Q&A with Speedy Ortiz’s drummer, Mike Falcone

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Q&A with Speedy Ortiz’s drummer, Mike Falcone

By Frances Welch

Talk-rock performers such as Liz Phair, Helium and Pavement are all touchstones from the ‘90s era of indie rock distortion.

However, Speedy Ortiz, one of the headliners of the 2014 Pygmalion Festival, is serving the new-age indie rock scene a plate of poetic and comedic lyrics with a unique twist on the traditional ‘90s clean distortion.

With its first album, “Major Arcana”, released in 2013 and the February 2014 four-song EP release, “Real Hair”, the Massachusetts-based band is on its way up through the indie rock scene. Real Hair was recorded and mixed by Paul Q. Kolderie, producer and mixer for artists such as The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. and Radiohead. Kolderie’s recording artists have a history of performing at Pygmalion including Dinosaur Jr. back in 2012.

Speedy Ortiz, the four-piece, self-described “illegally loud snack rock” band will sure to bring a crowd on Saturday at 1 a.m. at The Red Herring, located at 1209 W. Oregon St. in Urbana. Mike Falcone, drummer of Speedy Ortiz, spoke to The Daily Illini and shared the history of the band while expanding on the abrasive indie basement rock sound they proudly perform.

Daily Illini: How did Speedy Ortiz meet?

Matt Falcone: At the time when we all first met, we were all a part of different projects. Sadie (Dupuis, lead singer and guitarist) was in the band Quilty from Brooklyn, Darl (Ferm, bassist) was in Day Sleeper from Boston and I was in Grass Is Green. We knew each other from being in bands that were all centrally located and playing shows together.

DI: So how did the formation of Speedy Ortiz evolve?

MF: Sadie started Speedy Ortiz as a side, solo project from Quilty and as soon as she began to put more focus toward Speedy Ortiz, the rest of us parted ways with our own individual projects. The timing was so perfect. That’s how we all got involved in (it).

DI: There is some definite ‘90s influence in your sound. Who were the band’s biggest influences when forming this sound?

MF: We definitely weren’t trying to have a sound that was supposed to be clearly ‘90s influenced, it’s just what ended up being what most people heard. We definitely pulled a lot of influence from our region and current music coming form Massachusetts, but it all depends on the song honestly. Radiohead influenced some songs, others by Elliot Smith. The song ‘American Horror’ was influenced by Katy Perry; definitely not ‘90s.

DI: Can you expand on the song ‘Taylor Swift’?

MF: The song was originally called ‘Too Many Boyfriends,’ but while we were putting it together, we thought it would be funny for it to be called ‘Taylor Swift.’ Some people ask us why we’re bashing Taylor Swift but it’s honestly a tribute to her. A neutral tribute.

DI: It’s clear that as a band, you really care about your connection with a live audience, which has been shown through your consistency of DIY house shows. Since gaining a larger audience, has it been harder to connect with the audience?

MF: It is definitely important to us to have a great relationship with people who come to our shows. Recently, we haven’t played much DIY, but I’m super excited to get back into that. But overall, I haven’t really noticed much of a change in difficulty to connect.

DI: Do you prefer to perform the DIY scene or venues?

MF: I think I can speak for the band that we prefer to keep things interesting: big, small or whatever. We just don’t like to play the same thing over and over again, it gets boring. From my perspective, it depends who is in charge. If you’re playing a DIY house show, you can tell the music scene is very tight. When we perform DIY in Tallahassee or Kalamazoo that music scene is very similar to what we experience in Massachusetts. The bands performing work together with the house venue to make the music scene as awesome as it possibly can be.

DI: When you are on tour, do you get writing inspiration?

MF: We don’t write while we’re touring, there’s too much distraction. After we’ve toured and haven’t done anything creative for so long, we get pumped up to write songs.

DI: What is the song writing process like?

MF: Sadie is the principle songwriter. She is our songsmith. She emails us a bunch of demos and we start working on the most collaborative thing, the arrangement process. Everyone makes suggestions when we start playing together and even when we’re recording, we might have something to say.

DI: Any future music plans?

MF: We’ve been recording songs, which should be coming out early next year and then starting in October, we’re going on a four-week tour with Ex Hex who is also performing at Pygmalion. We’re super excited to go tour with them. There’s also a split album with Chris Weisman coming out October 7. Our album ‘Doomsday’ will be on Side A and Chris Weisman’s album, ‘I Took It Off A Record,’ will be on Side B.

Frances can be reached at [email protected]