Fin Folsom | Debut Album Premiere | Q&A
“The first day in the studio Josh told us that he had applied for a Fulbright, and I’ve assumed since then that he would get it, so even though it was our first full length, I figured it would be our last record for a while if not forever. We’re all originally from New York City and I think the love / hate relationship we all have with this place has been the one recurring theme in everything we’ve done since the beginning.” – Conor Walsh
Fin-Folsom are finally out today with the band’s first full-length album following three EP’s released from 2013-2015. The record, produced by talented Jon Markson, was tracked and mixed at Gallery Recording Studio in Bushwick, NY. Recorded over the course of a week, it’s a culmination of nearly four years of alchemy released immediately prior to a year-long hiatus as their drummer moves abroad (something we spoke to the band about below.)
The band will support the release with a show at The Gutter on August 18th, with help from friends OxenFree, Hunter & Wolfe, and Say Brother, (probably the best night of the month for sharp witted cleverly crafted indie rock music in New York!)
If you’ve never heard Fin Folsom before, you’re in for a treat, until now they’ve pumped out only polaroid snapshots of their insane late night reckless abandon indie pop, that usually has you the second it starts. It’s an immediate wonder how that immediacy translates to a ten song full length album, but on their debut there are reflective moments on G lines, Gowanus bemusement, and existentialism in Baby’s All Right, featuring true lyrical content in an age of smoke screen indie pop. Connor Walsh’s writing stands up on its own, a concinnity that acts in accord with the surf-ability “animal pop” the band imagines without any fluff.
Not since The Strokes have I heard a band that was so well crafted in the span of 3-minutes, delivering New York moments riddled with a familiar nostalgia. I think that’s the most lasting appeal of their music and their debut is the kind of record I feel will shape many others to come and touch people deeply while they’re moving along wrapped into it.
Baby’s All Right might have received its first lyrical land mark status kicking the record off right into the throws of our favorite late night hang, Walsh is singing, “Like the weeknights when I’m tired and it snowed, a chandelier of lights at the closed down Cameo, Vice did away with all our favorite spots on Kent, like Vegas said fuck the clocks let’s give them oxygen,” while songs like “Cringe” showcase the bands instrumental talent–overly distorted guitars rip the bell-toned guitars apart, while the picked bass and floor tom heavy transitions are all part and parcel of the cleverness that seems at times impossible to dissect, maybe it’s Walsh’s ability to send your fight or flight senses into overload.
His vocals can send you into a state of emergency, mixed in context of their stew of bitter sweet animalistic jangly pop, it’s impossible to not be compelled to move. “Shaman” features a real life shaman they met in Queens and anthemic harmonies that burst open choruses, oozing beautiful anxieties. It’s only till the fifth song in on “Beware of Life Event” do we slow the pace down, though the back beat and finger picking guitars create brightness and continuity that makes shuffling past it not an option. Through the record some fine guest musicians contribute, songs like “Dear Pretender,” sneaking in to compliment their sound when necessary. This record has found a way straight to my year end list and it’s only August, and i’m joined now by the band to really get an idea of how this entire process has been like for them, a debut record, years in the making? Let’s see what they had to say.
Conor Walsh, Joshua Gottesman, Jeremy Y. Nakamura, welcome!
When did you guys know you were a band? (That is a quantifiable experience for some bands.)
Conor Walsh – “Josh and I recorded our first EP in the spring of 2013 and hadn’t played much together prior to it. So I think once that first record was done and we started playing shows it felt solidified. Jeremy joined after our second EP.”
Jeremy Y. Nakamura – “I was planning on never playing music again and was cross with JG (who I used to play prog noise with) for leaving my “project” to play with a superbly talented croony-type. I got a phone call from him while I was aimlessly wandering in a field. It didn’t require too much thought, I really enjoyed playing with him in the past and earnestly loved Early Summer.”
Joshua Gottesman – “It’s funny, my initial instinct is to say the moment Sadie bolted out of the car and we hit Fred’s barn that we were a band, but in my mind, I was still auditioning to be a part of Conor’s project for a while after that. Conor and I had always been friendly, if not friends in school, but suddenly being exposed to someone’s baby is unusual and I felt that I had to earn the trust of a mature relationship that still required nurturing. Maybe after the first few shows, en route to writing songs together for our second EP, did I feel like the band really had more than one member.”
Something thematic in your lyrics on this record? Where was your headspace leading up to this record? Was it all songs and bills?
Conor – “The first day in the studio Josh told us that he had applied for a Fulbright, and I’ve assumed since then that he would get it, so even though it was our first full length, I figured it would be our last record for a while if not forever. We’re all originally from New York City and I think the love / hate relationship we all have with this place has been the one recurring theme in everything we’ve done since the beginning.”
Jeremy – “We were so synchronous on how we felt about growing up and distancing ourselves from the way things used to be, within our respective lives, in the landscape we grew up in.”
Josh – “It’s interesting to pose this question to Jeremy and myself, because apart from helping out flesh out a line, or add a word, or pick a title, we rarely are responsible for writing the lyrics ourselves. I’d like to think, since we spend so much time together, that Jeremy and I can provide a foil for how Conor is feeling, so when he goes to mete out words for a song, it might in some way have been further refined, or bent around a discussion we’ve had. Regardless of your background or circumstance, life can be difficult for young people, and we’re all struggling with that (remaining young, in particular).”
Speaking of lyrics, there’s only a handful of local bands around right now that I think illustrate a certain idea of New York that evokes emotion the way you do. It’s littered all over the record, are you simply spitting out what you live or is there some element of affinity you’re speaking to?
Connor – “I really enjoy writing melody and consider the lyrics to be work. The lyrics to a few of these tracks were being worked on as I was recording them. I’m good at procrastinating and I work hard to not overthink the lyrics and let the songs evolve naturally. If I write something and it sucks, these boys will tell me immediately but otherwise I like to work quickly and then put it in the past. The last three tracks of this record are a little different in that I set out knowing the theme of the song like battles being about religious belief but most of the others begin as personal reflection and then looking back it becomes clear what the song is about.”
Jon Markson has quite the album list under his belt: everyone from Afuche to As Tall As Lions. You guys were at Gallery Studios over in Bushwick for your debut full length, was the idea to work with him a meditated choice? Can you let us in on the process there and what working with Jon was like for your music?
Jeremy – “I was working at an old school studio in Chinatown and was trying to twist everyone’s arm to come record with me at that place, but I just knew that we’d go with the Wolf. If he keeps going at his rate, he’ll go down as one of the best. For me- as a fledgling recording nerd, it was so great to get insight. There was so much ping-ponging of ideas back and forth; an invaluable learning experience.”
Connor – “We all went to the same college. Working with Jon was something I had wanted to do and things just lined up for this. He’s the real deal in the studio. He’s also just a genuine soul and someone who brightens rooms with an infectious energy. He commanded performances out of us that made this record into something really special. I typically like to track twice and pick the better one. He knew what things needed to sound like before we did.”
Josh – “I met Jon in a bit of a funny way: he is a grade below us, and there was a facebook group for student bands on campus. I think I had posted looking for a bassist (WHERE ARE Y’ALL _AT_), and Jon and I started corresponding before he even became a student at Conn[ecticut College]. At school, we played in at least three bands together, and I played drums for, what I believe became Jon’s thesis composition for his music and tech major. After school, I had honestly wanted to distance myself from his work, because aside from my jazz groups, all of it was essentially with him. This was the first time I’d worked with him since college (5 years, I guess) and it was tough: on the one hand, Jon is immensely talented and we trust him; on the other, this was our first really time having a record produced, and we thought we wanted it, and in the end it turned out great, but ceding control, at least initially, is always tough.”
Your drummer Josh is leaving the country after the record release show. Some might argue the logistics and timing, would you say you have your reasons? Also where are you headed and can you take us there if Donald Drumpf gets elected?
Jeremy – “DT is an OG NY villain.”
Connor – “Yea, this isn’t ideal for us as a band but we’re so proud of Joshy. If he was going to teach english and find himself we wouldn’t let him go but he got a fulbright so that’s that. This isn’t a calculated move with the band in mind, but I would laugh if the record does very well and we are no longer. To me, that’s pulling a Big Star.”
Josh – “I think if anything, this record has underscored that we have more (in addition to the fact that we have a back catalog easily filling another LP’s worth of material). In my mind, we have unfinished business. I plan to keep playing in China, and when I get back, too, hopefully it will be possible with Fin. I wouldn’t ordinarily, but since you asked: Dear Everyone, don’t be a shitbag, go vote for Hillary. If you have any decency or care for fellow persons, don’t let them down by staying at home or voting someone else. He/she will not win.”
Was the shaman on the track “Shaman” you met from Queens figurative or literal? If so, who is this based on?
Connor – “Literal. He was a really interesting dude and the girl from london was from the same day. I’m like most New Yorkers and don’t typically make friends on the subway but I met two incredibly interesting people in the same afternoon and the song was formed around them.”
Who’s singing vocals on “Dear Pretender” & “Beware Of Life Event” – I think I hear some female vox?
Connor – “Yea, you have to check out Wild Manes. Such a dope band and when I wrote “Dear Pretender,” I knew right away that I wanted our friends Lindsey and Heather from the Manes on the track. And then when they were done with “Dear Pretender” we had them sing on “Beware” and the bridge on “Sorry for Last Night.” Their vox are my favorite parts of the record.”
Josh – “Rude!”
Favorite local band?
Can we nerd out on gear? Do you have anything particular in your gear arsenal you love and utilize? Live vs on this record.
Connor – “I have an old fender twin reverb that I play. There was verb and a short delay on my Mr.Echo by SIB that was on just about every track. We went into this record saying “not one synth will be on this record” and we stuck to that. I love guitar bands and while i’ve been tantalized by synth pop I didn’t want to go near it. We used a Memory Man delay and a POG octave generator that made a synth sound you can hear in a few places.”
Jeremy – “Jon and I were really all about the bass tone which involved alchemy and an old Sears Silvertone. Live, we keep it pretty straightforward.”
Last place you drunkenly ate at?
Connor – “Camping with my dog eating hot dogs.”
Jeremy – “Single Cut Brewery in Astoria!”
Jon – “Frites in Amsterdam like a dirty, dirty, scumbag.”
Places in the world you haven’t been to you’d love to go?
Jeremy – Angkor Wat
Josh – “Conor’s house on Long Island (just kidding don’t print that); Wyoming. I’ve never been anywhere in America except for the coasts basically, the most west I’ve been except for the west coast is DC, so… yeah.”
Someone you could see yourself opening for?
Connor – “Twin peaks.”
Jeremy – “Cymbals Eat Guitars.”
Josh – “Whitney (or, like, Haybaby.)”