FINCH said hello to a hiatus shortly after the release of their fan-splitting sophomore full-length, 2005’s Say Hello To Sunshine. Reactions from the band’s faithful, who had been waiting three years for a follow-up to 2002’s Drive-Thru-backed What It Is To Burn, were shaky across the (message) board. However, after the band’s members took a break, with several following their own musical muses (vocalist Nate Barcalow’s Cosmonaut; guitarist Randy Strohmeyer with Gazillionaire), they reconvened (albeit with a bit of a lineup shuffle) and recently self-released a four-song self-titled EP, the band’s first new material in more than three years. Strohmeyer recently spoke with Brian Shultz about the break and getting back into the swing of things.
Why the self-imposed hiatus?
[It was like a break-up], but [leaving] an option to get back together. When we did the hiatus, we couldn’t see past where we were with Finch at the time. Two years of jobs and real thoughts of how miserable we are without music in our lives; it let us think outside the box. [We did] a member change, and [got bassist] Daniel [Wonacott] and [drummer] Drew [Marcogliese] in the band, and Finch have never been the same since. It’s awesome. We all enjoy it so much; it’s probably my favorite thing in the world.
How did you view the fans’ perception of Say Hello To Sunshine?
I mean… I dwell on things, so it kind of totally sucks for me, and I know the other guys did, too. We’re really sensitive. We read all these comments and take them to heart. I know it’s not really the right thing to do, but how do you not let something like that kinda hurt your feelings, when people are tearing apart [something] you care about so much and you…I don’t know, you spent so much time on it and put so much heart in?
When people were so negative toward it, and didn’t respect what we were doing, it was pretty much breaking [my heart]. It also just came out of a weird time for us, personally, in the band, so… It was sad. I think that maybe helped make some of the tension.
I wish kids that liked Finch would’ve liked it. It just sucks when you have people that you think believe in you turn their back and start hating on you. I guess it’s the real world. And [for] Finch, that was our [re-introduction] to being questioned as a band since we started playing our first shows and you had to prove yourself.
Now, as the record has had time to grow on people, I think that it has more of a chance nowadays. Now that we’re playing it at shows, a lot of our fairweather fans or fans that just didn’t get into it–whatever you want to call them–left us and now we have these kids that come to the shows that like everything we do, which is great.
Say this new EP receives a similar reaction. How would you deal with it this time around?
If the EP did? [Laughs.] I would still be heartbroken and I would be very confused because when we write things and we put them on the record, that’s like us signing off on us… It’s our way to [represent] who we are and if people don’t like us for that, then it’s really… I don’t know. It’s whatever. But it does suck, and we think we’re right when we sign off on these things that, "This is good," and show people, and when they don’t like it then I’ll be sad. But I’m honestly confident on our end that I know we [are the best] we can possibly be, and [have to] let [the songs] grow organically and be what they truly are. [Throughout the interview, children have been yelling and chattering the background.] Sorry, I’m at a swimming pool right now. [Laughs.]
I just think that these songs are the best we can do, and if you don’t like these, then you basically don’t like Finch. You don’t get us as a band, because these are the [best] songs that I could possibly think of. If you were to ask me in one word what Finch is like, I would point to these four songs.
Did you ever officially terminate your contract with Geffen?
Yeah. What happened was, Geffen had an option to [pick up] our projects [that occured] when our band split–to renew the contracts or have an option. They just let it be… It must be pretty hard to be a label; you have to know when you want to take chances. I don’t think they were willing to take chances on our band after all the crazy shit that we kind of put everyone through, and ourselves through with Say Hello To Sunshine. We had a lot of drama, actually, during that time. It must’ve been pretty hard for all parties involved. [Laughs.]
Do you think the band will also self-release your next full-length?
I don’t know. It depends on our options, I guess. We just want to be smart about everything we do. This is our livelihood. If the smartest thing is to release it ourselves, then we will and if the smartest is to have options with labels, then we’ll look into whatever. Bottom line is, we want to not have jobs and make music and do what we love because honestly, the only time I’m happy is being in Finch.
How is work on the full-length coming along?
Well, we haven’t really broken the ice yet. We’re just going on this tour [with Scary Kids Scaring Kids] to promote our EP. We’re just really focusing on that–it actually just came out yesterday. We’ve put some thought [into] it, what we want it to sound like, but nothing is really heavily [set in stone]. We’re just gonna let it be natural [and] see how it goes.
Do you think any songs from the EP will re-appear on the LP?
That’s kind of a cheap move. But sometimes, you got to. [Laughs.] Sometimes if you want to let a song truly breathe or whatever in the right environment, then you have to re-do it on an album. We’ve done it before. [But] I don’t think so. We talked about that. I think we want to keep the EP an exclusive piece of Finch.
Your singer Nate Barcalow started a project called Cosmonaut during the band’s hiatus, and during the EP’s opening track, "Daylight," he sings that "until we make contact" lyric. Does he have some weird fascination with space exploration?
Ha! I don’t know if it’s weird, but… [Laughs hysterically.] Who isn’t fascinated with space? It’s so big and unexplored. I mean, we’ve gone to the–I don’t even know if we’ve gone to the moon!
Are you skeptical, yourself?
Of course. Question everything. [Laughs.] But I honestly…I don’t know, I never speak for Nate. Nate’s Nate.
Were you ever discouraged or disappointed by the fact that none of the songs from Sunshine had the commercial impact of "What It Is To Burn"?
To be honest, the songs on Say Hello To Sunshine are just not as commercial as "What It Is To Burn," and that’s the bottom line. We knew that going into it, and we just thought we can make a record that would be what it is and hopefully our fans like it, and if not, it’s a shame. We never really set our highs on commercial success. Because we’re happy about [the record], we’re willing to show people. The best reward is to have people like your shit. Commercial success is great, and thank God for "What It Is To Burn," but… We knew going into it that it wasn’t going to be like that at all.
What is the status of all the band’s various side projects now that Finch are up and running again?
Well, we talked about that before and I think that our main focus is definitely Finch for right now. As long as we can keep it fresh. I have a side project, too. If I thought I had a good idea and I didn’t bring it to Finch, I’d feel like a dick. We want to use all of our good ideas and just try to make the best band we can.
If you were to work with another label, is it more likely to be a major or an indie?
I don’t think that it matters. Labels are just kind of… Labels are [lame] the way they do things, too. Indies and majors. I know of indies that sign 360 deals with major labels. I don’t think I can agree with that, personally, for these bands. I feel that we’re not a huge band, but we’d get one of those small-band deals… I’m just not interested in our merch money and our touring money with a record label that’s only willing to pay you money if you cut them in on all of the stuff. And then fame… Unless it would make sense for the band. I’m not trying to sound like a douchebag.
And you know what? To be honest, Brian, I fucking hate talking about money and the business aspect of music. It perverts what it’s all about originally. So these questions are kind of difficult for me to answer. But I’m just being honest. But… [Sighs.] Yeah, it really just depends on what’s best for our band [and] will make sense later, for us to keep the band going. It’s just kind of weird for me to talk about.
Does it look like the band will kick it into high-gear and just tour full-time and write and record in 2009?
That’s what we’re doing right now. Finch is alive. It’s pretty much what we get excited about, and we fucking love it. alt