Chris Farren, Sharp/Shock
1011 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 16 and over
Watch & Listen
The story of Against Me! began in Naples, FL back in 1997. Tom Gabel, who was playing in a local grind-core band at the time, started playing under the name as a solo project with no intentions of doing anything beyond making a demo tape, and overcoming stage fright by playing a show by himself. Shortly after these goals were realized, he started collaborating with his friend Kevin Mahon (now of the band forgetters), who accompanied him on a make-shift drum set built out of scavenged (dumpster) pickle buckets and whatever real drum parts they could round up. The two then recorded another 10 song demo tape entitled Vivida Vis on a four track tape recorder in Tom's bedroom at his mother's house. They self-released the album by dubbing copies on boom boxes and stealing photo copies for the covers and lyric booklet. Tom and Kevin moved to Gainesville in 1999 and released their first self-recorded, self-titled 5 song 12" EP on the Baltimore label Crasshole Records in 2000. This was followed by their first 7" EP, recorded by Rob Mcgregor at Goldentone studios, entitled Crime As Forgiven By… and released by Sabot Productions in 2001. Shortly after, they were joined by James Bowman on guitar, followed by Dustin Fridkin on bass. After the last show of their first full fledged tour as a 4-piece band, while driving south on I-75 from Bloomington, IN back to Gainesville, FL their van was struck by a semi truck. They rolled multiple times and landed upside down in a ditch, and while all of their equipment and van were destroyed, everyone walked away from the accident relatively unscathed. It was at this point Kevin Mahon left the band to pursue an interest in train hopping. After briefly considering quitting altogether, Tom and Dustin continued under the name as a 2-piece releasing another 7" EP on Sabot Productions, fan-titled The Acoustic EP. Unsatisfied with playing music as an acoustic duo, Tom and Dustin began playing music with Warren Oakes on drums and were rejoined by James Bowman on guitar.
In 2002, the four-piece released the landmark full length album Reinventing Axl Rose on Gainesville, Florida's No Idea Records, recorded by Rob Mcgregor at Goldentone Studios; an album that has gone on to become No Idea Records' top selling album. Shortly after the album's release, Dustin Fridkin left the band to return to college. Faced again with an uncertain future, the band considered breaking up. By chance, Tom received a drunken email from his friend Andrew, who at the time played in the Murfreesboro, TN band Kill Devil Hills. Andrew jokingly said that Against Me! should kick their bass player out and let him join the band. Tom called his bluff and shortly after, Andrew moved to Gainesville, FL. Together, Tom, James, Warren, and Andrew released 3 full length albums, 1 live album, 1 DVD and multiple EPs. As The Eternal Cowboy, released in 2003 by Fat Wreck Chords, saw Against Me! with Rob Mcgregor as producer but this time making a 100% analog recording in Memphis, TN at the famous Ardent Studios (The Replacements, R.E.M., Afghan Whigs, Led Zeppelin, Big Star). Against Me! toured relentlessly in support of the album. In 2005, Against Me! headed to Baltimore, MD to record with producer J. Robbins (Government Issue, Jawbox, Burning Airlines); the album, Searching For A Former Clarity (Fat Wreck Chords), was met with much mainstream critical praise and landed AM! a record deal with the label Sire Records. The bands major label debut New Wave, recorded in 2006 and released in 2007, was produced by Butch Vig (Garbage, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day) and mixed by Rich Costey (Mars Volta, My Chemical Romance, Franz Ferdinand). The album was a media breakthrough and among many other accolades was named Spin Magazine's album of the year. Against Me! hit the road to support New Wave and again, the road ended with a crash. Early in the morning hours, on an icy interstate, while driving overnight from Denver to Salt Lake City, the band's tour bus hit a patch of ice, skidded out of control and landed on its side in a ditch off the interstate. Luckily, everyone walked away unscathed. The moment was a breaking point for the band in many respects as shortly after finishing the remaining few weeks of touring in support of New Wave, Warren Oakes left the band to open a Mexican restaurant in Gainesville, FL.
Their newest album, 2010's White Crosses, was once again produced by Butch Vig, but this time featured Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, NIN) doing the mix, and George Rebelo (Hot Water Music) playing drums. They also began touring with pianist Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society). 2011 will see the band continue to tour in support of White Crosses with drummer Jay Weinberg (Madball, The E Street Band), while working on material for their next album.
Since 1997 Against Me! has played over 2,000 shows worldwide, not only having played in every state in the U.S., but traveling world-wide to Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. They have toured with a wide range of bands including The Foo Fighters, Green Day, The Pogues, Jimmy Eat World, NOFX, Lucero, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Mastodon, Matt & Kim, Cursive, Rise Against, The Bouncing Souls, Hot Water Music, Billy Talent, Silversun Pickups, Alkaline Trio, The Blood Brothers, Social Distortion, Japanther, The Grabass Charlestons, and Sage Francis. In addition, they have made multiple appearances at festivals such as Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, The Warped Tour, Reading & Leeds, Pukkelpop and many more.
Can't Die is a clever blend of pop and gloom, the sort of record that will keep you dancing even when the lyrics cut deep. Farren, who cites Coconut Records, Belle & Sebastian, and Magnetic Fields as his influences while recording, has crafted a record that has a true indie-pop sensibility and remains musically upbeat throughout.
Yet there is an undeniable sadness to certain tracks as well as a heavy focus on death and mortality, like on "Until I Can See The Light," which was partly inspired by the death of Parks and Recreation writer Harris Wittels amongst other friends that have passed recently. It's about "how weird it is that they're gone," explains Farren. "You don't get to talk to them anymore."
Chris Farren is one of those names that is always on the tip of your tongue. Though he's played in popular bands Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci — and he's become well-known for his inventive merch, including his take on the classic The Smiths shirt — Farren is still working on breaking out in the large world of singer-songwriters. After experimenting and honing his solo work on a few memorable EPs and a Christmas album called Like A Gift From God or Whatever, Farren is ready to become known for his own unique approach, on his own terms.
At the end of the day, Can't Die is a record that is wholly reflective of Chris Farren's new sound. It's not Fake Problems or Antarctigo Vespucci but instead it's a sound that is entirely his: resonating indie-pop that captures all of the weird little anxieties of being in your twenties and realizing that you can't control everything around you. Can't Die adds some lightness to that, resulting in a record that makes listeners happy while also recognizing that it's OK to be sad sometimes, too.
Have you ever heard the inarguable sound of what materializes when you let fate direct the future? What if that sound was influenced by twenty years of British and American punk cultures colliding? For the members of Sharp Shock, growing up with the bands that defined music with an honesty and passion that can be rarely found in modern times, cleared a very obvious path for what they wanted to do with their own lives. Sometimes in music, the storybook tale of determination, sacrifice and despair can be thrown around hastily. To some, those three things describe a reality that very few can truly understand, and for the members of Sharp Shock, they are only a few attributes that make up their unique story.
Having all played in bands from a young age, the work ethic it takes to move your life around the world just isn’t something that most people possess. Playing in garages to arenas and back again, sleeping on floors and in vans for the better part of the last fifteen years, they found their way to Southern California and were pushed only by that dream so many end up letting slip away.
Singer/Guitarist Davey Warsop (Beat Union, Suedehead) and bass player/vocals Dan Smith (The Dear & Departed) are UK exports. Smith by way of New Zealand and also widely known for his achievement in the tattoo world, they both moved to California in the early 2000’s without knowing each other. Korey Kingston (The Aggrolites/Suedehead), a San Diegan drummer raised on a healthy diet of Reggae, Ska and a West Coast view on that same upbringing, would end up completing this trio perfectly. Despite their different geographical beginnings, they quickly realized they were all very much from the same place. “The timing couldn’t have been better” says Smith. “As the story goes, both myself and Korey reached out to Davey by way of text message, coincidentally within a minute of each other, suggesting we start something. We hadn't even met, so i think Davey saw that as some kind of synchronicity, perhaps too much of a coincidence for him to ignore. Then before we knew it, we were already in the studio recording”.
It was only a matter of time before the hiatus they were all experiencing and this coincidence would essentially bring them together. Musically, it is exactly what you might expect kids schooled early on The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers would sound like. Then, submerse that in the sun drenched beach cities of Southern Californian surf,skate and punk culture and the sounds of The Descendents or early Green Day and you will find Sharp Shock. The way the band formed can only be described as organic and after some time away from playing and being rather disheartened with the machine of the music industry and not knowing where they fit in, they all agreed to take much more of a DIY approach this time. Warsop, having produced and engineered countless records over the years at Hurley studios shortly after moving to the US, was a key piece in the productivity of self producing the debut album. “We tracked the majority of this record live, to keep the performances honest and fun. Like our name suggests, we’re trying to keep everything about this band direct and to the point. From the songwriting being short and snappy, to us being a trio…we don’t want to overcomplicate anything.” says Warsop. Sharp Shock had their first record under their belt within a very short amount of time and it would be no surprise if a second wasn’t too far away. “This feels like it did when i was covering my favorite bands in my garage as a kid. We are doing only what we know…and doing it from the heart” say Smith.
Unlearn Everything will be released via Heart & Skull Records this summer.