Failure still building on modest early success

From its inception in the '90s, Failure felt like a band from the future.

The Los Angeles-based trio — comprised of Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards and Kellii Scott — crafted lush soundscapes and space rock that didn't feel at home during the height of grunge. The band broke up in 1997 after the release of what's considered its seminal album, Fantastic Planet.

Still, Failure garnered its share of “next big band” buzz and earned the devotion of a fervent fan base that included peers and fellow musicians.

I asked Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) about Failure a few years ago. He described his longtime friend Edwards as “the bar I raise myself to” when writing a song. “If I think that Greg might like this, I might be onto something,” Keenan said.

On Tuesday, April 2, Failure returns to the Newport Music Hall with co-headliner Swervedriver for its first headlining show in Columbus since playing there in 1997.

“The strange thing about it is that often it's like no time has passed at all,” Edwards said via phone from the road.

Time, of course, has passed, but Failure has also reached a new generation with its music, both old and new.

The band's latest album, In The Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing From Your Mind, was released in a quartet of four-song EPs, recorded and released mere months apart.

“We really just decided to do this differently. … Basically just get a room, write four songs from scratch … release it, and then do the next four, and the next four,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the process was exciting, as songs came together more quickly than is typical of the band, although he was more ambivalent on the staggered release in retrospect, citing his own preference to digest albums as a whole.

“When you discover a record you love and you listen to it start to finish, certain songs just immediately grab you and you love them, and then other songs you kind of have some distance from,” Edwards said. “And each time you listen, that terrain is sort of changing, and your relationship to the record changes.”

In the Future touches on themes of connection and disconnection through our modern prism that Edwards said “would be relevant for almost any time in human history.”

“Humans, you know, we're dysfunctional. We're imperfect. We're in process. We're in evolution. We have huge blind spots,” Edwards said. “And I think we're easily distracted.”

And these old tendencies are heightened in our seemingly “connected” age. “There's something about losing ourselves in these screens and this illusion of connection, this illusion of communication, when in fact we're all becoming more detached from each other and ourselves.”

And as Edwards looks back over decades of Failure, he seems as excited about the music the band is making now as what it was able to create when he was in the “relatively embryonic” state of the band's early days.

“I like the way things have happened for Failure when I look back on it,” he said. “We didn't have this explosive success when we first started, but it makes me feel a little less insane than maybe I am.”

And Failure continues to make music that isn't of any one time.

“One of the feelings that I had about pretty much all the albums we made from Magnified on is that this will last a long time,” Edwards said. “It could be discovered in 20, 30, 50 years, and it will be compelling, and it will sound unique.”