Interview: Friction Farm [Part I]

(l-r) Bassist Christine Stay and guitarist Aidan Quinn performing live at Echo Beach Studios in Jupiter, FL, February 18th, 2016

[Typist’s Notes: Acoustic duo Friction Farm moved away from Palm Beach a number of years ago but still manage to get back to Florida once or twice a year. Tonight, February 11, 2017 at 7:30 marks the final performance of this year’s winter tour, a bill shared with Jennings and Keller at the Labyrinth Cafe in Fort Lauderdale.

The following interview, a discussion of the group’s most recent release, “I Read Your Book”, was conducted on February 2, 2014 in Boca Raton, FL]


I. Album Cover

Type Writer: When I first saw this CD, the first thing I thought of was “Why are these people laughing”?

Christine Stay, Friction Farm bassist: I don’t know why we’re laughing, I don’t remember. Aidan’s brother took the picture, and we don’t have a lot of pictures of us laughing and smiling. But I think it’s who we are, so I thought we should use that.

TW: Okay.

Aidan Quinn, Friction Farm guitarist: I’m sure you said something ridiculous.

TW: [laughs]


I Saw Your CD

Aidan: We were out at some train yard in New York.

Christine: It was cold.

Aidan: We’d been there for an hour or so, wandering around different stuff around the train yard, we’d taken some funky shots…

TW: Yeah, you guys have used pictures from that shoot before, right?

Christine: Yes.

TW: Okay, I think I saw a picture that was a lot more formal, and not really, you know…

Christine: Exactly.

TW: [laughs]

Aidan: Yeah, there’s variety of shots that came from that session

Christine: It’s affordable that way [laughs]

[Sound of loud jet flying overhead]

Aidan: Incoming!

TW: [laughs]

II. “Normal”

TW: I was listening to the first track [of the album], “Normal”, and I had a question about the chords in the intro; I was wondering if they were almost meant to be a musical pun. The song’s called “Normal” and most of the chords in the main part of the song are major, whereas only in the beginning you have some minor chords that are almost dissonant.

Aidan: Well, that’s intentional.Christine being the main lyric-driving person, she talked to me about what the song was about, and I got this sort of dissonant, not kind of whimsical, somewhat awkward sound. And that one note, which is A-flat, I guess, that shows up a few times in the song — right at the end, right at the beginning,  and one other time — it was just enough to twist you a little sideways.

Christine [to Aidan] : I think it’s funny that when you talk about [the music], you’re performing the chord with your hands.

TW: Next time we’re gonna do a video interview. [laughs]

III. “Let It Rain”

TW: Also in terms of musical puns, in “Let It Rain”, with some lyrics about the faithful praying for rain, I noticed it had some gospel piano and some organ as well, two church instruments —

Christine: Yes, that was definitely intentional, also. One of the thoughts I had when we were writing this song, was that we had lived in Georgia during a  drought, and our Governor declared a state Day of Prayer, to pray for rain. Which is just so anti-religious for me, and ill-advised. [laughs]

IV. Books Into Songs

TW: In terms of the overall project, did you start off thinking you were gonna do an album of book-inspired songs?

Christine: Yes.

Aidan: Well, yes and no. We had talked about this as a concept, and actually we had talked to someone who had — they had done a painting, and they had an exercise where another group of people wrote poetry about it, then another group painted based on the poetry.

Christine: Then they did an exhibit.

Aidan: The translation of creativity, and imagery, and sensation and all that kind of stuff, we thought that was kind of interesting, sort of a neat thing to do. I wouldn’t say it was by accident, but it really became sort of by accident.

Christine: It was an intentional exercise. I don’t know that we thought it would turn into a CD, but we thought, we’re going to do this as a way to spark our creativity.

Christine Stay of Friction Farm


V. “Somewhere in the Nowhere”

TW: Wasn’t [this] song actually commissioned by an environmental group?

Christine: Yeah, it was.

Aidan: Go Outdoors USA.

TW: So when you wrote that song, that was before you knew you were going to do an album of book-inspired songs?

Christine: Yeah. [The head of the group] called up and told us this story and he had this whole thing that he wanted us to write. And I sat down and we wrote a couple iterations, and we just weren’t getting it. I mean, it was horrible, trite crap. [laughs] So we started actually doing research: we read “The Grizzly Maze” and “A Walk In The Woods.”  I thought “The Grizzly Maze” would be where we’d get inspiration, but we didn’t. Then we went to “A Walk In The Woods” and it was like, “There it is.” So it sparked a conversation which led to the song.

Stay tuned for Part II of this interview, with more discussion of this song and other tracks from “I Read Your Book”…


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