Oren Barak - Finespun

September 5, 2005

Tell me how Finespun started.

Let's see, Finespun started four years ago already. I've actually been in other bands with my drummer for as long as I can remember. He's been my only drummer in any band that I've ever been in so it's a long time. We've known each other since we were kids. Our guitar player used to come and watch one of our older bands and he used to be a recurring audience member. At one point he asked if he could take some guitar lessons when he was just starting out and this and that. When we were looking for a guitar player for this band, when our old band broke up, we called him up because it was a few years later and he was a good guitar player by then. So, that's how we got our guitar player and the three of us putzed around for about a year going through all kinds of different bass players. We would find one guy and he would be 65 years old and we'd find another guy and he'd be 14 years old. Neither one of which could play anything or just didn't fit in with our genre. Finally through a guy I was taking voice lessons with, he was working at a music store and he ended up posting one of our ads up on the music store bulletin board and lo and behold, our bass player Phil came down to audition and became part of the band. Funny enough, Phil had seen our classified ads in a number of local papers looking for a bass player and always looked at them and didn't think that it was anything that he would be interested in. For some reason he answered the one in the music store. He didn't realize it was the same people. He came down and it was about two months that went by before we found out that he saw our ads in other places but that in a nutshell is how this band came together.

That's pretty cool.

Thank you.

Who are some of your main musical influences?

Myself, I'm influenced by my everyday surroundings. If I had to name some bands, I always cite blues music and I always cite Jimi Hendrix as being one of my major influences because I started out as a guitar player. This is the only band that I've been a vocalist in basically because when we started this band, we didn't feel like adding another ego into the pot. I said the hell with it, I'll do the vocals. As far as vocals go, I'm also very influenced by anything bluesy, anything gospel. As far as rock today, Chris Cornell is a major influence as well as your normal rock guys like Bret from Fuel and Raine from our Lady Peace. Stuff like that. Our guitar player, I know he is very influenced by blues as well. We're both big Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson fans. I know he takes his other guitar influences from The Allman Brothers and once again, Our Lady Peace. Fuel and stuff like that. Our bass player is very big into Jaco Pastorius and Primus of course as all bass players seem to be. He takes his cues from old jazz and a new type of, I don't know, whatever you consider Primus. Our drummer is just a Led Zeppelin freak. If you ask him to name his influences, before you even get the words out of your mouth, he will say John Bonham.

I think Primus is in a class of their own.

I would probably have to agree with that. I'm not a Primus fan myself but my bass player is just crazy about them. My bass player actually was in a slew of death metal bands before he joined this one strangely enough.

Oh, cool!

I know it's hard to believe and hard to try to hear any death metal influence out of his playing in this band but that I guess just shows his versatility.

Absolutely. I love all types of metal. You guys have opened up for Gilby Clarke, The London Quireboys, Hookah Brown, and King's X.

We certainly have. Let's not forget The Black Crowes. There are a whole slew of not-so-famous just borderline national acts that we've opened up for as well. As well as we just qualified to get the opening slot for a major national act but we don't know who it is yet. There's talk of it being Nickleback or Hoobah Stank or somebody else. The show hasn't been confirmed and neither has the national. There are three shows and we know we're on one of them but I don't know who it's going to be.

You guys have played SXSW.

Yeah, we've played SXSW. We've done 2NMC also which is the Nashville New Music Conference and when we went to do those, we had a mini tour just basically around there for instance. When we played SXSW in Austin, TX, we had two or three dates in Austin. We also went up and had a couple of dates in Oklahoma. A couple of dates in Arkansas. When we did Nashville, we played a couple of places in Nashville and headed up to Kentucky and stuff like that.

I understand that CBGB's lost out.

I'm not sure exactly what's going on with CBGB's. I played CBGB's a bunch of times with my last band. Everybody in this band has played CBGB's at least twice, just not with this band. Their policies for booking acts is if you're a band from the New York area, which we are, that you have to go and play an audition night which is typically a Sunday night slot at 6 PM where you're required to draw between 30 and 50 people. However if you're a band from out of town, they will with no reluctance give you a slot of 11 PM on a Friday night. That's pretty much why this band hasn't played CBGB's. It's hard to get people to come out at 6 PM on a Sunday to a show. As far as them and their lease, I don't know. I've read things back and forth. I've seen all kinds of controversy going on. I heard that the reason that they got acquitted from the rent lawsuit was because they stated to the judge that they didn't bother to notice in their lease that they had rent increases every month and the judge said "oh well, you didn't see it in your lease. Well, I guess we'll let you go." One of the things that I've learned in my lifetime as a little kid going through public school between grades one through eight, was that just because you don't know a law exists does not mean you're exempt from it. That to me is almost like going to the judge and the judge telling you you're on trial for murder. "Oh, I didn't know murder was against the law" and the judge telling you, you can go free then. It equates like that. I might have some misinformation on my end. I'm not exactly sure what's going on with CBGB's but that's pretty much the deal.

They always tell you to read the fine print.

That's right. If you're a property owner or renter, read your lease. It's very simple.

People these days are not very nice so you have to read.

Very true. I can't believe they got off with the millions of dollars in back rent that they owed. If they did, good for them. What can I say?

Tell me a little bit about your CD that you guys put out.

Well, the CD that you have in your hands is basically a self-recorded, self-written, self-produced, self-engineered work for lack of a better word. Basically what that means is that we did it all ourselves. We are a very financially strapped band and we just could not afford to go out and pay for the production that we wanted to get. Instead, we sunk a very small part of the money that it would have required to record into building our studio at home and we've amassed quite an arsenal here of recording equipment. We record everything on a PC. We have a good old mixer, a bunch of mics, and that whole thing was recorded out of the basement in a house that we rent, myself and the drummer, that we live in. We rehearse in the basement and much to our landlord's chagrin, we have drilled many, many holes in to run many, many cables. That CD was recorded from between 2003 and 2004. It is 10 songs out of 20 that we laid down and chose from. There is a bunch of unreleased stuff. I hear it's flying around on LimeWire.com out there so if you're a good searcher, you'll probably be able to find some stuff that's not on the CD but that's it in a nutshell. The artwork was all done by me. The setup of the studio and the engineering was also done by me. Right now we're back in there recording another four songs to be released as an EP. We have some interest from a multi-platinum producer and it's dependent on the new songs that we come out with. If he likes them, he's going to record us for free. If he doesn't, we still have to pay him kind of thing so we'll see what happens in the future.

Hopefully he'll like them.

Yeah, we'll cross our fingers right? Absolutely.

If someone were to pick up your CD and listen to it, what three songs do you think would describe your band off of that CD?

It's hard to make that decision. I do a lot of the writing. I mean we all write the songs to completion. The writing starts out as either we'll be in rehearsal and we'll come up with something on the fly or I will bring down an idea that we need to work on kind of thing. These songs are very near and dear to my heart. It's very difficult for me to pick three out of the 10. However, I can tell you what has struck a chord with the people who have been listening to it. That would be track one which is "Staring Down A Gun", track two I believe which is "The Last Time", and I'm not even sure but I think maybe track seven. It's a song called "Sorry".

Why do you think those songs struck a chord with them?

I don't know. People ask me what my songs mean. My answer is always what do they mean to you, so I'm sure that everybody is probably getting something different out of it. We'll play a show and one guy will come up and say we did a great show and we sound just like Metallica. I'll look at him kind of funny and other people will come up and say we had a great show and we sound like The Goo Goo Dolls. I'll look at them funny too. To each their own. I don't know exactly what it is within these songs that is striking that chord with them but as long as it's striking that chord I'm happy. As long as people are walking away feeling something from them, I'm very good with that.

The Metallica thing might be the songwriting. If there's one thing Metallica is really good at, it's the way they write their songs.

You know, I'll buy that to a point. I remember an article with I believe, it was either Kirk or James from Metallica, a couple of years back where they said they're concentrating a lot more on the songwriting now and they're learning that they don't have to throw 700 different riffs into a song and make it 14 minutes long for it to be a good song. You never know.

On your website you guys have a lot of audio and video stuff that people can check out.

We try and post up as much stuff as we can. All our songs on both CDs are listenable on our website. They're not downloadable simply because we are poor and we need some cash. There are 20 songs up there that you can get for a dollar a piece basically and you can listen to all the songs as many times as you want for free. If you want them, sorry, you're going to have to buy them. We're good for trade also. I just made a trade with a girl just the other day. She said that she saw one of my songs on LimeWire.com and she really wanted a CD but she had some trouble in getting the money together, the 10 bucks to buy a CD, so I said I will give her all of my MP3's for free. The 20 songs that are on the records and the other 10 songs that we have unreleased. I will give her all of this for free and take the money she was saving to buy a CD, buy a T-shirt with it and put all of these songs up on LimeWire.com and she said okay. I'll make a deal and whether she buys a T-shirt or not, it really doesn't make a difference to me but it's a little tradeoff thing. Like I said, you can listen to everything up there online. There's video from some shows. It's all fan video because we can't afford to have somebody come out and do a DVD shoot for us. It's all either somebody I harass to hold my camcorder or somebody who brings their own camcorder down. The other thing that we've started to do as of late, and I believe there's only one up on the website right now, we're starting to post recordings of our live shows which are basically taken from a small recorder that I bring with me that has great sound on it, as far as I'm concerned anyway. When the show is over, if it was a good show we'll post up the audio. If it was a bad show, maybe you'll get lucky and we'll post up the audio and you can laugh at us. That's pretty much how it goes. We at one point tried to stream our rehearsals over the Internet but it was a couple of years ago before any of the streaming allowed audio with it. People could watch us rehearse but if you can't hear us fighting with each other, what's the point really? We try and give away as much as we can but it costs us thousands of dollars to do anything. Even though we record for "free", we pay probably about a $700 a month electric bill over here. As opposed to studio time, we're still paying some money to record at least on the utility end and then once the recording is done, if you want to call that free, there's still duplication and promotion and all kinds of other stuff that we have to pay for. We did a national radio campaign about a month or so ago which got us some airplay on a bunch of commercial stations in the Midwest and that cost us thousands of dollars. I was eating Ramen noodles for about a month just to try and recoup the money that I spent on this thing. It was worth it. We don't mind spending our money on it but at the same time we need to make the money to continue doing what we're doing.

That means that you guys probably have day jobs.

Oh, we certainly do have day jobs.

When you guys do any touring, how do you manage to do that?

We do what we can. We all have our vacation time. We save it up for when we know we're going to need it and we piss off a lot of people in the process. "Hey, you want to come here with me?" "No, can't go." "You suck." We're saving it just in case we have to go and play a show somewhere out of state or whatever. Basically if the opportunity comes up and the juice is worth the squeeze, we make it happen. That's how it has to work.

That is cool. You guys are definitely dedicated.

We're trying to be.

I find that admirable.

Thank you. It's certainly a labor of love. I've been doing this for many, many years. This is all I've thought about doing since I was four years old. It's definitely hard work but it's definitely work that we love doing.

When can we expect your next release?

As soon as we decide what the hell is going on it. Honestly. We know that we are releasing a disc with at least four new songs on it. We're not sure what else we want to put on this disc. We may remix and remaster some of the songs from the other two CDs. We may completely re-record some of those songs from the other two CDs. We may put some of those unreleased tracks on the disc. We may put a live show on the disc with the four songs. We're just not really sure yet. Being that we are just finishing up guitar tracks and moving on to vocal tracks, we still have a little bit of time to make that decision. We're not absolutely sure what you are going to get but we are hoping to have the getting be good in maybe about another month or so. They'll be hitting the website before they make it to the CD anyway so keep checking.

Do you have any other thoughts or comments?

Not particularly. I'm wondering where my dinner is. Other than that, I'm pretty shot for the day. I do computer programming and web design for a living and I've been in all weekend working on this website for a customer so I am shot. I may end up doing a little mixing and a little listening back to what we accomplished recording wise this week but other than that, I am looking forward to having some dinner.

Finespun