We sat down with the local band Faux Furrs to discuss their new band members, the inspiration behind their most recent EP, how they create concepts for music videos, and more. Indulge below and follow Faux Furrs on social.
Hi, we are Faux Furrs! The band is made up of Ryan Deffet on guitar and vocals, Ryan Shuck on drums, Chris Day on keys, Lena Rush on bass & backing vocals, and Ryan Nolen on guitar & backing vocals.
Faux Furrs has been around since 2016, but you recently added new members to the band. What caused the line-up change and how did you all meet?
Ryan D: When we first started it was me and Shuck jamming in a garage for fun – not really a serious thing. We eventually started playing with my roommate and one of our other friends. As the band started to take things more seriously, work took precedence for some of the members and they couldn’t fit the band into their schedules. Ryan and I started to look for new members, and while searching, we had thought of Lena, because we’ve known her for forever from the music scene. The band she was in had broken up and it was perfect timing. Ryan Nolen is originally from California but recently moved to Chicago. He had heard our old material through mutual friends and had seen us play, and when he heard we needed a guitar player he was on board.
Ryan S: Nolen moved here about a month before we started recording. He and Lena learned all the songs in the four weeks leading up to our studio time for the EP.
Ryan D: It was us four in the studio jamming one day and Chris happened to be there working. He and I had talked about him playing keys with us before, but it wasn’t until this EP that keys were finally included. I think it makes us sound a little more fluid and synthesized.
How did adding new members help influence the band’s sound since your last album?
Ryan S: I think it added a lot of layers. Before our sound was a little looser, but I think with all of us in the band now we have been able to tighten up our sound.
Ryan D: Our attitudes all vibe together too. I couldn’t have asked for better personalities and talented people to come together to make the music that we do.
Being the new members, how have you grown into the band?
Ryan N: I’ve personally never been in a band as a primary guitar player. I’m used to the role of singing and playing guitar. Being able to focus on adding texture and making sure that I am serving a song has definitely helped me grow. I loved all the Faux Furrs music before I joined. Now, being able to be on the inside of the band and help with the composition of music has overall helped my development as a musician.
Lena: I just want to serve the songs as best I can. The original Faux Furrs music is something I enjoyed listening to and now I enjoy playing it.
As you mentioned before, you recorded four weeks after getting the band together. What was the process of adding new members and all adjusting to playing together as a new collective?
Ryan S: At the point of bringing new members on, we had the recording date set and the release date set so we were kind of squished.
Chris: We were working on a deadline, which meant every day of that month we were working.
Ryan D: It was wild, but everyone here is very talented and good at learning songs quickly that it was able to all come together smoothly.
Back in October, you released your new EP titled “Canopy.” What was the inspiration behind that album?
Ryan D: Departure from old things and internal thoughts. The old record was loftier and not totally incomplete thoughts, but we touched on a lot of different concepts. This album is more focused and a cohesive glued together piece. This whole EP is very honest.
Chris: It is very introspective and self-reflective. You can hear that and follow it through the lyrics and the music.
What was the most unexpected thing that happened while recording this record?
Chris: When we were done recording and thought we had reached the end, Deffet just began playing the organ for our song “Loy Garden.
Ryan N: It gives you a hymnal vibe sans the church experience. It is spiritual minus the Lord.
Ryan S: I hated that at first because we all thought we had finished our record and were questioning what he was doing, but now I love it and think it totally changes and elevates the song.
Your two albums both feature concepts of existence, space and time. What is the significance of those themes throughout your music?
Ryan S: We are all just floating through space and time, man.
Ryan D: Yeah, that’s eloquently put. I’ve been interested in those concepts as a kid; the fact that we are all made of stardust… and I’ve been abducted by aliens twice. I’m kidding, but these are definitely ideas that intrigue us and are interesting to think, write, and sing about.
Your lyrics are known as psychedelic and poetic, transporting your listeners to a different universe. Do you write your lyrics in a poem format on purpose or what is your writing process?
Ryan D: A mixture of both. The hardest for me is finding a vocal melody I don’t hate and that I will be okay with singing live. A lot of it is writing a poem based around the structure of the melody.
However, your songs also feature instrumental parts more than lyrics sometimes, such as your song “Wasting.” What do you think instrumental parts can do that lyrics can’t?
Ryan D: You can’t always use words to make out what you’re trying to express or get at.
Ryan S: With “Wasting” in particular, it is a different language. It is intuitive. A journey that you either get or don’t because you aren’t being told everything that you need to feel about it. It is a freedom of expression and interpretation.
About a month ago you released a music video for “Bag Baby” that is described as, “ In a world of the undead, two mythic rival gangs of Werewolves and Vampires discover what it means to forgive and forget.” Who created the concept for this video and how do you think the visuals relate to the lyrics?
Ryan S: My friend Ben McBurnett, who is a filmmaker, happened to be in town and asked if we wanted to shoot anything for Faux Furrs. It was a quick turn around. We wrote the video on Friday and shot it on Saturday in 12 hours. Lena is a skilled writer and editor and helped us develop a great story. Ben was able to take everything we shot with him on a whim and turn it into a full music video.
Chris: It was a lot of luck and perfect timing. We drew general storylines for all of our songs on a whiteboard and picked which one stood out to us the most. The instruments and lyrics evoke different visions from us when listening to them and that’s where our videos come from. You just see certain things happening.
Faux Furrs has been able to perform in a number of Chicago venues. What is specifically unique to Chicago venues and audiences?
Ryan N: People come. Seriously, people show up. I used to play in San Diego and a lot of people there look for the club. Chicago has a lot of really good bands and a lot of bands on the map that got on there quickly. There are going to be egos anywhere you go because people are very prideful of their work, but people’s egos here are very subdued and offer great support.
Chris: It is a great community here. Everyone goes to support each other at shows without you even having to tell them.
Ryan D: The venues are all great and welcoming too. I just went to the meeting last night about the Live Nation development in Lincoln Yards and for monopolies to come in and try to push out local venues is really sad. Those venues are what Chicago is made of. The grittiness of the music scene is Chicago.
This version of the band has been together since August and you have already been able to accomplish so much. What can we expect from the future as the band continues to perform and grow?
Ryan S: Tours is the next step. We want to get out on the road for sure. We are saving up for a little bus right now.
Ryan D: Also, tons of new music. Our next step forward may just be something completely new.
Chris: “Canopy” explores a lot of different sounds and we want to continue to do that. We don’t want to stay stuck in one sound.
Lena: Faux Furrs just wants to keep making the best music possible in whatever sound that may be.
Written by: Colleen Kennedy