When Jonathan Phillips of Faux Ferocious writes a song, he sticks to the essentials. By favoring short and simple pop numbers over solo-driven and jam-based ballads, Phillips and his group have quickly accumulated a sizable audience, drawn to the band's ADD style of garage rock—a throwback to the days of simple but effective chord structure.
"A lot of the times when we first come up with a song, it lasts like seven minutes," Phillips says. "But after we practice and play it live a few times, we really just cut out what isn't necessary. Sometimes we'll jam, but we generally just try and keep things short and to the point. And it's great because we can play 10 songs in the time that it takes a lot of bands to play two."
Three of the band's four members—Phillips on guitar and vocals, Dylan Palmer on bass, Reid Cummings on drums, and Terry Kane on guitar and keyboards—are from Nashville. They've played together for three years. Their energetic and disheveled approach—bouncing back and forth between fuzzy guitars, kazoos, and synchronized handclaps—embodies the dizzy yet natural melding of the members' personalities. It's a mismatched but seamless dynamic.
Sometimes that creates chaos. During a show at Preservation Pub a few months ago, the band members brought flour on stage to throw at each other during the set. Things quickly went haywire—eventually, it wasn't just the band members throwing the flour. Halfway through their set, overzealous audience members grabbed the bags off the stage and started a makeshift indoor snowball fight that left the floor, booths, and pretty much everything within range covered in the beer-tinged powder.
"I was pretty much positive the Pub would never let us play again," Cummings says. "But luckily we've played there since then—minus the flour."
Just because the group is relatively new to the stage doesn't mean that Faux Ferocious shies away from sizeable venues—one of the main instances springing from the perfect mix of fate and drunken confusion. Phillips, who shares the same name as another singer in another local band, was offered an opening spot at Barley's earlier this year, though the spot was intended for his namesake's band.
"He came up and was like, ‘Jonathan, do you all want to share a bill with us at Barley's?‘ I mean, my name is Jonathan and I wanted to play at Barley's so I assumed that he had the right dude, but apparently he thought I was another Jonathan. It all worked out, though—we played the show anyways."
The guys in Faux Ferocious all share a laid-back attitude when it comes to playing shows. All four are passionate about playing as much as possible, but there are no set criteria as to what they will and will not play. This past summer, the group took a chance and played an off-the-charts student-run festival in Hanover, Ind., called Wake Up and Live. "It was an interesting experience," Kane says. "It was pretty much the size equivalent to playing on the main stage at Bonnaroo—except to like 25 or 30 people."
The group plans on recording a full- length release later this summer, staying true to their no-nonsense style but adding the embellishments allowed by time in a studio. Armed with several new songs and onstage experience, the members of the band also have plans for a larger tour. It's not about amassing a lucrative profit.
"It's really just about getting enough income to support yourself and play," Palmer says.
That shouldn't be too hard, if their loyal local fans indicate anything. "They really are a lot better than I ever would be about seeing my friends' shows," Kane says. "I mean, some of our friends have come to every show that we've played since the beginning—and that includes a lot of shitty ones."