Failure (and the art of going down the rabbit hole)

Failure & Farley
Failure & Farley

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been engrossed my music. The way it makes someone feel. The memories attached to certain songs or albums. The belief that someone else understands you. The ability to lose oneself in a story.

As a child born in the early 80’s (81 to be exact), much of my formative years were spent during the “grunge & alternative” era of Rock. I spent endless hours (and dollars for that matter) exploring the releases of that time including The Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, etc. None of these, at that time, however held my attention quite the way that Failure did. There was something different about their music. In an era of the quiet-loud-quiet formula; Failure was doing something completely different sonically. Instead of songs about angst and being young, they gave me a feeling of exploration. Don’t get me wrong, there were songs about struggling with drugs and depression and other complicated feelings; but this wasn’t an angry at the world “look at me and how tough life is” type of songwriting.

At a time you could easily pick out what other bands were listening to and how it influenced their music, Failure released Fantastic Planet – an album largely influenced by film and fantasy. This was such a refreshing thing for me and I spent years of my high school career subjecting anyone else in the dark room to Failure repeatedly and without end. This was my first favorite band. They were also the first concert I ever saw (I’ve seen over 1000 bands since).

Shortly after my first concert experience, however, Failure broke up. I purchased VHS tapes of their shows and anything else I could to be able to extend my ability to appreciate and dig into the art they created. This was the first band that led me down the rabbit hole. I scoured the internet and found any band that Failure had members in or produced.

After years of being defunct, Fantastic Planet went on to develop an almost cult like following of new listeners and a new generation that uncovered them for the first time. FP has gone on to be listed as one of the most influential and important albums of the 90’s…. and then 2013 happened and Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, and Kellii Scott reunited and found a new found excitement to work together as Failure once again. My friend Jeremy bought me a ticket immediately to see them on tour in Brooklyn and I had an opportunity to relive the songs that largely shaped my appreciation for music. It was a spectacular show, but you could tell they were still finding their footing after years apart.

In May of this year they released their first new material since Fantastic Planet in “The Heart Is  A Monster”. It’s fantastic and you should pick it up right away! I recently had the opportunity to catch them on this tour in Syracuse, NY. My takeaway – this is once again a band that is doing something different than anyone else in rock. The slow build, the storytelling, the way Kellii just beats the heck out of his drums, the storytelling that Ken Andrews & Greg Edwards create together and the almost visible landscape created by their sound together – it brought me back to why they were my first favorite band.

Failure - Syracuse NY show

I fly out tonight to visit friends in Brooklyn once again, and am beyond excited to see Failure again tomorrow with two other incredible bands (Nothing & Hum). Why do I share this with you in my first post on TIAWTL? To encourage you to find your first Rabbit Hole moment. Share your passions with others. Pursue the dreams that are important to you. The things that you hold dear largely shape your life far into the future. For this I am thankful Failure shared their music with me. I encourage you to check them out, dig in, and see if it speaks to you in the same way it did to me. Or share with me – what was the band that first sent you down the rabbit hole?

If you dig Failure like I do, check out the following additional projects by the members of the band:

Ken Andrews – Failure, Replicants, ON, Year of the Rabbit (and a gazillion more as a member, producer, or mixer)

Greg Edwards – Failure, Autolux, Lusk, Replicants

Kellii Scott – Blinker the Star

Troy Van Leeuwen (touring member during Fantastic Planet) – Queens of the Stone Age, A Perfect Circle

They have gone on to inspire many of your favorite artists today. Thanks for inspiring me.

Below is a playlist of their set list from the Syracuse show on 7/17/15:

spotify:user:jamesfarley81:playlist:3zBuM8PmCdA1ca9LhOzzfb

  • James Farley aka Financial Farley. You can also find me at financialfarley.wordpress.com (I promise to start writing more often)
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