Arguably the best interview ever.
Every once in a while, a band comes along that completely shakes things up in a number of ways while also getting infectiously stuck in your head. One of my more recent musical headcolds was caused by FEiN, whose recent pre-album teaser EP Little Little Homes was so absurdly and memorably infectious that I’m still having treatment. Possibly due to sonic delirium, I reached out to Luke Walton (Guitars/Keys/Vocals) and Brandon Woodward (Pretty much everything) for an interview to find out a little bit about them. The outcome is entertaining, oddly enigmatic, and has driven me to seek a different kind of treatment.
Leave expectations of a straightforward interview at the door. You’ll be fine without them.
Could you give us a bit of background about the band and how it all began?
Luke: It began as a story of money and glitz. We backed an artist together, and then we left that band and went on to start our own.
Brandon: We met at USC while studying pop music, bonded during countless hours spent carpooling around LA, shortly thereafter fell in love.
L: The 405 to the 10 to the 101 on the daily.
B: Do not recommend.
How do I actually pronounce your name?
L: Luke – lewk // Walton – Wall Ton
B: Brandon – lewk – Buh-wran-dun // Woodward – Wud-wuerd
I probably should’ve seen that coming…
L: FEiN – lewk – Buh-wran-dun – fine
Where are you from?
L: San Diego, California. Spent most of my days in Encinitas.
B: Westlake Village, California. Spent most of my days on the playground.
“Now we know where our threshold is and how to far exceed it”
– Brandon Woodward, almost FEiN.
How would you describe your sound in three words?
What’s the highlight of your time in a band so far?
L: We took a break mid-interview because I had rubbed habanero pepper in my eyes. That was a highlight.
B: I brought him a milk in a shot glass that says “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”
L: And then I poured it in my eyes.
B: Shut that spice right up!
L: All of this was because Brandon and I took a bite of the Devil H just to test our spice tolerance.
B: Now we know where our threshold is and how to far exceed it.
L: And then how to rub it all up in the eyes.
Dropping a teaser EP shortly before the release of a full-length album is a clever technique, and it’s one that not many bands actually use. What made you choose this approach?
B: We saw a lot of activity with our song #Grownupz on Spotify really suddenly, and we wanted to update our presence on our page. Since a decent amount of time had passed since releasing our first two EPs, it seemed like a good time to set the tone for the full-length.
L: And it’s really hard not to release music. We’re dying just sitting on our album right now.
B: Plus “Little Little Homes” was way too fun a title not to use.
L: If you shuffle up the letters in title, you get little. All part of the deeper meaning. And dyslexia.
B: title -> little -> illumttle -> illuminati
The EP displays a range of sounds with not a huge amount of common ground between. Are you at all worried that fans will get confused about what to expect from the actual LP?
L: We like to keep them on their toes.
B: We’re totally aware that we’re covering a lot of genre ground. The way the record is structured, it does make more sense!
L: It all kinda flows into each other. We also feature 16 songs on the LP, so it keeps it FRESH.
B: FRESH BETS. It also puts us in a pretty unusual position of appealing to people initially through what we say, and secondarily how we say it.
L: It’s kinda weird too that bands stick to such narrow genres these days. I like it when people take risks without sacrificing “their sound.”
B: We’re also using this record to lay down the groundwork for avenues we want to explore more on future LPs. Next up: GREASY FUNK
L: Get READY to GROOVE.
B: Only a little bit kidding. Prepare your hips.
Coincidentally, what can we expect from the LP?
L: This record is about all that goes on in our Little Homes.
B: Expect a record! Our goal was to have the subject matters and arrangements flow into each other in a way that makes listening all the way through the record in one sitting a special experience.
L: I really hope people listen to it in headphones. We did a lot of stuff specifically for the headphones listener.
What’s the reception been to the EP so far?
B: So far we’ve had really warm and enthusiastic responses, so we’re really looking forward to pushing it to broader audiences!
I’d like to just focus in on lead single Sculptor. It’s amazingly written to offer a highly cynical and cutting critique on modern life and obsessions with self-image and self-preservation. Was there any particular incident that inspired this, or was it simply society as a whole?
B: Most of the impetus for this one came just from living and working in L.A., particularly in and around the entertainment industry.
L: On the LP, we talk further about dysmorphia/body image. I think it’s an issue most everyone grapples with, but is rarely examined critically–especially in entertainment.
B: I’ve definitely struggled with stuff like that before. So I guess there is a good amount of personal investment in exploring the subject critically.
B: Self-preservation though… I could be a mummy. At least for a couple years of my life.
What do you think has caused this culture and brought on the ‘’age of the sculptor”?
L: I think it stems from that dysmorphia. It’s also somewhat particular to the modern day. I guess it’s always existed but it’s exacerbated by having a screen in front of us at all times.
B: Screens full of pretty peeps who understand photographing the right angles way better than I may ever.
L: Can’t help showin’ it off.
Behind the lyricism, Sculptor is also fascinating for its genre-bending — going from a semi-operatic electro-indie sound to a pulsating pop-punk sound, and even touching on heavier vibes. Was it hard capturing a balance, and was it a conscious choice?
B: The arrangement came pretty naturally as we wrote the tune. We have a pretty broad spectrum of influences, so our weirdly varied listening backgrounds tend to manifest themselves when we reach into our emotional grab bag.
L: It’s a pretty good representation of how we arrange. Kinda like to do it linearly. Tellin’ stories and making cool sounds and shit. Ends up being genre-bending, but we didn’t really set out from the beginning to do that. It just kinda turns out that way.
Is this kind of genre balancing reflected on the Little Homes album?
B: Maybe. A little?
B: Like you wouldn’t believe.
L: Don’t tell me what to believe.
B: You ain’t even gotta tell me what to believe.
L: You just have to stick to the formula.
B: If there’s one word that describes us, it’s formulaic.
L: No, it’s DBSRDS.
When is the LP released?
B: In June, the LP will have been released in May!
Which one of your songs best summarises your sound for new listeners?
FEiN: Don’t You is the song. It’s not out yet.
B: The first half of that tune is very–
L (interrupting): –mixed between acoustic and electronic ele–
B (interrupting): –ments. The second half is a pretty good representation of how we make sounds and sample “found objects” from our environment. We like using things like doors, car keys, beer bottles, things that wouldn’t otherwise show up in musical contexts.
L (interrupting): Yeah, what he said.
B: Yeah, what he said.