Faux Fiction Is the Real Thing
The Milwaukee alt-rock band calls its music "pop fuzz." It's catchy.
You know how the classics never go out of style? I grew up on the west coast, lived in Seattle for a while, played in a punk band (if you can call what I did playing), hung around the grunge scene, wore a lot of flannel and listened to every kind of music I could get my hands on. The gut-felt sound of Faux Fiction has the ability to take me back to those days while listening to a band that could not be more “now”.
Based in Milwaukee, the band is fronted by a woman whose voice could be described as authentic. Gabriella Kartz‘s vocals are deep, edgy, both real and surreal. The songs speak to things that are universal — love and loneliness, angst, melancholy, beginnings and endings. And the tight arrangements suggest a band that, though only together for two years, is already polished and professional.
I’m hearing elements of the evolutionary developments that have shaped pop music for the last couple of decades, but it’s not just more of the same. These are young people who have something to say that is timely, while drawing heavily on the basic rock sounds that most of the sub-genres of the last 20 years have been based on, and have found a way to make those sounds their own.
The group includes Gabby (vocals, guitar), Jason Kartz (guitar), Peter Hair (bass, vocals) and Paul Tyree (drums). And yes, Jason is Gabby Kartz’s husband. I caught up to her recently for a few questions and answers about the band.
When did you start playing music?
Individually, I think each of us have been playing the majority of our lives, but as Faux Fiction we’ve been playing together for about two years.
How did the band come together?
Jason and I decided to start working on a new band project in the spring of 2014. We wrote a few songs and made some demos to send out to prospective bandmates. I ended up finding Paul via the Milwaukee Musicians page on Facebook, although I did almost miss his message thanks to spam filtering. Peter was brought into the fold by Paul (they played in other bands together).
What are some artists that inspire you?
I think we all have really broad tastes in music, but we all definitely enjoy 90s alternative and garage rock. Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Weezer and a bunch more.
Where did “Faux Fiction” come from?
Honestly, we just kept throwing names out there until we found one that everyone agreed on. We all liked the name Faux Fiction, it rolls off the tongue, and it looks nice in print.
How would you describe your music?
We are heavily inspired by 90s alternative, shoegaze, and garage rock, and we blend these sounds with some pop sensibilities for our own brand of “pop fuzz”.
Personally, I’ve been listening to a lot of awesome female-fronted bands lately, like Bully, Hop Along, Screaming Females and Tacocat.
When you are making a song what comes first, the words or the music?
It’s usually the music first, but sometimes things come together simultaneously. Really just depends on whether or not there’s an entire idea ready to go.
Do you ever collaborate with other artists?
Jason and I have worked with Lex Allen in the past, and I’d love to work with him again for sure. Peter and Paul both work on other music projects (Neocaveman, Snake Oil), and I’m working on a few others as well. Milwaukee is a really great place to connect with other musicians and refine your craft while also challenging yourself and exploring different instruments and genres.
What’s the vibe in the studio when you are practicing/recording?
In practice, we try to be as open as possible to everyone’s ideas and input, and each song ends up being a great collaboration between all four of us. Some of our best songs are written during practice. In the studio, we just hit the ground running and pump out as much energy as possible. You can really hear the difference in the final recording if you don’t give it 100 percent. We also practice like crazy beforehand so each song is pretty polished.
Any local artists you really like?
The Milwaukee music scene is so vibrant and diverse, it’s hard to make this list short! Just to name a few: Tigernite, Lex Allen, NAN, Zed Kenzo, No No Yeah Okay and The Young Revelators.
Do you most often play Milwaukee?
We’ve played in Milwaukee a ton over the past year and half, but we’re definitely trying to pull back on how often we play here. It helps with getting more people out to your shows when you only play the city once a month. We’ve also been branching out into other cities within the Midwest, like Chicago and Indianapolis.
Any albums or EPs coming out soon?
We recently released our first full-length album, Staring at the Sun, on June 17th. It’s available on Bandcamp, Amazon, and iTunes, and you can stream the album in its entirety on Spotify and Apple Music.
What are your plans for the future?
Touring the country. We’re actually working on booking a longer 7-10 day tour in January. We’ve also got a bunch of new songs in the works, so it’s likely we’ll be back in the studio in the next 8-10 months. I’m excited for what’s ahead for us.
Tell us about your upcoming dates.
We’ve got some other tentative dates in the works, too. But here’s our schedule for the rest of the summer:
7/8 – Gman Tavern (Chicago)
7/14 – Hexagon Bar (Minneapolis)
7/15 – Iowa City Yacht Club (Iowa City)
7/16 – The Free Clinic (Kalamazoo)
7/19 – Chill on the Hill w/ Ladies Rock Milwaukee & Tigernite
8/7 – Cactus Club
8/13 – MKE Punk Fest Before Party @ Quarters
8/18 – Coda (Cleveland)
8/21 – The Pharmacy (Philadelphia)