When attempting to schedule a photo shoot with Friendly Faux, singer/guitarist Geoff Spall hesitated to let Alive photograph the band in its practice space, otherwise known as the basement of his Clintonville home.
“It’s kind of a hellhole,” he said, and laughed. “But I guess this is where we came from, and this is who we are.”
The trio’s self-titled debut, which first surfaced in July, certainly sounds like the work of dingy basement dwellers. Songs like “Joke on a Rope” and the sludgy “Stop, Drop and Drool” are unabashedly lo-fi, piling on big, chunky guitar riffs, spike-driving drums and Spall’s disaffected vocals (his tone throughout wavers somewhere between annoyance and indifference).
Joining the 25-year-old frontman in the endeavor are drummer Brandyn Morit (The Seasonal Help) and Charis Yost, who also plays alongside Spall in the more prog-leaning Off the Beaten Path. The three musicians, who met attending Hayes High School, have played together in various bands over the past decade. With Friendly Faux, however, they hoped to peel away all the artifice, stripping the music back to only its most vital elements.
“It’s just a condensed version of what I do in my other groups, so the music moves really quick, like a P-51 Mustang [a World War II bomber plane],” Spall said. “That’s how Brandyn and I connect musically: We both play a very frustrated, hit-it-as-hard-as-you-can style. This seems to be some of the heaviest stuff we’ve ever played.”
It’s also some of the most immediate, which makes it hard to believe the album was recorded off-and-on over the course of a year at Columbus Discount Recording during those rare moments the musicians could scrounge together both the time (a scarcity when juggling multiple bands) and the money (Spall estimates the trio sunk about $1,000 into recording) for a session. Even so, Spall said the best way to experience the group’s music remains in the live setting — particularly at the intimate house party gigs that have become a staple of its statewide tours.
“You can say and do what you want, and people are there who might not pay money to see you play someplace else,” he said. “Usually you’re jammed into someone’s sweaty basement, but that’s the fun of it. Being in this uncomfortable space can help you play better. It can focus you.”
It can also, if you’re in Friendly Faux, serve as a welcome reminder of home.