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Don't Die In Your Hometown: Chris Farren On Staying Idealistic And Antarctigo Vespucci

Friday, 28 November 2014 Written by Huw Baines

Hat pulled low and hands thrust into his sleeves to combat a cold, damp night outside Newport's Le Pub, Chris Farren looks just about as far removed from the warm of Naples, Florida as it’s possible to be. Which is fine by him.

Back in March, Farren put out ‘Soulmate Stuff’ as one half of Antarctigo Vespucci, a new power-pop band that found him teaming up with Jeff Rosenstock, formerly of Bomb The Music Industry!. The record acted as a release valve. He was able to ditch Naples for a while, head to New York and release new music, something Fake Problems, his band, haven’t really been doing of late.

The day before boarding the plane he sketched out the song that anchors the EP, Don’t Die In Yr Hometown. Its sentiment is clear, and Rosenstock got it immediately. He jumped on Farren's paean to taking chances and helped shape it into an anthemic, Springsteen glockenspiel-toting beast.

“Last year, I spent most of the year just in Naples, Florida,” Farren said. “And, Naples, Florida has always been a really nice place to kinda come home to after tours and spend a week or two in. But, when I had to spend like a year there, I started to get really sick of it.

“I started to get bored of the whole scene and of seeing a lot of people not really moving their lives forward, people who I expected to want to do more. Then I saw a lot of myself in that. I was like: ‘I don’t want to be like that. I want to be idealistic. I want to take risks.’ I wanted to put it in a song so I’d have a constant thing, so that I would be saying it to myself and out loud every time I play a show: keep going, keep going for it.”

Rosenstock released the record, a matter of weeks after its completion, on his donation-based Quote Unquote label, which in recent years has handled BTMI! albums and good stuff from Hard Girls, the Taxpayers, Cheap Girls, even Kevin Seconds. His Duracell bunny approach to making music represented something of a welcome step into the unknown for his friend and bandmate.

“That’s just the way Jeff does things in general,” Farren said. “That was something that I really wanted to happen because I’ve been in a situation with Fake Problems where we just haven’t released something for a long time.

“It’s really frustrating to have to sit on songs, you lose your enthusiasm for some stuff when you have to wait for so long. It was so cool to write these songs and have them out in the world. When I was still in love with the songs, that’s when everybody else started to listen to them, which was a really great experience for me. I’ve never had that quick of a gratification from making music.”

With ‘Soulmate Stuff’ a wizened six months old, Farren and Rosenstock fired up the engine again pre-Fest, delivering a second EP, the rambunctious ‘I’m So Tethered’, after a week spent writing and recording. Thanks to a little intervention from the scheduling gods, the pair were again joined by Benny Horowitz, drummer of the Gaslight Anthem, while the playful keys and idiosyncratic programming of Rosenstock’s previous work also crept into view more regularly.

The new-found freedom to write and release at will allowed Farren to get out on tour with new material under his belt, something that, as Taylor Swift and Spotify continue to trade blows, remains the lifeblood of a DIY musician’s career.

“It [Quote Unquote’s model] gets the music to the listener,” Farren said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and, I won’t say never, but the amount of income that comes from record sales for me is super low. And that’s how it’s always been, because I wasn’t a musician in the ‘90s, when it was obnoxious, y’know? I’ve never known a life other than this.

“Basically, everybody gets your music for free, no matter what, whether you give it away or not. So, in Antarctigo’s case, it’s like, we might as well give it to everybody who wants it and hopefully they’ll come to a show. That’s how I’ve pretty much made my money in music, by constantly staying on tour. Which is great for me because I love being on tour, I love meeting people and I love coming to crazy places.”

Having also released ‘Ducks Fly Together’, a split with Grey Gordon on No Sleep, this year, a solo record is now a possibility for Farren, while Fake Problems will likely rear their head again. For now though, there’s the small matter of a few more 'crazy places' to hit alongside tourmate Mark McCabe. He's looking at you, Devizes, London and Southampton.

Chris Farren Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri November 28 2014 - DEVIZES The Lamb
Sat November 29 2014 - LONDON Montague Arms
Sun November 30 2014 - SOUTHAMPTON Joiners

Click here to compare & buy Chris Farren Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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