[OC Music Awards Interview] Fiction Reform Mix Ego With Humility For Righteous Hardcore Punk
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicked off on January 4th with seven weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic and a performance slot at the 2011 OC Music Awards, March 5 at the Grove of Anaheim. And, the voting is open now!
Like a bottle of brown-bagged whisky in the back of a tour van; like a night of full-fledged mischievous debauchery; like streaking naked and rebellious through the cold night air. Orange County hardcore punk revivalists, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Fiction Reform[/lastfm], come at the listener with liberating confidence and brazen confrontational energy.
They embrace the positive effects of ego without losing in their lyrics the visionary social roots of traditional hardcore punk rock–a sound that became long-ago became definitive to the Orange County music scene.
Aggressively assaulting the senses with husky screams and punk rock power chords, Fiction Reform is one of those cult-following bands who snares the listener with raucous energy and a generous amount of addictive growl–the kind that makes you feel like a fearless, feckless teenager bent on starting a revolution against societal disenfranchisement.
[pullquote quote="But this is like the hot chick and we have to be on our A-game all the time."]
Lead singer and guitarist, Brenna Red, can hold her own amongst the brawling testosterone of both her band members and the seductive rage in Fiction Reform’s music. She can also hold her own in an interview; she is captivating, articulate, and hilarious. At one point, Red and guitarist Aaron Chabak likened Fiction Reform to a hot, complicated chick who could get crazy in bed. We don’t know about her bedroom prowess, but we might argue that Red is the perfect punk rock icon for that hot chick that you have to work really hard for. Red explained:
“We’re not like that comfortable family where we do nothing and slack, so we’re actually a lot more productive and focused…You’re still worried about impressing the other people. It’s like when you’re married to a wife for a while. You stop trying and just let yourself go. But this is like the hot chick and we have to be on our A-game all the time.”
As well as Red and Chabak, Fiction Reform consists of Danny Baeza (drummer) and Tom Clark (bassist). They have a distinctly old-school Orange County hardcore punk sound like the cathartic, musically complex crunch of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Bad Religion [/lastfm]or the self-assured swagger of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Social Distortion[/lastfm]. Red can easily be likened to Brody Dalle of the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Distillers[/lastfm], although her deep voice is less harsh and sometimes becomes sweetly melodious.
Chabak said that some of his major influences have been those with street-smart style and hard-working rock ethics:
“I always wanted to be in [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Led Zeppelin [/lastfm]or [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Beatles[/lastfm] as a kid. And [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Motley Crue[/lastfm], you see that rock ‘n roll excess. Who doesn’t like that. I mean, I want to be on a jet plane…And in those days, it was the coolest thing. You didn’t know that there was any kind of down side to that. You didn’t know that twenty years later Vince Neil was going to get fat and write a book about how horrible it was. You look at those guys and it’s awesome. Why wouldn’t any kid want to do that?”
Given the dichotomous nature of her personality, moving fluidly through tales of hedonism to mature stories of humility, Red’s reverence for [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Clash[/lastfm]‘s [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Joe Strummer[/lastfm] fits perfectly:
“My musical influences are like Joe Strummer. Until the day he died, he was on the streets handing out fliers asking people to go to his show. He didn’t know he was a huge deal. He was still busking on the street with his guitar case out…That’s my influence. I’d like to be great, but it might end tomorrow.”
Both Red and Chabak said that they’ve been playing music since their early teens and that–for the most part–Fiction Reform was a professional collaborative effort, instead of just a group of intoxicated friends getting together to jam. Red explained their history:
“We’ve been playing together for almost two years? Not that long when you think about how long bands have been together before. Most bands start as friends hanging out and they jam. It takes them like six, seven years to figure it out. Yeah, we did the opposite. Danny knew Chuck our manager and he was like, ‘Alright. Let’s do a band right now. Go pick people.’ So we just came together, didn’t know each other and then just hit the ground running.”
Chabak elaborated on how all this has helped their music for the better:
‘It forces you to focus. Instead of screwing around with your buddies and drinking and going to the bars and blowing off the band stuff and doing it as a side project, everybody is there. You’ve got a goal in mind…We had a lot of first dates. A lot of feeling each other out…You still have personalities that you have to deal with. You have to still be yourself in it, no matter how hot she is, if you’re putting on a front…You gotta be yourself.”
While their attitude about their music is less about the random periphery pleasures involved in playing in a punk band, thankfully, Fiction Reform still likes to party. Red laughed, explaining their Las Vegas “escapades”:
“We are like that really crazy hot chick in bed because we get absolutely stupid…Everytime we go to Vegas it’s an escapade. This last time we played an amazing show. Played super late…I fell asleep at a strip bar because I was so tired. I had to recharge my batteries. We played got super drunk. And when you are in a band, everyone wants to buy you drinks. As a girl it’s double the case so I’m shit faced.”[pullquote quote="Egos are fun and all, but we're really humble. We take it with a grain of salt...The bottom line is we want to have fun. If people think we're great cool. We just want to do what we want to do. We want to play music." "]
“I’m walking around like white trash style, by myself, 5 am, gambling on Star Wars. I finally find the rest of my band. They’re up like a grand. I’m down a couple hundred bucks. This whole night doesn’t end until like 6-7am and somehow I’m on the bathroom floor…That’s the crazy in bed hot chick.”
Chabak agreed and said insightfully, “You learn a lot about your band when you are in Vegas, because you’re taught where your second wind comes from. It’s a great example.”
In the end, Fiction Reform is just a hard-working band that seemingly provides their fans with a lot of release–both musically and personally. Both Red and Chabak were humble and non-judgemental realists without losing the optimism necessary to survive. Chabak explained his philosophy on making it in a band:
“As much as band’s complain about it, that really is the best time when you look back on it, because you feel like you’ve earned something…If you’re not struggling at all, you don’t have a good story. And honestly, you’re not going to appreciate what you get, you’re not going to keep trying hard to do it. It’s like all things in life–you’ve got to have effort to make something seem cool.”
Red agreed, clarifying that while the band likes to party, it takes everything with a grain of salt.
“Your second wind is your ego. When you hear people telling you that you’re cool, you want to stay awake. If everybody is like, this band sucks–I’m tired. I’m going to bed. But when everyone says, ‘Oh, you guys are so amazing.’ Let’s party for five more hours! That’s how it happens…We don’t care about making money. We just want to make enough so we can sustain ourselves to go to the next show…If it happens, great. If not, we had some really great shows, made some family along the way, and when I’m old and sixty I’ll remember these things.”
“Egos are fun and all, but we’re really humble. We take it with a grain of salt…The bottom line is we want to have fun. If people think we’re great–cool. We just want to do what we want to do. We want to play music.”
[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Fiction Reform[/lastfm]-“Small Silhouette”
The 2011 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 4 -February 15 with stops at:
Five Showcase Series finalists in each live category will then move on to the Showcase Series Finals.
2011 Best Live Band winner will receive a performance slot on the four Southern Califonia Vans Warped Tour stops!
Night Six of the OC Music Awards Showcase Series featured nominees for Best Live Band on Tuesday, February 15th at the The Slide Bar.
READ MORE INTERVIEWS ON KROQ.COM FROM SHOWCASE NIGHT 6 BANDS:
Friday, February 11th- Fiction Reform
Saturday, February 12th-We Are The Arsenal
Sunday, February 13th-Stereofix
Tuesday, February 15th-Echo Echo
You have the power to send one Showcase artist to the Best Live Acoustic Finals and Best Live Band Finals.
Cast your vote and enter to win a massive prize pack from the OC Music Awards partners (To be Announced). Voting will begin on December 27 and will be open through the last Showcase on February 15. The votes will be tallied and the band with highest score will automatically move on to their Series Finals! Click here to vote
LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM