INTERVIEW: The Faceplants

The Faceplants are gearing up for a busy year. The Vancouver power-pop rockers are celebrating the release of their new single, “Why”, with a show at The Roxy this Saturday March 14th.

The song is the first of three singles the band will be releasing this year, leading up to release of their sophomore EP in 2016. Aside from new music, The Faceplants will be embarking on a Canadian tour in May, not only to perform, but to stop by middle and high schools across the country with their ‘Keeping The Fire Alive’ program.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat with lead singer and songwriter Dan Botch about the band’s new single, musical inspirations, and more. What was the first song in your memory that inspired you to pursue music?

Dan Botch: So growing up, my parents listened to everything – and now being a musician, I listen to everything. It is so important as a songwriter and a musician to be inspired by everything around me, and my parents had that philosophy as well. The first song I ever heard… would have to be “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones.

My dad was really into punk-rock, he was really into rock’n’roll, and those were my first inspirations as a kid growing up – the music that my dad liked. So it would have to be by The Ramones, and The Ramones to this day are one of my favourite bands of all time, if not my favourite band of all time.

A: On the topic of inspiration, The Faceplants recently released “Why”, which has more of a reggae influence than your previous music. What inspired the sound behind the new single?

DB: This is kind of diving deep here. When we released our EP in 2012, I’m not saying those were bad songs or anything like that, but since the EP, since 2012, we haven’t released any other music – “Why” is the first thing we’ve released. Between the time of the EP and the release of “Why”, it was… not a break or anything like that, it was time for me as a songwriter to really delve in to figure out who I am, my identity as a songwriter and just figure myself out.

That’s why “Why” is so important to me, because when the EP happened, it was produced by Tommy Mac of Hedley. I mean, the songs were okay, the songs were great, they stand on their own, but we were more caught up on, “Oh my god, Tommy Mac of Hedley is producing our EP, that’s amazing!” not, “Wow, are these really songs that are coming from us, are these songs that really reflect me greatly as a songwriter?”

So it was kind of a whirlwind. Those songs were okay, we threw them out there, we did a little bit of touring, but then that time in between was the time I really took to figure out who I was a songwriter. I was always really inspired by Sublime, No Doubt, and The Police. We’re really a festival band, we’re a summer band, and reggae just goes hand in hand.

Our live show is really inspired by rock, just in your face personality and mentality, but we play pop songs so I love writing pop melodies. In the summer aspect, the reggae aspect, comes through really nicely in our music, just because we love to have fun and reggae is fun.

“Why” is really special to me because it’s the first glimpse of who The Faceplants really are. This isn’t a comeback, this isn’t “Oh, we’re finally figuring it out!” – we just know now it’s the real deal, 100%, and you can expect more of just true, honest music. No gimmicks, just the real deal, from this point on. “Why” is the beginning of a new journey and that’s why it means so much to me.

A: Like you’ve mentioned, the band has been writing, recording, and touring heavily in the last few years and you’ve recently added Patty Spencer on drums and Chris Wong on bass. In addition to songwriting, what else would you consider as growth for the band since the first EP?

DB: When we released our EP, we hadn’t done any touring, we just played shows around town. We released the EP and then I went to school for music business, now we don’t have a record label, we don’t have management outside, we’re all in-house, we do everything ourselves.

So the growth, to answer your question, we’ve just learnt things on our own, we can do everything ourselves. We’re five, smart individuals that know the business and know that relationships are extremely, extremely important. We just are open books, learning every single day. For an up and coming band, to know the business, is so, so paramount and to be a band that is able to wear all hats is super, super important.

That’s definitely something we’ve grown in. Our live shows as well from being on tour, you play every single day, you grow as a band. Just learning every single day, just growing together as a family. They’re my family, they’re people that I want to be playing David Letterman with down the road. These are people that I’m living with, so we grow every single day.

A: I checked out your YouTube channel and there were a few older videos from when you guys did the Friday Night Covers and I loved the choices, especially Wave’s “California”. You’ve previously mentioned your love of pop music. What would you say makes up the components of a great pop song?

DB: What I think a good pop song is a song that has a catchy core, something that people can dance to, something that people can sing along to, and at the same time something that people can relate to. So a chorus that pops up enough times, a couple good verses, and you’re out. There’s all these bands that write all these freaking long, long songs. That’s not the way I write, I came from listening to short, to-the-point rock songs. Bands like The Ramones, it’s just two minute songs.

What makes a great pop song I think, is a great chorus, something that’s catchy, something that the crowd can sing along to, have fun to, but not mindless at the same time. There’s so much mindless music. It’s just something that’s also meaningful and that people can relate to on any level, whether it be a party song, a song about ‘Baby, I love you’, whatever it is, just something people can relate to and have fun to. That’s what I think.

A: With your plans to tour Canada in May, The Faceplants are also planning to spend the time performing, but also speaking to schools. How did the idea of “Keeping The Fire Alive” program come about and how did it develop?

DB: We came about it really organically and very randomly too. We played a bar show in Prince George as part of our tour in 2013. Nobody was at the bar show – Prince George, like nobody was there. But, some guy from the school district was there and he said, “You guys are great, have you ever thought about playing schools?” No, we hadn’t thought about that, but our music is clean, there’s no cursing, there’s none of that crap. It’s just music that people can have a good time to, but we’d never thought about playing schools.

He says, “I’m a guy from the school district in Prince George, I’d love to put you on a tour playing schools in and around BC.” We played a couple of shows, they were good, in a couple of schools in BC but we knew that we needed a message to get into schools. We can’t just get in there and play our songs and get out. With my songs, I want to inspire people to have a good time and just to let loose.

Me writing songs that run that line, we just thought it came natural that we speak about keeping the fire alive, about perseverance, about following your dreams. A lot of people are doing the anti-bullying thing, we just didn’t want to follow the crowd and we thought we would do something different. It’s great – we perform for the kids, we give our speech, questions, we meet them after the show, we’re involved with them on Twitter and Facebook, and it’s a whole community.

It’s been amazing so far, and it’s still in its infancy, but it’s something that we’re really going to push this tour in May. That’s something that we love to do and something that we want to do for the future.

A: I think that’s great! I remember even when I was in high school, the speakers that came in, you learned something from them and got a message to take away from it.

DB: Yeah, exactly! A band called The Trews came to my school, it was cool. Being that young and being like middle school, high school – it’s so impressionable too. We’ve been blessed so far, because I don’t think a lot of bands have been doing that, and it was out of luck, and we’ve made the most out of it and we’re going to continue to do it.

A: If you could narrow down a message that you would want your music to convey, what might that be?

DB: With who we are as individuals and who we are as a band and the way we perform live and what we speak about in songs, our music is just about having a good time. But as I’ve said before, there’s a lot of mindless music that’s just party! party! Let’s have a good time! – we’re not like that, we’re about inspiring people, about getting up and doing something.

It’s all reflective of myself and the other guys in the band, there was a turning point of where were like, “Are we gonna do this? Are we really gonna do this?” after we graduated music college, we’re like okay, this is what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives. It’s just that turning point of, okay, we know we only have one life, we know that we want to do something great and fulfill our whole potential.

I think that’s something that we want to turn onto people. It doesn’t have to be music, if you to be a ballet dancer, or a professional whatever – who cares, it doesn’t matter. The point is that I want to push across and get across that yes, you can be great and just to be great and inspire people to do amazing things. That’s where a lot of our songs are going, and that’s a message that I want to get out to people more than anything.

Let’s have a good time, let’s forget about the bad, but let’s go do something as well. I mean, all of our fans and all of our supporters go along with that message and they support us with it the whole way.


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Photo credit: Leigh Righton