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Absinthe Blind

Full Interview Transcription

Mar 01, 2003 Spring 2003 - Elliott Smith Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

Read our article on Absinthe Blind on page 89 of Issue 4 of Under the Radar. Below is the full transcript of our interview with the band.

The guys (and girl) of Absinthe Blind are the most humble group of musicians in the world. When you meet good people you can just feel it and every member of this Champagne-Urbana, Illinois quintet is someone you would gladly have sit at your dinner table. Comprised of the Fein siblings, Tristan Wraight and brand new bass player and programmer Brett Sanderson, Absinthe Blind mix shoegazy guitar effects with complex pop and atmospheric sound-scapes to create their own beautiful brand of ethereal music. Not exactly a full-blown shoegazer band but one that utilizes the genre’s sound in all the right places. As we were heading out to Thai food in Silverlake, CA I managed to get hopelessly lost with the band in their van that sounded like it was on it’s last legs (or it might have been the massive trailer towed behind full of sound equipment slowing us down). They were very understanding about my lack of direction and once we got back to the restaurant we began an interview that was more like old friends talking around the bar than perfect strangers conducting an interview. Good people. Even better music and their live show at the Silverlake Lounge that night was nothing short of astounding. If you live in Southern California be sure to check them out when they come back to LA in August. One of those rare bands that’s even better live than they are on record.

Members of Band Interviewed:

Adam Fein – vocals/guitar ..........Brett Sanderson –bass

Erin Fein – vocals/keyboards…....Tristan Wraight - guitars

Seth Fein – drums

Note: Interview takes place at the Thai restaurant next to Spaceland and then over the phone with Adam and Erin the next day.

(starts off with Marcus talking about new shoegazer bands and how the band is going to be in that section of Issue #4)

Marcus Kagler: A few of the newer bands in the shoegazer section are: Phaser, The Lab Partners, Longwave.

Seth Fein: Voyager One is good. They’re from-

Marcus Kagler: Seattle. Yeah, they in there too. The Stratford 4.

Adam Fein: What label are they on? I feel like I know that band for some reason.

Marcus Kagler: They’re on Jetset.

Adam Fein: Did you see Voyager One play?

Marcus Kagler: Yeah.

Adam Fein: How was it?

Marcus Kagler: It was great. They played the Derby. They have this guy called Projectorhead that they bring on tour with them. He had two different film projectors going along with different slides projected over that and the whole thing was pointed right at the band so you were watching this really beautiful yet bizarre imagery as you were watching them play. It was really cool.

Adam Fein: Wow! That is cool.

Marcus Kagler: So I’m going to ask you a bunch questions that you’ve probably been asked a thousand times before but we have to get these things on record. Then we’ll talk about the new record and shoot the shit. Whatever.

Erin Fein: Cool.

Marcus Kagler: So the first question is: How has the tour been going?

Adam Fein: The tour’s been going well. I think this first leg is a little more sparse than the east leg will be. We’ll go three or four shows in a row then have like two or three days off. But the shows we’ve played have been really good. One night we ran into the first Texas ice storm in ten years or something. That show was a little bit sparse. But we’ve played in really good venues and have had a really good response.

Marcus Kagler: What’s been the best gig so far on the tour?

Erin Fein: San Francisco was awesome last night.

Marcus Kagler: Yeah. San Francisco has really got it going on right now.

Tristan Wraight: People actually listen there.

Erin Fein: Yeah, there were people listening the whole time.

Adam Fein: Yeah. They were all spread around the bar but the second we started they came right up front. There was applause before we started. It was nice. We played this new place on Mission Street.

Marcus Kagler: Cool. So I’m just going to ask some of the more obvious questions and whoever wants to answer can. Where did you meet? How did you form? Take it.

Seth Fein: Well, we’re siblings. Adam, Erin and I. But really it came out of two different sets of friends. Adam had his own band called Absinthe Blind a year before we started out. Being his younger brother I was very, very adamant about never playing in a band with him. Tristan and I started a band before we had our instruments. We were sitting in Geometry class sophomore year of high school. We kind of had a love-hate friendship. We just said to each other one day:

“Hey! You play guitar?”


“You got a guitar?”


“Hey. You play drums?”


“You have drums?”


“You want to start a band?”


[all laugh]

So Tristan and I started playing in ’95 together. We started a band called: The Dr. Johanson Band. We took the name from the movie See No Evil Hear No Evil. So we played for about a year and Adam played about a year in his band. They never played out really.

Adam Fein: We were just starting to write songs then.

Seth Fein: But our band did play out then. I think this is kind of interesting. We were in high school and like 15 years old and the first time we had a real show outside of the Urbana High School campus was a college party where another band called Job was playing. The drummer for that band is Brett, our new bass player. This was seven years ago. About a year later we had ditched The Dr. Johnason band and went to my brother and said, “Hey, you want to start a band?” But all of a sudden Adam was like, “I don’t know. I don’t want to play with high schoolers.” [all laugh] But we would always see each other [Seth and Adam] at the very least on Sundays and we would play together and Tristan and I were always playing together. Within three weeks the three of us started playing together and we asked in our former bassist, Mike. So for the first three years it was just the four of us. Adam was going to college. Erin was up north by Chicago training to be a figure skater. She got very far with that, but I’ll let her tell you about that. We got a collective going within Champagne-Urbana, but the scene kind of died cause Hum and Menthol and Poster Children and Moon Seven Times-about five or six bands got signed by major labels within our little community of one-hundred thousand people in a matter of months. Howard Stern was jock-ing the hell of out of Champagne-Urbana. So was NPR and they were calling it the next Seattle. But Seattle is a huge city. Champagne is a small college town. So the flavor didn’t last as long. Hum was really the only band that got any success out of there. Because the scene was dying we decided to start our own collective. We thought, “Hey. Power in numbers. There were four bands. All of us friends. Let’s promote the hell out of it.” So we called it Toast Music and it went off really well. But bands kind of split apart and Absinthe Blind was the only one that stayed. Then fast forward six years and our bassist decided he wanted to go to music school instead of being with us (and there were creative differences). So he left the band. We’re sitting on porch going, “O.K. We lost our bassist of six years. What do we do?” We just finished our new album.

Marcus Kagler: Which album was that at the time?

Seth Fein: Rings. So we’re sitting on the couch and we’re going, “Well, who are we going to get to play bass?” And Adams goes, “I don’t know. Brett?” And we’re like, “Does he play bass? I think he plays bass. I think he plays bass just fine.” So we called him up and he said he’d come and rehearse with us and see what he could do. Six months later we’re happy to have him in the band.

Marcus Kagler: So you guys finished the album with your old bass player then he just left?

Tristan Wraight: We made almost the entire album with him.

Adam Fein: There’s only one track that’s without him, which sucks, but it’s actually turned out to be a good thing.

Marcus Kagler: Something of a blessing in disguise?

Adam Fein: Yeah. A total blessing in disguise.

Erin Fein: It was the best thing for him and it was the best thing for us. Basically.

Adam Fein: Yeah. We were just going different ways. Brett’s brought in a whole new fusion of writing and ideas and here we are on the road.

Marcus Kagler: Have you guys already started writing new material with this line-up?

Adam Fein: Yeah.

Seth Fein: We’ve got three or four new songs. Two of which we are playing tonight.

Adam Fein: Well, one tonight actually. One song has to cut because of time.

Seth Fein: How long is our set?

Adam Fein: We think it’s only eight songs tonight.

Marcus Kagler: So what’s the deal with Champagne-Urbana? You said there was a scene there, but there’s not really one any more.

Adam Fein: It’s coming back.

Tristan Wraight: It’s definitely coming back.

Brett Sanderson: I’ve only been back in Champagne since last May but I knew it had been in kind of a rut. But now that I’ve been back – and this not just because I came back. It’s more about the timing I think- [all laugh]

Seth Fein: What are you talking about? It’s all because you came back and you know it.

Brett Sanderson: But right now it seems like there’s all sorts of new bands coming out of the woodwork. Polyvinyl Records just moved to Champagne. Do you know Polyvinyl?

Adam Fein: Rainer Maria, AM/FM are on there. There are also some new clubs opening up and there’s even a website that’s dedicated to Champagne-Urbana music called Openingbands.com. It really is one of the most comprehensive websites of a scene I’ve ever witnessed and I work on computers all day. From how to get a ride to the shows, listings of reviews, bands touring schedules. It’s really well done. So the scene is really getting back on its feet. Bands like us are really into getting out on tour. Bands like the Red Hot Valentines are getting out and going on tour too. Things are really looking up for Champagne-Urbana again.

Marcus Kagler: That’s great. Do you guys feel a part of the scene there?

Adam Fein: Absolutely.

Marcus Kagler: Are there other bands that share a similar sound to you or are all the bands pretty different?

Seth Fein: Well, the Red Hot Valentines are more of a pop-punk flavored band. They are good friends of ours. Everybody Uh-oh is doing some cool stuff.

Adam Fein: They are maybe the closest thing to us in terms of style of music.

Tristan Wraight: We’ve had five or six different bands in the past six months that have charted in the top 200 of CMJ. Food is here. [We stop to eat our Thai food]

Adam Fein: The food has been successfully consumed.

Marcus Kagler: Now Adam you were telling me about your label. What’s its name again?

Adam Fein: It’s called Grand Theft Autumn Records. We’ve got about 16 things we’ve put out so far. We just put out a compilation of bands recently. You’d probably love it. Remind me. I’ll give you one tonight. There are some bands you’ve probably heard of on it, but there are some that we are trying to expose to the public for the first time.

Marcus Kagler: Cool. Now your first record label was Hammerhead. How did you hook up with those guys? Basically I want to get a summary of the first couple years of the band.

Adam Fein: Right. Well the first couple of years Tristan, Seth, Mike and I were writing songs together and we put together some songs and started shopping them around town. There was Hammerhead, there was Parasol, and some others. Labels always come and go. Todd pretty much handled Hammerhead and he decided to put it out. It was a good thing at first, but we just kind of outgrew it. Then Todd sold the label. Fortunately by that time we had started to build some steam and sell records. So Parasol said, “Hey we want you.” So that was a good thing.

Marcus Kagler: Did you all go to school in Champagne-Urbana?

Adam Fein: Everybody went to the University of Illinois and has graduated or is in the process.

Erin Fein: I’m still in the process.

Marcus Kagler: Are you enrolled right now?

Erin Fein: No. I took this semester off in order to tour. But I’ll be going back.

Marcus Kagler: What’s your major?

Erin Fein: Sociology and Political Science…I think.

Marcus Kagler: How old is everybody here.

Erin Fein: I’m 20.

Adam Fein: Twenty-six.

Brett Sanderson: Twenty-six.

Tristan Wraight: Twenty-two.

Seth Fein: Twenty-three.

Marcus Kagler: So how old were you when you recorded that first album?

Adam Fein: Oh, young. I was about twenty and I’m the oldest. We were all really young.

Marcus Kagler: You guys still play material from that record?

Adam Fein: Not really.

Seth Fein: Don’t go searching for that album.

Erin Fein: They were still learning their instruments and you can tell. But you can also tell that they have a lot of potential.

Marcus Kagler: Yeah. Well I knew you guys were fairly young, but I also noticed that you have quite a few albums under your belt.

Tristan Wraight: Five. Not counting the EP’s.

Adam Fein: We have some really loyal fans. So if we have a live recording or some B-sides then we’ll put those out. We put stuff out on our own. Just burning them and designing our own covers and stuff. They buy it. It’s great and we’re very appreciative of that.

Marcus Kagler: Now you guys have also had a few line-up changes over the years. Would you say this is kind of a solidified line-up?

Adam Fein: As far as we’re concerned now everybody is really, really happy. I hope we can keep this line-up forever. The last six months we all have been really happy. I don’t know. Everybody sees eye to eye. We all listen to the same bands we really love, but then everybody brings a little bit of their own flavor. Most of all everybody in the band are friends. We were also really good friends with our old bass player and a guitarist we had in the beginning. We’re still good friends with them. But something is going on with this line-up that’s really good. We were a little worried when Mike left because he had been with us pretty much from the beginning.

Tristan Wraight: I thought it went pretty seamless.

Adam Fein: Yeah. It turned out to be very seamless and I think everyone was a little surprised at that. You know, six weeks later Brett was out there doing all the bass parts, all the programming.

Tristan Wraight: All of our local fans have been very supportive of Brett. Brett is also in another band called Triple Whip. But everyone has been very kind about it and accepting.

Marcus Kagler: O.K. So what lead to you [Erin] to join the band?

Erin Fein: Well I was pursuing a figure skating career and then I got a pretty bad back injury and I couldn’t continue doing it anymore so I moved back home. At the time I moved back home they were working with another female singer.

Seth Fein: We were just trying it out to see what it would sound like.

Erin Fein: It wasn’t really fitting with her exactly. I have been singing and playing piano since I was a little girl. I actually started working with Tristan’s mom who is a piano teacher and an excellent musician. I was taking lessons from her and I think she suggested it.

Adam Fein: She was just a natural fit. We were just kind of waiting for her to be old enough.

Erin Fein: Yeah. So I came in and I had my trial period. Well, they called it the trail period. [laughs] It just fit really well right away.

Tristan Wraight: It was right when we were recording our third album Music For Security. It was the first CD we were really all happy with. But while we were recording that album we had a different girl and she recorded a couple of tracks with us. None of us really wanted the girl in. We were all kind of waiting to get Erin in. But in order to not hurt this girl’s feelings we had this trail period with her. We all knew it was going to be Erin though.

Seth Fein: Blood is thicker than water you know. I lived with the other girl, which was difficult. She lived with my recent ex-girlfriend. It was fucked man.

Adam Fein: But it obviously worked out well.

Marcus Kagler: So I wanted to get into your sound and touch on the shoegazer elements a little bit. Was this guitar effects laden sound something you were going for in the beginning?

Adam Fein: We were always influenced by that scene. You know, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive. Slowdive is a huge influence of ours. But we could never really make it work until Rings. We just weren’t working with any producers who understood that music at all. We would play a Slowdive cover and the producer would say, “O.K. Let’s do this.” Not that they didn’t try they just didn’t know where we were coming from. When we got together with Matt Talbot who had been in a band that did some really good songwriting but also weren’t afraid to experiment with production. He knew what he was doing. Then getting a chance to go up to Chicago and work with Keith Cleversely who’s worked with the Flaming Lips, who’s worked with Spiritualized. Obviously he has an idea. So we really saw eye to eye with both of them and the result is Rings and we are very pleased with the results.

Tristan Wraight: In the beginning though we all loved that etherial-trippy music. But I think the key reason why we started playing it is because none of us knew how to play our instruments. So we would just put a whole bunch of effects on it to make it work.

Marcus Kagler: You would be surprised how many bands have told me that.

Tristan Wraight: It’s true. It was like the more delay I put on my guitar the less you could tell when I was fucking up.

Marcus Kagler: Yeah. I interviewed Mark Gardener and Andy Bell of Ride and both of them basically said, “We were just 19 year old kids who didn’t know how to play. But if you turned it up really, really loud and put delay on it you can do anything.”

Tristan Wraight: It’s true. You can.

Adam Fein: We would turn everything way up and run my vocals through delay pedal because we didn’t want that clean sound and I wasn’t an accomplished singer by any means. The whole thing sounded like a huge wash. It was cool in a way but it was also pretty easy. But people would also be like, “Hey. I like what you guys were doing. It sounded pretty cool. But what were you saying?” [all laugh] So we kind of had to evolve and also embrace that [shoegazer] sound. It’s good for people to actually hear your voice.

Seth Fein: I think about a year into the band our friend Phil told Adam something that he really took to heart. At first Tristan, Adam and I were really into The Verve. Storm In Heaven. A Northern Soul. Awesome records. Between those two albums and a lot of pot supplied by me and Tristan we just totally immersed ourselves in trying to develop that shoegazer sound. So Adam and Tristan went out and were buying phaser pedals and all that stuff. Then our friend Phil said, “You know the way these bands you like are getting this sound isn’t so much with a phaser pedal but with really nice subtle delays, reverbs, and echoes created in the studio. You’ve got to find a way to get that in the studio and record it live.”

Adam Fein: So now we have a box of old phaser pedals rusting away.

Seth Fein: We don’t use those at all anymore. As the drummer who doesn’t know anything about music besides how to keep a beat-Tristan has been really good at working with his compression pedals and his delay pedals to create a really rich and warm shoegazy guitar sound without over doing it. I think that’s important.

Marcus Kagler: That’s one thing I noticed about Rings. It’s not just got that shoegazy element in there. There are way more elements in the songs that are not shoegazer at all. It’s just a great, even mixture of everything and that’s what I like about it.

Adam Fein: Thanks.

Marcus Kagler: So (in your opinion) why do you think all of these bands all over the country are surfacing with that sort of sound?

Tristan Wraight: I think it’s because of Radiohead.

Seth Fein: Absolutely. I think they are the bread and butter right there. They weren’t ever considered a shoegazer band nor should they be. They put out that first album near the tale end of that scene. But there’s no hiding that Radiohead are very into ethereal effects. Atmospheric rock.

Adam Fein: They are just so good at experimenting with layers and layering sound is really the core of that sound. Plus they aren’t afraid to add a bit of programming or horns or whatever would be right for that song.

Seth Fein: I think through the mainstream popularity of Radiohead and the underground indie followings that My Bloody Valentine and Ride and Lush have garnered…somewhere in-between there kids in America woke up. Over the last decade we’ve gone through about four waves of grunge ending with bands like Nickelback in (hopefully) a sad, sad death. I feel like the kids that are listening to music between Radiohead and Coldplay, you know, the modern more atmospheric rock and taking the stuff from My Bloody Valentine that’s why you are kind of seeing this new direction with some bands that are really interested in making good music that isn’t afraid to express the atmospherics. That isn’t afraid to put the vocals a little lower in the mix sometimes. Maybe not all the time, but I think it’s an important time.

Tristan Wraight: It’s definitely an interesting time to be an up-and-coming band. We’re seeing more and more bands steer clear of the major labels because there are just too many horror stories connected with being on a major. The industry has fucked themselves to such a degree now that they have almost become irrelevant. The power has inadvertently been put back into the hands of the musicians now.

Marcus Kagler: It has almost become, “Why would you want to be on a major label?” So you can end up owing them $150,000 for a record they didn’t promote properly only to be told how to make your music. Also you have bands that are doing it totally on their own. A lot of bands now are really smart and saying, “If you want us on your label give us an I-Mac with Pro-Tools and we’ll make you a record for $2,000.”

Adam Fein: Yeah. Totally.

Tristan Wraight: We recorded half of our record on Logic, which is like Pro-Tools. We can sit around in our apartment and make demos that sound like they were done in a studio. The modern technology available these days is amazing.

Adam Fein: We started out recording Rings on two inch tape because I think there is still something to be said for that warm analogue feel. But we did a lot of the top layers and extra sounds on Pro-Tools. Brett has Pro-Tools and Pro-Logic set up in his loft back home and at the very least the first wave of these new songs we have will be done using that. It’s so cheap so we can now put our money into other things.

[End of 1st interview. Below is the second Interview done the following day with Adam and Erin Fein over the phone]

Adam Fein: Did you guys enjoy the show last night?

Marcus Kagler: It was great! I didn’t see you after the show, but I saw Seth and Tristan. There were a lot of people there last night. Mark [Redfern-Under the Radar Senior Editor] really enjoyed it too. It seemed like people were really into it, which is unusual for an LA audience. I think you guys converted a lot of people.

Adam Fein: We sure did. We did well and we sold a lot of merch, which is good.

Marcus Kagler: I just wanted to get into what the band’s songwriting process is like.

Adam Fein: Cool.

Marcus Kagler: So is Absinthe Blind something of a democracy when it comes to the songs?

Adam Fein: Yeah. Totally. It’s very much a collective thing. There is no main songwriter. You know, I’ll bring in a part or Tristan or Erin or Brett will kick out a line and we’ll all work off of that. Sometimes the whole song is written but most of the time it’s only half-done and you need to bring it to practice to see how it evolves. You have to see what the others paint around it. In our liner notes it always says, “All music Absinthe Blind”. We don’t like to get picky about who did what.

Marcus Kagler: Now, with each of your releases you guys tend to push your own envelope. Do you guys sit down and say, “O.K. we have to keep going and progress with each album.”

Adam Fein: It’s definitely a goal. I think that’s just come together after being together longer, writing together longer, and just learning our instruments together. There’s just so many different things we can do after listening to so much great music together and bringing in new things together and doing it for so long now.

Marcus Kagler: So what was the goal with Rings? Was it to finally realize what you guys had been hearing in your head?

Adam Fein: I think so. I think the craft of Rings is something we’ve had in our heads for a few years. But we really weren’t able to bring it out until we had the proper production team with Matt Talbot and Keith Cleversely. That was the proper production we wanted and so it happened. I think the songs themselves are also a little bit stronger but they were definitely enhanced by the fact that our production team really loved our music. In the past I think our different production people have liked our music but like is a lot different than love. Keith was really into our music and that was a big compliment to us because we are all really into the stuff he’s produced. You can tell if someone is just jacking you off. But he was really into it and there’s no reason for him to lie to us. We’re not very big. If you look at his record collection and then listen to Absinthe Blind you can see why it was a good match. He’s a fun guy to be around. His studio is called The Playground. [laughs] That’s pretty much what it was. It’s this really weird place but a really fun place. It’s in Chicago. In the Ukrainian Village area. You know you got neon walls and red doors and a checkered blue and white drum room. It’s just a weird place but cool. It’s just got a really nice atmosphere because being in the studio can be kind of hectic and at times a bit high strung. To be in such a goofy place like that is really kind of a treat.

Marcus Kagler: Sounds like a Fun House.

Adam Fein: It is and he intended it to be that way. That’s why it’s called The Playground. It kind of fits his personality.

Marcus Kagler: So what did Keith add to the recording?

Adam Fein: He just added a lot of experience. He tracked all the vocals and a little bit of the guitars. Matt [Talbot] did most of the tracking down in Champagne-Urbana. His thing is mixing. He’s by far the most experienced mixing person we’ve ever worked with. He’s just really talented at that. We like to approach each song as an individual entity and he would just go into this room and close the door and put on the headphones and immerse himself into the songs for three or four hours. Then he would come out and say, “Here’s what I did.” And we would go in there and be like, “I like this. I don’t like this.” But most of the time we didn’t have any changes. If there were changes they were kind of subtle things. It was a lot of fun and I think he enjoyed it because we gave him the freedom to do whatever he wanted and I don’t think he always gets that with every project but he certainly got it with us.

Marcus Kagler: Now with your songs there are so many layers and so many structures to it. Do you kind of build your songs?

Adam Fein: Yeah. I think that’s a good analogy because that’s the way I think of it. There are some songs where we keep things sparse like the last song on the album is just piano and vocals and you can kind of hear the chord striking the string in the back of the piano and it’s important to keep those elements and have variety throughout the album. I think we all grew up listening to all this different kind of big music. It’s just our inclination to build it up like a classic piece of music in that way. You know, “Where do the violins come in? Where do the horns come in?” Now with more technology like programming and taking some the stuff from the 80’s bands we listen to like New Order and Psychedelic Furs and their 80’s programming and splicing it with more modern programming. We kind of introduced that on Rings. Bands like Parlor and Antarctica are also really good at doing that. So there was that element in there too but not too much. It’s just another really neat thing to bring into the music. We thought, “Hey, we like it.”

Marcus Kagler: So how do you and Erin go about constructing the vocal parts? That’s one of the things in every review I’ve read about the band. They always touch on your harmonies with Erin.

Adam Fein: To be honest I think it just kind of happens. I write a lot of the lyrics and melodies just kind of come natural while working on the lyrics or the song. I just kind of go with what the song is doing and my sister is just…I mean, she’s my sister so I guess it’s just there. She is so good at writing harmonies. As we get more experience she’s writing the core melodies and we’re mixing it up and I’m doing a lot of harmonies. I’m not saying we have extensive vocal training or anything although both of us have had stints with vocal lessons. Mostly we just listen to a lot of music. While we’re writing the song it’s like, “What about this?” We just discuss it and have fun with it. Erin and I are both singing-in-the-van type people. It’s fun for us. We love singing together and I wouldn’t want to sing with anybody else.

Marcus Kagler: Yeah. I was talking to Seth after the show last night and he said, “My sister is young but she’s completely fearless.”

Adam Fein: Yeah, she is. I think a lot of it comes from the figure skating. She was out there at 13 years old performing in front of hundreds of people by herself. She didn’t do doubles she did solo. That’s a lot of pressure. Once they start the music you got three minutes to do everything perfectly you know. It’s very delicate and intricate. Maybe she has it naturally or maybe she built it up in her teen years but she jumped right in the van and after a few weeks she wasn’t nervous. Almost as if she was there for the three years prior we had been doing it.

Marcus Kagler: I just wanted to touch on some of the songs. How did “The Break” come about and what’s it about?

Adam Fein: Well, I don’t dream very much. I guess I just don’t remember them. My wife wakes up every morning and tells me her dreams but I have nothing usually. I seem to remember my dreams like once every three months. I don’t know why. But that song is about basically…

well, I guess it’s kind of personal. I work a full time job at the University of Illinois and I’m married and all that. But my dream has always been to do music and it’s not an easy lifestyle. I’m not really into the sex, drugs, rock n’roll because it’s just not my personality. It doesn’t scare me it’s just not enticing to me. I just love the music and playing with people that I love and something like last night where you’re playing to an audience and they’re listening and paying attention and they’re interested. Not just talking or just being there to drink or whatever. Anyway, without getting too far off the path. Overall, the song is about, “Let’s do this. The five of us. Let’s give this a chance.” And it’s about different things that kind of cross through your dreams. Just images that come to you in dreams. I guess I kind of crossed the lyrics with communication in relationships, which is a big theme on the record. You can probably tell from reading the lyrics. Just communication between me and my wife and also between the band. You’ve got to keep it open. You got to keep it cool or things fall apart pretty fast.

Marcus Kagler: Not to go off topic but how do you like being in a band with the siblings?

Adam Fein: It’s great. Our parents are teachers so we were never very well off. Seth and I shared a small room growing up so we’re close. Especially after sharing a very small room for fifteen years. Seth and I are very close. We do fight though. Anybody will tell you we like to argue. We’re very competitive. But it’s also wonderful because there’s something between your siblings you don’t have with other people. I mean, I’ll turn around and be thinking of a drum line and Seth will already have played it. Or I’ll be thinking of a harmony and Erin will already have sung it. Actually Tristan does that too. I mean, we’ve been playing with him for six years. But that’s one of the reasons I wanted to play with him when we first started. He always comes up with a guitar line that I would have come up with. Almost always. Now with Brett it’s something else because it’s like, “Man! He’s reading our minds.” He loves music and he likes to play and I think he’s into the fact that he’s in a band that’s actually doing instead of talking of doing. It’s a really good thing. It makes the songwriting process exciting and enjoyable. It’s not a chore to go to practice at all.

Marcus Kagler: One of the songs that just knocked everybody’s socks off last night was “She Saves”. I mean, on the record it’s great but last night you guys just tore it up. How did that one come about because it’s a really complex number?

Adam Fein: Actually “She Saves” is kind of funny because we almost scrapped it. The beginning of it was just really muddy and not where we wanted it to be so we put it aside for awhile and changed the chorus. Our old bass player really wanted to bring it back up so we brought it back out and worked on it. Then before we finished the record we were like, “You know, this one really needs to be extended.” We could kind of feel it wanting to be a long song so we ended up basically writing the back end of that song in the studio. It was one of those things where sometimes you let things go in the studio and they end up horrible but sometimes they turn out amazing. This one turned out amazing. Then our bass player left and we started crafting the live sound of that song with Brett. It always kind of takes on a different life of it’s own from evening to evening. We’re never exactly sure where it’s going to go which is why I think live it always blows people away. It’s got it’s own energy to it.

Marcus Kagler: So what about “Walls Covered In Hope”? How did that one come about?

Erin Fein: When I do my songwriting I usually do it at the piano in my parents house. So I wrote the melody to that one on the piano and also the lyrics. I think you know a little bit about my figure skating.

Marcus Kagler: Yeah.

Erin Fein: After that ended I moved back home and everything and one of the things I’ve struggled with was a mild eating disorder. For a lot of reasons I guess but now that I’ve been away from it for awhile I realized that one of the ways I coped with competitive skating was by putting myself on a ridiculously strict eating regiment. I was really hard on myself about those things and it got a bit out of control. That song is basically about me trying to get over that disorder and how much it plagued me for a few years. It’s also about a person who really helped me get over that. It’s a really special song to me. It meant a lot at that time.

Marcus Kagler: What other songs did you write on the new record?

Erin Fein: I also wrote the song “Brave”. It’s track ten. I actually wrote the piano part to that song in the studio. There’s a piano down stairs in Keith’s studio. I would just mess around on the piano and I accidentally came across that melody so we used it and wound up putting that song on the CD at the last minute. We just decided to spontaneously put it together in the studio and it wound up coming out really cool. So we added it just as we thought things were securely in place. We just kind of popped it in there. That was really exciting for me.



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