Once an album is released, the hard work is done, right?
Hymie's Vintage Records
Not so for Farewell Milwaukee. In an ambitious move, the sextet [Brad Fox, Adam Lamoureux, Ben Lubeck, David Strahan, Aaron Markson, and Joey Ryan] have planned ten shows over two weekends to extend the party for an album three years in the making.
Simply titled FM, their fourth full length studio album finds a band that has done away with the insecurities of youth while embracing the confidence and comfort of playing together for eight years.
We met up with lead singer Ben Lubeck and guitarist Aaron Markson in Uptown Minneapolis to mull over the new record over a plate of nachos and drinks.
“Without knowing it, we were trying to find a new type of formula to being a band,” Lubeck shares. “We were navigating all of these changes in the music industry and trying to find our audience. When we first started out, we went out to New York and spent all of our money, but we learned that we needed to curate in communities here. We had to come back and regroup.”
That regrouping was essential to staying healthy in their head and their hearts. While toughing it out on the road and living their idealistic dreams playing music sounded romantic, real life called. The band made the tough to decision to not tour 200 days out of the year, save for the occasional weekend shows, and set down roots while dedicating time to their growing families.
“I felt horrible for four years thinking I had given up on my dreams,” Lubeck continues. “Now we’re at the spot for peace and happiness. That’s where this record comes from. Life is surely a dance in finding a healthy space between relationships.”
In the three years between this and 2013’s introspective Can’t Please You, Can’t Please Me, Ben took some time off to record his first solo album that he centered around the relationship between him and his father.
Being the flip side of Can’t Please You, Can’t Please Me, FM has the band refining their sound and leaning more on a poppier feel than they have ever dared before. The opening track, “Hurt No More,” written for Lubeck’s three-year-old daughter, is ambiguous enough that it could be reinterpreted for childless listeners. It retains the heaviness drawn from its roots, while striving for a delicacy and elegance all its own.
The band felt a need to stay as close to home as possible for this album cycle, so they made a decision to work with Jason Orris at the Terrarium in Northeast. They began sending Orris iPhone-recorded demos mid-summer of 2015, getting feedback via email to see what needed to be shifted and massaged into place before they went into the studio late last November to start recording. The process with Orris and his assistant Rob Oersterlin spanned three months, but the work they put in parallels the band’s slow, steady career.
“We’re late bloomers in everything we do,” Lubeck determines.“We didn’t start the band until we were in our late twenties. That’s not normal, and it even took us a long time to gel live. Some people didn’t take a shine to us until our second and third records, because they didn’t take us seriously. I look at that as a positive thing. It really shouldn’t work the way it does. We shouldn’t be able to be sustainable as a band, but we’ve found this niche that works. If we had toured in long stretches, we would have burned out by now. I feel like we’re just finding our stride.”
It seems as if fun is the main goal of this project, and the guys are finding that sweet spot between work and play. Thus they have two weekends of celebration planned in support of the new record.
The tour starts off at the Terrarium on Friday night and has the band using a renovated bus for travel and performance to Dinkytown then onto Delano for a barn show. Saturday’s schedule follows them to Hymie’s, then to Shoreview for a house show, and ending the evening for another bus rooftop performance near the Aster Café.
“If we weren’t having fun, if we didn’t believe in the music, if we didn’t get enough response back from people on how a song had influenced them, we might as well quit,” Markson concludes. “It’s worth it. It’s having an impact; making music is therapeutic for us. We’re still having fun, and we’re getting better at making music that is true to who we are with each album. That’s not to say the previous albums are not us; they are a picture of our growth. We really are set up in our current state to make music as long as we want. We won’t make most -- or any -- of our money on this, but we get to do something we’re passionate about, something that we love and brings us joy.”
Farewell Milwaukee Pop Up Tour Schedule
10/14 - 11:00 a.m. | Recording Studio – NE Minneapolis, MN
10/14 - 2:30 p.m. | Bus Top Pop Up Show – Dinkytown, MN
10/14 - 7:30 p.m. | Rieder Homestead barn – Delano, MN
10/15 - 12:00 p.m. | Hymies Records - Minneapolis, MN
10/15 - 3:45 p.m. | Lakefront House Show – Shoreview, MN w/ A Piano In Every Home
10/15 - 7:30 p.m. | Roof Top Show – Minneapolis, MN
10/21 - 7:30 p.m. | Bluff Top House Show - La Crosse, WI - w/ Mike Munson
10/22 - 1:00 p.m. | Ecker's Apple Orchard – Trempealeau, WI
10/22 - 4:00 p.m. | Old General Store – Durand, WI
10/22 – 8:00 p.m. | Ocooch Mountain Music, Winona, MN
For more information and tickets, visit www.farewellmilwaukee.com/shows.