“Failure has an uncanny ability to straddle the line between esoteric sonic artistry and velvet, sweet ear candy”. – Billy Howerdel – A Perfect Circle
“I have always had a bit of a soft spot for the band Failure. In particular was their fine use of layered guitars and chords. Thick and cascading while remaining very musical”. – Bill Gould – Faith No More
When people ask me why I am so hyped to see Failure come back to town I try to explain to them how much of a mark they have made on music. You know, he band that Tool’s Maynard Keenan had play his 50th birthday party, the band that influenced pretty much every alt-rock band, the band’s band. You get the picture. Since their reunion in 2013 the band has been back to Pittsburgh as an opening band at Stage AE, but the opportunity to see these guys in an intimate venue…’fahgettaboudit’. Actually don’t forget about it, but do come to Spirit Hall in Lawrenceville when they come back to the ‘Burg March 23.
Failure recently released the album In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind. The band takes a lot of pride in their live shows, promising fans a visual experience to match the band’s music. This is going to be a special night for fans of fuzzy, guitar-driven music.
Unbound to any generation, scene or movement, Failure build upon an enduring catalog of inventive, inimitable and intriguing albums, as relevant today as they will be tomorrow.
Since forming in 1990, the influential Los Angeles trio – Ken Andrews [vocals, guitar, bass, programming], Greg Edwards [vocals, guitar, bass, keys] and Kellii Scott [drums, percussion] – have inhabited a universe of their own, orbited by seminal albums such as Comfort , Magnified  and Fantastic Planet . The latter received a rare 5-out-of-5 rating from Alternative Press as the group earned the public adoration of everyone from regular tour mates and friends Tool to Depeche Mode who openly praised the band for their cover of “Enjoy The Silence”. Following a 17 year hiatus, 2015’s The Heart Is A Monster re-established the band as a sought-after headliner in addition to attracting the praise of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Entertainment Weekly, to name a few. 2018 saw Failure continue forging ahead, releasing their fifth full-length album: In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind.
“When you’re playing our songs back-to-back from record to record, I feel like the lines really blur,” explains Ken. “To me, it shows the real sound of Failure was never the era we were in – whether it was the nineties or now. The real sound of Failure is the combination of people. We have a lot more experience today. My career started when Failure signed to Slash Records in 1990, and I haven’t had any other job but making music since then. We’ve all kept going as musicians. As a result, we have a wider breadth of things we can do and are capable of. We’re willing to leverage everything.”
“Basically, we still like to give ourselves chills,” adds Greg. “I think we’ve managed to retain an innocence and openness when the three of us are working. We’re not cynical. We don’t rely on formulas, and we’re just as excited as always when something cool comes back through the speakers. That moment is always like being a kid again.”
In keeping with this spirit, the latest body of work represents a significant first for the three-piece. For the first time, they released music in “quadrants” as four EPs throughout 2018, namely In The Future, Your Body Will Be, The Furthest Thing and From Your Mind. The final piece would be consumed within days of its completion.
“The unexpected thing about releasing the record in quadrants and writing as we went was that it actually inspired me to be more cohesive lyrically,” Greg admits. “In the beginning of the process, I mentioned a theme of spiritual decapitation through technology without giving too much thought to remaining faithful to it. I found by the time the final four songs were written and complete, the downtime between writing and recording had allowed me to really flesh out this initial controlling idea from a number of perspectives.”
After writing and recording both Fantastic Planet and The Heart Is A Monster in a rented space as a three-piece, they also adopted an approach similar to that of their second record, Magnified, bringing in drums last. “The working process for this record,” Greg elaborates, “actually shares the most in common with Magnified, where Ken and I spent concentrated periods writing and completing songs from scratch. The difference is that for Magnified we were only recording demos during the writing phase, whereas now our workflow allows the demo stage to seamlessly incorporate into the final mix, which is ideal because we retain all the spontaneity of the basic tracks that were laid down as the songs were being written.”
Ken and Greg wrote and recorded everything in Ken’s studio just outside of Pasadena, while Kellii performed drums as an overdub in a large “live room” in Los Angeles.
“There were a few reasons for the EP idea,” Ken explains. “It was more doable in terms of a pragmatic schedule and an emotional commitment. It also allowed us to get material out a full year before the whole album was done and remind everyone, ‘We’re still alive.’ Plus, we’d never done this before, so why not try it? Also, it was gratifying to feel an instant reaction. I feel like I needed that. Not to mention, I think Fantastic Planet sat on a shelf for almost two years before it came out, so it was good not to wait for once,” he laughs.
Sonically, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind sees Failure evolve. Opener “Dark Speed” unfolds as a static mood piece, restraining itself from ever climaxing into the explosive choruses and thick guitars the band is known for. Rather, it pulls the hanging thread of a larger tapestry loose. On the other spectrum, “Solar Eyes” gallops forward on a punked-out bass line without ever changing chords for two minutes. Disparate syncopation between drums and bass drive “Distorted Fields.” Meanwhile, “What Makes It Easy” and “Another Post Human Dream” highlight Ken’s ethereal delivery over Greg’s lilting acoustic guitars. The moody “Heavy and Blind” amplifies the group’s penchant for dynamics. At just shy of seven minutes, album closer “The Pineal Electorate” doubles as “a sister song to The Heart Is A Monster’s ‘Mulholland Dr.’,” culminating in a final movement that is both utterly hopeless and strangely uplifting.
“To me, the record is a little more personal in terms of talking about relationships and what they mean,” Ken confesses. “We pulled from direct experience more than we have in the past. It wasn’t quite so intellectual. We’re also never going to let you know exactly what’s going on. It’ll always be opaque. Disconnection seems to be one of the themes we still gravitate towards though, even going back to Fantastic Planet. On this record, emotional disconnection is discussed and dealt with. You lose connection within your sphere of friends and acquaintances because of technology. Since social media isn’t getting any smaller, that was our headspace. We’re navigating this personally and as fathers.”
Greg elaborates, “On one level, the album deals with the breakdown of relationships and the cruel, clear view you sometimes get of another person once the dust has settled. Baked into that is the fact that each individual suffers a dislocation from themselves as they have to rationalize or come to terms with how they let someone get so close without seeing them clearly. On a more macro level, the songs deal with our relationship to technology and how we let it invade our space, almost like another person, and how it basically kidnaps our best intentions and turns us into shells of our former selves. At the same time, it creates the illusion that all this ‘screen time’ and frantic searching is somehow vital and necessary. It really sort of mirrors the obsessive cycle of drug addiction, but rather than affecting individuals, it’s infecting a whole planet all at once.”
Failure also continued a tradition dating back to Fantastic Planet, by often separating songs with a “Segue.” In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind picks up the numbering instituted on Fantastic Planet and continued on The Heart Is A Monster. “The numbers were necessary, so we knew which one we were playing if we wanted to do them live,” smiles Ken.
Steeped in the band’s own unique and evolving tradition, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind signals another natural leap for Failure. As with all of their music, it will continue to ring out for a long time to come.
“When you listen to us, I’d like for you to be intrigued,” Ken leaves off. “To really appreciate what we’re doing, I feel like you have to listen to it a few times. You have to really dig in and stay a while to get the reward.”
Tour dates (Phoenix is Failure solo, all other dates include Swervedriver):
March 11 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
March 13 Dallas, TX House of Blues
March 14 Houston, TX Warehouse Live
March 16 New Orleans, LA Republic
March 17 Nashville, TN Basement East
March 19 Orlando, FL Plaza Live
March 20 Atlanta, GA Masquerade
March 21 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre
March 23 Pittsburgh, PA Spirit Hall
March 24 Philadelphia, PA TLA
March 25 Virginia Beach, VA Elevation 27
March 27 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
March 28 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
March 29 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
April 1 Toronto, ON PHX
April 2 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
April 3 Detroit, MI Majestic
April 5 Chicago, IL House of Blues
April 7 Milwaukee, WI The Rave II
April 9 Minneapolis, MN Varsity
April 11 Lincoln, NE Bourbon
April 12 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall
April 14 Denver, CO Oriental
April 15 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
April 17 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
April 19 Seattle, WA El Corazon
April 22 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
April 23 San Francisco, CA Fillmore
April 24 Los Angeles, CA The Fonda