Photo: Max Fairclough

“Oh My God, This Is Insane!” Perth’s The Faim Talk Working With Legends Mark Hoppus, Pete Wentz & More On Their Debut Album

It’s safe to say 2018 has been a pretty crazy year for Perth 4-piece The Faim! After getting the personal tick of approval from producer John Feldman (blink-182, The Used, All Time Low), the band flew out to LA to record their debut EP. During their time in LA, they had the opportunity to co-write songs with a whole heap of artists, including Blink’s Mark Hoppus and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz. The collab with Wentz became their recent debut single ‘Saints of the Sinners’, and they’ve since released a follow-up ‘Midland Line’ with an energetic music video to boot.

The band are currently back in Oz, supporting Sleeping With Sirens, before heading back out around the world as part of their mega six-country tour.

We had a chance to chat with vocalist Josh Raven about his experience collaborating with industry heavyweights, the band’s hectic tour schedule, and his fear of clowns!

Music Feeds: So, you’re playing at Luna Park this weekend?!

Josh Raven: Yeah, I’m very excited! Apparently the only way to get in is through a big clown mouth, and I’m terrified of clowns, so that’s going to be quite the confronting fear for me.

MF: You’ve seen the pictures of Luna Park before, right?

JR: No, this is actually my first time in Sydney, besides layovers and stuff in the airport. I’ve pretty much travelled nowhere! [laughs].

MF: That’s fair. Perth seems ages away from everything, so I can see how that’d be a thing. It’s been a crazy year for you guys! How exactly did everything happen – with John Feldman finding you guys and flying you out to LA?

JR: Well, funnily enough it all started from an Instagram post that he put out. He was looking for unsigned bands with touring experience, just for work opportunities, and we were like “well, we’re an unsigned band, but we don’t have any touring experience, so let’s just try it and see how we go” so we sent him an email with basically our story, saying we’re all very talented musicians, we love what we do, we’re willing to learn and do what we can to kind of develop and grow and just become the best that we can. It was this massive, massive email. Then we left it for a while, and about a month or two later we got this random email out of the blue and it was just like “work opportunity with John Feldman”, and at first we thought it was fake, but then we checked the email and it was with someone named Ally who was working as an assistant for him at the time. And we all freaked out and were like “oh my god, this is insane!”. He asked us to basically rewrite two of our songs. We were called Small Town Heroes at the time, and we were a pop punk band, so we didn’t have as much of a profile, and we were pretty inexperienced in the song writing sense, but we were so determined and really, really wanted to.

It’s funny cause Stephen was actually on the other side of the country, traveling with the Army band, and he had to fly down and give the hard news to his captain there at the time. Me and Michael were sick as well. We were doing basically two days straight of just writing, and trying to do what we could to get the best possible different sound. Like, I was yakking in-between vocal takes, and Michael was sick, and it was an absolute mental, mental time, but we did it! When we sent the songs to him he literally just replied – not even anything in the email, just in the subject header – “write more songs”, and it was all lowercase. Then we were like “okay, we’ll do that”, and we wrote more songs.

MF: And you’ve had such a cool opportunity now to work with all these big names in the industry like Pete Wentz and Mark Hoppus…

JR: Oh for sure, it’s been incredible!

MF: What was the process like for writing ‘Saints of the Sinners’ with Pete Wentz?

JR: It mainly all started just from sitting around, talking. We had a massive chat to Pete for about two hours, just talking about like, the music industry and how hard it is for bands to make it these days, and how saturated the market is with people who can do music very well, but no one’s quite unique. Just how everyone has this kind of passion to succeed, not so much in a selfish sense, but just to entitle themselves to this idea that like you know what, we deserve this, we deserve to have what we want. It was just a really cool experience, discussing that with him and their [Fall Out Boy’s] own journey. And that’s pretty much how it all came about.

MF: That’s really cool. Did you find the song writing happened quickly?

JR: It was a quick process at the time because we were writing two songs a day, minimum. In the scheme of things I guess it was quick, but during the day, I mean it was like 15-hour day studio sessions, so it was very long. The mixing process and finalising details and being happy was also a long one. But the concept and the message that we wanted to put out there came together very quickly. ‘Cause we could all relate to it at the time. Anyone who’s creative I think can relate to the song, or anyone in general, really. Everyone has this passion inside of them that wants to be heard, wants to be seen – an identity that needs to be fulfilled.

MF: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s really cool that you did it face-to-face. I know a lot of collaborations happen via email or Skype, but that’s a really great opportunity.

JR: Yeah, exactly! It was, it was a great opportunity, especially for us. We were pretty star-struck as well. I mean, it was Pete Wentz, he’s a huge inspiration of ours, we had to hold in the inner-fangirl [laughs]. Everyone loves Fall Out Boy, you know? But it was great! He’s such a down-to-earth dude. He’s very talented and knows a lot about the music industry. We really connected to him ’cause our journey, and the same with a lot of peoples’ is quite similar.

MF: And you worked with Mark Hoppus as well, which is so cool!

JR: I love that guy! The first thing he did – it was just me and John in the studio, and we were finishing up a song – and the first thing he showed us when we all got into the room was ‘Top 10 Venomous Snakebites’, randomly [laughs]. Like, he’s such a down-to-earth, genuine, funny dude who’s not afraid to speak his mind. I mean, Mark Hoppus is huge! If anyone knows Blink, they know Mark Hoppus, and it’s just so refreshing to see that he has such an open mind to writing. He is incredibly, incredibly talented.

MF: But the song you co-wrote with him hasn’t been released yet, hey?

JR: No, it hasn’t. We have one of the songs that we wrote with him on the [upcoming] album. So, there will be a song that we wrote with him out. It’s a very special song, very emotional and personal, you know, discussing parts of my story with him. I can’t release too much, but it’s a very personal song for us.

MF: Do you have any insight you can give on your debut album? Like, how many songs it’ll have and its release date?

JF: The release date we’re thinking is hopefully around September – November. Definitely this year. The amount of songs, I can’t exactly… We’ve written a lot of songs, a lot, a lot of songs. We’ve decided what songs we want on the album and all the final mixes are done, and all that sort of stuff. It’s mainly just picking the singles now and how we want to go about it. One thing I can say is that there will be quite a few songs, and the music is diverse, because all of our influences and our personalities and our stories are in these songs, and we wanted to kind of, keep that real and authentic. If you’re utilising all these influences and memories and events, the sonic interpretation always becomes fluid, it changes, it develops. Music is so exciting these days – the mainstream is becoming this amalgamation of genres, and we’re so excited to become a part of it. To be able to use everything that we love and put it into our own interpretation.

MF: It’s so cool that you’ve had so many opportunities and so many people to collaborate with.

JR: Oh, definitely, definitely, and that really opened our eyes to it. I mean, we were never really opened up to co-writing and really just taking in other perspectives like that, before. It was just so refreshing, being able to connect and relate and find a common message and common ground, but still keep what we wanted to do that’s real and authentic. It was really special for us, especially because a lot of them were our idols.

MF: Were there any other people you co-wrote with on the album?

JR: Yeah, we wrote with [Twenty One Pilots’] Josh Dun, which was pretty great! One of the songs that we wrote with him will be on the album. Fiona Bevan, who is a UK songwriter, she was incredible to write with. And there were a few other people that we wrote with as well that we learned from: Chris Cheney from The Living End, a songrwriter named Rachel West. Those songs didn’t necessarily make it on the album, but it was just incredible to work with them.

MF: Those sound like great opportunities!

JR: Definitely! And like, one big thing about co-writing is that it was never something where we had songs just kind of handed to us. It was always our identity, our message, our sound. We never signed up to be in a band for it to be like ‘here you go,

MF: Did you find that the songs you sent to John over email transformed in the studio too?

JR: Oh, definitely. Before we flew over to LA, we actually ended up writing, I think it was 31 ideas, which were like intro/verse/chorus, so not full songs, but a few of those have gone on the album, and a few of those songs will still be used in the future. So, we were definitely putting ourselves on the grind before we went to LA, that’s for sure!

MF: And you’re currently on a crazy six-country tour?

JR: The tour at the moment is mental! We just came back from the UK, so we did two weeks there with Lower Than Atlantis, 12 shows in 15 days for our first ever tour, and we’re back here now with Sleeping With Sirens in Australia. Then we go back to the UK for six weeks, and I think the first day we land we have 13 shows in a row, and one is two shows in a day, then we’re doing Download, Reading, Leeds, and Slam Dunk, Liverpool Sound City, Great Escape Festival, and many others.

MF: How are you finding it, going from being a band that as you said before didn’t have any touring experience at all, to now being on the road so much?

JR: It’s crazy! We’re so beyond excited to be able to meet new people and basically put our music out there. We’re a Perth band, none of us have really travelled at all. Like, me personally, my first time out of Australia was LA, so I’ve seen nothing of the world, pretty much. In America we spent most of our time in the studio, you know? So, seeing more of the world and seeing how music responds in the UK, and how different people interpret our music and personalities is incredibly special. Those first two weeks of the UK tour were a huge eye-opener for us. People over there really love music, and there were people coming up, buying merch who didn’t even see our set, but they just got along so well with us and really liked what we were doing. They were like “you know what, we want to buy merch, we want to get to know you guys, we want to see you at these festivals”. It was just a really great experience.

MF: Is there anywhere on the tour that you really want to check out on the way?

JR: I mean, I’m obsessed with history and culture and architecture. Every little thing to me is like, huge, you know? Because I’ve seen so little, even of Australia. I’ve pretty much been in Perth my whole life. Just seeing even the littlest things in the graffiti is so special. One thing I’d love to see while I’m here in Sydney is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But the main thing for us is really the connections with people that we make through shows, and just understanding their story and making a relationship. Really just getting to know the people that are listening to our music all over the world.

MF: Sweet! And lastly, before we tie this off, is there anything else you’d like to chat about, real quick?

JR: One thing maybe that I could mention is that we’ve just released the new music video for ‘Midland Line’, which is pretty huge for us, and the response has been insane! We were working on it the day after we flew in. It was a 15 hour day, just smashing out the music video and working with these people who had worked with like, Bring Me The Horizon, Waterparks, and all these different bands. It was really good to get our perspective out there with this video, ’cause Midland Line for us… No one outside Perth really knows what the Midland Line is. But for us it was like this place of growth and development and learning. It was that place where, whether we were meeting there after school, sneaking there in the middle of the night, or meeting old girlfriends, it was a place that really helped us grow up and shaped our identities as people and musicians, really.

MF: It’s cool that you get to honour it as a song too.

JR: Exactly, it’s like a little piece of home. Even though people in Perth be like ‘why the hell did you name a song after Midland Line?!’. But despite its faults, it’s a place that helped us develop our character, and make us into the people we are today.

MF: Cool, well, thanks for chatting with us, and I hope the show goes well this weekend!

JR: Thank you, I do as well, but I’m sure it will.

MF: … And the clowns don’t scare you too much.

JR: Oh my god, don’t remind me! That’s going to be the ultimate goal – to not cry. I don’t know why, they just creep me out!

The Faim will wrap up their Australian tour with Sleeping With Sirens this Friday in Brisbane.

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