Taste of Chaos
The San Manuel Amphitheater Fairgrounds
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Tucked in the hillside of San Bernardino at what was previously Glen Helen was a nonstop day of amplified emotional wreckage. The heavy heat of the day didn’t stop throngs of people from coming out to hear some of their favorites of the alternative/punk-pop scene era. The Taste of Chaos rotating stage kept the music going without a pause, as act after act took turns delivering their best to the excited crowd. This genre has been around for a while now, but it still has many loyal fans. Most of the bands were noticeably moved by this fact and spoke of it on stage.
Like a ‘Warped Tour Lite’, the line-up hosted many bands who have shared the stage together before. Dashboard Confessionals, Finch, Glassjaw, The Movielife and Saves the Day were just a few of the many bands that made the day seem like a nice bit of déjà vu. The fairgrounds filled with bodies was washed over with anthems of loss and misspent youth saturated in a high dose of nostalgia from the bands and audiences alike.
For the most part it was an exceptional day of music. The only questionable segment of the day was the DJ set by Blink 182’sMark Hoppus. Now, when Hoppus says he wants to perform a DJ set any promoter would of course say yes, but in this particular setting it was kind of a FAIL. The set included several moments of Blink 182 songs merged with some slightly newer power-punk/emo like Panic at the Disco. Hoppus threw in tracks like Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”, “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman” from Frozen, “Turn Down for What?” and some ‘countrified’ hoedown cover of a Blink 182 song. Even though the crowd made the most of it singing and dancing along, many looked at it as a break.
As the sun subsided and the heat broke the intensity level went sky high. Multiple fairground dramas played out; the usual scraps between audience members, panicked participants crushed under the weight of the fans, puking, fighting, and losing belongings including prescription glasses (seen crushed on the ground).
The feel-good band of the day was undoubtedly Jimmy Eat World. They had the audience in the palm of their hands with recognizable songs like “Bleed American” and “The Authority Song”, ending with “Sweetness” and “The Middle” had the fairground area in unison as their personal choir.
Thrice and the headlining band The Used brought the real ‘chaos’ of the day, setting the stage and the fans on fire. With searing dynamic songs like “Under a Killing Moon” and the soul-draining “Firebreather”, Thrice brought the audience to a boil. The Used then brought the close of the night to a new level as singer Bert McCracken fronted the band decked out as one of Anthony Burgess’s Droogs from “A Clockwork Orange” while singing songs like the psychotic circus-like “The Bird and The Worm”, and the raw and volatile “Blood on My Hands”. Needless to say, the tightly-packed crowd was singing along to every song.
Southern California band Finch has had a lasting impact on their fans. They have faced some tumultuous times, but their musical passion has ultimately brought them back from the brink of disaster. After arriving on the scene in 1999, Finch put out their first full-length album “What it is to Burn” on Drive-Thru Records in 2002. This highly acclaimed record helped pave the way for many of the post-hardcore bands that were to follow. After the release of their second album “Say Hello to Sunshine” in 2005, the band endured some chaotic years that threatened to bring on their demise. But in 2012, they came back together to work on their third album “Back to Oblivion”, released in September 2014.
Over the past year the band has hit the road hard in support of “Back to Oblivion”, invigorating their fan base and attracting new followers along the way. Finch has evolved and matured, while still retaining the best parts of their signature sound. With anthemic melodies and crushing rhythms all underscoring Nate Barcalow’s strong vocals, and navigating a musical battlefield ranging from lyric to corrosive, several of the tracks on “Back to Oblivion” feature some of the bands finest work to date.
We got bassist Daniel Wonacott to take a few minutes to answer some questions about what it’s been like for this influential band since the release of their last album.
As a band that’s been around for a while, how has the band had to adjust during the major changes in the industry?
The short answer is that we have to tour more. Nobody buys records anymore, streaming services don’t pay anything so bands have to stay on the road to make a living. On a day to day basis, we are still doing what we’ve always done, which is to write and record the best material we can create.
Having been through a few changes in your career what were the major changes in how you approached writing “Back to Oblivion” in 2014 vs. “What it is to Burn” back in 2002?
We had to start over, we had to figure out what our band sounded like again, what felt good to us in the room while we were jamming. Every band has personal dynamics that dictate the sound of any given writing session. “Back to Oblivion” came from a very different place than the other two albums, some of the songs came quickly and others we had to fight through, for us to finally get the third album completed was a big deal. We are so proud of that record, it represents a lot to us.
What are your favorite songs to play live from “Back to Oblivion”?
I love playing “Anywhere But Here”, “Play Dead” and “The Great Divide” there’s a lot of diversity on “Back To Oblivion”, playing those songs live is really fun for us.
Are there any songs on your recording that you feel are better represented in live than on the recordings?
We worked very hard on the production of “Back to Oblivion”, it was really important to us that the performances were natural and that we captured a ‘real’ version of every song… it was important to us with the set of material we were dealing with, not have a record that was edited to death. So, playing the songs live isn’t too big of stretch from the recordings. I think “Play Dead” surprised us all, its a slow burning song and we didn’t necessarily anticipate it feeling so great live, now its one of our favorite songs to play.
What was it like making the video for “Play Dead” and how did you come up with the concept?
I was talking with Grizzly and Pappas one day at rehearsal, telling them that I wanted to direct a Play Dead video… I had this concept for someone burying someone alive and dragging around a body bag, but I wanted it to be like a Cohen brothers vibe… not a horror movie vibe. Then Grizzly pipes and up and says “I wanna be the killer in the video, and I want to bury Nate” So that’s what we did. We shot it over a couple days in Mount Baldy CA… it was really fun, I’m super proud of how it came together.
What inspired he song “Us vs. Them”?
I know musically I had been playing around with some very circular bass lines, so I put together the bass line with that major/minor twinkly guitar part, and found that very simple yet powerful chord progression for the chorus and from there we basically jammed it and tried to make it sound like a smashing pumpkins song! The arrangement has a very kind of tense, plotting feel… I guess it inspired Nate to write an ‘Us vs Them’ story.
In as few words as possible describe the playing style of each of the band members.
We all play together… figure it out together.. over all the years all the roles in the band start to blur and everyone’s playing style starts to really mesh.
Do you read what your fans post online?
Yea, we try to keep an eye on what our fans are trying to communicate to us… it’s inspiring just to know that people care about the music you write. On the other hand, as an artist you have to be committed to your muse… to what moves you. Sometimes you need to ignore the larger world of internet blather and take some time to reconnect with who are and start that long journey of finding those songs that are out there waiting for you.
You’ve been touring heavily. What have been some memorable moments from your tour?
Warped Tour was great for us, we had lots of friends on the tour and we were thrilled to be on the main stage. We’ve played South Korea twice in the last year and half… that’s pretty memorable! I never thought we’d be killing it in Korea! We’ve got a lot more touring ahead of us as well… we’re super excited to get back on the road next year.
In your eyes, what is a Finch fan like?
A real Finch fan is patient and willing to listen to a record more than once. We have so many amazing fans that really pay attention to what we do musically and that is so flattering… it still amazes me.
What has it been like doing the meet and greets?
We love meeting our fans, we love being a part of their life in a small way, inspire them to follow their dreams. We meet so many interesting people and they add so much to our life.
What, if anything is still on your wish list as a band?
There’s a lot on that list haha! A new record next year, I’d like to tour Africa, I’d like to do a double album someday…
You spent the better part of the past year on the road in support of “Back to Oblivion” now winding down with “Taste of Chaos” this October. Are you gonna chill for a bit? What’s next?
We’d like to have a new record out as soon as possible, then get back on the road!
What do you like to do when you have down time?
I have a 9 year old son… there is no down time! haha, when I’m not touring I’m spending time with my family or busy in the studio making music.
In 30 years what do you think the legacy of Finch will be?
I think that’s up to the fans, We’re proud of every record we’ve made, each of them is different and special. Hopefully in 30 years there’s a long list of Finch records and each of them sounds unique!
Thanks guys for the interview and the killer music!
We’ll be there to catch Finch at Taste of Chaos in San Bernadino Saturday October 3rd.