Interview: New Faces

As of now 2/3rds of New Faces, bassist Kyle Hove and drummer Conor Sisk, live in their hometown of Port Townsend. Come August 2009 this will change as they relocate to Seattle and join lead vocalist/guitarist Nico Janssen in their continued presence as one of Seattle’s very best bands. They’ve got everything to recommend them: Janssen’s dark and deep vocals, Hove’s billowing bass and Sisk’s smoking drums. I’ve seen more of their shows in the smallest space of time than any other band and am waiting impatiently for their follow-up to Two Years.

Dagmar: How did the three of you meet and start the band?

Kyle Hove: We knew each other for about four years before we started the band. Who wants to tell the story?

Conor Sisk: The first time I met Nico he was on my soccer team. After that he was a sophomore in high school and Kyle and me were freshman. Kyle and Nico had been talking about forming a band.

Nico Janssen: At that point we found ourselves at a high school football game and through chance occurrence started talking about music, bands we liked. To make a long story short Kyle and I decided we wanted to form a band and we went around high school looking for a drummer. I’m a sophomore at this point and they’re freshmen and Conor turned out to be the drummer. We rehearsed and that was it. It was very spontaneous. I remember some of our friends in high school were quite skeptical.

KH: Well we were a prog rock band. That’s why they were skeptical.

NJ: We didn’t start out writing songs like we write songs now. Our early influences were 90s alternative rock bands.

CS: Chili Peppers.

NJ: Nirvana.

CS: I was into Flaming Lips and Eels.

KH: Lynrd Skynrd.

NJ: We started listening to the same stuff after a couple months. We got really turned on to 2000s indie rock, a lot of music coming out of Britain. I would say from 10 or 20 influential records from that era we got influenced to write the record that turned out to be the Two Years LP.

CS: I remember me and Kyle going to an Arcade Fire/Wolf Parade show – that was pretty influential.

KH: That was a huge transitional point for listening to and playing music.

NJ: Getting Is This It by the Strokes and getting The New Fellas by the Cribs . . .

New Faces, from left-right: Nico Janssen, Kyle Hove and Conor Sisk
Photo by Chona Kasinger

D: Do you spend time together outside of the band?

KH: We’re not in the same city anymore.

CS: When we were in high school we hung out a lot.

NJ: We spent a ridiculous amount of time together. We would hang out and watch movies at each other’s houses back in the early days. We all went to the same high school and lived in the same town. It’s a very small town with a tight knit community and a very small high school. When I moved to Seattle the dynamic of the band changed – we didn’t see each other as much. We still see each other most weekends.

D: Kyle and Nico are graduating – what’s your plan now? Are you moving to Seattle?

KH: Yes, in August.

D: Are you moving in with Nico?

CS: I think he’s moving out and we’re moving in. I think it would be healthier at first if we weren’t all living together.

D: Do you take on particular roles on tour?

KH: You can’t predict what’s going to happen on tour.

NJ: I would say Conor drives a lot. I plan the monotonous details.

CS: Kyle is the iPod DJ.

NJ: I make the itineraries. But you can never script a tour. Last time we brought along a sound engineer and a guy to do merch and to help us drive.

KH: A tour manager.

NJ: Yeah basically a tour manager.

D: One of my favorite things I have seen on your myspace was the photo of you guys after a hooker tried to get into your van.

CS: It wasn’t even really her fault. What she saw was a black van that pulled up next to her and stopped in the middle of the road. We were actually looking at house addresses. So we would drive and stop.

NJ: Loitering. I think she was maybe halfway justified.

D: Why did you change the band’s name from Captain Incognito to New Faces?

KH: Too many syllables.

CS: It sounded a little immature.

D: When researching you I kept seeing things about new faces as it relates to modeling. What would you model for?

CS: White Castle.

KH: Gloves.

NJ: A news magazine.

D: You could be the face of Newsweek. What do you think of your Wikipedia page? Was it kind of creepy?

KH: I stumbled across it one day – it’s cool [but] you’ll start reading stuff on the internet about yourself that’s not true.

D: What was your first show like? Was it scary?

CS: Yes.

KH: We were a terrible band for our first five shows.

CS: The first show that we played with the Blakes – that was good. It was amateur but they were into it.

NJ: The first shows are always tough. At the time I think we thought we were really good. Which is not true.

D: What are some the favorite shows that you’ve done so far?

CS: House parties are great. I think we enjoy shows that are a little more personal.

NJ: We’ve had the opportunity to play some Seattle festivals and those have been pretty fun.

KH: Last year’s Block Party.

NJ: This year we’re playing at the Vera Project stage – it should be really fun. When we play something like that we always just hang out. Apart from that we really do like spontaneous shows that sometimes aren’t in legitimate venues.

D: You’re working on your next CD?

NJ: We’ve done a couple of recording sessions. It’s likely we’ll be putting out some new music sometime this year.

D: What kind of misconceptions are out there about the band?

NJ: We tend to get stigmatized as a young and inexperienced group of teenagers. That’s kind of annoying.

CS: I was on YouTube and [those comments] are the lowest of the low.

KH: I wrote those comments.

CS: One was just, these guys are stupid, they’re just mainstream pop . . .

D: It’s kind of sad people make these comments, and they’re anonymous.

NJ: The funny thing is that they secretly like you at the same time.

D: The first EP – where can I find it?

NJ: The first EP is out of print. We made them ourselves, in our living room. We burned the CDs and made the paper sleeve. Maybe we’ll bring the idea back.

D: You all started in music at a very young age, like in projects called Gypsy Joy Ride and the Antagonists.

KH: How did you find that?

NJ: [That’s] Some good internet research. There was this teacher from New York that came to Port Townsend. He formed these bands. We were all in three different bands. Kyle’s band was punk, Conor was in the main band because he was the best drummer. A couple years later we ended up forming our own band.

KH: We didn’t want Conor back then because he had a goofy haircut. Like a mushroom.

D: That’s cool that you got to start so early. It bugs me when I hear or read somebody dismissing a band b/c of their age.

NJ: We are young. We are a good deal younger than a lot of the bands on the live circuit but we just have to deal with it. It’s good and it’s bad. Sometimes people will give you more credit just because you’re young – you guys are still in high school? Well you’re great! Or people will be like, oh they’re just teenagers.

CS: Say it’s the first time we’re playing [a club]. Everyone will treat us like we’re going to fuck shit up . . . [like] we’re just little kids. Either we play and they still hate us or –

NJ: We play and they’re like, you guys are good.

D: Being in a band is kind of like being married, do you feel like you’ve gotten married at a young age?

CS: We were friends before we were in the band.

KH: You should be friends before you get married.

NJ: It’s totally comparable to a marriage. It’s an interdependent relationship where you’re accountable to each other and working toward a common goal.

KH: We even have shared bank accounts.

NJ: You have financial and career implications and it can be very stressful. I think bands run into a lot of the similar problems that couples do. It’s intense sometimes.

D: What’s some of the strangest foods you’ve eaten?

CS: Crocodile tail.

KH: Octopus is a wild one. Really spicy foods – I can’t handle [that]. I’ve been to Morocco and eaten some of the spiciest foods in my life. In hot places they eat spicy food and drink hot drinks because it actually cools you down. If you drink hot tea it actually cools your body down.

D: What were doing in Morocco?

KH: I was in Spain and it only cost 30 Euros to take a plane to Morocco.

D: Sweet. Do you all like to travel?

NJ: My family has a travel background and I’ve been fortunate to go to a lot of places. I love to travel. I’m actually a dual citizen. I also have German citizenship.


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