FOLLY
Interviews

NJ ska hardcore vets FOLLY discuss first new song in 14 years, new split, tour dates, and more!

Photo by Rob Yaskovic, @robyaskovic
Formed in 1997, FOLLY puts a wildly eclectic spin on your run-of-the-mill Ska, Punk, Metal, and Hardcore stylings. Never ones to paint within the lines, FOLLY proudly challenges listeners to join them in their genre-bending concoctions and their chaotic live shows. Stagedives, sing-alongs, and skankin’ to the rhythm, it all happens here… and it’s truly a beautiful thing.

Based out of Sussex County, New Jersey, FOLLY released numerous fabled demos, two EP’s, and two proper full-length albums on Triple Crown Records. Insanity Later (2004) was met with its share of fanfare and utter confusion. As they say, “if you know, you know.” The band toured the US consistently and released Resist Convenience (2006,) its namesake a nod to the band’s chosen path: doing things your own way, even if it’s the hard way. They lived in a van for months at a time, playing every VFW hall, basement bar, or house show they could coordinate. They lived out the Punk Rock dream of the masses to its logical conclusion, as FOLLY ended things in 2008. After a few years, they decided on a less fatalistic approach to their activity having risen from their musical ashes for a variety of festival dates and special appearances.

2019 saw the 15-year anniversary of FOLLY’s debut album. The band celebrated this milestone with a vinyl re-issue of Insanity Later, adding re-imagined artwork and a new layout, put out by their old friends at Triple Crown Records. Shortly after, as we all know, the world abruptly shut down. The band re-emerged once more in 2022 with a heightened level of activity. RTF Records re-issued the band’s 2002 demo on a limited-run cassette tape in July.

Just as recently as this past Friday, FOLLY triumphantly debuted their first new recorded music in 14 years with the hilariously titled “Walter White Whale” on Wavebreaker 3, a split 7-inch with The Best of The Worst on Bad Time Records.

FOLLY will be celebrating this momentous occasion with record release shows in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, followed by their first ever appearance at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida towards the end of October.

I was lucky enough to talk to founding members Arben Colaku & Jon Tummillo recently, via email, about all things FOLLY and what these Skacore pioneers might just have in store for us next.

Check that out below, lightly edited for general clarity, and pre-order a Wavebreaker 3 7-inch from Bad Time Records while you still can!

FOLLY band NJHC

Who are the current members of FOLLY, how long have each of you been in the band, and what instrument(s) do you play?

Arben Colaku: FOLLY is and has been since 2001: Jon [Tummillo] on vocals, Anthony [Willie] on drums, Agim [[Colaku,] and Geoff [Towle] on guitars, and myself on bass.

Did FOLLY ever break up? If so (or even if not,) what made you guys decide to re-invigorate the band in recent years?

Colaku: We “broke up” in 2008. At that time, it felt very final. We were under the naïve impression that FOLLY should only exist as a full-time, touring band. We found that while the band was integral to our lives and identities, it did not define our friendships. We have always been involved in each other’s lives and never stopped being there for one another. The idea to play again just took form organically over the years, here and there, for special events or projects. We would do shows with friends or to celebrate the anniversary of a release. It was always invigorating to play with a bit of an added purpose, like the upcoming split 7-inch with The Best of The Worst [TBOTW] on Bad Time Records. That project gave us all something to focus on and a goal to work towards.

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Jon Tummillo: We still get the “itch” and it still feels good to scratch it. However, focused we now are on our careers, our families, and other pursuits, we keep finding ourselves pulled back to get loud with each other. Truth is, at the very heart of it all, it still gives us all balance. We’re, fortunately, not too far away from each other geographically and we’re still very close spiritually. Also, we have the coolest fans that still support us, so we’re inspired to do something for them. When an idea for a project comes along, even though we’re all busy juggling other responsibilities in life, the constructivists in us say, “why not?”

What’s FOLLY’s upcoming touring schedule for the remainder of the year and beginning of 2023 looking like currently?

Colaku: To celebrate the release of the 7-inch, we are doing a few small club shows. October 8th at The Amityville Music Hall on Long Island, [New York,] October 15th at Crossroads in Garwood, New Jersey, and October 22nd at The Space Ballroom in Hamden, Connecticut.

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We purposefully chose these spots in order to work with venues and promoters that we have known for a long time and grew up with to a certain extent; keeping it “in the family,” so to speak. New Jersey is our home, so that was easy.

Long Island & Connecticut always felt like second homes, so we are incredibly excited to hit areas those up. We are honored to be a part of this year’s The Fest in Gainesville, Florida at the end of October.

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An offer to play The Fest was a big surprise to us and it all just kinda worked out perfectly to coincide with the release of the split with TBOTW. Nothing planned after this, so we’ll see where it all goes.

Can you tell us a bit about what the setlist(s) might look like for this upcoming string of shows?

Tummillo: Expect the typical handful of loyal bangers with an array of other tunes spread about the discography. We have a silly, but groovy instrumental cover as an opener and we’re covering one of our favorite Ska Punk tunes. I’m especially excited about this cover, as Jay [Selvaggio] from The Best of The Worst, Jared [Hart] of Mercy Union, and [Britt Luna] from CATBITE will accompany me on vocals in Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut, respectively. Perhaps most exciting is that we’ll feature “Walter White Whale” from the split 7-inch around which these shows revolve and we’ll premiere a song called “James Castle” that we’ve never recorded or played live. The latter will reward those that bring their dancing shoes to the shows.

How did you guys end up working with Bad Time Records?

Colaku: Mike [Sosinski] from [Bad Time Records] (BTR) contacted us out of the blue one day. He explained to us the idea behind the Wavebreaker split 7-inch series and how he aims to combine multi-generational Ska-influenced bands on one record. We were immediately in love with the idea. It was really a no-brainer joining forces with The Best of The Worst. They are spiritual successors to the Ska/Metalcore throne lol! We’ve long been fans of the label and Mike’s hard work and passion is obvious and admirable and his band, Kill Lincoln, is incredible.

There is a burgeoning Ska Punk scene across the country that Bad Time has had a large hand in supporting and promoting. It’s an honor to work with the label and resurrect ourselves for this release. The October 22nd show in Connecticut will be special, as it’s a bit of a Bad Time Records family party.

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Abraskadabra, The Best of The Worst, CATBITE, Kill Lincoln, and FOLLY. This will be the first Ska/Punk show we have played in a very long time. CAN’T F***ING WAIT!

What compelled you to re-release the FOLLY: 2002 Demo on limited edition cassette tape through RTF Records?

Colaku: Pat [Gerity] at RTF has been a long-time fan and supporter of the band. He’s been involved with NJ Hardcore & Punk for a very long time and he, also, runs the New Jersey Hardcore [@newjerseyhardcore] Instagram page, which is one of my personal favorites. Pat just hit me up one day and asked about releasing the 2002 Demo as little run of cassette tapes. We loved the idea and have always thought those versions of our songs deserved a physical release. He took charge of the artwork and design and there ya go; nice and easy. We did a little run of 100 tapes and the response was great. Sold out in a few hours.

Would you mind briefly discussing what listeners might end up hearing across the FOLLY: 2002 Demo RTF tape re-release?

Tummillo: Listeners will hear 20 years ago, basically. An audio time capsule on a stubbornly resilient medium, probably with the grit it deserves. It’s a listen-in of an insane and combustible time when we found “our sound.” There’s a lot of hunger in that sound when we were looking to chase the madness, so “[The] City [Is Drowning,]” “Broken,” and “[Please Don’t Shoot The] Piano [Player, He’s Doing The Best He Can]” embody that time very well.

In 2002, we had just started to break out of NJ and take things somewhat seriously and we were on the brink of breaking out of our shells creatively. Also, quite special [and] sentimental on our end is that we recorded those three songs at Big Blue Meenie Studio in Jersey City, NJ.

So, listeners will hear the fine-tuning from staff headed by Tim Gilles (R.I.P.) all of whom we came to love. This is where we’d, eventually, record Insanity Later & Resist Convenience, both albums that might not have even happened without the success of that demo. Side Note:—related—we were quite star-struck when we encountered Shai Hulud in the studio while tracking this demo. They were tracking That Within Blood Ill-Tempered there at the time. Sweet guys, they offered to do gang vocals on this demo and Geert [van der Velde] (who I still consider has the strongest and heaviest voice in Hardcore) kindly did the backing vocals on that original version of “Piano Player.”

How did you guys get involved with NJPP Archives’ Jersey Interchange project? Can we expect to hear any more of your contributions on upcoming installments in their series?

Tummillo: At the onset of The Lockdown during that initial and scary grip of The COVID Pandemic, social media brought people together in many clever ways. This NJPP project was one such way that people pitched in creatively to stay engaged with each other during such an anxious time when physical/social lives were put on hold indefinitely.

Music is such a galvanizing force when needed most, so when approached by Christian Lesperance in April of 2020, I was excited by the project as something that would keep the creative juju flowing, so I signed on.

When pitched a Mohawk Barbie and FEAR mash-up, I saw it as a fun challenge. Like, “how can I honor the legacy of these bands’ songs while still being myself and interpreting them in my own way?” Tricky. I’d take late-night drives to Geoff’s (FOLLY guitarist) house and scream in a makeshift vocal booth in the studio in his shed. It was a bizarre time when barely anyone even left their houses, when people were fearfully f***ing wiping down their mail and no one was on the roads at night, so those trips were eerie, but freeing.

Later on, I learned that my brother, Pat [Tummillo,] tracked the saxophone part, a secret he kept from me to surprise me before the track’s release. Pat is one of the major reasons I even got into music, so it’s pretty special to me that we’re on the same song together. Christian knocked it out of the park—it was his brain child—and I’m glad to have collaborated with him.

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I do a recurring column called We’ve Got A Flyer On You centered around mixed bill/genre shows and flyers. Off the top of your head, can you think of any particularly mixed bill shows FOLLY has played?

Colaku: Any show that we play is a “mixed bill” show in a sense, since we’ve always been a bit of a musical oddball. We’ve had a foot in a few different scenes, but always found commonalities with bands of various styles. Whether it be Hardcore, Ska, Indie Rock, [or] Screamo, there was always something to unite behind, which we always championed; support across genre-specific lines.

Some of our most formative days were spent attending and playing these classic NJ mixed bill shows, usually with seven to 10 bands in a firehouse or Legion hall basement.

Tummillo: The mixed bill is the only bill we ever preferred. As Arben mentions, we’re an automatic oddball in any line-up, but variety is key, for there’s something so refreshing about going to a show where no band emulates any other. We did full tours on mixed bills. For example, consider any tour we did with Paulson, one of our favorite bands and group of buds. In a logical sense, maybe, from a business standpoint, we had no business touring together, but the contrast between our sounds only seemed complimentary, strangely.

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Photo by Rob Yaskovic, @robyaskovic

A question from simpsonsXcore (@simpsonsxcore:) “You’re known for blending Metalcore & Ska, if you were to create an ideal show line-up, who would be on it, who would headline, who would open, etc.?”

Colaku: I think if you took The Suicide Machines, NOFX, Converge, and Q & Not U, you’d basically have us and a lot of our direct influences. Or, maybe, Slapstick, Candiria, Bad Religion, and Engine Down. Or Lifetime, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Bouncing Souls, Catch 22, Paulson, and For The Love Of, for a Jersey-specific show. We need to make that one happen. I’d legitimately lose my mind if any of these were stand-alone shows. I could go on all day… Bad Brains, Mephiskapheles, Built to Spill, Propagandhi, Hatebreed. Put us on anywhere. Sign me up!

A question from Dan Schenker: “So, can you recall a particularly memorable show or what was one of the coolest places you’ve ever played?”

Tummillo: It’s hard to pick one cool place. We’ve played Masonic temples, Elks lodges, Legion halls, house shows, old theaters, sports bars, skate parks, church basements, tattoo parlors, amphitheaters, legendary Punk Rock clubs (like C.B.G.B.’s or The Whiskey [A Go-Go,]) backyard wrestling matches, pizza parlors, dive bars, bowling alleys, castles, rec. centers, skating rinks, garages, aircraft hangars, barns… every place unique and memorable in its own way.

We definitely have our fair share of stories, adventures, and shenanigans to tell of any given night in any given place with all sorts of crazy characters we encountered. Our mentality on tour was basically, “we’re on vacation with these performances peppered in along the way.” Like, music enabled visits to mysterious places and experiences of wild things we would have never been able to experience any other way. And our mentality at shows was simply, “let’s get weird, loud, and have the time of our f***ing lives.”

Do you guys currently have any music in various stages of completion or ready for release relatively soon?

Colaku: Hell yeah. We recorded a “new” song for the Bad Time Records split. It’s called “Walter White Whale” and we’ve had it bouncing around for a few years [and] played it at a few shows. It’s the perfect song to include on the record. It’s very “FOLLY”, whatever that means.

We will, also, be playing another new song, never played out live before, at these upcoming shows. We have a few more in various stages of completion and we hope to record and release them one day. No plans on that, but we’ll see what the future holds for them.

FOLLY promo

Since re-forming FOLLY, have you guys had an opportunity to get back into the studio together to record music for any forthcoming projects or musical releases?

Tummillo: We recorded “Walter White Whale” [“WWW”] with Geoff (guitarist) at our practice space and in his shed, The Sax Shack, right around when The Pandemic hit. Initially, we just meant to demo it for ourselves for future reference, in the event that we ever do decide to make a run at an album.

We tracked “WWW” along with a handful of other tunes we’d been kicking around since our last recording in 2008. When approached by Mike of BTR to see if we were interested in being a part of their Wavebreaker series, if we had a song we could use for a split 7-inch with The Best of The Worst, we excitedly turned our attention to mixing “WWW” ourselves, instead of re-tracking and having it mixed elsewhere; had a lot of fun working together on it. Geoff, especially, worked really hard on it for us. It’s a little more raw than previous recordings and we’re excited to hear it on vinyl.

After these shows, we’ll see where we’re at with recording again, if ever again. We have amassed, yet never recorded several songs, so, maybe, it’ll all get organized and actualized one day.

FOLLY band

Photo by Rob Yaskovic, @robyaskovic

A question from Steve Balletto on Facebook: “Would you guys ever consider covering a Right Turn Eddie song?” Now, wasn’t Jon’s brother, Patrick “Pat” Tummillo, a member of Right Turn Eddie (RTE) at one point in time?

Tummillo: Ah, RTE! The best. Yeah, I’d cover EVERY song, although, we’d need to hire a horn section to do any of it justice. I’d probably pick “Butch,” if I had to pick one. My older brothers, Pete (trumpet) and Pat (sax,) were in Right Turn Eddie. They’re mainly responsible for getting me hooked on Ska and the NJ Ska Punk scene, as I tagged along to their shows as much as I could. My first glimpse into this amazing sub-culture was at their shows and I was encouraged by them to play in bands, at some point, even filling in on drums for them and, eventually, migrating to the front of the stage, winding up as a frontman in FOLLY. RTE was an incredibly influential band for me.

What’s planned next for FOLLY?

Colaku: After the run of October shows, who knows? I’d like to think there is more to come from us, just not sure what exactly that is or in what for it will take place. FOLLY is truly cockroach. Can’t be killed, will always survive, even after we attempted to end it ourselves. As long as we are still interested and invested, we will carry on.

There are so many personal connections and life developments created through this band. Every show we do is an attempt to honor our families, friends, and fans who elect to support us in any small way. Whether it’s buying a shirt or record, sharing a conversation and some laughs at the bar, or stagediving and singing along, it’s all for you and much as it is for us. Endless gratitude, always.

Thanks for having us!

How did it feel to have Gwarsenio Hall and his band of merry misfits at 2 Minutes to Late Night cover “Broken” as part of their ongoing Hardcore Forever series? Did you have any idea they were doing this or were you just as surprised as the rest of us when it dropped?

Colaku: Oh, that was the coolest! We got wind of it just before it was released. It took us by surprise and was truly a special moment for us. I’m a long-time fan of 2 Minutes to Late Night [and] have followed a lot what Jordan [Olds]/Gwarsenio does, this this was especially sweet for me.

Pierce [Jordan] from SOUL GLO initially suggested the song and they got a truly radical all-star team of contributors together. So thankful to be considered for something like that and, also, for the opportunity to become connected with Pierce & Jordan. I’ve had a few conversations with each of them. Both excellent people. Shout-out to SOUL GLO. Their record, Diaspora Problems, rules!

Also, [shout-out] to everyone involved from The Best of The Worst, CATBITE, JER, Grey Matter, Capra, and Angel Du$t.

For fans of FOLLY both new and old, what specific releases or songs would you recommend they check out to help introduce or re-familiarize themselves with your discography?

Tummillo: There’s really not much of an “arc,” and our four-release catalog only spans a stretch of seven years. No need to listen chronologically from our first EP to our last, so I’d say “dabble” instead.

In For My Friends [2001,] one may hear the embryonic makings of our sound and with Insanity Later [2004,] an actualization of our sound exists.

With Resist Convenience [2006,] one will hear us find the pocket and settle into a groove, and with These Are The Names [of Places We Broke Down In] (2008,) one will hear us in our experimental twilight state.

Nuances from recording to recording, but pick and choose any song from any recording and a person should kind of “get it.” I hope one day, we manifest the material we’ve written since that last release in 2008 because if we do record again, people will hear a real maturation with some new bells and whistles and tricks up our sleeves, but, also, with similar sensibilities we had when we were much younger.

Since you’re essentially known as The Godfathers of Ska-core, what are some of your personal favorite Ska-core bands (new or old) you think FOLLY fans would enjoy?

Tummillo: I wouldn’t consider us that, for other O.G.’s paved the way for us to find our niche. Although, now we’re finding that we’re an influential band for others, by which we’re humbled and honored, so it’s “full-circle,” in a sense.

As for recommendations, I’d typically turn to the bands that inspired us, or bands we borrowed a bit from here and there, like The [Mighty Mighty] BossToneS, [Operation] Ivy, [The] Suicide Machines, Big D [& The Kids Table], MU330, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Thumper, Assorted Jelly Beans, etc., but, now, I’m hearing contemporary Ska Punk bands that push the boundaries, too.

So, I’d advocate for bands, like Kill Lincoln, The Best of The Worst, Omnigone, Ocho Kalacas, and Popes of Chillitown, to name a few.

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FOLLY promo 2022

FOLLY

NJ ska hardcore vets FOLLY discuss first new song in 14 years, new split, tour dates, and more!
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