by Evelyn Miska / Schwegweb.com
Seattle based rockers Fall From Grace have been riding a wave since 2007 when they won the Bodog Music Battle of the Bands. Since then they have released their third full-length album Sifting Through the Wreckage, worked with producer Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones), toured with such bands as Alesana, I Set My Friends on Fire and Fear Before. They performed at this year’s South By Southwest conference, are embarking on their first tour of Europe and the U.K., and are already writing music for their next album. To say it has been a busy year for these four would be an understatement. For Tryg Littlefield (vocals), Brian Olson (guitar), Ken Olson (bass) and Kenny B (drums) the time on the road and in the studio has not only brought them closer, it has helped them reflect on what works for them as a band in the cut-throat music industry.
When talking with the band, it is immediately clear how enthusiastic and excited the four of them are about being on the road and how honored they are to have such a loyal fanbase. For those unfamiliar with the Bodog Battle of the Bands, the competition pitted over 7,000 bands against each other all in the hopes of winning a $1 million record contract. The competition included performances as well as a variety of entertaining immunity challenges. Fall From Grace not only made it to the finals with 16 other bands, they won the whole thing as well as wracking up an arrest for their bassist and earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Littlefield describes the experience: “The first time we ever went to Austin, Texas actually was when we were doing the filming of the Bodog Music Battle of the Bands and every week we’d be in a new city and they’d give us a new immunity challenge. The challenge for that week was the Fear Factor Challenge. You have 22 minutes to enter a bar, eat all the food, play one song and then leave that bar and go into another bar and do it all over again. I think Kenny must have vomited 18 times, twice on Brian, we did 16 venues. It was crazy. We got into the Guinness Book of World Records for it. And we were crazy about it, all the bands were just like “oh, we don’t want to do this” and we’re just like “we are gonna own this!”
In addition to eating ridiculous amounts of food, the band also got the chance to work on some challenging and exciting aspects of the music business. “There were a lot of other great things we got to do. We got to film a music video ourselves, we had a camera operator, we got to choose the shots, help edit, you know we had people to run the equipment that knew how to run the equipment, but we told them what to do. It took us 10 total to do it, we were the first band to finish it. We didn’t win that one, but it would have been our fourth immunity in a row,” Littlefield says.
The experience wasn’t without it’s odd moments which for Littlefield and Kenny B seeing Ken Olson be arrested for littering while the band was in Las Vegas. “It was totally stupid. He threw down a full can of Coke and yelled at a Hummer in the street and there was a cop right there,” Littlefield says. Though frustrated at the time, Ken Olson can see some humor in the situation now, “The thing was that I did it three times so the camera man could get a clear shot and then the cops roll up and I’m like “this is awesome.” At least the police officers were cool.”
The Bodog competition gave Fall From Grace the chance to record Sifting Through The Wreckage and work with producer Terry Date which Littlefield and his bandmates credit as being one of the greatest parts of the entire process. “The greatest part about it was that we got to record with Terry Date. I mean, the name in itself is amazing. We basically got to produce our own record with Terry Date. He was there to get tones, we ran the show. We said, ‘this is how we’re going to do it,’ and he was just like ‘cool, man.’ It was wonderful. We got to basically do what we’ve always done, but in a real studio instead of our home studio,” Littlefield says.
The recording process was the most professional the band had experienced and that brought with it some challenges. Date managed to get the band more accustomed to the process and, at the same time, captured Fall From Grace’s own energy. Kenny B explains,” Getting me to slow down was I think Terry’s biggest challenge and he was so cool about it, he just kept trying all these different ways to make me relax. Finally one day I was so wound up and bent out of shape because my headphones wouldn’t fit and he wanted me to play all the songs like I’d play them on stage. So, I’m bitching and moaning about these headphones and finally he tells one of the engineers to go out and with gaff tape and cardboard, he took my had and my headphones and taped them together and made Mickey Mouse ears out of gaff tape and cardboard and made me wear them the entire rest of the time I was there.”
Not only did Fall From Grace learn a lot about their best ways to work in the studio, they also had time to reflect on how they write and record music. “Sifting through the Wreckage for all four of us, because all four of us are involved in the writing process from drum patterns to guitar lines to bass lines to lyrics and vocals and backups and everything, we all grew as musicians. It was like we went to school for music for six months and so we’re taking that knowledge into the next record instead of having to learn it again, we’re taking what we already know and we’re working on it and working on bettering our writing. We’ve all reinvented the wheel several times, we’ve all been in different bands, but we stick with what we know because it works. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Littlefield says.
The band has been on the road touring in support of Sifting Through The Wreckage and is preparing for their first trip to the U.K. and Europe as well. The band has nothing but good things to say about their recent stateside tour with Alesana and is thrilled to see their fans coming out and enjoying the shows despite the tough economic times. “When you go to a big city it can be hit or miss. Chicago? Wonderful. It was like playing a small town. It was incredible. Because of the amount of music that goes through that city I expected it to not be as good as it was. I gotta say, our expectations have been kinda strange with this whole tour, I mean; we’re going to parts of the country that we’ve never been before. We never thought that Wooster, Massachusetts would have been one of the greatest shows of the tour. In Florida, we were in Orlando, and it was just a great show. All the kids that have been coming out have been phenomenal which is wonderful in this economic disaster. Sales are low for all bands as far as merchandise, but as far as butts in seats, everybody’s out. I am blown away; it’s such a great combination of bands. If not sold out, almost sold out, which is amazing,” Littlefield says.
Fall From Grace is clearly thrilled with the reactions from fans and the camaraderie they’ve found working with Alesana and other bands on the tour. It is that excitement and sense of togetherness that has helped the band get this far and is something each band member feels will help them continue to pursue their dreams. Kenny B explains, “We feel everybody needs to just understand that the sound that comes out of a group of people is going to be different regardless of what they’ve listened to before because they’re different people but they’re doing the same thing, they ride in the same van, they get t-shirts from the same company, we play the same instruments, the same trailers, the same kids, the same venues it’s all the same. And everybody just needs to get out, tour, go to shows and have fun, regardless of what’s going on, go to the shows, hang out, listen to a new band, give it a shot, you know, you paid 15 bucks to get in, don’t leave after the band that you just went there to see. Have some patience and just see if there’s gonna be something more out there for you.”