Don’t let the Distillers and Hole comparisons confuse you — Fiction Reform’s front woman Brenna Red’s raspy punk rock singing and the band’s super-fast street punk are sure to contribute to this So Cal band’s rise to national favorites. Brenna was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the band and the new album, as well as the band’s future plans.
How long have you guys officially been a band?
I want to say we’ve been a band “officially” since our first show in November of 2009. For me, that’s what marked us as being a family. There’s a certain trust you get from others when you create music together [in a live setting]. Studio time is fun and a remarkable process that I thoroughly enjoy, but it doesn’t compare to the time we spend onstage. Live in concert, you wear your heart and life on your sleeve. Thank God I have three of my closest friends beside me doing the same thing, sharing the same anxiety and exhilaration.
And so who’s been in bands with Chuck [Dietrich, owner of Basement Records] before?
Danny recorded drums for the Bullet Treatment album, What More Do You Want, and has worked with a few other bands that have been under the Basement Records’ umbrella in the past.
And let me get this straight — Chuck brought you guys together to record an album before you had played any shows?
Correct…kind of. In my opinion, it was more Danny and Aaron seeking out musicians, while Chuck pushed them to create a better project — something that he knew he could really get behind.
The two contacted D. Powell to work on songs for this new project’s record. This band would have broken out several months prior, but it was without a singer. After an exhaustive search, Aaron remembered me from a previous all-girl band. I was the drummer, but had also started playing guitar and singing at the time. He called me up and I thought, Sure why not, this might be a fun little project. I honestly thought this would just be another great local band with underground fans. But due to the support we’ve received from Chuck, our friends, our recent fans, local mags, internet radio stations, etc…we’ve exploded onto the scene in a way I didn’t expect.
We’ve all been in bands that, regardless of talent or creativity, never broke that ceiling of mediocrity. But Fiction Reform has such a huge platform to jump off of and I expect that this is the band that will actually make it. This is what we’ve been waiting for and preparing for our whole musical lives.
Did you anticipate the huge buzz created by sharing a few of your songs online before the album was ready to be pressed?
No and yes. No, seeing as that we’ve all done this before and didn’t create a buzz of this size with previous bands. Yes, because no matter what band you’re in, you have to be behind it full force or else you’ll be destined to fail.
I assume the reason why these songs were so easily absorbed by the punk community is because the scene is lacking in great music. Not only the songs themselves, but the bands and the people that create today’s music are short on credibility and soul. Everyone always says, “The fans don’t come out to the shows like they used to.” Well, it’s not the economy. It’s not due to MP3s and poor record sales. It’s not even because of the introduction of the internet and Myspace. The deficit of enthusiasm is due to the fact that there’s a wave of run-of-the-mill bands that plague the local (and even touring) scene. So instead of bitching about the issue, we’ve decided to step up our game. Create something that everyone can get behind. Something that will give back the passion to the audience. Our shows won’t be just an lame excuse to go out of the house — it’ll be the reason why you’ll save your allowance for the upcoming weekend; a night that you’ll get excited about in the coming week.
In only several months, we’re packing local venues; getting shoutouts in national magazines. The Fiction Reform name is known by some big names in radio and TV. We’re aiming high, and so far it looks like we’re on the right track.
How do you feel the debut album came out as a finished product?
The final product is exactly what we wanted it to be. The tones of each instrument are perfect. They have a professional refinement to them while still feeling raw and powerful. I have a strong notion that this album will be well-received by many different subcultures. Hey, even our folks love this record. It has an underlying message and impression of that youthful discontent — though the songs on this record are far from adolescent. We’ve all been musicians for years and have cultivated our talents to the point where we are able to play with such a fire, but capable to contain it in a satisfying manner.
Do you think it was Myspace music or your Punknews.org full album stream that piqued people’s interest?
It wasn’t one single thing that sparked an interest with our fans. It’s an accumulation of our own promotion, contacts, and hard work. Myspace and Punknews.org are only vessels that carry our music to the public. If we didn’t do a damn thing and sat on our thumbs, Myspace and other internet sites would be useless to us. A band cannot expect to have their names splattered across the front page of the Times and expect a whirlwind of buzz. It takes hard work to not only get that kind of promotion, but it takes ever harder work to keep that advertisement relevant and interesting. The epidemic of apathy in the scene can only be counteracted by tenacity and a backbreaking work style. We don’t have unrealistic ideas of the internet being able taking us to a new level. That’s just not gonna happen. We know that the only way to keep moving up is to hit the ground running. When we’re not recording, we want to be touring. When we’re not touring, we want to be creating new music and art. When we’re not creating, we want to be promoting and earning money for the next album. Literally, we never want to stop moving.
So far all you have out right now is the PROTECT 2 compilation and the debut CD?
We’ve also got a video out for the first single, “Small Silhouette,” which can be seen on our YouTube and Myspace pages — and hopefully we’ll have a few more out soon.
Honestly, do you guys even know how ESPN or even the satellite radio show heard your song to even ask the label if they could play it?
We like to think the wizard behind the curtain at Basement Records pulled the right levers and magically we ended up in rotation. Luckily, once one outlet picks up your song it seems to start a snowball effect.
Would it bug the hell out of you or excite you if someone said, “Wow, those vocals sound just like the Distillers!”
I wouldn’t care one way or the other. The intent behind the statement, though, that would bother me. If someone told us that we sounded like the Distillers (or Hole or the Blackhearts) and they thought that those bands are shit, yeah, then I’d get offended. But coming from someone who loves and admire those bands, I would take it as a huge compliment. I don’t mind even if someone would compare us to their favorite band Creed, just so long as they have the same affection for us.
It’s bound to happen though. Most of the general music population knows only a few talented female musicians. I’ve even gotten a No Doubt comparison before. How in the world that connection was made, I’ll never know. With the more we move forward and spread the Fiction Reform name, the more people will compare other bands to us. That’s a goal we look forward to achieving. Adding one more female fronted band to the roster of pop culture would be incredible. Now, if someone would come up to me after a show and tell me that I reminded them of a female Rod Stuart, hell, I’d buy them a drink!
What are your future plans in terms of writing new music, touring, releasing new records, etc.?
As stated before, when we’re not working on one thing, it’s always another. We don’t stop. Right now our immediate plans are to promote the hell out out Revelation In The Palms Of The Weak. We are in the midst of working plans for West Coast tour that will last several weeks. Of course, we’ll hit the main cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and so on. But there are a lot of smaller towns that we want to get to. Aaron is from the Midwest, so he knows how frustrating it is to see a band’s tour roster and have them pass right over your town. Those are the cities where people still do make an effort to see live concerts and have a blast with the touring musicians.
For me, I want to go back to Chico, where there’s an awesome creek that’s great for ninja fishing. Also, Tacoma, Washington. There’s a amazing bar and all ages venue called Hell’s Kitchen where everyone was uncommonly friendly and there were pinball machines scattered everywhere, like fliers in the parking lot after Warped Tour.