Interview with Chris Farren | By Samantha Spoto
In 2013, Chris Farren found himself alone in New York working on what would become the final, unreleased Fake Problems record. For him, this was the end of an era; what he began as a teenager in Naples, Florida, and what had steered him into the next decade of his life was now falling to pieces in front of his eyes.
Out of desperation, and with guidance from his manager, Farren tried to find collaborators to help him through the writing process. Ultimately, this foreign way of creating music left him feeling uncomfortable and lost. On one of his last nights in the city, before Farren would return home nearly empty-handed, he stopped by to see his friend Jeff Rosenstock. It was there, in Rosenstock’s small Brooklyn apartment, that the DIY aficionado suggested the two write a song together.
“Foolishly, it honestly never occurred to me to try to write songs with people I knew,” Farren admits. “I had it in my head that I needed to get with industry hitmakers. The next day, I went back to Jeff’s, and we wrote a song together. It was really easy and felt so natural. I’m pretty sure that was actually the first time I had ever written a song with anyone and felt satisfied with the result.”
The two went their separate ways after that, with Farren headed back to Florida to record the Fake Problems album that never came to be and Rosenstock on the road for what would be the final tour of his critically-acclaimed band Bomb The Music Industry!
“When [Fake Problems] got the mixes back, we all agreed it wasn’t good enough to release. I felt heartbroken and depressed and like a failure, but I knew I had to do something,” Farren says. “I texted Jeff and asked him if he wanted to make more music together. I first pitched the idea of doing a solo split 7”, and Jeff said, ‘No, that’s boring. Let’s start a band.’ I sent him a bunch of songs I had been working on and bought a plane ticket to New York.”
Together again, the two bonded over the difficult transitions they were dealing with, most notably that their passion projects had both met their demise. It seemed that the pair had found each other at just the right time. During that visit, Farren and Rosenstock wrote and recorded what would become their first EP as the band Antarctigo Vespucci, 2014’s Soulmate Stuff.
Now, the duo are set to release their poppy sophomore full-length, Love in the Time of E-mail, on Oct. 26 via Polyvinyl Records. “The two main things I find come up a lot in this record are the ideas of obsession and friendship,” Farren says. “There’s a lot of stuff in these songs about a desperate fear of not being self-aware, of mistakenly making someone else feel uncomfortable. I think the record really just boils down to wanting to feel loved and wanting people to know you love them.”
Love in the Time of E-mail is rife with the theme of companionship, and Farren has found a true friend in Rosenstock, one who builds him up and makes him less self-critical, a relief after Fake Problems’ heartbreaking end. The near-constant voice in Farren’s head that spews negative and self-deprecating comments has been replaced by the positivity that the pair express about each other’s art. Overall, Antarctigo Vespucci has been an uplifting and important project, one that shapes the way Farren navigates not only his music career but also his life in general.
“Watching the way Jeff works creatively and operates day-to-day has inspired me in so many different facets of my life,” Farren shares. “Before we started making these records, I thought it had to be a very long, grueling, and costly experience. Seeing him engineer and mix the Antarctigo records—when he really didn’t know how to and was just teaching himself along the way—inspired me to do the same with my solo records.”
What began on somewhat of a whim has now led the two on an incredible journey. With Farren currently deep into writing his next solo record and Rosenstock scoring the music for Cartoon Network’s “Craig of the Creek,” Antarctigo Vespucci have still found time to tour in support of Love in the Time of E-mail. They will set out along the East Coast in November with a band of talented musicians helping them on the road, including Benny Horowitz of The Gaslight Anthem, John DeDomenici of Bomb The Music Industry!, and Laura Stevenson.
Photo by Andy De Santis