Catch up with Fable Cry's Zach Ferrin and check out the video for single "Fancy Dancing".
What inspired you to start Fable Cry?
Zach Ferrin: Well, growing up, music had always been apart of my life. My parents were both musicians and I'm one of four children, who all played instruments and/or sang. When me and my youngest sister picked up instruments of our own - I played guitar, she played violin - we started playing together and, through high school, we played in different bands together of varying sorts, always the two of us. After that, it was the way of most high school bands, other people got interested in other things and we still wanted to keep going with music so we started the duo, Fable Cry, beginning in 2010. I’ve always been inspired by and enjoyed multiple art forms, music being the main one, and just all varieties of performance. I've done some theater, some puppetry, so the idea was to find an outlet to do all of those things. We didn't want to be a band that just played music, we knew we wanted to be a band that told stories and involved theatrics and props and try to bring the whole audience into it and make them feel like they were there for a reason. A lot of bands, I think, just jump up and they play the song and they may be great musicians, but there's not a whole lot of connection with the audience. So we had this desire to bring back storytelling, like old bards and jesters, entertaining people, trying to reconnect the worlds of stage and audience; this age of constantly being connected through the internet can also make one feel detached, and we wanted to push back a bit.
Why grow the band?
The first album we did we played everything on it, to try and make it sound like a full band. The live show has always been energetic and very moving, but it was only a duo and we kind of wanted to make up for that lack of sonic energy by making it a full thing. So, the way we've written and were writing at the time was always made for a full band and we had to sort of dumb it down in our live shows, so the addition of members seemed inevitable. The first addition was a cellist, Joshua Dent, who we had played shows with and gotten to know while he was playing cello for other musicians/bands around town. We tried it out, and it was perfect.
Then, at the beginning of last year, my sister left the band and left this gap, but also left a lot of new opportunities for growth, and it was crazy; in this short, two month period there were three others (violin/vocals, bass, and drums) that either we had known for a while, or they'd just moved into town or were in similar circles and it kind of turned into a five piece overnight. It all came together in a really good way.
What sets your live shows apart from other band's performances?
Well, as I mentioned, the storytelling. We tell stories, of course, writing songs is all telling stories, but we tell stories in between songs and as intros to songs, often in character, and as characters from our songs. A lot of our songs have crowd participation; we have one song called "You Ain't My Baby No More" and it sort of has this fifties feel, complete with “sha-doops”, and then murderous revenge over a broken heart - a bit melodramatic, admittedly. Well, following the line “you left me standing in the rain” we open up umbrellas and that’s everyone's cue to take their hands and clap them on their laps or on their tables. When the whole audience does that it sounds like rain and you just gotta see it, it's fun. We've thrown out eye patches, for some of our pirate-like songs so the crowd can dress up with us, and even invited people on stage. Again, it's kind of that connecting, trying to get people involved.
How would you describe your style?
We call it theatrical scamp rock but that title sort of evolved; we kicked around some different things. At first, it was kind of, it had some gypsy elements, some Beirut, some of that in there, but there was this other element that we couldn't quite figure out. In our song, "Hobo Wicked Fix", one of the character’s name is Scampy and one of our friends started describing us as scamp rock after we started using “scamp” as a verb onstage and online. It seemed to fit our music too well. It sounds 'scampy'; it's not quite punk, not quite ska, or rockabilly, but it's the attitude I think, kind of like the blues or punk have their own attitudes, and that can be as important as the music itself. The scamp somehow described our sonic sound, but it also described a lot of our characters; foxy, sneaky, scampy. Then there's the theatrical elements of course, being a theatrical band and telling stories and dressing up and wearing make-up. The rock is pretty self-explanatory. And there it was: Theatrical-Scamp-Rock
How does this forthcoming album compare to your debut one?
One of the main differences is that now we're actually a full band and don’t have to fake it through the recordings whereas, like I mentioned, with the first album it was just two of us. We recorded guitar, drums, accordion, violin, cello, bass, banjo, and just kind of piled it all on. My sister and I had our core instruments that we played well, and everything else we did a decent job at faking! The new band members are all so talented and bring their own creativity that allows everything, as a whole, to be a lot more technical, more musical, and a bit heavier than the last album. The last album, it being a brother and sister duo, seemed cuter, maybe; this album's less cute, it's a little darker, a little heavier. If I had more patience, it would be a great Fall album, because this has a lot of spooky elements, a lot of songs about horror themes, which is fun and one of our main influences, thematically. It's a year-round holiday for us, Halloween.
What's the best thing you've heard someone say in response to the "Fancy Dancing" video?
Oh man, I think something that's exciting is when people say that they have it stuck in their heads or can’t stop watching it. A lot of the music I write will randomly come to me, the melodies often will just pop into my head and I get them stuck in there first. That refrain came to me before any lyrics that fit it did, and the plot to the song also sort of revealed itself as I was writing it, so I think, yeah, having people complain about having it stuck in their heads for the last week, I'm like 'yeah! me too!’ We've also had several of our fans send us videos of their single digit kids singing the song or watching the video and just totally obsessed with it and kids are so honest that they're going to tell you if they think it's terrible or not waste their time with it. So to see such a positive response from people of all ages, it’s extremely flattering and, hopefully, they'll grow up and continue to enjoy our music!
What effect has being in Nashville had on your music?
Nashville has a lot to it, I mean, it's Music City, but it's really beyond that. When we were first touring it was surprising to some people to find out that we were from Nashville. From the outside, a lot of people think it's all about country music and that is obviously a big part of it, but when you're actually here, there are so many people really excited about doing new things and different things with music. And since nearly everyone plays music, it’s very inspiring to try and keep up. There aren't a whole lot of bands here doing what we're doing, but I think just the opportunity to find eclectic people, and the variety of people that are here, that's really wonderful. If you watch the show Nashville, just know it’s not like all of Nashville. There's a character on there who's supposed to be an East Nashville hipster and it’s funny to see; we're from East Nashville and it's kind of like the weird, young, artsy side of town. It's funny to see how other people are portraying Nashville.
Which of your influences would you want to work with?
I think most of our idols are dead, unfortunately; I would love to work with Jack White in some capacity, I really admire what he does. I think he's actually done really cool things in helping to expand some of those preconceived ideas of what Nashville is, which is cool.
Any songs you're stuck on right now?
We listen to so much music, a lot of throwback stuff; most of today I was listening to Danny Kaye. A couple weeks ago, I wore "Uptown Funk" out; I heard it for the first time and just got obsessed with it - myself and so many others. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that, that song's just so freaking catchy it's ridiculous and that video's too much fun. Definitely an added perk to being in a band and playing is the variety of free shows you see by sharing bills with so many great bands. Many of my favorite bands and artists to listen to are friends that I’ve met either here in Nashville or on tour. Hearing what is going on in the various local scenes, I'm really excited about what is to come for music. It's headed in a really cool direction I think; perhaps I'm biased, though.
What do you want listeners to know about your music?
That's hard to say, I think everybody - I think everybody listens to or enjoys songs for different reasons and has their own sort of interpretation of it and I like that. I think a lot of our songs, lyrically, are somewhat abstract and though they might tell an obvious story, they often have some hidden messages in them too. In Fable Cry, there's this fable aspect where there's this story within a story where it kind of gives an idea or a lesson or a warning of something. I don't want to tell anybody what to think or how to think about it, I just want them to enjoy it in what way they do - and if they end up getting obsessed with it in the process, that’s okay too!
Why choose the name Fable Cry?
We had several fantastical songs written before we had the band name and we kicked around a lot of ideas; a lot of really bad ones, a lot of okay ones. We kept going back to the word “fable.” That word is just so good in its meaning and I just love everything that it encompasses, but we didn’t like it on its own. We tried combining it with several words and when we came to “cry” it was perfect. Fable Cry. It was an immediately triumphant shouting of whimsical tales. Now, just like then, we want to be heard and we want people to listen, and we’ll keep shouting these stories at you until you hear us.
All five of us are performers and it starts with the music and we love writing the music and playing the music but, if there was no audience it would greatly reduce the enjoyment of playing it. Sharing your creativity with others can put you in a vulnerable place so when so many people react positively, it really is the best. I hope they enjoy it, I hope people check us out and like what they see and hear and become obsessed.