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We must speak: an interview with Denver’s FAIM!

First mentioned in our end-of-the-year feature with Greg Bennick, Denver based pissed off, politically infused hardcore pack FAIM is a force to be reckoned with. The band has been announced for the 20th anniversary of European’s finest DIY hardcore punk festival, Fluff Fest, and it’s high time we have a closer look at their story and agenda. We caught up to talk about their reasons, non-musical motivations to run a band, and a lot more! See the full interview below.

Hey hey! Thanks so much for taking some time with us! I’m stoked, cause you guys have been called by many as one of the most interesting and promising young acts to check out in 2018 and 2019, and you’re already hitting our shores. Give us a brief overview on this project, what led you to form FAIM, and how have your first years of operation gone?

Kat: Back in October of 2015, I went to Fest in Gainesville with Modern Life is War. I was at breakfast with John and Luke talking about how I missed being in a band. They both told me to just start a new one. I went back to Denver determined to make this happen.

Over the next few months, I met Matt and Chris and suggested we start a band. Matt brought in Nick, and then I convinced the other Chris to move from Rhode Island to Denver. That’s how we came to be. We were a bunch of hardcore kids from the east and west coasts wanting to make hardcore we loved from the early 2000s. The Denver scene is so welcoming, and it didn’t take long for people to start putting us on shows. We also helped book some shows for our friends in touring bands.

We decided to make it a bit more serious, record a 7”, and tour. It’s been a good reaction in a short amount of time, so we decided to give Europe a shot.

Chris: I think we sort of found each other – being older hardcore kids and we just wanted to play music for the sake of that release – something a lot of us had not done for years before that. I truly thought I was done with that part of my life – that I would never play a show again, never go on tour, etc. I don’t think anyone had the intention of it being anything serious, but things escalated and we were just extremely grateful to be able to do it to the extent we have. I never realized how much I missed it and how much I needed it.

Powerful sonic assault often comes with shallow content, but obviously it’s not the case with FAIM. „More than music” mentality has been the major source of inspiration for punk and politically and socially conscious artists in recent decades, but not always comes along with real life actions and activities that make the real change. Where do you draw the line between „preaching” and screaming loudly about certain issues and undertaking real-life actions to reinforce the overall message? Aree you actively engaged in any specific non-profits and non-music activity that support your lyrical stance? Do you or any of your band members participate in activism?

Kat: This is a really important issue we try to address often. So many just post on social media about the injustices of the world, but often they don’t get out from behind their screens. We try to participate in activism in our work lives as well as in our spare time. I am a teacher, but also getting my principal license. I spend a lot of my time working on building equity in schools and providing the best opportunities for all students. My goal as a principal is to focus on creating school environments where teachers understand that all child have different needs, and that we need to focus on improving how we interact particularly with boys of color. I work in a district that has many “traditional” teachers who discipline students often, when a lot of the time those students are the ones who need the most love and support.

In my spare time I volunteer at a vegan farm sanctuary helping to care for animals, educate people on the importance of veganism, and rescue animals from slaughter and abandonment. Just this week, I helped the farm rescue 250 pigs from a hoarding situation where they were ordered to be adopted out or euthanised.

Chris: I think the impetus behind the song “All Talk” was this sort of feeling being in a political band, and wanting to keep ourselves in check that we were doing more than just preaching. The song is extremely self-critical.

As a band, it’s really important to us to use whatever platform we have to elevate the work other people are doing. To that end, we’ve organized benefits for a local immigrant rights organization and we just put out an unreleased song with all the proceeds going to a pro-choice organization in the Southern United States.

I’m a public defender (I defend poor people accused of crimes) and do a lot of legal support for various causes – even to the point where I ended up being arrested and charged with multiple felonies while doing legal support during the Trump Inauguration protests. Beyond that, I try to just show up and support work others do and keep challenging myself to be more involved.

Continued below…

Do you think once you formed FAIM and now have a platform, you have a certain responsibility to speak out about what’s going on around you and be critical about it? Do you feel more inspired to create and react artistically?

Kat: I think choosing to be a political band means we MUST speak about issues we find critical, especially within a scene that has often been misogynistic. I have been in the hardcore scene for two decades now, and ever since rape culture and predatory behavior was finally getting called out, I have seen a shift, which is encouraging. There is still a lot of work to do, though, especially when we still have guys running parts of the scene in a way that is exclusive of everyone who is not a man, in particular a white man. Hardcore is still male-dominated. Look at the majority of photos, and it’s still just a lot of white guys. I am hopeful that it is changing though. Slowly but surely.

With regards to social issues, it feels like we have to do more to get our voice out. Many of the societal values we hold are often held by others in the room, so that’s why it is important to go out and interact with people who aren’t part of our subculture. We aren’t doing much by preaching to the choir.

FAIM by Jacki Vitetta

FAIM by Jacki Vitetta

Before it is even political, do you think that punk or music in general can be transformative these days? How much do you feel punk shows attendees care about the message?

Kat: Gosh. This is a really good question. I think it depends on the group within the punk scene. Some shows I go to, it’s all about the mosh and how hard you can punch someone. Then, some shows are about the message. For example, we recently played Promcore in Tulsa, OK. This fest is a benefit for Oklahomans for Equality, which is amazing. Then there were probably 6 or 7 other bands that had strong messages and spoke about important issues. That was inspiring to be a part of. It made me excited about making this music.

In general, though, I often feel discouraged at shows because it feels like so much of it is about the fashion. There has always been that part of the punk scene. It just feels prevalent right now.

Chris: I think, as a band, we are sometimes the punk band on a hardcore show, or the hardcore band on a punk show. Sometimes we find ourselves out of the echo chamber and are playing in front of hardcore kids who have never really been exposed to certain political ideals. I learned about animal rights, veganism, anarchism, issues about consent, etc. through punk shows as a teenager and those were really informative and influential things. So while there is a lot of preaching to the choir, there is always this really young kid that has never thought about certain things and is being exposed to these ideas for the first time.

What drives you in what you do with this band?

Chris: Punk and hardcore are very simple. Most of the time, entirely derivative and unoriginal. We’re not beyond that truth.

However, for me, it’s about the process and the catharsis of doing this that drives me. When we play, it’s a situation that we find ourselves in and in 20 short minutes, it’s over. We all feel it. It has its own personal and internal value – regardless of how other people react, if they react at all. Fortunately, when other people respond positively to this, it really adds a layer of depth and value, cutting through sort of alienation we can find ourselves in.

Is there something you miss about hardcore community these days?

Kat: I think Denver has an amazing hardcore community. Living in Tacoma, WA now, I am constantly missing what the Denver community has. It’s enthusiastic and supportive. The PNW is just lacking right now, which I think it will eventually come out of. I miss a lot of the music from the past. I miss more bands touring across the country. However, I believe the hardcore community is more welcoming than it has ever been.

Chris: I miss hardcore being a jumping off point directly into activism. I came up when every show had someone tabling zines and the punks were equally involved in activist projects. The first time I ever did an animal rights home demo, it was directly from a fest – so I wish there was more overlap between the ideals in hardcore/punk and direct action that can come from it. I do see things moving back towards that direction, which is really great and I hope to continue to encourage that.

Ok, so you’re about to hit European roads! Tell us about how this idea popped up and how excited are you to play some shows here.

Kat: Chris and I have always wanted to tour Europe with a band. We were offered to play Fluff Fest, so we decided to make a whole tour out of it! It’s been a dream of ours to be able to play our music overseas, and excitement doesn’t quite cover how we feel.

FAIM tour

Any specific locations, events or bands you’re stoked about?

Kat: We are most stoked for Fluff Fest! That was a bucket list item for us. We are also opening the Wurzburg Have Heart show so that’s just an amazing opportunity (but also scary). I am especially excited for Novi Sad, Serbia. I hear their scene is just amazing, and as someone who is part, Serbian, I’m very excited to visit part of my family’s past.

What are your first associations with Europe?

Chris: I lived in Barcelona for 6 months in 2006, and was able to travel a bit and tagged along with an American band through Spain on a few dates of their European tour and the whole experience, seeing a really political minded punk culture, was so inspiring to me when I was 22 years old. I’m also a sucker for history and studied leftist social movements in college, so I’m very excited to just explore and be a nerd.

Can you send us some pics and post tour commentary when you get back to the States in late July? It would be great to have a quick follow up feature with you guys.

Yes! We would love to do that!

Great! Thanks so much for your time and feel free to drop your last words! Cheers from Warsaw!

FAIM European tour dates:

11.7 Vienna, AT @ Venster 99
12.7 Budapest, HU – @ TBD
13.7 Novi Sad, RS – @ CK13
14.7 Pula, HR @ Monte Paradiso
15.7 Milan, IT @ Villa Vegan
16.7 Turin, IT @ Longrail House
17.7 Freiburg, DE – KTS Freiburg
18.7 Strasbourg, FR – @ Elastic Bar
19.7 Würzburg , DE @ Posthalle (with Have Heart, Abuse of Power, Mil-Spec, Tides Denied)
20.7 Berlin, DE – @ K19 (with Time & Distance, Protein)
21.7 Warsaw, PL @ Chmury (with Time & Distance, Protein)
22.7 TBD
23.7 Grimma ,DE @ Juha Rosswein
24.7 Nuremburg, DE @ Project 31
25.7 Prague, CZ – Prefluff Hardcore Matinee (with Time & Distance, Protein, Wake of Humanity, Disavow, Clear x Cut, Desencadenar,Remission, Sharp Knives, Jodie Faster, Greg Bennick)
26.7 Fluff Fest – with Ceremony, Torso, Wake of Humanity and more

We must speak: an interview with Denver’s FAIM!
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