Cursed No More: A Conversation With The Faim vocalist Josh Raven

Southwest Aussie pop/punk rockers The Faim will take center stage this week with the release of their debut EP, “Summer Is A Curse” on Friday, Sept. 7. For the energetic quartet from Perth, Australia, getting the ship righted after a rocky August is just what the doctor ordered.

Following allegations surrounding guitarist Michael Bono (from a time which pre-dated The Faim), the band and Bono parted ways and subsequently dropped off their tour with 5 Seconds of Summer. What should have been a celebratory time for Josh Raven (vocalist), Stephen Beerkens (bass and keyboards), and Sean Tighe (drums) had turned into a straight right to the chops.

Fortunately for the band and its rapidly growing legion of fans, the punch wasn’t a knockout blow. Raven, Beerkens and Tighe persevered and are about to deliver their first cohesive batch of original music to the masses, a six-song buffet of anthemic, arena pop/punk offerings that could have heads turning on a worldwide scale. The EP came together thanks to the direction of producer John Feldmann (blink-182, All Time Low, Good Charlotte), and the contributions of industry peers such as Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Josh Dun (Twenty One Pilots), Mark Hoppus (blink-182) and Ashton Irwin of 5 Seconds of Summer.

ListenIowa caught up with Raven recently to discuss the evolution of the band,  getting out of the comfort zone, and the rewards of hard work.

How did The Faim come to be?
The band first came together in September 2014. Stephen and I had gone to school together, and we were in the same music class. After playing numerous school performances, we decided to start a band together. A few months later, we realized we should probably get a drummer. None of us were that great at it. We saw Sean on YouTube, and we were mesmerized not just by his sheer skill but his passion for drumming. After a few years of being a band playing a handful of shows in Perth, we saw a post on Instagram from producer John Feldmann asking unsigned bands with touring experience to email him their demos. We had zero touring experience, but we wanted to give it a shot. This email consisted of us talking about how passionate we are to take the steps to be a better band, our love for music and a few songs we had written at the time. After few months of writing ideas, he asked us to fly to L.A., and we recorded the songs for our upcoming EP and many others. After signing with our label BMG, we had our first tour as a band in the U.K. with Lower Than Atlantis. It’s been a journey of hard work, learning and growth ever since.

The “Summer Is A Curse” EP is an anthem lover’s delight, with its huge, catchy sing-a-long choruses. In the songwriting process, do you work backward at all, coming up with a great chorus first, then working around that? Or do things just evolve naturally and you take the ideas as they flow?
Songs came together in a variety of different ways for us, but mostly it’s the melody or a concept that sparks a song. We could have an idea at anytime, anywhere. If we feel an inspiration, we jump into it as much as we can. There’s this tick that goes in my brain when I make or like a certain melody, and then the lyrics/concept will just run like water. We have such a special chemistry when it comes to writing; it’s this cooperation of having not only a song that sounds good, but also means something to both of us. When we spend too much time trying to make something work, we will scrap it. If an idea doesn’t come naturally, we won’t waste time.

“Make Believe” is a prime example of a song that doesn’t necessarily grab you right out of the gate, but it builds and keeps adding instrumentation and layers of sound to the canvas. If you really listen to it, there’s a lot going on at times. Talk about the orchestration of this song and its lyrical meaning.
“Make Believe” came together very quickly. Our relationship with this song will never change. It’s very personal for us because it gives an insight into our mindset at the time. We learned that we never want to let ourselves down by being trapped in all the distraction or a negativity in our lives. I’d struggled with mental health for a long time and this idea of “Make Believe” was our way of saying we don’t want to disappear before our time if we have the choice. It became our anthem for being bigger than whatever tried to drag you down. We wanted the production to follow the progression of the concept: Building and adding relevant harmonies, synths and different sounds, in general, to create a sense of development but not making it so blatantly obvious. The climax of sound reflects the mental realization, the fight and the mental battle that people are confronted with every day.

In “I Can Feel You,” you give a little nod to INXS. Australia has been known to produce some great bands now and then.
I love bands who have an identity. Some of my favorite Aussie Bands are INXS, AC/DC, 5 Seconds of Summer and Midnight Oil. Bands like INXS and Midnight Oil have visions and a message the want the world to know, and that’s always a factor I want relevant in our music. My belief is that music is for everyone. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve  done, music has the power to connect with you.

And for those who might lump you in with other arena-ready anthem rockers, in comes “My Heart Needs to Breathe” with its in your face, “Get the fuck in or get the fuck out” lyric. Doesn’t get much clearer than that.
The essence of “My Heart Needs To Breathe” focuses on being aware of your happiness or your “heart” in this context. You always come across people/environments in life that are negatively impacting you, and most of the time you aren’t even aware of it. When someone in your life talks to you with that change in language and passion, it really does snap you into paying attention. This song is our own personal wake up call to reality. The song came together with John, Stephen and I sitting in his lounge room talking about that exact concept.

Talk about working with producer John Feldmann. How much input did he have in this project, and what did you learn from your time with him?
John had a huge input in helping us not just discover our sound but give us the tools to express the deepest parts of ourselves. Meditation, pressure and hard work opened doors that we didn’t think could be possible. He pushed us out of our comfort zone, made another, and pushed us out of that until we found gold. Without his perspective. we would never have started writing the way we do today.

The band is set to release its first full-length album sometime in 2019. Will it include these songs, or do you have a fresh batch that you’re at various stages with?
We’re always writing music. Whether it’s random voice memos or a chord progression. We never stop collecting ideas. Creating the “skeleton” of a song is enough for us to have a picture of whether we like it or not. We’re always looking for a “fresh” sound, but it’s also a new way of expressing the constant stream of new experiences and emotions that confront us every day. 

Getting out on the road is likely a priority for the band at this stage. Would you rather play clubs and headline or got out as an opener on a larger package playing bigger venues?
Being on the road is always a priority not just for the betterment of the band, but because we love playing shows and creating raw connections with fans all over the world. There are new songs on the way, great shows and exciting new events coming up for us. Of course, bigger venues are exciting, and it’s definitely a progression we’re excited for, but we’re just happy to be playing the music we love to anyone who’s willing to listen. That’s always been our dream, and we’re fortunate enough to live it every day.

How does your currently reality of being able to make a living being a musician compare to what you thought it would be before you got to this place in your career?
I think about this all the time. When you’re young and starting a band, you have all these crazy ideas. “Were gonna play at Wembley Stadium,” “We’re gonna tour straight away,” etc. A lot of people assume touring is all drinking and partying, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As time goes on you realize the amount of hard work, sacrifice and determination it takes to be a band. It’s far from easy, and I’ve gained a lot of respect for any other band who has had any form of success. Despite how hard it is, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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