Eric McNeely of Fallbrooke
Forming in 2005, it took a few revisions for Fallbrooke to get their line-up right but once they did, they realized that what they had was something special. With everyone in the band knowing that their number one mission in life was to create and perform music they headed to L.A. to write and record their debut album. The results? A dynamic album that boasts amazingly enduring tracks from start to finish, from melodic rock based anthems to pop infused catchy beats the album offers up a little bit of everything for the music enthusiast in all of us but stays true to its rock roots throughout.
The band (Eric McNeely on vocals and guitar, Kevin Schwarz on drums, Augusto Vega on Bass and Chris Gustin on guitar) cut their teeth in the music business by coming up through the local scene in Florida and releasing their own EP and touring the East Coast before RMR Music Group took notice. Bringing them to L.A. to work with producers/songwriters Tim James and Antonina Amato the band honed their skills and pulled together a collection of songs that they can truly be proud of.
Now it’s time for the rest of the music world to take notice, this is a band that should be on your radar. Their songs have been spinning relentlessly in my world since the first note that I heard and I suspect it won’t be long before others catch on too.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | June 2009
Let’s start out on some background on the band – you guys put out a few EPs on your own and toured on your own, there’s a lot to be said for bands that do all that on their own, what did you take away from the experience, I’m sure it had to strengthen the band a bit?
It totally did. That was Kevin and I with two different band members, a different bass player and a different guitar player than are in the band now. It was definitely a very liberating experience for Kevin and me. It was also a bonding experience as well; it was just so much fun. Touring in general is just a great experience, you get to see the country and hopefully soon we’ll get to see the entire world, but yes, it was great.
All of that lead you to RMR Music Group- and RMR is said to really take an artist and cultivate them, what do you feel that they’ve offered to you as a band?
Tons. When we came out here to L.A. from Southern Florida we were like deer in headlights, it was just crazy. There’s only so much that you can actually know about the music business when you’re 3,000 miles from where the majority of the music business is, L.A. is where it’s at! It’s been such a learning and growing experience for us, they helped us build our craft as musicians, paying attention to detail, working with great producers and songwriters like Time James and Antonina Amato; it turned me into a better songwriter as well. They’ve opened up so many doors for us.
You went through several guitar players before you landed with Chris – what made him “the one”?
Yes, there were even several Chris’ before this Chris. Chris that’s in the band now is the third Chris that we’ve had, which is funny. After the last guitar player left we were really searching online, we had people send us videos playing the riff of our song “The Best Thing.” Basically, AbsolutePunk.net posted a blog letting everyone know that we were looking for a guitar player and Chris Gustin (current guitar player) saw the article, heard our music and loved what he heard, and sent us in his audition and resume. I just loved how much he wanted it. When he sent over the email he was just so enthusiastic about it and you could tell how much he wanted it and he was just so talented. Then we met up with him and it just clicked, he was one of us. It’s really hard to meet real people in L.A. so I didn’t think we’d find anyone in L.A. but we did – but he’s from Chicago. He had only been in L.A. three months because he’s going to school at The Musician’s Institute. He was the perfect candidate. That night, we went out for drinks afterward sand told him basically that it was looking pretty good and we asked him to be in our video because we were shooting in a few days. So I told him that it may sound a bit forward but “Hey, want to be in a music video?” He was stoked.
Let’s talk about the Losin it video – The song is based on a true story, can you give us the back story? Are the lyrics pretty literal?
Pretty much. It’s a true story. I wrote it for this girl I was talking to online, never thinking it would be on our cd let alone the video. The song literally speaks for itself, it’s about a girl I met online that I was crazy about and we spoke through webcam all the time.
The video also features a known face, how did that collaboration fall into place?
Yeah, Mandy Jiroux is in the video. She’s in a girl group called The Beach Girls. Her girl group was recording songs at the same studio as us so we’d see each other a lot and hang out. We asked her to be in the video and she was more than happy to do it.
You worked with a pair of producer/songwriters (Antonina Amato and Tim James) during the writing process…what was it like bringing someone new into the writing process and what did they contribute to the overall process for you?
It was a big learning experience. They just know so much about writing hit songs and making great songs. It was a pleasant experience working with them because we were able to write so many great songs for this album which was awesome. We’d bring ideas to the table and they’d help us craft it.
You wrote 150 songs and had to narrow them down for the album, how hard of a process is that?
Geez, yes. So many demos were made. I have a hard drive full. Sometimes it’s tough to narrow them down but for the most part the great songs are the great songs and it’s easy to pick them out. It wasn’t that hard to pick out the gems.
The songs you did record seem to have a really good balance, and for music fans hearing your music for the same time it’s a good representation of who you are featuring some catchy up tempo songs, ballads, etc….was this something that you consciously wanted to accomplish?
That was the ultimate goal. I really wanted to s how the diversity of the band. It’s our introduction, so it’s for everybody. We wanted people to see the different sides of us on this album. We were talking about recording two or three more songs for it though and I’d like to do more rocking…more rock songs.
I noticed that a lot of your influences are pretty heavy bands like Pantera and the Deftones and then there’s Jimmy Eat World too…kind of funny.
Jimmy Eat World is my favorite band of all time. South Florida has a huge hardcore scene and I was a part of that for quite some time. I’m a big fan of all kinds of music.
I know you started playing guitar at a pretty early age but when did the singing start and did you get formal training or are you self taught?
No formal training in the beginning. I think I started singing when I was fourteen and just like everybody else I would listen to my favorite bands and try to recreate the songs and come into my own at the same time. I went through so many bands in Florida. I was so determined and I always knew that this is what I wanted to do, play music and write songs.
It’s very important to us. All the feedback that we’re getting means so much to us. I just love meeting our fans and talking to them online. Its fun, our fans our very important to us and the support means so much to us so we like to show our appreciation by staying in touch.
There are some four part harmonies on the album which I’m a big fan of, was that always part of the plan with the band or did it just fall into place that everyone could sing?
It was a requirement when we were looking for a guitar player; we want to recreate what we do on the cd live. Everybody sings. Kevin, the drummer, who’s been in the band as long as I have, has a great voice and he’s got his own solo vocal parts on the cd. His voice has its own very unique character. Everybody can sing so we’re really fortunate.
Who chooses the background music for your video interview/blogs because in the last one you were totally rocking a little bit of Huey Lewis – Power of Love?
That is all me. I’m huge into 80s music. I’ll take full credit for that because I don’t think the rest of the band would want to.
Right now it looks like you only have dates booked in CA but you’ve mentioned that your goal is to tour everywhere, what’s the plan?
There’s a plan, I just had lunch with the label and we’re talking about setting something up a tour in August. That’s breaking news that I just found out.
Well I hope Boston is one of the stops.
I’ve never seen Boston! I love Boston especially the accent.