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Faux Fir Go Global on ‘Fashionable Life’

Nov. 4, 2013
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By the time Fashionable Life, the follow-up to Faux Fir’s 2010 self-titled EP, first hits Milwaukee’s ears this weekend, it will have already traveled across the country to Oregon and back before traversing in abbreviated portions to remote expanses of eastern Africa during its three-plus-year journey to vinyl. The long-awaited album wasn’t always so lofty and worldly in scope, though.

“It was going to be a four-song EP, but we maybe got a little ambitious and we tried to stretch it out to a full-length,” said Faux Fir drummer Jake Brahm. “That process kind of took a little bit longer than we had because we were being so meticulous about getting the sounds that we wanted.”

While the indie-pop quartet’s attention to detail played a role in Fashionable Life’s delay to wax, distance also had a hand too. Guitarist Adam Bartell moved to Portland, adding an extra hurdle between the band and the completion of its now-full-length effort.

“The band was certainly in flux,” Brahm said. “We had these songs and didn’t know if we were going to put them out, if we were going to wait or what we were going to do.”

After recording the first four songs together before Bartell left, the band slowly chipped away at the remainder of the new songs through email, over the phone and together on rare occasions when Bartell was back in town.

“Working globally was definitely tricky,” Bartell said.

The global part comes even more into play with Faux Fir’s choice in producer. Ryan Weber (who’d produced the band’s debut EP while living in Milwaukee) was asked to assist with the album again, despite residing in Kenya. No stranger to long-distance recording relationships, Weber had managed, if not triumphed, with the cross-continental audio approach with his work in lauded duo Eric & Magill.

“At the end of the day, you have Ryan Weber producing your album,” Brahm said of the former Decibully and The Promise Ring member. “You’re not going to say no even if he’s on Mars.”

Together (while apart), Faux Fir and Weber combined to forge 10 sonically expansive, infectiously poppy and expertly layered songs into a release that’s by far the band’s best work to date.

“I love their music and them as individuals so doing [the album] made me feel a lot more connected to Milwaukee, the music scene there and my dear friends,” Weber said in an email. “They’re such great musicians and studio guys. I think the reason they continue to work with me is because its fun rather than out of necessity.”

Weber was sent material to mix a fifth of a song at a time, sometimes needing to listen to tracks through earbuds for lack of proper speakers. Despite the situation, the band stresses the ease of working with Weber and credits his abundance of ideas as valuable tools in improving the album.

“There were a number of late night phone calls and IM sessions about mixes and mastering. Then you’d have a power outage and you’d try and upload something,” Bartell said. “The Kenyan government has limits to what can be downloaded, so you’d have to break songs up.”

All the time, mileage, uncertainty and alternate obstacles that stood between Faux Fir and Fashionable Life’s completion shouldn’t be viewed as hindrances to excuse the album’s long, winding road to being finished. Instead, it should be seen as the vision and talent of a few people overcoming daunting circumstances to create something tangible.

“It’s the idea that it was made in such distant and disparate ways, but the flip side is that it brought everybody together. You definitely have a push and a pull through the course of it,” Bartell said. “I think that distance is pretty evident for the course of the record, for better or worse.”

Faux Fir headlines a release show at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on Friday, Nov. 8. The Fatty Acids and Fable & The World Flat open. The show begins at 9 p.m. and costs $10.











TAGS: Faux Fir, Fashionable Life, Tyler Maas, Jake Brahm, Adam Bartell, Ryan Weber, Decibully, The Promise Ring, Linneman’s Riverwest Inn Friday, The Fatty Acids, Fable & The World Flat





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