E&D: Are there plans for any False Fed live shows?
Stig: We’ll, there’s been the basic idea of at least a few live shows, possibly in the UK at some point. It’s just getting the logistics and the money to get everyone in the right place. It would be nice for the band to play live, it would be nice to actually get everyone in the same room and even rehearse together because we haven’t done that in the real world yet!
E&D: Have you talked about new music yet at all?
JJ: Yeah, we already started on that.
JP: We’ve started playing around with some things. I’ve already sent some tracks on forever to Stig but because we’re in between launching this one now, my job is to get my head around working on the next one.
Stig: We’ve kind of started and finished one track that we did, but I haven’t really had all the rest of them because it’s been a bit hectic with the album release.
JP: How we’ll probably do it is, we’re kind of at the point now where we’re pooling ideas together for the second release, and there’ll probably be a massive collection of them over the next couple of months, and then it’ll be actually taking the ideas more seriously and see which ones we like and see what we can form from there, but we’re definitely working towards a second release, put it that way. You heard it here first.
E&D: Are you looking at next year for that to come out?
JJ: I would say three years!
JP: The way we work, probably!
Stig: We’d need another pandemic to really fucking concentrate on it!
JJ: Hopefully, it will be a lot quicker though. Like we said earlier, as you know, that was all over the pandemic and the lockdown and working in a way that we’ve never had to work before, messing with fucking programmes and shit that we’ve never done. So I mean, hopefully once we get past making some demos, we could just all get in the studio and do it like normal human beings.
JP: I think as well, one of the biggest waits was for the vinyl, waiting for things to be printed and stuff, that took about six months. We had issues on the test pressing too.
JJ: We ended up having to have the mastering done twice due to distortion issues. We finished this quite a long time ago, really, we just didn’t sit around until the time was to get it out there, but we had to sit there and not share it with anyone, so that was quite difficult, and very, very frustrating. But in the end, it’s it’s a good record, and I guess the delays have made us become a bit more perfectionist about how it sounded as well.