Live photo courtesy of Ashley Goris
Interview by Dee Massey
Having blasted onto the scene in 2002 with their Mark Trombino produced album ‘What it is To Burn‘ – Finch made their name as a band who combined stunning melodies with searing aggressive screamo.
After the long awaited release of their progressive second album, ‘Say Hello To Sunshine‘ the band were faced with disgruntled fans who’d expected another Burn, but also a new wave of fans who fell in love with the new sound. But things started to untangle for the band, and in February 2006 they announced they were taking an ‘indefinite break‘ from Finch, and the band was no more.
2 years later rumours started filtering through the internet that the band was thinking of giving it another try, and it was finally confirmed by guitarist Randy Strohmeyer on their MySpace that Finch were back. Having recruited a new drummer and bassist (Drew Marcogliese and Daniel Wonacott) Finch are back with a new EP, a UK tour and an exciting fresh sound. Guitarist Alex Linares wandered the streets off Oxford before playing the Academy to talk to Dee Massey about why the band broke up in the first place, the new record…and Randy’s bad tour bus habits.
Hey Alex – how’s it going?
It’s all good – although I’m freezing my arse off here in Oxford! It’s better now we’re playing shows again; we had to cancel a few because Nate has tonsillitis, so we were doing nothing. I really love being in England but we’ve just done nothing for days!
Were you hanging out in London or stuck out in the country?
Half the time we were in Glasgow… and then up in Kettering in North Hamptonshire for the other half. Just doing nothing! [laughs]
So this is your first full tour in the UK since you got back together, were you worried the fans might have forgotten about you?
Well the UK is always a pretty crazy place to come and play, and when we were over earlier in the year for Give it A Name it reminded us how insane the crowds can be, so it’s good to be playing here again. They don’t seem to have forgotten us [laughs]
That Scala show you did after GIAN was one of the best show I’ve seen all year, it was great to see you guys back in the UK.
Aaw thank you! It was a lot of fun!
When you had those years off I know Nate got involved with Cosmonaut, but what did the rest of you do?
Yeah Nate along with Drew and Daniel were in Cosmonaut, and I went back to school…which was really boring! [laughs]. Then I got this phone call from Randy saying “hey…lets do this!” and the very next day I quit school, I dropped all my classes, sold my books and was like ‘ yeah – we’re back!’
So what was behind the decision to get back together?
Well I think the three of us, Randy, Nate and myself just kind of missed each other and missed playing music, and basically we missed Finch. Randy and Nate both tried other bands but I think they just missed playing in Finch and I missed music in general. I made a really concerted effort to not in to be in a band when we split, I was like “No! I’m going to be all responsible, I’m going to go to school and I’m going to get a job!” But…that didn’t last long [laughs]
How did it feel walking back into the rehearsal room on day one?
Well I actually missed the first rehearsal because I was on holiday, but I came back for the second and it was like strangely just really comfortable right away.
Did you know Daniel and Drew before?
I knew Daniel…we went to high school together, and our other bands had played together before, so he was always around. We weren’t like the best of friends or anything, but we were acquainted, and got on pretty well and now he’s one of my best friends.
I know you guys are still friends with (ex drummer) Marc Allen?
Yeah yeah, we actually share rehearsal space with his band, he’s really good guy, I really love Marc.
Can I ask – and it’s totally cool if you’re not comfortable talking about it – what went down with (ex band member) Derek [Doherty]? I’ve read that you called him your ‘mortal enemy’ in an interview?
Honestly, Derek is kinda the reason we broke up in the first place. He’s got a really poisonous personality, he’s just not a good person to be around, he caused a lot of tension and split the band in half. It was like me, Randy and Marc and then it was Nate and Derek, and Derek totally had Nate’s ear. It wasn’t good. We’re now a very much happier band, this new line up is just better- well we get on!
So let’s talk about the new EP you bought out this summer. Compared to [What it is to] Burn and [Say Hello To] Sunshine- how did it feel to be back in the studio?
Well the EP recording was just really easy, mostly because it was just 4 songs. We worked with Jason Cupp again – we have a really good established relationship with him. When we did Sunshine it took forever, mostly because we were just trying to find the right producer, we fired a couple before we’d even started recording and then we found Jason, and as soon as we started working with him everything went really smoothly and really well.
If you’d stuck with Mark Trombino (with the second album) do you think the record would have just sounded like another Burn?
Well…Mark Trombino… makes really great records but it’s becoming apparent that he almost makes the same record. I mean you can tell the programming in a Trombino record, and honestly, it wouldn’t even have been possible to record the record with him in the end. He flat out told us in pre-production, when we had like 17 or 18 songs to work with, that “I like these four song and the rest of these songs are absolute crap and you need to start writing.” And we were like…”but..we like these songs and we want to record them.” And he didn’t think we should, he was just really difficult from the beginning.
So how does it work with Jason? Does he have a lot of input into the record?
Jason isn’t so much as a song writing producer as he is a technical engineering type producer, he still has a lot of input but he doesn’t try to come up with choruses with us. He came into pre-production on the EP and just had some simple ideas as far as arrangements.
Have you got any plans for the next album?
Um…we are planning to do one, but nothing solid yet. The only thing we have planned is to go home after this tour and write for the next 2 months before we head off to Australia.
I know you’re a huge Depeche Mode – would you ever want to work with them, maybe bring them in on a record?
Aaw it was be so awesome to work with Martin Gore! That would be….fuck that would be crazy! [laughs] Actually I heard he was a Cosmonaut fan! I don’t know it that’s true or not, but someone called us up and said his niece or something had said he loved that band. We were like…what about Finch!
I’ve heard you cover Mayonnaise (Smashing Pumpkins) a couple of times, what are tracks would you like to give the Finch treatment? Any other Pumpkins songs?
Um…no. We only did Mayonnaise because it’s in the same key as one of our songs and it leads on really well, but we haven’t done that for a while. Lately we’ve been doing a song called ‘Barry White’ by a band called Far. Drew went to see them in LA…he said we did Barry White way better [laughs]
Ok – now I hear you’re a vegan. How do you survive on tour?!
I’m pretty much a total scavenger. I have to eat what I can find, I can’t even really have a meal, I’ll just eat pitta bread and houmous – we get it on our tour rider every day so that’s pretty much what I’m living off!
You’re going to get home all skinny..
Nah, I’m gaining weight from going to the chip shops here!
Good old English food! I also heard a humour that you used to be straight edge? Now I’m thinking you’re not straight edge anymore because I’m pretty sure you were wasted at Scala!
[laughs] Er…yeah…I was really pissed at that show! The tour manager actually said he was really scared at the show, because me and Nate downed a bottle of scotch before we went on. We were like fuck! It’s London! Let’s get fucked up! [laughs]
What are your most essential items to take on tour with you?
Always got to have my iPhone with me, even though it doesn’t seem work over here, but I can still watch movies. On the tour bus it’s good to just put your iPhone on and relax. I always sit up front with our manager Dave, and I have this insane collection of motorcycle magazines. Every time we stop at a WH Smith I pick up another magazine, which is like ridiculous as I have about six on the dash already.
Do you have a motorcycle at home?
Yes! I’m totally obsessed with motorcycles. People ask me what kind of kind of sport I’m into and I’m like…motorcycle racing, and they’re always like…er…what about baseball? [laughs]
You should play at Download at Castle Donnington, that’s like the home of motorcycling here. And actually are you planning on any festivals over here? I’ve not seen you at a festival (apart from GIAN) since Reading 2003!
Was that the main stage show?
Oh…we were horrible that day..
It was an awesome set!
No no..it was awful…[laughs]
I guess we’d been there a few days already… you guys were one of the first bands on the Friday..
You were probably pissed for three days..!
I was sober of course! So when are you coming back to Reading?
We tried so hard to play Reading and Leeds this year, but if you don’t have a major label basically they don’t want you.
Do you think you’ll be signing to a label soon, or are you going to go it alone?
We don’t have a set plan or idea as far as signing. We’ll just take it as it comes I think.
So who winds you up the most on the tour bus?
Randy! Randy winds up all up. The best way to describe him is that he’s a garbage man, he leaves his shit everywhere. He has this horrible whooping cough all the time and making this terrible coughing and gagging sound all day long…it winds us all up so much! Today…ok this is really disgusting but I’ll tell you anyway…we were all up drinking last night, and I don’t know if that made him sick because he wasn’t drinking that much more than me, but he had to have a bucket in the van today..and he definitely used it. I put my iPhone straight on and plugged my nose! It wasn’t that long a drive…only 100 miles…
You’ve shattered my illusions of Randy; I’m never going to look at him in the same light..
Ha..he’s a garbage man [laughs]
If the story of Finch was made into a movie, who would play you, or what would your role be?
I actually had a funny idea about this years ago. Everyone in the band always considers me the shady one, I’m always on the phone and when I’m on the phone I wander away, like now – and whenever we get to venues, after sound checks I like to walk around for a couple of hours. So I figure … the movie would just be kind of like Spinal Tap-esque, where ridiculous things happen, and the only time you’d see me was when the camera would be filming one of the band members and they’d say ” Oh..isn’t that Alex Linares?” and I’d be skulking across the stage, give them a look and run off, and it’d only happen like twice in the entire movie – that would be my role!
What would be your ideal present this year?
Um…that’s a tough question. Actually a friend at home is going to buy me tickets to go see Moto GP, so that will be awesome.
What’s the worst present you’ve ever received?
Oh worst present…[laughs] my godmother Tracey is like the Queen of bad gifts! She got me like a….briefcase or something, and it was fire retardant so you could put all your important pictures and your passport it in, in case your house ever burnt down!
Well now that’s a very responsible and grown up present!
I know…I was like um thank you!
And lastly, have you got any words of wisdom from Finch for the Crossfire readers?
Bundle up…..because it’s fucking cold in England!
Thanks Alex – I’ll let you go warm up now!