FaceMan, described to Westword in 2011 as “the GWAR of folk,” is both solo artist guitarist and vocalist Steve (just Steve, like Sting or Cher) and a Denver indie folk rock trio including Steve, David Thomas (guitar), and Dean Hirschfield (drums). Today, the trio released the video for their newest single “Yes (LifeIsTheParty)” and tomorrow evening, FaceMan opens the Fight Club night at Film on the Rocks along with Flashbulb Fires.
Even with their hectic schedule, the three musicians of FaceMan took a few minutes to discuss their career, unique sound and live shows with AXS.
AXS: Congratulations on your Westword Music Award nomination in the rock (indie) category! Was the band together when you guys received the good news?
Steve: Yes! We were all huddled around my grandmother's TV set and were blown away by the nomination!
AXS: Has FaceMan had the opportunity to perform at Red Rocks before?
Steve: No, this will be the first of many Red Rocks performances!
Dean: I had a yearly gig there every spring for 4 years (high school graduations).
AXS: Are there any shows the members of FaceMan have seen performed at Red Rocks that stand out?
Steve: Willie Nelson circa 2001; Radiohead circa 2004.
David: Meat Puppets and Primus.
AXS: Where was your recent single, “Yes (LifeIsTheParty),” recorded?
Steve: Uneven Studios by Bryan Feuchtinger.
AXS: Where did you tape the single’s music video?
Steve: At Joyco Media in Denver, Colorado with Greg Carr.
AXS: Is FaceMan currently working on any other projects?
Steve: Yes, we try to build stuff to play in like giant sharks and shoeboxes. We have built a giant piece of pink soap for our Red Rocks performance tomorrow in honor of Fight Club. Our pink soap says FaceMan on it. We work with Justin, Katie and Keli of Incite Productions on our stage designs. We have a lot more up our sleeves coming this summer.
AXS: Are you all Denver natives? If not, where is everyone originally from?
David: I was born in Seattle, Washington but lived here my whole life.
Steve: Yes, three Denver natives minus Dave's claim of being born in Seattle; I don't believe him.
AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Steve: Our first show was where everyone's first show was, Larimer Lounge! We played on a Sunday evening and it was hotter than hell.
AXS: What local bands/artists do you like?
Steve: The Knew, The Outfit, Strange Americans, Bud Bronson and the Goodtimers, Colfax Speed Queen, and SO MANY OTHERS. Tons of great music in Denver.
David: The Outfit, The Knew, Strange Americans, Native Daughters, Altas.
Dean: Strange Americans, Altas and Saw Mill Joe
AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired FaceMan?
David: The two sides of the Denver sound: Ron Miles/Bill Frisell and 16 Horsepower/Slim Cessna's Auto Club.
Dean: Some of my most influential Denver musicians/bands would be Ron Miles, 16 Horse Power and the Psychedelic Zombiez -- I’m old.
AXS: What else is FaceMan involved in locally, either as individuals or as a group?
David: I am the pater familius [sic] with three kids, but I just do music.
Dean: I play with Jesse Manley (also playing Film on the Rocks on August 25), and the Playground Ensemble, which is a chamber music group that focuses on performing classical music written by living composers.
AXS: To the Westword Music Showcase attendee who has never heard FaceMan songs, what would you tell them about your music to pique their interest?
Steve: We are a rock band. We like to build things to play inside of!
AXS: Does FaceMan have a goal in mind for the sound the band produces? Are their certain influences or themes the band tries to inject into its own music?
Steve: The overall goal is to put out 10 albums in 10 years. We're 3 for 3 and almost done with #4. It's a goal that keeps us focussed on the most important thing to us, which is writing music.
AXS: After almost five years together, what have you learned?
Steve: I think we've learned that in this day and age you have to stay focused on having fun and writing music. It's easy to get caught up in the scene and day-to-day struggles of booking, marketing, etc. You have to keep reinventing yourself. We try to challenge ourselves creatively and constantly strive to improve in everything we do. Our band is very laid back and we try to surround ourselves with creative people. We are unsigned and do all of the management which can be a struggle but it's allowed us to remain true to our vision of writing and performing music. You have to have a TON of patience in this industry and realize that entitlement is a poison.
Dean: Dave has a hard time waking up to an alarm clock.
AXS: What would FaceMan’s ideal live show look like? Where would it take place? Any particular time of year? Would a specific band/musician share the bill with or open for FaceMan?
Steve: The show is called FaceMan's Lunar Landing. We would build an installation on the moon and take 100 people with us. If that's cost prohibitive we would just build a giant couch fort at the Walnut Room on August 16th, 2014.
AXS: What keeps you in FaceMan? What about this band makes you jump out of bed and want to play and write with this group of musicians?
Steve: FaceMan is an amazing project. It gets me off the couch and out on the street meeting people and dreaming big. It's an incredible amount of work but it's worth it. I'm very proud of Dave and Dean and everything that they do to contribute to the project. They are amazing musicians.
Dean: A court mandate.
AXS: What shows are you looking forward to this summer?
Steve: FaceMan's Giant Pink Soap at Red Rocks Ampitheater tomorrow, June 10, 2014!
David: I want to go check out Adam Bartczak at Westword Showcase. That guy is a great musician.
AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Steve: The people. There's a lot of great people.
David: Like most cities, Denver has its fair share of fashion people playing guitars. But there are some unbelievable musicians that live here and play: people who understand that this is a life thing, not a money thing.
Dean: Denver has its own artistic identity. It is not trying to be any other city. We have our own independent sound here, and that goes for multiple genres, jazz, rock, bluegrass, polka, whatever... Denver does not need to identify with any coast city, because the voice coming from Denver is unique, confident and strong.