Fable Cry is a theatrical/Scamp Rock band based in Nashville, Tennessee.The members include: Zach Ferrin – vocals, guitar. Jo Cleary – violin, vocals. Scott Fernandez – bass. Rachel Gerlach – percussion.
Heather Johnson: Hi thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Your band’s sound is very eclectic. First off, can you tell me some background about your band?
Zach Ferrin: I started the band in 2010; at the time it was just myself and my sister. We wanted to do something that was unique and artistic musically and visually, so the music videos and stage show became big parts of it. After we self-released our first album, we mostly focused on making videos and touring. She left the band in 2014 and in her place jumped several pals and musicians! Now a four piece, everything is much bigger. We’ve changed a lot in the last 6 years, but the spirit and intention is all there.
You are based in Nashville, TN this a city that’s widely known for Country music. Was it hard breaking out in that scene? Can you tell me about it? From the outside, Nashville looks like it has a primarily Country music scene. And there is a lot of it, for sure – it is home to the Grand Ol‘ Opry after all! But on the local level, there are pockets of just about every genre. So at the beginning, it was more about finding those other “pockets” that we could fit into. Since we’re somewhat between genres, though, it allowed us to play a variety of shows, from punk, to folk, to metal, to vaudevillian variety shows and burlesque!
I’ve seen the term “Nashvillians” used, how do you relate to that? The funny thing is a lot of Nashvillians who claim that title didn’t even grow up here. None of us did either. I think Nashville has changed and is changing a lot with how many people are moving here. It’s one of the fastest growing cities. I think it might have been more difficult to do what we’re doing now even a decade ago, but with the influx of newcomers, it’s expanded in a lot of ways. It’s also just a good hub for musicians. Basically, everyone plays music and they all do it well.
You are self-identified as Scamp/Theatrical rock? Yeah! Scamp came in part as a reference to a character we had in a song off of our first album: Scampy, from “Hobo Wicked Fix”. We started using the name and word as a verb for dancing or running amok. Eventually, our fans started calling us “Scamp Rock” and it just seemed to fit. It can be difficult to define yourself, as a band, so we welcomed the help.
Your music evokes a dark enchantment. I would say your sound is somewhat experimental, because of an array of musical instruments and layered texture of sound. What are the different instruments/tools that are used in the band? Thank you! We try to keep it unique and interesting. Everyone in the band plays several instruments, at least a little. So we switch it up when necessary. Our main instruments are guitar, bass, drums, and violin, but there’s also the banjo, accordion, glockenspiel, piano, and others to help add variety and texture. The album is very cello-heavy, thanks to our pal and former member, Joshua Dent. We had our friend, Ghostus (Cigarette Trees) add musical saw to the album as well. It’s not uncommon to have guest musicians play live with us from time to time…
Your latest Cd is “Where the Monster Are” has a haunting and rich sound, which embodies a multitude of layers. Did I hear knives?
You did! Along with pots, pans, bones, penny-picked banjos, and a hundred-year-old out of tune piano!
We wanted the characters and monsters to come to life throughout each song. Create a sense of being chased, foreboding danger, or excitement…each song required experimentation in different directions to achieve this.
There’s a whimsical, irreverent element in one of your songs I thought I heard a kazoo? Tell me more? There’s a kazoo solo on the first album in “Cyotee!” On several newer songs we used slide whistle, and old noisemaking toys, like those painted tin baby rattles you find at antique shops.
With all of those instruments, what are you trying to achieve sonically?
We’re trying to take several genres and sounds, and mix them in ways that are unique and (hopefully) haven’t been done over and over already. We have so many influences and genres that we enjoy, personally, that the music is also an excuse for us to satisfy our need to play what we like!
In the song “Fancy Dancing” the lyrics say:
“Hide your fear.
Miraculous, I don’t succumb, I trudge along.
Hide your fear.
The air is thick I’m getting sick the mold and rotting – woe is me
I’m freaking out, and peering in, a boiling pot of witchery.”
HJ: How does this song speak to you?
ZF: That song is about narrative a man who’s being pursued, on the run, he’s running through forest finds what he thinks is shelter and trying to seek safety. Instead he finds an unsavory human thing, she knows more about him than he’s like, and through spells and casting she sees vision of his inevitable fate. He doesn’t escape his pursuers. She has twisted way of showing it. Fancy dancing is her term for dangling from a noose.
Each of our songs typically have a narrative story, and then metaphorical meaning behind them. Some deal with fear, darkness, and duality.
There are elements of your music that are surreal, dark and foreboding. You mention witches, gallows, do you have an uneasy alliance with darkness, is it chasing you or do widely embrace it? I would say, I embrace it and I use it. But it isn’t an uneasy alliance; it’s an acceptance that darkness is a part of life. Night is not evil, but it is necessary to make up the other half of the day. When many people try to avoid the “other half” of things, we try and spotlight it. Courage is meaningless without fear. Life would be taken for granted without death. It’s the duality that is life.
If you had to break it down what are your top 5 favorite bands?
This is always a difficult question because my favorite bands are my favorites all for different reasons. Some are bands that I listen to all of the time, others that influence my playing and writing, and some that I admire what they do more than how they do it. So a mix of all of those things, in no particular order:
Tom Waits, Ghost, Foxy Shazam, David Bowie and a toss up between two: Iron Maiden and Queen.
Can you tell me about your writing process and how you create the lyrics?
Almost every song is a bit different from the other. Most often it happens in fragments. There will be a story or a feeling that I want to write about, so I’ll write that down to remind myself. I’ll hear a melody in my head and sing it into my phone, or play something on the guitar that I don’t want to forget. My phone is full of 5 second to 5 minute ideas that I plan to use. Then I’ll sit down and start compiling them together. Much of the time, I feel like the songs really write themselves, especially if they are about a specific character. I really try to get to know the characters, and allow them to tell the story. Of course they don’t exist but, if they did, how would this story go?
In your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles for bands?
Budget. Always. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to start a band and continue playing, especially at the beginning. For us, being a “theatrical band” with huge plans for enormous stage shows, but without the current means to accomplish that, we have to be a bit more creative. Right now, since we can’t bring our own circus of weirdos with us everywhere we go, it’s mostly bringing in performers who are local to whatever city we are playing, to offer something visual to what we do. Most commonly: Puppets.
You have a great ‘stache. So I have to ask how do get your mustache to be perfectly groomed?
It goes back to “commune with dark forces,” they keep it so tight for me They keep it looking so fine. It’s been almost 6 years; it’s just a part of me now. I’m afraid what it might do if I got rid of it. It’s a symbiotic relationship at this point. Like a wild animal and commands a level of respect.
Where to find Fable Cry: