Matt Fazzi has worn many hats and been in many bands – everything from the iconic Taking Back Sunday to A Great Big Pile of Leaves to Dear Hunter, to name a few. For the last five years, though, in between being in so many different groups and touring the nation multiple times over, Fazzi formed the project Rare Futures (previously Happy Body Slow Brain), which has just culminated into its first full-length release, “This Is Your Brain on Love.” Fazzi took the time to sit down with a reporter from WSN and discuss the album, and what it’s like to try and create something with as lofty a theme as love.
WSN: So your new album sounds like it’s been a huge process amongst the deaths of family members and the changing between so many bands. What was it that helped you to continue working on this album? It seems like it would be easy to lose focus over such a long time.
Matt Fazzi: You know, actually it was kind of the opposite. It took me forever to settle on what songs I wanted to be on the record, and one step always led to the next. When I finally had the batch of songs that I knew was the record, I felt very strongly about them. The reason it took so long, partially, is because I wanted to make sure I was getting them right. I mean, I was also distracted playing in some other bands and touring and everything, just trying to be an active working musician so that I didn’t have to go back to being a nine-to-five worker bee kind of thing. So everything was approached with this pragmatic sort of mind. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, find the balance, and in the in-betweens, try to get the record done in the right way. So in a way, even though it took all this time, it was good because I got to take all these breaks away from the music to refocus and get some perspective on it. Because sometimes with something creative, I have a habit and I know some of my other friends that are musicians, or even just artists in general, you get a little too deep into something and you don’t know if it’s any good any more, or if you’ve overcooked something. So even though it took me over the span of four or five years for this record to come to life, the condensed version’s a lot smaller. But it was positive in that I really got to go big for a while, have full dedication to it, and put a lot of ideas down and take a couple months away, come back and listen with new ears. But every time I came back, the part that kept me inspired and moving forward was I still, after all these years, really enjoy listening to these songs. I put a lot of time and energy into the tiny little details so that there could be repeat listens. I did it for my own sake, too, because I was hoping that five years removed from composing the songs, I would still enjoy it, and I’m still in that place now. Luckily it doesn’t feel stale. You know, I’d been sitting on it completed basically for almost two years. So it’s been a process, but ultimately one that benefited the end result.
WSN: That’s got to be a point of pride, too, because there’s definitely bands that refuse their play their older stuff.
MF: Yeah, an important thing right in the middle of the whole process was that I was starting to kind of go into this mindset of freaking out about it taking too long. Because people’s attention spans suck now, you know? You see bands that are making records that immediately follow something new or be out touring or constantly throwing stuff in your face.
WSN: Yeah, Kanye’s got something new coming out this summer, apparently.
MF: Yeah, so it’s just like, that started to creep into my mind a little bit in an unhealthy way where I had to stop and take a step back and make sure that the focus wasn’t trying to rush it to be complete, and making sure it was just to get it right, and complete in its own time. And I had read this interview with Rick Rubin, who you know has produced everyone from the [Red Hot Chili Peppers] and Kanye and all these other legendary artists. He did this interview where he said something to effect of once it’s out in the ether, it’s out in the world and you can’t do anything about it, so you really can’t think about time. It’s just got to be the greatest it can possibly be. And that…. I read it at the right time where it helped put me at ease. I stopped stressing about “alright, it needs to come out tomorrow,” or like, “I’m three or four years removed from my last full-length, why isn’t this done?” It just helped me. It’s more just about getting it to be the best that it could possibly be, because that’s what’s going to translate the most. There’s other artists that take even longer between albums – like Fiona Apple I think is taking eight or nine years between albums. When I think in that way, relating it to an artist like her, someone that has that kind of respect, it’s the kind of thing where I would wait a lifetime for someone I loved to get it right. I’d rather wait than have them rush it, just for my own personal benefit. Ultimately, I think I want this piece to last as long as possible and for people to enjoy it as long as possible. So that was the frame of mind that I tried to keep throughout the process even though it felt like it was taking forever…
WSN: …It’ll be interesting to see if it’s something like concerts or vinyls [that keep the industry afloat].
MF: Yeah, I think you kind of have to sprinkle a little bit of all of it. And that’s how I’m approaching this thing too, making sure it’s quality, and well-thought out, and that it’s cohesive with the message of the band. Because I really do feel like content is king right now, and it’s been that way for many, many years. I mean, OKGO’s videos – I went down a rabbit hole watching a bunch of their videos… I mean, I love that they put so much time and energy into their videos and it really shows. I mean, they’re on another level. And that’s something that I’m trying to aspire to with the much more of a ball-and-a-budget idea in mind. But trying to make content that’s very thoughtful and interesting and takes you somewhere. So yeah, OKGO is definitely doing it way right. I mean, that video is amazing and people are showing it so much love. And watching all the behind-the-scenes stuff is just really fascinating. You can tell they put so much time and detail into it, and every ounce of attention they get is well deserved.
WSN: It’s interesting because I looked them up and they actually take exactly five years in-between each of their albums.
MF: Is that intentional? I didn’t even know that they were taking that long between records. That makes me feel better! Uh, I’m going by the OKGO model… But the hope is to get to that level, to make something as thoughtful as them, even if we don’t have the budget to get zero-g… But they are very inspiring in that way, just doing something that not a lot of bands are doing right now, just great video content. I think that stuff, at this point, for me, because touring is not yet a viable way to make money, at least for someone like me, that stuff is going to be where I can make the money.
WSN: Did you think it was difficult to create the sound or feeling of love throughout the entire album? It’s easy for people to write a love song by itself, but it’s not often that I at least find that an artist can keep that same arc.
MF: Well you know, I didn’t really kind of come to that conclusion that that was the whole connecting thread for the album until after everything started to come together. I really try to treat every song like it’s its own thing, its own world, and then step back and see it like, “okay, now I’ve got like, fifteen songs. How can I put them together and arrange them in such a way…” So that’s sort of what just happened. It just naturally came out that when I took a moment to look at the themes of the record, which are… it’s very introspective. It’s a lot about taking a step back from whatever your life situation is and taking stock of what’s important, and understanding where you fit into the world. It’s kind of soul-searching, finding your life’s purpose. So I didn’t really realize that, oh, there’s this common thread of this idea of love, but it comes in all these different forms. So that’s why I chose “This Is Your Brain On Love” as the title, because… I mean, it was meant to be a joke. Back in the eighties, there was this funny anti-drug commercial with the egg and the frying pan. But I made the joke and as I was tossing around album names, that one stuck with me because it just naturally kind of summed up the record. And it comes down to the fact that a lot of the songs are approaching these different human experiences like losing an important family member or the thing I was saying about trying to find your soul’s purpose, but it’s always coming from the perspective of love. Everyone has a different perception of [love], and it comes in many different layers, and it’s chaos sometimes. It can be really true and beautiful or it can be obsessive and unhealthy. Or it could be love for something that’s not a person, like my love for music. So that’s why it was a good way to sum up the whole thing. It was just the idea of the chaos of love and its different forms and how it presents itself in life. Trying to make sense of all that. Sense of that, and sense of your place in the world. That’s the general idea, I guess.