Interview: Friction Farm [Part II]

“Why didn’t you answer honestly?”

Friction Farm West Palm
Christine Stay and Aidan Quinn perform at the West Palm Beach Library, Jan. 22, 2016

[Typist’s Notes: Since this is the second part of an interview, it should go without saying that the first part of this interview be read before this. But since this part literally starts in the middle of a discussion about the song “Somewhere In The Nowhere”, that goes doubly in this case.

This interview was conducted in February 2014 at Rocco’s Tacos in Boca Raton, Florida]

I. “Somewhere in the Nowhere” [cont.]

“It’s about the unintentional damage we do by being in their environment.”

Aidan Quinn, Friction Farm guitarist: [The song] tied nicely back to what Barry Henson had told us had inspired him to start the organization [Go Outdoors USA], which was that a bear had followed him.

Type Writer: Okay.

Aidan: Sort of camped with him, which I love the image but —

TW: [laughs]

Aidan: I pictured that the bear is setting up on the side over here, while Barry is standing over there: “Oh, yeah, how ya doing, camper?”  And the next day, they break camp and the bear goes with him.

TW: Interesting.

Aidan: Not exactly what happened, [which was probably] a little more unnerving for Barry.

TW: [laughs]

Aidan: He’s an outdoorsy guy; he was walking the Appalachian Trail. But there was a kind of sadness in the fact that that bear was there because he recognized that Barry was human and might be a source of food. Not Barry himself, but he might be carrying a bag of Cheetos or something.

TW: Okay, now I think this song might be a Friction Farm first, in that there have been some Aidan lead vocals in the past, but this might be the first Friction Farm song where you guys share the lead vocal.

Aidan: It is.

TW: Now was that done to contrast between the bear character and the hunter character?

Aidan: [pensively] Um, no, I don’t think so. There’s not really a hunting reference in the song; it’s more [about] human presence.

TW: Okay.

Aidan: It’s [about] the unintentional damage that we do by being in their environment.

Christine Stay, Friction Farm bassist: I think it was my push to have Aidan sing, because I usurped doing lead vocals, and I never meant to do that, it just happened. And I feel like he should sing more, so…

TW: Okay, so it was a push to have Aidan sing a lead vocal again, but for this specific song, do you feel like it served the song well to have —

Christine: To have a different voice? Yeah.

Aidan: And it also goes with [the lyric] “My grandmother’s grandmother”, [in unison with Christine] “My grandfather’s grandfather.” She sings the “grandmother” [line],  and I sing the “grandfather” [line], for the bear.

Friction Farm West Palm II

II. “You Always Bring Me Down”

“I just wrote all the lyrics. We had to pull over so I could write them down.”

TW: “You Always Bring Me Down.”

Aidan: Do we?

TW: Yes.

Christine: [plaintively] Sorry…

TW: Oh, God, yes. [laughs]  I was teasing [acoustic duo] Big Blue Sky years ago, saying that you can always tell when a band’s on the road too long when they start writing songs —

Christine: … About their car!

TW: [laughs] I was making the observation that this is a Friction Farm road song. Which there have been a few in the past, but this one’s very, very detailed about being on the road…

Aidan: Yeah.

Christine: So this was written —

Aidan: … On the road [laughs]

Christine: Literally on the road. We were on I-81 in Virginia, at night, and I was driving, and I just wrote all the lyrics.  And we had to actually pull over so I could write them down.

TW:  Oh, cool. Now at one of the shows I saw you at recently, you were saying that the connection between the song’s lyrics and the book [in question] is not that direct. It’s the song I like best on this CD, [but] when I first heard it I was thinking, “What does this have to do with the Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter book?”

Christine: [laughs]

TW: I’m guessing that it’s a metaphor for, things are not always as they appear?

Christine: Exactly, yeah. And also, I think the reason I threw in the GPS [reference] is, sometimes when we’re driving and the GPS says something, I just do it. And if I stopped to think about it, I would know: “Wait, I’m not taking a left here!”

III. Do These Lyrics Make You Uncomfortable?

Friction Farm West Palm III

“There’s a little give-and-take on both sides of our jobs.”

TW: Okay, the way [“You Always Bring Me Down”] is set up, the first verse comes across like, you’re in the passenger seat, and you’re like, “Oh, you’re going the wrong way, you’re getting lost…”

Christine: But I’m… not gonna speak up, yeah.

TW: And I think about lyrics like “What am I gonna do with him?” [from the song “A Good Apartment”] [laughs] So my question to Aidan is, when there are lyrics like that, that are either sort of about you or could be about you, does that ever get uncomfortable when you first hear those songs?

Aidan: [pensively] No. I don’t think it’s ever uncomfortable.

Christine: Well, then, why didn’t you answer honestly? [laughs]

Aidan: [defiantly] I would answer honestly, anyway.

TW: [laughs]

Aidan: [thoughtfully] No, I don’t take that as “What am I gonna do with him?” That was a normal sensation for anyone. It could [have been] “What am I gonna do with her?” It’s like, this apartment’s not big enough for both of us.

TW: Okay.

Aidan: Fortunately, I was out of  [our small New York apartment] more than she was.

Christine: I’m the one who says it out loud [laughs heartily]

TW: Well, yeah, I guess why I said that was, it’s my assumption that Christine writes all the lyrics, right?

Christine: Most. Not all, but most, yeah.

TW: Okay, so it’s kind of like you have control of the microphone in a sense.

Christine: Yes.

TW: So whatever’s on your mind, you get a chance to say.

Aidan: [emphatically] Right, if I couldn’t agree to it being in a song —

Christine: We wouldn’t do it.

Aidan: — or if it wouldn’t work for me, I’m not gonna play it. And I’m not gonna write to that.

TW: Okay.

Aidan: So I’m not gonna write with it.  And sometimes the music comes first, which is more common than the lyrics [coming first]. She’s writing at the same time, and she kinda lays it over top of the music I’ve written.

Christine: And that works musically too. If [Aidan goes] somewhere musically that I’m just not going there in my head, there’s a little give-and-take on both sides of our jobs.

Aidan: As we’ve written more and more together, it’s become, I think, a better collaborative process. Like we can anticipate certain things and we talk the same language now about music. Like in [the song] “Normal”  —

Christine: It [needed] some dissonance.

Aidan: That [needed] to have something which is off-kilter. That needs something that has a little twist to it.

Christine: And I think with the lyrics, I would say I’m the one who crafts [them], but the story-line is what we both agree to ahead of time.

Stay tuned for Part III of this interview in June 2017, with discussion of  playing music in libraries and referencing laundry in lyrics…

2 thoughts on “Interview: Friction Farm [Part II]

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