Chris Farren certainly is an interesting character. He’s a solo artist as well as the lead singer of two different alternative rock bands Antarctigo Vespucci and Fake Problems. The self-described punk celebrity has had his own t-shirt design featured on The Tonight Show, and become a social media darling. He’s the kind of guy that will persuade his new wife to take over twenty videos of him around various locations in Iceland during their honeymoon, only to be used on Instagram to promote each show of his next tour. His heart, sense of humor and musical talent can be heard in each of his recordings, and his live shows do not fail to produce smiles and laughter among the crowd.
Farren’s band Antarctigo Vespucci, which features dear friend and the evening’s headliner Jeff Rosenstock on guitar, will be performing during the fourth night of Asian Man Records 20th Anniversary Festival at Thee Parkside (1600 17th St, San Francisco). The show also features Hard Girls, Shinobu and Chotto Ghetto. Farren was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about Asian Man Records, his music, and what we have to look forward to from the pride of Naples, Florida.
TUBE: When did you first hear about Asian Man Records? How did you and Mike Park become acquainted?
Farren: I’ve been a fan of the Asian Man catalog since I was a cool hot young teen (which I still am basically). I officially met Mike for the first time just like two years ago in Jeff Rosenstock’s apartment. He asked me if he was bigger than I expected him to be.
TUBE: You have toured and collaborated with several artists from the Asian Man family such as Laura Stevenson, Sean Bonnette, and most notably Jeff Rosenstock. What is it that draws you and this group together?
Farren: Hard Girls too! I think we’re all just a bunch of perfect musicians making the greatest music of all time so it is inevitable that the dark art of alternative punk music would draw us together.
TUBE: You’ve said in the past that Leavin’ La Vida Loca is your favorite record that you’ve created. Why is that album so special? What sets it apart from your other records and projects?
Farren: It was a really great experience writing and recording that record with Jeff. Every day he gave me a $100 bill and said “write another song!” I was rich by the end of it! I should mention Jeff was stealing the $100 bill from under my pillow (where I kept it) every night, which I didn’t notice until the end when I went to get my $1300 from under my pillow and found nothing. But that’s just Jeff’s producing style I guess, I don’t know, it works!
TUBE: The track listing for Asian Man Music for Asian Man People Vol. 2 was recently revealed and Antarctigo Vespucci is kicking off the record with a cover of Kepi Ghoulie’s ‘Stormy Weather.’ Did Mike Park approach you about appearing on the record, or how did that come to be?
Farren: Oh wow, are we first?? First!!!! That rocks. Live to be first. Mike asked us to cover a song.
TUBE: How did you land on covering ‘Stormy Weather’? Are you a big Kepi Ghoulie fan?
Farren: Jeff sent me a few options of songs he was thinking of, and I gravitated to ‘Stormy Weather.’ It’s just a great song! And I felt like we could bring some of our CLASSIC POWER POP SOUND to it and it would be an interesting and EXCITING fit.
TUBE: You recently posted a picture of a test pressing, presumably your new solo album. What can your fans look forward to hearing on this record?
Farren: SONGS, BABY! What else!!!? UPBEAT SOMETIMES SAD INDIE POP SONGS?
TUBE: Will it be self-released or through a label? Do you have a date in mind yet?
Farren: Through a label and I do have a date in mind!
TUBE: Your merchandise stands out from most other bands. You like to put your face on a lot of things, and sometimes other people’s faces on your own things. When did you decide having fun with your merch was the way to go?
Farren: I like to have fun (I’m unique this way) and got sick of putting designs that didn’t mean anything to me on shirts. So many band shirts (and I have been guilty of this) are just a drawing of an animal or object that relates in no way to the band. Lately the shirts I’ve been making are mostly kind of silly and certainly not HIGH ART, but I at least can back up where they’re coming from, what the “concept” is. Wow, I take shirts too seriously I am realizing after typing this paragraph.
TUBE: How does it really feel knowing that Will Smith has a shirt that you made, and that Jimmy Fallon presented it to him on his very first episode as host of The Tonight Show?
Farren: It feels great. True heaven.
TUBE: After the Asian Man Records 20th Anniversary show, you’ll be going on tour with Brian Fallon through mid-July. Do you plan on doing more touring throughout the summer and fall, or will you be taking any time to work on one of your projects? What is the rest of the year looking like for Chris Farren?
Farren: I’m doing a whole lot of touring! My record will be out later this year and I’m just gonna focus and throw myself into that whole thing until it’s time to make another thing. I guess you could say I’m a real “thing maker.”
Antarctigo Vespucci will be performing alongside Jeff Rosenstock, Hard Girls, Shinobu and Chotto Ghetto this Saturday June 18th 2016 at Thee Parkside. Asian Man Records 20th Anniversary runs June 15th-19th at Thee Parkside and Bottom of the Hill, tickets to some shows still available. Farren will be touring with Brian Fallon through early July, and Broken Beak in August. As Farren would say, we’ll see you at the gig!
Photo Dino Eneboccir