Interview: Brenna Red of Fiction Reform
They’ve only been around for a couple years, but Southern California’s Fiction Reform continue tour, write, and win new fans of their up-tempo style of punk rock. At the helm is charismatic front woman Brenna Red, who draws comparisons to punk icons from Joan Jett to Brody Dalle. Following their successful 2010 debut, Revelation in the Palms of the Weak, the band is releasing their sophomore album on Basement Records, Take Your Truth, on November 13, 2012. Brenna took a little time to tell us a little bit about the record, touring, and the SoCal scene.
On your first album, you sometimes screamed so harshly that it sounded like you were going to wreck your vocal cords. The new album still has you screaming, but it sounds a bit scaled back. Was this a conscious choice to tone it down a notch?
A bit from column A and a bit from column B. These songs progressed naturally as I grew. I have more of an affinity for music that is a bit more reserved while still attached to my wild roots. I think it definitely has showed throughout the years, especially in my voice.
Have you ever lost your voice touring?
There was one tour where my voice was completely shot. It was the last show in San Francisco, and I couldn’t even speak. My band had the van when I decided I needed to see a doctor — so I walked several miles through Mission to the closest office. He pumped me full of Prednisone and other anti-inflammatories. No more than 10 minutes later my voice was better than normal and I rocked the last show. Unfortunately, the following week I couldn’t talk because I destroyed my cords so bad.
Your EPK describes the new album as being “more mature.” I interpret this as being more complex musically, particularly in the guitar work. Is this a result of being together as a band for a longer time?
We’ve developed so much together over the last year, and it’s much easier for us to write as one now. We pick up on each other’s intricacies, and we’re more instinctual with how we write as a group. The results are songs that have more flavor than the last album. We’ve put more of our personalities out there due to the fact that we trust each other a whole lot more.
Fiction Reform’s debut, Revelation In The Palms Of The Weak, was recorded before you had played any live shows. Has playing live and touring changed the overall sound of the band or aspects of the songwriting?
Yes, we’ve learned what not to do and what to repeat. From recording the last album vs. touring and playing live, we’ve developed a better perspective on how to write studio-worthy songs while keeping it catchy, unpredictable, and energetic.
Your band manages to sound very “Californian” despite not sounding like a lot of the overtly chill music associated with your state on a national scale. How is your relationship with your home state and the local sounds? Is the punk scene in Southern California still alive and well?
It is very much alive, but well it ain’t. It’s regressed so far back that it’s even more underground. If you want to see a real kick ass punk show, it’s all by word of mouth. Because the lines of communication are so diluted with Facebook invites, weekly social calender updates from no-name bars, and internet-based fans who haven’t even been to any show in their life, the true grind and grit of music has become a lost art form. The only way to truly see a good show is word of mouth. Kinda like it used to be for the pre-Google generation. It sucks, but at the same time I believe it’ll weed out the mundane over the next several years.
When you last spoke to Verbicide, you mentioned plans to tour extensively, and your lead guitarist Aaron Chabak’s desire to play in his home territory of the Midwest. Did you get to tour the region, and if so, did you get a decent audience out there?
We haven’t headed out as far as the Midwest. Those plans are definitely still on the table for us. We have done the north-south tour and have reached as far as Seattle. Plus, we’ve touched base in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada on more than one occasion. We haven’t been invited on any major tours since the release of the last album, so we’ve been “grassrooting” it instead. It’s worked out in our favor though.
If we were a small fish in the big label pond, we’d be swept under the rug. But by doing it ourselves, we’ve been able to push hard and see results. We’ve met so many new friends and fans, and that’s exactly what we plan to keep doing.