by Brian Miller
by Mike Fierstein
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?
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
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
does rock hair come from?
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.
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.
do Friends Forever songs come from?
don’t “play” ‘songs’ yet.
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.
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.
do the songs go when people hear them?
‘Brain-lobe’ region of their skull.
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.
you play live?
play with lives with knives
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
is your favorite thing to do?
Mountain Biking, Roller Blading, Voting, as well as other
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.
is your favorite word, besides cornhole?
Like QOQ and the word Quok.
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.
will you move to Hollywood?
lived in Hollywood. He wants to do a lot of work as an extra.
Did you know he was in You’ve Got Mail?
were you in an indie film when your favorite films are Hollywood
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.
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!
you have a demo? Where can people get it?
Question can be answered with a flowchart.
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???
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.
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
some additional links about Friends Forever, Foot Village,
and our tour together:
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.
and Foot Village live in the Redwoods, photos by Brian Miller