Farewell Flight: Confessions from the Road

Although they are based out of Harrisburg, PA, Farewell Flight pretty much call the wide open road their home.  They’ve toured from coast to coast in their vegetable oil powered van several times over, making new fans and racking up grand and twisted memories along the way.  Their latest effort is entitled Out For Blood, now available from Mono vs. Stereo Records.  Let’s say hello to the membership of Farewell Flight and they discuss their rockin’ new album, unique veggie fueled van, live shows, and other lingering confessions from the road…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Farewell Flight, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Robbe Reddinger, I play the bassist in the band, and we have been together for nearly six years. Luke Foley plays lead singer/guitar/piano, Brian “Rabbit” Campbell plays background singer/ lead guitar, and Marc Prokopchak plays the drummer.

Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there?
RR: The band is based out of Harrisburg, PA, although only one of us live there. But it’s where we formed and existed for the first few years of our career. The music scene is like this – we played a show at a sports bar the other night, and a guy wearing something like an Ed Hardy shirt and sporting a soul patch asked us, “So are you guys gonna play any Hinder?” in kind of a southern accent, even though we live in the north. There may have been a tribal tattoo involved as well.

How did you meet Relient K and wind up being sign to Mono vs Stereo Records?
RR: We’re friends with Brad Moist who helps run Gotee records and he got our album into Matt Thiessen’s hand who eventually came to love our music and asked us to sign to Mono.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Out For Blood?
RR: We wanted to call it “F Squared Presents Greatest Hits Part 3,” but I was really into True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Bon Iver’sBlood Bank” EP, and (obviously) Twilight at the time and convinced Luke to first write a lyric about blood, and then tricked him into naming the album after that by winning a dice bet in the parking lot of a KMart in Alabama (the dice were loaded). Or it just sounds cool.

Where do you get the ideas for some of your lyrics. Select a few songs in particular from the new album and what inspired the lyrics.
Luke Foley: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” sums up a lot of my songwriting. Specifically, a relationship with this one girl and the lack of one with my father are some recurring themes on the Out For Blood record. Certain books and movies also have an impact on my writing.

The title track Out For Blood was based on very real experiences and thoughts. It was written at a time when I was living more self-destructively than usual, drowning in personal vices, making poor decisions, and spending a lot of time by myself. So a lot of the lyrics theme around simply getting myself out of the house, spending time with friends, and changing what I allowed to be my motivations. I really like how despite coming from a dark personal place of hitting bottom, it represents a turning around point, so feels fun, upbeat, and kinda positive. I also enjoyed putting in the “Ooo-la-la’s” on the chorus, which I think plays on the idea of bad habits and vices…not sure if anybody remembers the name of the magazine Biff was carrying when he got busted by Principal Strickland right before the “Enchanted Under the Sea Dance” in Back To The Future II.

Rope was a song that I wrote while working at a roadside fireworks tent with Robbe two summers ago. Within a few days, I heard about several close friends getting engaged/married/pregnant etc. I sorta realized that almost all of my friends were buying homes and making families, and I was scrounging at multiple minimum wage jobs and living with my mom so I could pursue a music career: “I am grasping at the end of my rope, and I’m terrified of squandering my youth.” That metaphor of my career as a rope has a twist on the second chorus: g”I am choking on the end of this rope, and the choice that I reret the most is you.” That “choice” represented feeling like I had chosen my career over marrying the aforementioned girl (and perhaps quite unnecessarily, as I realized that those two commitments aren’t mutually exclusive). Rope was a song that wrote itself, and interestingly enough, only in my head…I had nearly the whole thing written before I had access to a guitar, so playing it the first time felt similar to learning how to play a song I’d only heard on the radio. Lyrically, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written, and I love how brutally honest it is. I don’t know if it’s a fan favorite, but I’m very proud of it.

How does this new release compare to your previous Sound.Color.Motion effort?
RR: It’s like an identical twin. Everything is almost exactly the same, except for eye color and a birthmark, those being the two additional songs on the album (Rope and Out for Blood) and different artwork. But if you buy a Bose stereo, all the songs will sound even better than before.

Your Wikipedia entry states your tour van runs on vegetable oil. How did that wind up happening and do fans bring you vegetable oil on the road? Is this an easy conversion to make?
RR: Wow, if a fan brought veggie oil to us at a show, that would be pretty much amazing. We get it from restaurants, but always get their permission before taking it. The west coast is extremely difficult because it’s more popular out there and all the grease dumpsters are on lockdown. We got the conversion about 3 years ago because we really needed to save money since gas prices were/are going up and up, and also cause we were an independent touring band and make hardly any money. Basically you just need a diesel van, $5,000 for a good conversion, a hatred of free time and cleanliness, and a love of waking up after a six hour drive and having your face feel like the leather of an old catcher’s mitt. I mean, our faces already look like catcher’s mitts, but the veggie adds insult to injury by making our faces feel like it as well.

LF: Basically, it sounds great on paper, but it’s a lot of work and sucks.

What could one expect from a live Farewell Flight show?
RR: It’ll sound really good, especially if a good sound guy is running the show. I’ll probably forget to take my bass off mute at the beginning of a song at some point in the set. Rabbit will smile a lot. Luke will play a little guitar and a little piano, and lure the ladies in, similar to this.

Has the band ever played here in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
RR: We’ve played there once, in Silverlake, at the Silverlake Lounge. It was kind of a terrible show, meaning it was a terrible show. We played at like 8:00 which is apparently when all the hipsters are just waking up, cause 3 hours later hipster zombies descended upon the place in hordes. I still have nightmares about black-rimmed glasses and grandma pants on chicks. Nevertheless, we do hope to be back in the area in the future, we’re just not sure when.

Any strange or unusual happenings or mishaps while out on the road?
RR: Pretty much always. Not anything recently that I can recall, or at least that I’m allowed to recall, but one of our all-time favorites is when we were in Mobile, Alabama once playing at this show that went til like 7 in the morning at some weird bar. There was a band called Homewrecker who had free monogrammed condoms at their merch table, a guy with a dog that just followed him around everywhere in the bar, and also a black dude wearing a swastika armband. Our most recent wild happening was probably that after our van broke down, Luke and I had to hitchhike to a town 23 miles away in the middle of nowhere Texas in August heat last summer. We made it though, thanks to Luke’s cardboard sign that said, “IT’S REALLY HOT.”

LF: It was hot! What else would I write? The lady that picked us up said if it was just me, she wouldn’t have stopped (I had a big beard at the time). But she saw Robbe and thought he was 10 years younger than he was and felt bad for him. We sure tricked her.

Is your previous label The Easy Company still active?
RR: Sort of. It’s basically a fall-back for whenever we get dropped.

LF: It was the name of the company that we’d made up. At the time, we were self-managed, funding and releasing our own records, as well as booking and promoting our tours, doing essentially everything DIY, so the “easy” part is tongue-in-cheek…and an homage to E Company from Band of Brothers. However, the only part above that has changed is that we’re no longer funding and releasing our own records. Womp womp.

What advice would you give bands attempting to go on tour for the very first time?
RR: Go to a venue. Look at the stage wall and the bathroom wall. Look at all the stickers. That’s how many shit bands you have to compete against. In one area. You might even be one of those shit bands. And if you’re not, you may work as hard as you can and as long as you can, and you’re still gonna play a show 600 miles away from your bed and have to open for one of those shit bands. For us, this journey has been the absolute best and the absolute worst parts of our lives. We’ve met some of our favorite people and have seen more places and have more stories than 99 percent of people will ever have. But if you’re actually serious, it’s not just a super awesome happy-go-lucky time. There’s times when you will be freezing in an ice storm in the midwest, trying to sleep but you can’t because you’re shivering and your stomach’s growling so much from only eating chips and salsa that day. That said, if you’re gonna go on tour, go do merch for someone ’cause you still get to tour, party, and meet girls, but without investing your whole life into it. Also, if you’re in one of those dime-a-dozen scene bands, just stop.

What are in the future plans for Farewell Flight?
RR: We can usually only see one step ahead of us. So for now, tour as much as we can, and try to get some new music out as soon as possible.

Any final words of wisdom?
RR: Come see us if we’re ever near you! We love hanging out with new people, and we promise we’re courteous and responsible most of the time.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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