In Conversation with THE FAIM
“We’re not pretending to be something we’re not. We write from experience, we write from memories, we write from a real place”, we sit down with The Faim hours before their London show to discuss songwriting, touring and working with John Feldmann.
Yoko Ono once wrote: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Inspired by French word faim – hunger, Perth-based quartet The Faim remind us all that when it comes to dreams anything is possible, as long as you’re ready to work harder than ever before.
Highly saturated, the pop-punk and rock music scene has been overflowing with new acts in the last couple of years. The Faim however, have become a phenomenon. It’s been five months since they released their debut single, three since their embarked on their first ever tour, two days since they played their last show. They have supported Lower Than Atlantis, Sleeping With Sirens, PVMNTS, The Dangerous Summer, PVRIS across 5 tours and 54 shows. They have played sold out headline shows and made appearances at The Great Escape, Slam Dunk, Camden Rocks and Download festivals. With only three singles released so far, out of which Saints Of The Sinners and Midland Line collectively have amassed over 1.6 million streams to date, The Faim have already cemented their status as one of the most exciting new bands. And this is just the start.
Although they laugh when asked how it feels to be the hottest new band in the genre right now, no one denies the pressure.
“I don’t know about ‘the hottest’ but we do love music”, vocalist Josh Raven laughs. “No, it’s incredible. Having this magnifying glass at the moment is definitely exciting. We’ve got used to pressure, we love it. Pressure is our thing, you know. We live off that stuff.”
“We’ve only released three songs and we already have so much here [the UK]”, Stephen Beerkens (bass/keyboard) elaborates. “We were having about 50 people or so at an acoustic performance yesterday which we gave a day’s notice for. It was amazing. We couldn’t be more thankful for all the support we’ve been getting from the fans, radio stations and magazines. It’s great, we’re so glad that lots of people are hearing our music. But behind the scenes it’s a lot of time and a lot of hard work that goes into it.”
“And not just in the UK, all around the world it’s been absolutely insane”, Josh adds in.
We want to express ourselves in the best way possible
They might have released only three singles, but The Faim have already drawn the lines of their musical vision. Filled with passion and drive, their music mirrors freedom in pursuing your dreams and the desire of leaving a mark in the world. Reflecting on their journey as a band, they add a personal and relatable context in to their songwriting, wrapping it all up in catchy and anthemic hooks. Their live performances have been one of the most talked about this festival season after all. And since new music is rumoured for a release later this year, we all keep asking questions about the band’s debut album.
“It’s done”, Josh reveals. “It’s on a computer, on our phones, it’s done. And it’s very diverse.”
“It’s extremely diverse”, Stephen says. “When we’re writing, we’re really going to the session with a concept: ‘Okay, this is what we want to write about in each song’, and then we let the music and the production complement the vocals and the melodies that are there. Then we end up getting a whole array of different sounds on this album that we’re super stoked on. So yeah, you’re gonna get a diverse amount of music.”
“One thing we always focus on is keeping the lyrics very real, authentic”, Josh explains. “We’re not pretending to be something we’re not. We write from experience, we write from memories, we write from a real place, you know. That’s why we do music because we want to express ourselves in the best way possible.”
A path to self-discovery and self-expression is never an easy one, but The Faim have been mentored by some of the scene’s biggest heroes. Enlisting the help of Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, Twenty One Pilots’ Josh Dun, and blink-182’s Mark Hoppus during the recording process of their debut has certainly made the expectations rock sky high. As if this wasn’t enough, all of the band’s songs were produced with the legendary John Feldmann (blink-182, All Time Low, Good Charlotte). A “caffeine beast” as the guys call him, John has contributed to the band’s breakthrough in a very significant way.
“It was such a growing experience”, Josh ponders. “John really opened us to this world. The best thing about John is that he didn’t give us songs. He opened us to doors of discovering how to write songs ourselves and looking within ourselves to find something real. It was a long process, it was a very scary process. I mean, the first day we walked in and straight away within 15 mins he said: ‘You guys are playing songs, man. Straight up’. The songs we’d never performed, literally just written. And that kind of pressure really pushed us in and out our natural direction. That’s what’s so exciting and we’re discovering so much more along the way.”
Since the record is still quite a mystery, I ask the guys to give us some hints in the form of their favourite lyrics.
“‘All we are is guilty hearts in a sea of memories’ is my favourite but I won’t say what song”, Sean Tighe (drums) is first to reveal his choice.
“Mine would have to be: ‘If you never try then you never know’ from Summer Is A Curse”, Michael Bono (lead guitar) says.
“Lost and lonely, strangers know me better than I know myself”, we hear from Stephen, whilst Josh decides on: “We go stronger in the broken places”.
We just want to be good role models
Despite their young age, a deep reflection on life surfaces very quickly.
“I was studying primary school teaching before music”, Josh unveils. “But honestly, if I didn’t have music I’d probably be in a ditch. I’m just being straight up honest. Music has pulled me out of every sort of hole possible and put me in a life that I can love and surround myself with, the guys that I love, writing music that I love with these boys is just… I couldn’t ask for more.”
“The best part about it is that we’re not just a band touring around the world”, Michael ponders. “We’re best mates touring around the world and it makes it so much more enjoyable.”
And frankly, it takes only a few minutes with the band to realise that this is true. Not only have they demonstrated a strong bond with each other, they’ve already built quite an admirable relationship with their fans.
While Sean laughingly assures us that: “We’re all friendly”, Stephen elaborates further: “We never would have thought our first show outside of our hometown would be in Lincoln in the UK. It’s nuts. The responses from the crowds have been insane and it was great to play to new people. When we were on Lower Than Atlantis tour some people hadn’t even heard of any of the bands, not even LTA. They were like ‘Oh we just got tickets to come and see some music’. That’s sick, you would never hear any of that back home. It’s really awesome to be playing on the other side of the world where people react to music so much differently.”
“Literally every night we’d be at the merch desk a long time and security would be kicking us out”, Josh continues. “Security hated us on this tour. Sometimes they were really nice, they’d move us from room to room, and then eventually we’d always end up outside for the next 2 to 3 hours. But we love it. I feel like it’s so important for kids to have a memory and an experience, and a relationship with people that they look up to, especially when it comes to music. We just want to be good role models. It’s all we want to be.”
“Thinking back to when we all went to see our favourite bands, we would love to meet them”, Michael sums up. “That would be such a big highlight of the whole experience and we just want to give back to the fans and do what we would have loved to do.”
Bringing a lighter tone back to the conversation, the guys shed a light on some strange situations they got themselves into when touring.
“Stephen almost got hit by a car, like full on”, Josh recalls. “What happened, we were just chilling in a van and Stephen was outside wandering around a little bit. It was a long day, he was really tired and then we saw him slowly wander out in front of this car that was going like 40 mph. I had to slam on the brakes, Stephen still did not look up and was just standing in front of the road. We were all sitting in a van screaming: ‘Stephen! Get off the road, what are you doing?!’ for like 4 mins… It was terrifying.”
“I look up and see these guys going nuts in the car far from me”, Stephen says. “I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t hear it. It was one of those sonic cars and I was just being focused.”
“And Josh set the toasts on fire at one point too”, Michael reveals.
“Oh my God!”, Josh exclaims. “At the Travelodge. I didn’t mean to! I didn’t know you couldn’t put croissants in there. Nobody told me!”
“It’s general knowledge”, Stephen laughs.
“The guy was so upset about it and I was like: ‘Man, there is no sign telling me and I like to toast croissants’”, Josh explains. “I was excited and then the next thing it’s all up in flames. Michael is pissing himself laughing at me from across the room and I’m just like: ‘Well, it happens. I’m Australian’. That’s my excuse, I’m Australian. I’m not from here.”
It’s about putting all of your time into your passion
And if any of these experiences have taught them anything, it’s this:
“I think the biggest piece of advice we can give to any band is that you gotta be willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked but you have to stay authentic”, Josh says. “You can’t be a product, you can’t be fake, you can’t put something fake out on social media or in your music because then people will have false expectations. And the biggest thing, you gotta love what you do as well. That’s probably No. 1, you gotta love what you do.”
“You gotta be willing to work harder than the other person next to you that has the same opportunity”, Michael sums up. “It’s honestly about dropping everything else and just putting all of your time into your passion.”