Formed in Perth, Australia, in 2014 the world soon warmed to the sun kissed sounds of The Faim. With a new album (Talk Talk) set to drop along with a summer full of live dates it’s promising to be an exciting time for the band. The Midlands Rocks managed to corner the band’s vocalist Josh Raven for an exclusive chat.
This is your second time appearing at Download. What keeps you coming back?
I love Download. It’s a great place to experience different types of music. The line-ups tend to be eclectic, which is awesome. As an Australian, we don’t tend to have many rock and metal festivals, so it’s great to see that aspect of it as well. I think after the two-and-a-half years of the pandemic, people have more of a gratitude for live music, you can feel it, people just want to have a good time.
You also played Slam Dunk, which is more geared towards punk, and Download, which is more metal? What adheres you to both crowds, and what’s your crossover appeal?
It’s strange, we’re a rock band who lean more towards the alt-pop side, which is even more interesting as to why we’ve been accepted on the line-up. I think our live set tends to be quite energetic and leans more towards the rock side…but I love metal.
With the music industry being based in the northern hemisphere did you ever feel isolated coming from Australia?
Yes, I did at first. We love playing in Australia, but it’s always been a dream for us to go to different countries and have people come to our shows and dig our music. That’s insanity to me, that’s wild. I think every time we are able to play for people, whether it’s in Australia or overseas, we’re eternally grateful.
Do you think the relative isolation of Australia helped you shape a unique sound?
Yes, it did. We utilise a lot of Australian art that people might not know, things we grew up with, because Australia gets a lot of music from all over the world, then you have all the iconic Australian bands as well, the artists we grew up with and we definitely draw on them for inspiration.
Do you think it’s a new form of cultural assertion?
I hope so. Australia’s always had great bands; INXS, AC/DC, Airbourne are great examples. But I think now people are starting to understand that Australia has a great catalogue. Australian rock is very different to other places, it has its own characteristics. Aussie rock; you won’t find that anywhere else so maybe people are gravitating more towards it.
AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, it’s a very masculine, punchy type of rock…
Yes. Then you’ve got your blend within that. Midnight Oil, Northlane,
There’s a whole new crop of exciting young Australian bands currently coming to prominence. Are you all tapping into a shared consciousness?
I don’t know. We’re four guys who love music, we all have different tastes. Stephen [Beerkens, bass, keyboards] is very much into Coldplay, more pop orientated, Linden’s [Marissen, drums] a big ‘80s and ‘90s rock guy, loves Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Sam [Tye, guitarist] likes LCD Soundsystem, The 1975. Me, I love a bit of everything; Frank Sinatra, blues, so when we approach music, all of those influences become a melting pot and out comes our music.
Is there one band that unites you? Something you all rock out to in the van?
Nothing But Thieves; a good blend of rock and pop. I think they’re a great band.
The current line-up has been together for three years. Has that helped with the evolution of the band?
Definitely. The Faim is now, and this is the best it’s ever been. It will not change.
It’s been a wild ride since you formed the band. You all seem like level headed guys. How have you managed to keep your feet on the ground?
There’s moments where we don’t but we hold each other accountable, we have a fixed vision of how we want to present ourselves. Sometimes it’s hard to keep mentally healthy, especially on tour, it can be a big distraction from your personal and internal life, and suddenly when touring stops it tends to catch up and you have to keep a balance. Touring is amazing but it’s really hard and people don’t see behind the veil and how difficult it can be.
Your latest EP, The Alchemist, has been out in the world a while. Anything you’d like to go back and change?
Not at all. We put it out as an EP but several of the songs will appear on the Talk Talk album. It took two-and-a-half years to get to that point because of the growth and learning we had to do and I don’t think any of us would change anything, the good or the bad, because it pushed us to be the people we are right now.
As an artist how do you know when a song is finished? It must be so tempting to go back and constantly tinker with it.
It’s so hard. It can go both ways, you can have a song from ages ago, listening to demos we wrote in 2019 and think ‘these are really good songs, why didn’t we do anything with them?’. We had a habit in the past of letting other peoples opinions affecting our opinions and thoughts, external people commenting on songs for the wrong reasons and not having the focus within ourselves to resist their opinions. But now we’ve reached a point where we are much more grounded within ourselves and know when to see things through instead of catering to external factors. That’s been a been a big bonus for us.
You have a real lyrical honesty in your songs. For example, recent single ‘The Hills’ details anxiety. How is it exposing your feelings to the world? The video has over one million hits on YouTube, which in itself I would find very anxiety provoking.
It ebbs and flows. For me, that’s what gets rid of my anxiety. It’s like; OK. I’ve done it now. Here’s my piece sent out into the world, take it or leave it. And whether people take it positively or negatively, I’m kind of detached from that. Even without the band I would still be writing and playing music, it’s about providing an experience for other people but it’s also about resolving internal conflicts, or positives. The great thing about songwriting is that you can draw inspiration from anywhere. I could have a conversation with someone today that could spark the idea for a song. It does have its anxious moments, but I love it too much to give it up.
How did you keep the band’s trajectory going through lockdown? It must have seemed like running into a brick wall.
The main thing was writing songs, and we did hit a brick wall and it was very stagnant for a while but with support from our label and our manager they showed support in us to allow us to write through that whole pandemic. The reality was we did hit a brick wall, like everyone really, it’s been hard to see some many artists, touring companies go under. It was a very difficult time for everyone.
You have a new album (Talk Talk) in the bag and ready to go. I’ve seen the artwork and it looks very striking. How involved are you with that side of things?
We’re much more involved than we used to be. Our guitarist Sam has a very firm vision and he usually takes the handle then we’ll all throw in our opinions. Before, we’ve always had covers that are quite graphics based but this time we wanted a human element to it; scribbles of writing, and we wanted to see words. There’s lots of different layers to it.
A new album, and after download you’ve got plenty of live dates scheduled. It seems like your on a diving board waiting to jump off. How are you preparing yourself?
We’re working. It’s the only way to prepare. You can go back and forth and have mental gymnastics about what you’ve got to do, but you’ve just got to work.
Finally, what can your fans expect from you over the next 12 months?
Expect a lot of seeing us because we’ve been away for a long time, too long, and there’s no way in hell we’re going to do that again. We’re going to be back with full force and releasing music all the time. You’re going to see a big, big growth because sonically we’re going to change, for sure.