Young Perth band The Faim have recently signed a massive global deal with BMG and are gearing up for a massive 2018. They’re set to play Reading, Leeds and Download Festival UK as part of a massive run of international shows, stopping by their hometown at Amplifier on ANZAC Day, Wednesday, April 25 with American act Sleeping with Sirens. The big break stemmed from pioneering LA producer John Feldmann (Blink 182,The Used, All Time Low), who freaked out when he heard their demos and personally invited The Faim, previously called Small Town Heroes, to California to record their debut album. But the four piece’s story goes back further and is a little closer to home than you might expect. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with lead vocalist Josh Raven to discuss national touring, working with John Feldmann, their upcoming album and why they weren’t shy about taking their hometown of Midland to the world.
You’ve been on the road quite a bit lately, where you guys at today?
My head is still in the UK but right now we’re in Sydney. It’s the first time I’ve ever been here actually. I’m uncultured as hell I’ve hardly been anywhere except the last trip to LA and the UK which has been for work but exciting all the same.
You’ve been on tour in the UK with Sleeping with Sirens. What were the highlights of that tour?
All of the shows were incredible. Basically every night we were having security kick us out because there were all these people lining up at the merch desk and we were just trying to talk to as many people as we can. I’m pretty sure the security hated us by the end of it. It was just packed every night. We had 40 year old couples who didn’t even see our set coming up saying “you guys are really nice, do you have some music we can listen to, can we buy your merch and stuff?”
The avenues and scene of music over there is huge. I hadn’t experienced people going out of their way that much to see the support bands before. You had these 500 capped venues and there would be 400 or so people down for the first support band. There was one place we took a lift down to the venue and it was made in like 1890 or something and it was right on the beach. The UK is amazing. Some of the houses are older than Australia has been a nation.
You guys are from Perth and formed in high school. I noticed your latest single is called Midland Line. I take it you guys came from around that area?
Yeah of course man! The Midland Line for us was the place where you had no choice but to develop character. If you’re from Perth you know what the Midland Line is like but for us it was the place we’d all meet for school or sneak to in the middle of the night to meet old girlfriends and that so we all learned a lot about ourselves there.
You talk to anyone in Perth and they’ll be like, “why the fuck did you call a song the Midland Line?” I understand of course, I’ve been threatened to be stabbed there for starters! But it’s those things that really make you ready for the world. People anywhere else might not understand the reference but it’s home for us.
Good to see the Midland locals owning it! I heard people branding Peter Bibby as ‘Midland rock’ and there’s a Perth comedian Cameron McLaren that had a Midland themed show at Fringe World I remember.
I know like “6056 boyee!”
I think that was actually the name of the show!
Oh no! I once saw someone with 6056 tattooed on their fucking neck and I was like “Jesus dude.” I mean we love Midland too but that’s a whole other level.
It’s one thing to write a song about it but another thing entirely to have it etched on your body for all eternity…
For sure. When we mentioned the name to John we were like “do we want to call it that?” It was originally a joke. He was asking us what’s a place where you guys developed your characters, just to get the ball rolling with a song and we were like “the Midland line.” He was like “That’s it right there! That’s the one.” It’s just that little piece of home for us. Regardless of all the experiences we had there especially from age 14 to 18 it really did shape our identity.
It made you ready for anything…
So you travelled to Los Angeles to record with John Feldman. How did that all come about?
Long story short it actually all started from an Instagram post. John Feldman put out a post saying he was looking for unsigned bands with touring experience. And we were like “we’re an unsigned band but we have no touring experience at all.” But we were like “screw this we’re gonna go for it” and sent him a big long email with our whole story and spill about how dedicated we were and everything.
A few months went by and we’d forgotten all about it and then we got this reply out of the blue that said “work opportunity with John Feldman.” At first we all thought it was fake but we looked into it and were stunned to find out it was all legit. He wanted us to re-record two songs we had written under our previous name Small Town Heroes. Our bass player Steve was travelling with an army band and he was in Karratha and we were like “Stephen we need you back. We’ve got to rewrite these songs” and he like “ummm okay.” So he went to the airport and got on this rickety old plane and when he got back we got to work.
I was sick as a dog. Our guitarist Mike was sick as a dog too. I was yacking between vocal takes and we only had two days to do it and our writing process at that time was terrible. We were only writing half songs over two weeks then so to rewrite two full songs in two days was mental. We had a 44 hour stint. No sleep just smashing it as hard as we could.
After all the stress all the crap we sent him the songs in an email and he replied with nothing in email. It was just the subject header all in lower case and it just said “write more songs.” We’re like “okay it’s not a no.” So we just put ourselves on the grind and wrote more songs and ended up with 30 or more ideas on the go. John wasn’t giving us any feedback at all so we wrote a list on a whiteboard on why he liked one thing and not another. He wouldn’t tell us so we had to figure it out on our own. Through that we found our identity and really found our sound. The songwriting process became so real and so fluid for us.
We didn’t want to be pigeonholed into one sound or one genre because music these days is fluid. Genres are an amalgamation of each other and we wanted to be on board with that. We Facetimed John about then and found we got on really well. He said he wanted us to come to LA and had on two trips we wrote the album.
And what was it like recording with him?
John was amazing. He’s a crazy genius… a mad scientist even. When we first met him we’d never rehearsed these songs together and he was like “okay show me what you got.” We played these songs we’d never played ever and he just looked at us and wouldn’t say anything. He’d just breathe and not say anything and we were just shitting our pants.
After that we played more and he was like “alright you guys are going to be writing two songs a day. I’m gonna be pushing you guys hard. You’re going to write your own stuff. I’m not going to give you songs you’re going to do it on your own. If you can’t handle it you’re done… you’re dropped and I’m not gonna work with you.” Obviously that was a lot of pressure but with a lot of caffeine a lot of hard work and looking within ourselves we ended up coming up with songs we were really proud of and he opened up a whole world of songwriting for us.
So after all that how is it going to be different for you playing live shows now you’re back in Perth?
It’s going to be very different. We’ve learnt a lot especially just in the last two week in the UK in general. I feel like we’ve really found our identity onstage in the last two weeks. We all have a process before we go onstage now. I’ve got my warm ups and warm downs as a vocalist and our heads become completely empty and we just become the songs. I think that’s why the shows in the UK did so well because people could just see how real these songs were to us. It wasn’t a product or bullshit it’s what you see is what you get.
So what’s coming up next for The Faim? Most importantly when are we going to get to hear this album of yours?
Hopefully later this year sometime from September to November maybe. At the moment we’re excited to release the video for Midland Line and of course can’t wait to play with Sleeping with Sirens at Amplifier (on Wednesday, April 25) and seeing everyone there!