by Brian Miller

photo by Mike Fierstein

I spent this past summer booking and then taking part in a tour with Friends Forever and a band I’m in, Foot Village. Although I’ve been on many tours before this one, Foot Village had only existed for a few months before we left town. That, combined with having some younger and much more optimistic members in the band, made me feel very much like this was my first tour. Looking back on it, this feeling was probably the most valuable thing I brought with me. It allowed me to learn a lot from Friends Forever. After 10 years of going out on the road, Friends Forever finally taught me the right way to tour. I’m pretty sure every one else in Foot Village feels like they learned a lot too. Friends Forever have the biggest hearts of any band I’ve ever met. I don’t just mean they are nice people. There are lots of nice bands. Friends Forever truly LOVE everyone and most importantly love the freedom they have to play music in whatever manner they want – from crossing stadium rock, noise, and techno and calling it punk, to playing out of their van and bringing their dogs on tour, it's freedom they love and being around them teaches you how to respect freedom if you love it too. Not once did Friends Forever care if people weren’t into the music or even came to the show, or if there wasn’t any money. I realize I could never hope to pass on this experience in a meaningful way just with words. But the bottom line is this: you got to be having a good time if you’re a band. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Anyway, obviously I was stoked to be on this tour so I wanted to interview Friends Forever and get some real answers out of them where most interviews I’ve seen only get silly ones. Unfortunately, I completely failed. So here is my interview with them (conducted by handing them questions to answer while on long drives), supplemented by memories of my own from the tour and other experiences with them.

1. What’s your favorite way to comb your hair?
I don’t know… combs have got so commercial they just aren’t in it for the hair anymore

2. Where does rock hair come from?



Friends Forever tour in two cars, a pickup and a VW Bus. The Bus can only go about 60 mph on the highway, so they caravan, the bus in the lead. Nate, who drives the follow-behind pickup, lets Josh do all the navigating as well and does not ever look at any maps or addresses. Often, he does not even know where there tour is headed. He just goes and plays.

The slow speed at which FF have to travel means they often leave at night, “camp out”, and then drive the remaining distance the next day. About three days into our tour together we decided to caravan with them, as all their talk of “camping out” was starting to sound like a good time. At about 3am, half way between Sacramento and Arcata, CA, Josh pulls the VW off at a lonely Chevron station. I get out of the car to find out what the directions are from here to the camp ground. Josh asks the caravan, “Everyone okay with sleeping here?” So, in the middle of California’s largest rice field, we slept in the Chevron parking lot getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Jeff and Greg of Foot Village loved it, “What a crazy place to sleep!,” but us older folk (Grace and myself) decided that there would be no more unnecessary caravanning from there on out.

I doubt anyone in Friends Forever combs their hair. At least while on tour. They pretty much sleep like this every night. So since I know they don’t shower while on tour, why would they be combing hair? On the other hand, all this “alternative living” that FF participate in may just be for the sake of fashion, as it does give them the perfect rock hair.

3. Where do Friends Forever songs come from?
We don’t “play” ‘songs’ yet.

When you’re in Foot Village, a band only consisting of drums and vocals, there are always a couple people that think your music is improv and not the highly structured pop madness that we actually play. So it was quite a surprise to me to discover just how many people don’t believe that FF are really in control of what they are doing. From the guy in Denver who wanted to give FF their big break so they wouldn’t have to play out of a van anymore, to the Pomona Arts Community representative that punched Josh in the face because they need to learn that playing outside is an insult to the community and NOT art.

When I first heard of Friends Forever, from my friend Paloma, she told me that lots of people just consider FF a noise band but that it wasn’t true. Over the last few years I have noticed that Friends Forever’s songs have been steering towards being more distinctly metal and less strange and hypnotic power drones. Could they be trying to reach a wider audience? Regardless, there is one type of person that always does seem to understand Friends Forever and that is a police officer. At nearly every show on our tour the police showed up. But 9 times out of 10 the police magically showed up just as Friends Forever were finishing their set, and then said something like the officer in Arcata (where apparently there is no police chief right now and the city council likes it that way), “I figured if I took long enough, you guys would be done.” Or perhaps the office in Sacramento who told Josh all about how his sister is in a punk rock band and that he would be a hypocrite if he tried to get FF in trouble.

4. Where do the songs go when people hear them?
The ‘Brain-lobe’ region of their skull.

Jason may be being overly optimistic here. At some shows the music obviously did go straight to people's heads. In Portland, from the get go, people were stage diving off of the van. In their hometown, Denver, the audience wildly danced in broken glass and were so out of control that I was scared to mosh with them. But in other towns, like Albuquerque, the people just stood and stared at a very, very safe distance. Come to think of it, this was even the case in Olympia where I thought lots of people loved the Forever Friends. So where does the music go for these people? Is it bouncing off of them? Or maybe these are the ones that the music goes deepest into their “Brain-lobe” so far that they are left unable to even move the rest of their body. So I guess Jason does know what he’s talking about.

5. Do you play live?
We play with lives with knives

I could see Nate doing this. Multiple conversations on tour revolved around a band people had been posting about on Spockmorgue. Something called Unlucky Number 13 or something like that. Apparently they bust out 2x4s wrapped in barbed wire and other weapons during their shows and literally attack the audience. A film on the web of them shows everyone immediately running out of the room, leaving only a couple huge dudes to watch, who even then were pinned against the wall. Nate says he really wants to see this band. His interest in them reminds me of the same way he liked Captain Ahab. Captain Ahab usually just sings about buttholes. Nate told me once something along the lines of, “I love that he just says what he feels like saying.” I guess he would love that Unlucky # 13 just attack who they feel like? Jason on the other hand, said he only wanted to watch the video. So I know he is just being tough here. Am I saying that Nate is tough? Not beat-people-up tough, but it was cool when these kids were making fun of Nate chanting “Hippy, what? Hippy what?” to the tune of Lil’ John and Nate gave them a copy of their album, Killball.

6. What is your favorite thing to do?
Swimming, Mountain Biking, Roller Blading, Voting, as well as other activities.

Have Friends Forever truly devoted their lives to being dudes? Are their boyhood fantasy themed albums (Indiana Jones, Spring Break, Football, Space Exploration) meant to be ironic? Or are they just bros who happen to be super in touch with their feelings? Josh’s home, aka the famous Monkey Mania 2 warehouse space, is located pretty much just across the street from one of Denver’s many sports stadiums. It is a great location to live in. Hardly anyone is ever around unless there is a game. Of course, then it is a nightmare. But otherwise, seclusion and privacy right in the middle of downtown. I doubt Josh moved there just to be near Football. But themes like a passion for sports or exploring space or partying (which they hardly do any of, at least on tour) definitely ARE sincere and moving issues to Friends Forever. Why fuck around with songs about psychological issues and the search for the meaning of life when playing rock music, just like getting way into playing a game or partying hard feels like the answer being lived through and through. Friends Forever may be smart guys, but really they are more like Motley Crue without the excess…. Except in fireworks.

7. What is your favorite word, besides cornhole?
I Like QOQ and the word Quok.

Friends Forever songs don’t really have vocals, let alone lyrics. Some tracks on albums have some singing. And live their cover of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” is sung by Josh. But all in all, it is mostly up to the audience to make up words or just scream in ecstasy while FF play. And for some reason, it takes people a long time to realize that this is basically an instrumental band. They don’t play typical instrumental music. The only other stuff that sounds as rock as this but doesn’t usually have vocals is that Guitar Center virtuoso crap like… whoever, I don’t know. The key is that Friends Forever don’t drop the ball on engaging the audience, in the way that a vocalist often does. Besides playing right out of their van straight onto the sidewalk where the kids are, Friends Forever love to light fireworks under the audiences’ feet, or bash the audience with giant inflatable parachutes and totem poles. One time Jason even got on the roof of the van with a box fan strapped to his back and lit fireworks taped to each blade, bathing the audience in star dust. Thank you Jason.

8. When will you move to Hollywood?
Josh lived in Hollywood. He wants to do a lot of work as an extra. Did you know he was in You’ve Got Mail?

9. Why were you in an indie film when your favorite films are Hollywood films?
I assume by Indy-Film you mean Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Nate played Indy’s young Asian sidekick. Contrary to what you might think, that movie was filmed in Hollywood and not Indiana.

I, like so many other Friends Forever fans, first heard about them through the documentary Friends Forever the Movie. I was so moved by that film that I immediately wrote to Friends Forever asking them when they were coming to LA. Fortunately for me it was just like a month before they were coming here. I brought them a huge garbage bag of every piece of music I’d ever released. I was met back with just as much stuff to take back home. This was exactly the same type of generosity and love that I saw them have in the film. But when it came to the bands’ opinion on the film, they thought it made them look like fools. It was easy to tell they had little interest in talking about the movie with anyone. Yet still, that’s what everyone wanted to talk with them about – so much so that most people couldn’t even read the signs that it was an undesirable topic of conversation. On the other hand, their desire to spread love to people through music has only been helped by such a popular movie coming out. And it seems to me that over the years they’ve come to accept that more. I like to think that the first time I met them I said something like, “If a lot of people are coming to see you because of that movie, then what is important is what you do once they are there.” But I’m not sure if I just thought that or said it. What I do know is that Josh and I talked about our love for Vin Diesel and especially his film The Fast and the Furious. Most people think I’m a retard for loving action films like that, so it meant a lot to me that Josh respected and shared my love for such Hollywood crap. It also helped me see that what Friends Forever really want is a big budget Hollywood film about them. Something with them playing in their van while it is competing in a demolition derby, only to land in the end on top of a pile of burning cars and for them to leap out and blast anthems of destruction and fun into a wild naked audience of cheerleaders and mountain men!

10. Do you have a demo? Where can people get it?
This Question can be answered with a flowchart.

How about some facts? Here are the Friends Forever releases I know of:
--Friends Forever / Zombie Zombie split 7” on Nothing Gets Worse Than This
--Spring Break CD on NGWTT
--Friends Forever / Gang Wizard split 9” lathe cut on NGWTT / Blackbean and Placenta Tape Club / Deathbomb Arc (soon to be re-released as a CD on Deathbomb Arc w/ bonus tracks by both bands)
-- Soundtrack 12” on NGWTT
-- Killball 12” and CD on Load
-- Also coming soon, a track on the Cash Money Tribute compilation cd on Deathbomb Arc
-- Some early tapes???

11. What is a Friend? Are they necessarily all Forever?
Friends are people whom one shares similar interests with and whom one does activities with. It is impossible to tell if friends can be forever until we have reached the end of eternity. I will email you then and let you know.

So, people that see that movie about Friends Forever are often surprised that there is actually a third member of Friends Forever. Jason. Jason, who Jeff and Greg of Foot Village accurately concluded is the craziest member of Friends Forever. I mean, he plays the keyboard with his teeth and practices moshing by himself! He is awesome and it is pretty obvious why two Friends Forever would let a third person enter that holy circle. But then you think about it, and these guys got tons of awesome people in their lives. There is Amy who Josh loves in a special way and they play together in Debasor which is an equally awesome band to Friends Forever. There is Mike who is like the secret 4th member of Friends Forever, doing most of their production and crazy sound fx stuff on the records under the moniker Tres Quatro. There are Josh and Nate’s dogs who go on tour with them and sleep in the car and never throw a fit about it! And the list goes on and on. I mean, Josh and Amy drove all the way to LA once just to see their friend's band Zombie Zombie tear it up. I feel like this is not the type of thing most people would consider fit for an article about a band, but since this is my personal account and since that type of insight is important here, it is only with enthusiasm that I can end this all with something as terribly silly as: the “friends” in Friends Forever is everyone in the world!

Yuck….mushy stuff!

Here are some additional links about Friends Forever, Foot Village, and our tour together:

We hope to soon release a compilation of film footage from our tour together, including Josh getting beat up by locals in Pomona, CA, playing in a dust storm in Phoenix, and Friends Forever opening for Sonic Youth to kick off their tour. Stay tuned to either of our bands' websites for info on this.

Friends Forever and Foot Village live in the Redwoods, photos by Brian Miller