Happy belated 4th of July to our American readers! The promised interview with Philadelpia’s finest duo John & Brittany is finally here! Edited, permission granted and we are pleased to present you with what, we consider, is our best interview so far! It is always a pleasure to speak to J & B – amazing artists and incredible humble and sessitive individuals with great sense of humor. Without further delay: here it is!
John Faye and Brittany Rotondo: Confession before the sin
The newest addition to the exclusive “Sinners and Saints” club, Philadelphian duo John & Brittany are about to start sinning. To gather funds for recording of their next masterpiece, the pair lured the fans and followers to KICKSTARTER and offered a sinful collection of goodies that would make the Archangels fall. Between the recording session and the ongoing campaign, John and Brittany agreed to talk to us. Confessions are not usually fun but the devilish two had a HELL of a good time! Are you able to resist the temptation?
Vanadian Avenue: Before we start. Introduce yourself and Brittany to the world. How did you two met and how long have you been playing together?
John Faye: Brittany and I met in late 2008; our first encounter was very brief, actually at Dobbs where we now spend a lot of our time. She wanted to get tickets to a show I was doing with IKE on the day after Christmas and I was trying to shake her down for the cash but she informed be she had “spent all her money on weed” ha, ha! She actually showed up to the IKE show anyway and it was that night that we really officially met. We hung out after the show and into the next day. I knew right away we were going to be close because our conversation had no bullshit small talk. We just launched right into topics that were immediately interesting and illuminating. That’s the short version of the story. We’ll tell you the long version sometime if you get us hammered!
Root of All Evil: Every conquest comes with a master plan. What will please you if this album comes out? Vegas residency, partying at the White House, national tour or taking over the world?
John Faye: We really want to do this record right. We have a lot of ambition for it because we really believe in the music and feel that it will strike a chord with people. So, we are being very deliberate and patient with each step of the process instead of rushing to get something out there. That said, I think for both of us, the artistic satisfaction of making something really great would be what would make us happy. It is always great when people like what you do but you have to please yourself as an artist first. Outside validation does not determine inner validation for us…
Brittany Rotondo: Except I’d ditch the Faye and go for the gold. Haha! No, really. El Gato understands.
The Original Sin: Writing a follow up to a well received EP can be tricky even for a well established artist. If you were to mention five things that would distinguish “Start Sinning” from your self–titled release, what would they be?
John Faye: In my opinion here are the five distinguishing factors:
First, the songs are rooted in a more consistent and fitting set of influences. There’s a thread running through the material that is reminiscent of the mid/late 70’s punk and new wave scene, especially inNew York. In the time since we recorded the debut EP, our writing has drawn more from thatmcore sound. Artists like Patti Smith, Ramones, Television, to name a few.
Brittany Rotondo: It is now much more lyrically enlightened.
John Faye: Indeed, the second factor would be Brittany’s growth as a musician and writer. Her lyrical and musical ideas have a lot more depth and confidence.
Brittany Rotondo: We have found new sense of guitar AND vocal harmonies.
John Faye: Yes and that’s our third factor: my improved ability to inhabit the songs as a singer. I’m trying a lot of vocal sounds and styles that were previously uncharted territory for me. I love “not sounding like myself” on many of these songs!
Brittany Rotondo: We’ve grown as a whole, as an entity. Whether it’s our duo, trio or full band.
John Faye: Our growth as collaborators, even though our writing process can be rather contentious at times, I think there’s a lot more mutual trust there now – call it the fourth factor in our music. Maybe because we have a couple years of writing now under our belts and we know a little better what the other is going for.
Brittany Rotondo: We are completely experimental.
John Faye: Lastly, our growth as friends. We were close from the get-go but I think our friendship really turned a corner this year. My mother passed away recently and Brittany was really there for me in a huge way and I think we’ve been really good at turning something painful into something positive, and I truly feel that whole vibe is going to just out at audiences through this record.
Lust: John, we cannot avoid asking you about your label, It Keeps Evolving. Overseeing your business is one thing but helping other artists is another. Are you a Good Samaritan or a control freak?
John Faye: Haha, I guess a little of both! Well, my label IT KEEPS EVOLVING started out as platform to put all the projects IKE was involved with under one “collective” so to speak. Our core group of 7 musicians comprise four completely different acts (IKE, J&B, Brett Talley Band, and Susie Steen), and even though we may go through some ups and downs personally, I think we all realize how much we all mean to each other and want to support each other as musicians and friends. The label is going to expand at some point but my focus for now is getting “Start Sinning” made.
Brittany Rotondo: I’ll answer for him. TOTAL control freak! A lovable, enduring control freak (I kid!). He’s very patient, unlike his counterpart!
Wrath: Being in a band is hardly a rose garden. How do you solve internal disputes?
John Faye: The official J& B handbook states that Internal disputes are usually to be settled with 2-3 days of the silent treatment, which can go in either direction, followed by 30-45 seconds of “Sorry I was a jerk.”
Brittany Rotondo: Hardly! I believe our fusion of friendship and music is absolutely potent. That’s why it works so well. Yin and yang.
Pride: Let’s play favorites. What is your best new song?
John Faye: That’s tough. I have to say I’m really feeling our new song “Woe” – the lyrics, which are Brittany’s, have really hit home with me while confronting my mom’s passing. It’s going to be a powerful song on the record.
Brittany Rotondo: “Paper Planes” is my favourite. It just has a timeless appeal to it.
Sloth: You have put yourself in a tough period. 30 days to raise the funds, then recording, mixing, producing and promotion of the album. Then, in-between, you have your private lives. Few hours of sleep seems like a luxury. Do you have any recipe on how to remain sane and creative in this industry?
John Faye: Yeah, what the hell have we done?! Well, personally, I like a busy life. It’s just how I roll. Have a full day, play music at night, get about 5 hours of sleep if I’m lucky and do it again the next day. I’m sure I’ll just keel over eventually. My private life consists of raising my two kids. Other than that it’s pretty much music and that’s it. I do like to cook though.
Brittany Rotondo: For me it’s cigarettes and water. And good ol’ healthy laughter.
Envy: Kick Starter campaign mentions hand made artworks byBrittany. We want to know how many talents you both hide away from the world.
John Faye: A lot of people don’t know this about Britt, but she can crush anyone at Hoop Jones. She’s also pretty much the most charming 1-on-1 conversationalist I’ve ever met. It really comes in handy when she’s promoting the band or wants a shot of Jack Daniels. As for me, I wouldn’t call it a “talent” per se, but I do enjoy other outlets for creativity, like doing my own little comedy sketch recordings and I also have an interest in voice-over work, which I have done a fair amount of.
Gluttony: Home-baked dinner is one of the most original ideas we have seen in a long way. And it is band made as well. Can you share your cooking secrets and tell us what will be on the menu?
John Faye: We are actually not bad at all in the kitchen; we both kind of got into cooking a lot more this past year, totally independently of each other. I think the secret to good cooking is tons of garlic and butter but that’s just me. For the donors who opt for the “Gluttony” option on Kickstarter, we are going to discuss the menu options with them individually but I feel confident we can whip something up they’re going to like.
Brittany Rotondo: Brownies and pasta salad. That’s all. No, no. We’d suit the homeowner’s liking.
Holy House Concert: House gigs became quite a standard these days. Is there anything a fan eyeing this pledge should expect or take into considerations? We believe many people would be interested in this option but hosting a band in one’s living room seems epic. Do you guys come in with amps and roadies?
John Faye: I’ve actually done well over 100 house concerts in my career; they are one of my favourite ways to perform. If done right, it’s a special event people will remember for life. We always approach house concerts like VH-1 Storytellers. It’s an acoustic-based performance but still has its own very potent energy level. J&B did a very cool house show recently in Atlanta with Matthew Sweet; that was pretty amazing!
Brittany Rotondo: Yes. Yes. YES! Clean towels! We’ve had some pretty peculiar experiences on the road; you’d be surprised!
The Hail Mary: You are nearly forgiven. If you have anything else to announce to the fans taking part in the Kick Starter campaign, here is your chance.
John Faye: We just want to say thank you to everyone who has donated or plans to donate. We want people to know that we appreciate every pledge, however large or small. It all counts. We also want to make sure people are aware of our deadline to meet our goal. We need to reach $10,000 by 11:59pm on Monday July 9th. Kickstarter works on an ALL-OR-NOTHING concept so we don’t get a penny unless we reach the goal. It’s a challenge but it’s one we think we can handle with your help! Thanks again!
Brittany Rotondo: Most definitely! Even if you can’t donate to our Kickstarter page, please spread the word! The more folks in the know, the better!
Vanadian Avenue: Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to talk to both of you!
John and Brittany: Thanks guys!
PDF version of this interview can be found here:
Issu version can be found here:
Rita and Mal would like to thank John and Brittany for their dedication. They were in the middle of a recording session and the campaign was in full bloom as well – and they still found the time to speak to us! As true professionals, they answered all questions we threw at them just perfectly and they haven’t complained once! We are proud to announce, that yesterday the band have reached their goal and collected exactly $11,391 from 153 donors! If you’d like to back up the duo, please hurry as there are only 4 days to go. The project will be closed on Monday Jul 9, at 11:59pm EDT.
Kick starter campaign can be found here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/startsinning/john-and-brittany-start-sinning-the-new-record
We promise to keep our eyes open wide and immediately report when John & Brittany commit any more sins.
For now, have fun and please spread the word. We need more good sinners, they make the world a much better place!
After all, you go to Hell for the company, right? 😀
Rita and Mal