Recently Popeye, singer of the seminal melodic punk band Farside, took the time to talk to Dying Scene about past releases, what the future holds for him and to tell some great tour stories. I consider this an honor as Farside has been and will continue to be one of the most influential bands to come along in years.
For those who are unfamiliar with their music, Farside was a crucial early Revelation Records band that pushed the boundaries of what punk was and the approach taken to satisfy what they wanted to accomplish. I hope in reading this, it forces you to challenge what the realm of hardcore means to you and helps you realize that sometimes going outside the mold can create a legacy. It’s not everyday you get to interview someone who has musically inspired you so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Check out the interview here.
First off, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It truly means a lot to me. Could you state who you are and what you did in Farside?
Thanks for asking me to do this! My name is Popeye and I sang and played guitar.
What’s the background of Farside and how did you all come together?
We started in 1989 in Orange County. Ron Hayworth (Hard Stance, State of he Nation) was the one who put the band together with Josh Stanton (411) and Bob Violence (Rough House). They had been practicing together for a few months without a singer, and after I practically begged Rob to give me a tryout, they let me in the band.
You guys put out some crucial albums during a great period for Revelation Records. How did you hook up with them?
Walter Schreifels and Jordan Cooper from Revelation started Crisis Records as an off-shoot of Revelation. They wanted to to put out some bands that were more post-hardcore/melodic than what was on Revelation. Our first 7″ was on Crisis and then Jordan asked us to be on Revelation after that.
Your totally discography includes three full lengths and a self titled EP. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask a little about each release.
Sure! Although, we also had the “Keep My Soul Awake” ep on Crisis, and a collection of demos called “Scrap” which was put out by our band members Kevin Murphy and Bryan Chu. They called the label Comida Records.
This was your debut release on Revelation Records. What was it like putting out a record on such a great label?
It was a little intimidating at first. That was the first full-full length I had ever recorded and For The Record Studios was the biggest and nicest studio I had ever been in at that time. We were super ambitious about what we wanted to do and I feel very proud of how it came out, even if I didn’t always know what I was doing. I remember we borrowed tons of equipment from all of our friends to try to make it sound good. I also remember recording on Christmas day and having a really bad infection in my jaw from having lost a filling the night before. Good times.
What was the response at the time from playing aggressive music on an acoustic guitar?
It was surprisingly good. I don’t think I expected us to be as well-received as we were, but we were confident in what were doing so I think that translated well to the audience. Plus, a lot of post-hardcore bands would kind of thumb their noses at the hardcore scene, but we always tried to respect our roots which I think helped people accept us.
Can you give a little background about how this record came together?
Well, I don’t think there was too much background to it. It just happened to be the next 10 songs that we came up with. I just felt happy that someone (Revelation) wanted to put it out.
Where did the name “Rochambeau” actually come from?
It’s another name for the Rock-Paper-Scissors game. We had yet to think of a name for the album (or the song), and Jeff Caudill (Gameface) had done some art work that I really liked that showed different-colored handprints on top of one another. It eventually became the cover art for the album, so Jeff’s art was sort of the start of it all.
Your second release, “Rigged”, happens to be a personal favorite record of mine that has truly stood the test of time. Did you think when you were writing this record that it would go on to influence a whole generation and genre?
I had no idea it would be so well-received. We thought it was a solid album, but in a lot of ways it was very different from Rochambeau. Rob had left the band shortly after Rochambeau came out, and that’s when Kevin Murphy joined the band on guitar and vocals. First of all, Kevin and Rob had very different styles of playing guitar and writing music, and second, I had only written one song for Rochambeau (Worlds). So with Rigged, all the songs were written by Kevin and me. In many ways it was almost like it was a new band. Luckily we were all loving how it worked.
Could you explain a little bit about the recording of this album?
We went back to For The Record to record and worked with Jim Monroe who helped engineer Rochambeau. But this time, Jim was also mixing the record, which was another difference from Rochambeau. (Rochambeau was mixed by E, the owner of the studio.) Jim and E have different styles and approaches to recording, so it was another way that Rigged was a different experience than Rochambeau. Plus, having already recorded a full-length release at that point made us more experienced and confident in the studio.
The song “Audience”, to me, is one of the best songs ever written. Could you tell us a little bit about the background of this song and the lyrical content?
Wow, thanks for the compliment! It’s basically about a crush I had on a girl who was an actor, and I was too afraid to make a move on her. I had a feeling that she may have felt the same way I did, but I still couldn’t bring myself to act on it. Once she moved on and started dating other guys I realized what an idiot I was for not taking that chance.
I know you recently saw the music video for “Audience”. Your thoughts looking back on it?
I really wish my hair still looked that good. Haha! That was an amazing day. We were playing a free show at a Virgin Megastore in Orange County, and nobody (including us) expected so many people to show up, so they had to move us up to the roof of the parking garage. We did our best to try to film the video in the middle of it all. It was directed by our friend Jim Brown who also shot the Worlds video.
You toured pretty extensively on this record, any great stories you can recall?
Our European tour definitely crosses my mind. That was quite an adventure. There isn’t one particular memory that stands out from this tour, but as a whole it makes a great story. The initial booking agent who we had been working with dropped the ball and we ended up having to find someone to book a six-week tour roughly three weeks before we were supposed to leave. We had to ship all of our equipment over and rent our own van. None of us spoke any foreign languages and I can’t even remember how many times we got lost in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and then there was the altercation with the East German Highway Patrol, a fender bender in Paris where Kevin rear-ended a brand new BMW, and a wipe-out on a snowy Italian road. As a tour it was a financial disaster, but as a trip, it was one of the most incredible adventures of my life.
*Self Titled EP*
Sometime in1996, Farside released a 6 song EP that almost seemed like a bridge release to The Monroe Doctrine. There really isn’t too much known about this release so could you tell us a little about this record?
It wasn’t the favorite release of anyone in the band. We had a few new songs and we figured, “Why not record them?” It didn’t feel like we totally gelled together in the studio for some reason. I think the songs were good, but sometimes things just don’t always come together the way you want them to. According to several people I’ve spoken to, the acoustic songs and the photo of us on the front cover are what saved it from being a total letdown.
*The Monroe Doctrine*
In 1999, Farside released their final album entitled “The Monroe Doctrine” which seemed to be a culmination of everything Farside was about up to that point. The record was mature yet fun and abrasive yet melodic. Sometimes I show people this record and they just don’t get it. Can you explain the approach you all took in making this record?
We entered this one with the mindset that this was going to be our last record, so we wanted to put as much stuff on it as we could. I’ve heard that same “I don’t get it” comment, but it’s never bothered me. In my opinion. it’s our best record and certainly the one I’m most proud of. I think having the attitude that this would be the last time we go into the studio together made it a little easier for us to take some chances and maybe amuse ourselves in the process.
Were you happy with the final product?
Absolutely. It was a long and tenuous process and we went way over budget. Jordan at Revelation is a saint for having his patience tested so much, and Jim Monroe went way above and beyond the call of duty. We thought naming it The Monroe Doctrine would be good way to honor him.
Was the dissolve after this record a mutual break?
Pretty much. There wasn’t too much drama involved with our breakup. We were all getting older and moving in different directions with our lives, and it was just getting more and more difficult to keep the band going, especially since it was never a money-making endeavor. We’re still friends and try to stay in touch.
What is your favorite memory when you look back at this record?
That’s a tough one because there a lot! We were back at For The Record and I brought in my espresso machine during the first weekend lockout. I had everybody completely wired on lattes by the end of the first night. I mostly remember everyone cracking each other up constantly and really enjoying our time together. I think knowing that this was our last record made us feel a little nostalgic and kept things loose. It was a tough project but I had a blast working on it.
You recently collaborated with Jeff Caudill (Gameface) on a project named “Your Favorite Trainwreck”, was this one-off project or do you guys have any future plans?
It’s definitely a band and not a one-off project. We have a four-song digital ep that we recorded last year, and we’re in the middle of recording a full-length release. We also went to the east coast in June to play a few shows which was amazing. It’s the first songwriting I’ve done since Farside broke up in 2001, so it’s been really enjoyable. Also, collaborating with my good friend Jeff is always awesome.
Hah It’s cool. I’m sure people didn’t know.
You also do voice-over work as a job which seems to be pretty successful. How did you go about getting into this?
It’s basically like being an actor. You take some classes, record a demo, get an agent and start auditioning. I’ve been making a living off of it for close to three years now. I do all kinds of stuff like animation, commercials and video games. I really like doing it and I hope the work continues. I basically get paid to goof off in front of a microphone.
Getting deep here, are you happy with the legacy you’ve left on the post-hardcore scene?
Legacy? I never thought of that. I guess I really just wanted to feel satisfied with what I did as a musician. Luckily there isn’t anything I look back on with embarrassment. I’m very proud of what we did as a band, but I think I value all the amazing people we befriended and experiences we had just as much as the music we played.
East Coast or West Coast?
Favorite Farside Song?
Was Zach De La Rocha really in Farside? Can you explain?
Yep. For a little while. He played 2nd guitar and recorded a few songs with us that are on the Scrap collection of demos. He quit when the Inside Out record was released and they started getting busy.
Would Farside ever do a reunion?
Probably never. I really have no interest in that.
Best band out there right now?
Geez, I’m totally out of it in terms of who’s out there. I really like The Damnwells, who never seem to get any attention.
If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
One meal? Is there a sushi/pizza/cheeseburger hybrid on the menu?
Stagedives or Hi-fives?
I’m old, so hi-fives.
If I had to pick just one, I’d go with Star Wars.
Husker Du or The Replacements?
Oooh, tough one, but I think I’ll go with Husker Du. They were a bit more of an influence on me.
Favorite Horror movie?
What’s currently spinning on Popeye’s iPod?
Rough mixes from the Your Favorite Trainwreck album. Also, The Duke Spirit and pretty much anything by Elvis Costello.
What’s you sports Team?
Was it all worth it?
Abso-freaking-lutely!!! I consider myself unbelievable lucky!!
Thanks again Popeye for taking the time to do this, it really means a lot.
– Troy Nicholson