INTERVIEW: Chris Farren on “Doom Singer,” touring as a duo, and much more
For years, Sunday nights have always been my favorite night to head out to a show. Be it the end of a long work week, a chilled-out performance in a room full of music lovers is the perfect conclusion to a busy few days. And while Chris Farren‘s shows would never be classified as “chilled-out,” he’s my pick for where I’ll be tomorrow and where I think you’ll want to be, too. Farren’s first full US run since the world came back concludes tomorrow in “Boston adjacent” Somerville at one of the city’s newest venues, the Crystal Ballroom. A venue that should be a perfect fit for tomorrow night’s sure-to-be theatrical performance with Farren and his bandmate on this run, Frankie Impastato (also of Macseal). Fresh off the release of Farren’s latest record, “Doom Singer,” it’s sure to be a night packed with tons of the new, considering how acclaimed the album is and the songs people have grown to love from Farren.
I had the chance to chat with Farren last week about the tour that he wraps up tomorrow, the creative process behind “Doom Singer,” and some of his personal favorite acts to check out, amongst many other conversation topics. You can find our chat below and scoop up a ticket if you can here for tomorrow’s gig! Doors are at 7 p.m., with Mo Troper kicking the night off at 8 p.m. Get your dancing shoes polished, and see you tomorrow for what is sure to be a perfect set!
You’ve been out on your current tour just to jump into it. You did the UK run, but you’ve been out steadily on this run since September 9th. Coming into the last few dates, “Doom Singer,” came out only about a month before the tour. Maybe how has the run been going? Maybe, in particular, reactions to the songs off “Doom Singer?”
Chris Farren: It’s been amazing. It’s been so much fun. You know, usually, when you go on tour for a new record, you have to kind of pepper the new songs in and not overload it with stuff people haven’t recognized. But I feel like we’ve been noticing more of a pop of recognition when we play the songs from “Doom Singer.” You couldn’t ask for a better situation.
And especially considering how much material you have. You’ve been a touring artist for probably almost twenty years now, right? Is that wild to think about, considering-
CF: Considering I’m only 25 years old.
Only 25 I know, it’s crazy.
CF: I know, it’s horrific in many ways. To recognize the passage of time (laughs). It’s also luckily, I’ve gained a lot of insight, experience, and wisdom. Even though I still left my Driver’s license at a hotel and walked in the wrong direction for twenty minutes yesterday, It all levels itself out (laughs).
Then, I know for this era, in particular, Boston could be a second home to you at this point. But you’re ending this tour in Boston.
So I’m sure there’s some significance there. And I know from covering you in the past. I’ve seen you play the Middle East and R.I.P., Great Scott, but maybe the importance of planning the tour to end in Boston if it was intentional, that is.
CF: Ugh, certainly. You want to end the tour on a high note, and I’ve always just had such great shows in Boston. It’s always been the highlight of any tour. I don’t know why. I don’t know what it is about Boston and me together. That makes such a fun experience, but even since my old band in Fake Problems, it’s always been like that. I remember Boston was the first place I was surprised that there was a significant amount of people. Like, “Wow. Something happened here.”
So that’s why we wanted to end the tour there. It’s just going to be a great show. And Frankie lived in Boston for a long time. So it’s a bit of a homecoming for her in some ways. It will be great.
Then I know it’s the two of you live on this run. Maybe how has that been honing the show, being on tour together, and having this bandmate with you? Maybe how has that experience been?
CF: Oh my god, it’s so much better than being alone. I mean, it seems so obvious, but yeah, it’s just so much more fun to be with your best friends all day. Hanging out and talking and playing stupid games and shit. As opposed to just sitting alone in a car and just thinking about your life (laughs).
And then, onstage, it’s just so much fun to be playing music with somebody and just be sharing this super fun experience. People have always told me that my shows are so much fun, and I feel that when I’m alone a bit. But when I’m actually onstage with another person having fun, having my own little fun experience while the crowd is having their fun experience. And bringing that all together, it’s wonderful.
Perfect, and then for this tour, I know you’re in the final stretch. I believe it’s only seven or eight more shows. For this tour, you had three openers. Guppy is out with you right now as main support, but you were out with Diners, and then the last one is Mo Troper. Maybe the reasoning behind having three openers. Like having maybe regional openers, or did they just kind of come naturally?
CF: It just played out like that. There was just kind of a list of bands that I was like, I would love to tour with these bands. And just with schedules and everybody’s lives and other stuff, it just kind of made sense that it shook out like this.
It’s been great. We had such a blast with Diners, we’re having such a great time with Guppy, and we’re looking forward to meeting Mo Troper and hanging out.
Perfect, and then I wanted to ask, I believe this is your second US run since everything re-opened.
CF: Since everything re-opened, I’ve done a lot of Europe and the UK stuff. I’ve just done a few, like, kind of brief, just tiny little stuff in the States. This is definitely my first full US run since 2020.
Yeah, because I know you started touring again in like 2022, right?
CF: Yeah, yes, that’s correct.
So, considering the amount of time you already spent in your career pre-Covid, you knew what touring was like. It probably wasn’t going to break you. I know we all were in some dark moments of thought, maybe, but maybe two or three bands for you that are personal favorites that started touring like after the shutdowns. Bands that you would recommend that kind of formed post-shutdown.
CF: Post, wow. That’s a great question. Well, I probably can’t speak to like bands that formed in that time, but bands certainly that I got into in that time were Ratboys for sure. I just love Ratboys so much, and I love everything they do. I think they’re one of the coolest bands in the fricking world. Who else, who else, who else? I love Illuminati Hotties; they’re great as well. God, shit, who else. Mannequin Pussy, The Beths is a great one, Bad Bad Hats, sorry, this is too many.
No, I like it, it’s good!
CF: And none of them fit the criteria of the question.
They’ve all been killing it post-shutdown, we can say that.
CF: Yeah, yeah!
And then, “Doom Singer” was the second release (since 2020). I know you did the soundtrack to the movie that didn’t exist. (“Death Don’t Wait” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2022).
CF: That’s right, as everyone does.
As everyone does! But when did you kind of really start working on “Doom Singer”? Obviously, it’s a wild ride. You have those slower moments that have people have found, like with Only U, but also huge moments like Cosmic Leash. When did you start working on “Doom Singer”? When did it start coming together for you?
CF: I would say I started really, really getting scared about writing songs in early 2022. And then started sending songs to Frankie and having her judge them and send them back to me. And then I started flying to New York, and we started really working on them in the summer. Right? (asking Frankie)
Yeah. What (responding to my laughter)?
I just laughed because is she in the car with you?
CF: Yeah! I’m yelling at her across the room. Yeah, and then we recorded it in October of 2022? I think something like that. October/November of 2022. Yeah, so it was basically all of last year. Just spent working on it.
Okay, perfect! And then, social media, I feel like, has always been something really important for you in the past as well. Having a social media presence wasn’t something new that you started doing. Just in the like quarantine times. How do you go about planning it? I mean, you’re producing so much content. Do you plan this all ahead? Is it something where you guys kind of bounce ideas off of each other for each show/promotion? How do you guys go about that?
CF: So, I kind of locked into something last year where I would just kind of stand in front of my green screen. And just basically say, “Hey, I’m in Boston tonight. See you there! Hey, I’m in New York tonight. See you there!” And then just kind of taking that raw footage and then just editing a bunch of insane shit around it.
So I’ve been doing that for a while. And for this tour, I actually basically ran out of time. So I stood in front of the green screen, but I didn’t have time to actually edit the videos. But I was lucky to meet Jonathan Kramer, an editor for, like, the Eric Andre show, for Ben Friedman, for Crazy Endeavors on Adult Swim. So I met him because he edited a music video for me that I did for a song called “First Place.” It was produced by Mitra Douhari, who did Three Busy Debras and a bunch of stuff. And he basically reached out to me after seeing those promos and said, “If you ever need any help with these, let me know.” And I thought this could not be better timing because I have no time to do this. I sent him a few, and he nailed it so fast. He just totally understood the tone of it.
So it was really cool to have that. And all the other whatever content or stuff we put on, it’s just us thinking of things in the car and going, “Oh, that would be funny, let’s do that.”
Perfect. Then I feel like 90% of the people that are in your crowds every night are people that have grown up going to your shows. They know the general idea of what will happen when it comes to your shows, but for fans that haven’t come yet, I know it may seem cheezy. Maybe the reason to come out in Boston?
CF: I think it will be the best show you’ve ever seen in your life. I think it is very, very fun. It is more fun than you would expect an indie rock show to be. Frankie and I put more effort into this show than any band in the world. And I will go legally (on record), I will say that, and you can sue me if you can counter that.
On the record.
CF: I’m on record.
Then, to end it off. You were in the UK right before this, like I keep saying. You’ve done a lot of European touring these last few years. You’re coming to the end of this tour. Before Covid, I mean, you see it now, you were constantly on the road between solo, doing Antarcticgo Vespucci. Maybe focuses or goals for you in these next few months, like once you finish this run? Maybe personal or for music.
CF: Oh, I might produce a record for a band in L.A. I’m not sure that will happen, but it would be great if that did happen. I started directing music videos for other bands, which has been really fun. To learn how to do that and just kind of stretch that muscle, whatever that is. So I’ll hopefully do more of that. I will probably make some more music videos of my own. And yeah, just a lot of weird art slash music stuff. That’s kind of always my goal. To figure out a way to be able to do that all the time. Without having to do something I don’t want to do (laughs).