Fairlane: Classic Inspiration and a Hard Rock Heart
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Progressive Man sits down for a roundtable discussion with 4 piece rock band Fairlane. Consisting of Stefni, Phil, Anthony, and Dan, not only are the band members great musicians, they have a great sense of humor as well. The San Fernando Valley based band shares some of their favorite memories from the road, how they first started out, and tells us about the upcoming release of the album, “The Secret Lives of the Broken.”
It’s great to get a chance to interview you! How long have you all been playing together? How did you first start?
Dan: 2008? Technically?
Anthony: Yeah, 2008. We started writing Fairlane stuff in 2008, but it wasn’t…
Stefni: I would say when we were officially Fairlane it was 2009. When we officially called it-we picked Fairlane, we had our original stuff and everything, January 2009.
How did you guys come up with your name?
Dan: How did we? I don’t remember…
Stefni: We all grew up listening to “classics”. Well, what we call classics. That’s where we learned. The original songs I learned were all old songs. Same with Anthony and Dan. We grew up listening to older stuff. We didn’t start by saying “I like this band and this type of music that’s in right now, and that’s what I want to play.” And that’s why I thought it fit, because it’s a classic car.
Dan: Because “Chevelle” was taken.
It seems that since the release of your first EP, “Music for the Mass Hysteria,” you’ve taken on a bit of a harder edge for your upcoming album “The Secret Lives of the Broken.” Is this something you guys decided on together or is just the natural evolution of the band?
Stefni: The natural evolution of the band.
Dan: When Phil joined, we got to be crazier.
Anthony: I don’t think we set out to…to make anything harder, or whatever. We kinda just wrote whatever we wrote.
Stefni: Yeah, I think it just also matured with us. Our music started maturing a little bit more.
Anthony: Yeah, I agree.
Tell us a little about the name of the new album, “The Secret Lives of the Broken.” Is there any specific influence or meaning behind it?
Dan: It sounded cool.
Anthony: I think the songs all kinda play into that title in one way or another.
Stefni: They all tell a story.
Anthony: Yeah, all the different subjects that the songs address all kind of tie in to that title in one way or another.
Stefni: But even the titles all deal with people-at least when I write ‘em. They all have to do with people I know and situations they’re going through, so it’s not us, it’s just in general, I just realize people are going through shit.
With your album being released on March 11th are you lining up show dates to support the release?
Yes. (Lots of behind-the-scenes band banter about who wants to book the band, and where, and when)
What would you say is the band’s favorite track to play and listen to? Why?
Stefni: (long pause) I don’t know…I just said that too the other day-I was like, “This is my favorite!” That’s my fave. Umm…right now, it’s the new one we wrote. That one’s definitely-
Dan: It’s not on the album!
Stefni: Yeah, it’s not on the album
Anthony: What’s it called?
Stefni: It’s called “Don’t Wait for Me”
Dan: All these songs are old to us now, we already have another album in the works
Stefni: Danny loves “Gunfight” (ed. note: Also not on the new album)- he says “This is my favorite right now”.
Dan: Yeah, when we were writing that, it was fun.
Stefni: You know, I love playing-because for me, they all have different meaning for me, so it depends on the mood I’m in. For me, “Did You”-I mean, it’s an oldie but goodie, but it’s one that’s kind of near and dear. And “Louder”, that one is the only song, I think out of all of them…well no, “Blame Myself” too-“Blame Myself” and “Louder” were about my own personal experiences. I never write about myself, I write about other people. But those were about me-they were kind of like, me pouring all my shit out on the table (laughs), but those two I have a deeper connection to those two. “Did You” I love playing, because we just all connect on that one. I think that was the first song where we just combined forces as official songwriters, so I think that’s why for me that has that meaning for us.
Dan: I don’t know why, I just love playing “Yesterday”. I don’t know why, I just always-it’s a very simple song-there’s no change in the progression besides the bridge, and we’re doing the same thing over and over again, but somehow we took a simple idea and like, fleshed it out in many different ways. And just the melody always gets me. It’s a different tempo too, it’s not like any other song we’ve written so far.
Anthony: Umm…favorite track to play and to listen to…that’s…
Stefni: And you’ve listened to all of them
Anthony: Yeah, I have…
Stefni: Like, to death (laughs)
Anthony: Probably the favorite one…it kinda changes-for a long time, it was “Did You”, because it’s just a big, good, ender, um I think probably right now it would be Don’t…what is it? “Don’t Wait for Me”?
Dan: It’s not on the album!
Anthony: Because-yeah, I know it’s not on the album-but I like it because I think that’s probably the most accessible and commercial sound we’ve had so far. I can-when we play that song I can hear it being played on the radio over and over and over. A lot of our songs-not that that couldn’t happen, but a lot of the songs I think we have would be…as far as radio is concerned would take a risk to play them, because we’re not pigeonholed in like, fuckin’ pop-rock or Metal, or whatever. We’re kind of just all over the place. But that one specifically I think is way more accessible than anything we’ve probably done before. That’s my opinion, anyway.
Do you feel like being a female fronted rock band helps the group stand out a bit more?
Stefni: I think Phil makes us stand out a little bit (laughs) because he’s all muscular and pretty…umm…usually every show we do, it’s rare to find female fronted bands that have lasted. Like, every single one I’ll deal with, they bring in a guest female, but usually I’m the non-dangler when it comes to a bill. I think promoters like it because it’s hard to find a female fronted band that they like but I’m not sure.
Dan: I don’t even see like, any of us we’re like, front you know? We’re just kind of musicians that play together, this is just the form we take. You know, we never even say like, “We’re a female fronted rock band”, you know? We’re just a band that loves playing music together, that’s what we’ve always done.
Anthony: Yeah, I think-we don’t think about it and we don’t emphasize it, we’re just a band.
Dan: Yeah, we’re just a band.
Stefni: Well I think a lot of it has to do with mutual respect-I’ve worked with people and it’s-with my experience just with you guys it’s just, umm…it’d be one thing if I was extremely girly and was very delicate, but I think because it’s a mutual respect between us all where the gender thing doesn’t come up between us. I haul equipment too (laughs). I think if it stands out-“I have a girl in my band”, there’s something there that’s making it stand out.
Anthony: It never really hit me, to be honest. I mean, we have to-when we try to go for gigs or whatever, we have to point it out but as far as playing at shows it’s never pointed out, as far as we’re concerned. Not even other bands really point it out. We’re just another band.
Stefni: I know when we first tried booking, I wasn’t getting responses until I said there was a female in the band, and then all of the sudden I was getting responses, and I think other people feel like “oh, ok”-
Dan: Then we stood out?
Stefni: Yeah, then we stood out
Anthony: Maybe bookers do
Stefni: I think bookers think that more guys will come in and buy beer, I don’t know (laughs)! I have no idea.
How often do you all get a chance to get together and practice? Do you ever have any creative differences?
Anthony: Lately we’ve been practicing once a week (laughs)
Dan: But that’s good, once a week. It started off like, twice a week.
Stefni: Were we really doing twice a week?
Dan: We were, back in the day.
Anthony: When we first started, because we were trying to get tight and everything, yeah.
Dan: And then now, it’s like, it’s funny-I find it funny. I always tell everyone we don’t practice for like, months and we’ll just come together and review the set once. We won’t even go back. We’re just like “YEAH!” (everyone laughs) I know so many other bands that practice the same song every single week, maybe twice a week, they’re always there, and they’ve played that song for years. And every time we’re gone for like, 3 or 4 months-and sometimes we won’t even get to review the set-somehow, we just would not even get to practice and we show up at the show and just-“Let’s see what happens” (everyone laughs) and it works out.
Stefni: I think at first we had creative differences.
Dan: Yeah, at first, yes. We had to learn how-well, I know for me I really had to learn how to let go and not think so much about how I heard something, and really say that everything I bring to the table is for everyone. You know, I have no ownership on anything I bring, so it become everyone else’s, so now how I work is that I usually-before when we started the band I kinda had-I’d bring in the map of a song I had, and now I don’t even bring anything, I just kinda like to come in and see what happens and we all just kinda jam out, and that’s just way more fun because the songs come faster and whenever it comes I’m already in love with it, you know? I have no pre-conceived notion of what I thought the song was gonna be because it just happened right there. So for me, that’s what I love about, kind of our dynamic now.
Stefni: I think you probably had the hardest transition, because we’d worked with several-like, written with other people before.
Dan: Yeah, every band before that I’d been in I was always like, the writer-kinda like the band leader, in a way. And so it was kind of a hard transition to think “Ok, I’m the guitar player”, you know? Not the song writer. We’re all writers, so that was a hard transition for me, but it worked out for the best and now it’s like “Yeah! Let’s do it!”
Out of all the shows you’ve played, is there any particular one that stands out?
Dan: Queen Mary?
Anthony: I was gonna say that, too! The Queen Mary stands out to me.
Dan: The Whiskey, Oakland…
Stefni: I would say Oakland. Because it was out of our element. We didn’t know anybody in Oakland-
Anthony: Vegas! You’re right! You’re right!! Vegas!
Dan: Oh my God, the people in Vegas were awesome!
Stefni: I’d say Oakland-for me, because it was just a different atmosphere.
Anthony: Where did we play?
Stefni: We played at the Uptown in Oakland. So for me, it was-I don’t know because it was our first-I don’t know. But I think the Whiskey we just dominated when we played the Whiskey.
Dan: Yeah that was a good show.
Stefni: That one, I think, out of all the shows, that one-there’s no video footage for us to look at!
Anthony: I don’t even really remember that one.
Stefni: I was sick as a dog! I was super sick!
Dan: I remember just being so stoked because I’d always held the Whiskey in high regard, as like, a great venue that sounded great, even though I really hate the Sunset Strip.
(Anthony and Stefni laugh)
I hate what the Sunset Strip stands for now-just the whole pay-to-play. It’s all bullcrap. But, I’ve always had that kinda little dream-even though-again, it’s very easy to play the Whiskey-it’s very easy to play the Whiskey, and that’s another thing-it’s not like, you know curated in any way. Any band, no matter how crappy they are, just pay them and you play. But I felt really happy that I played at the age I was and the band we are now, because if I’d played when I was 16 or something it would’ve been…horrible. But we came there and we just destroyed everyone.
Stefni: It was a great show. I just remember being super sick and I was so concerned I was not even gonna be able to play the show-sing the show. I purposely wasn’t really talking to anybody and let out every once of energy I had just at that show.
Dan: I just remember dorking out the whole time, and everyone’s like “Calm down, it’s just the Whiskey”. And I was like, “You don’t understand! I’ve seen all of my favorite bands in high school here!”
Thank you for chatting with us! Where can people go to find your music?
Anthony: Our shows!!!!
Dan: No no no!!! Get offline-come to a show!!!! (Stefni laughs) Don’t waste time on the website, just come listen to us. Find us on YouTube.
Anthony: And on our reverb nation page.
Dan: Instagram us-we’ll like all your photos except the ones of food. Stop taking pictures of your food!
Stefni: Stop taking pictures in close up of food!!!!!!
Dan: We don’t care if you eat Sriracha-it’s not that hot!