Recently, we sat down with Lucas, the lead singer of Faulkner - a Venice, California based alternative band - who are quickly gaining traction in the musical realm, and who have already worked with industry giants like RZA (Wu Tang Clan), Royce da 5'9", Mark Needham (The Killers), JP Bowersock (The Strokes), and Rick Rubin, to talk about how the band was started, their musical influences, the messages behind their music, and more... Take a look below for the full interview.
Listen to the band's latest release, "Hot Streak" on Spotify.
On Naming the band, and their Musical Influences...
Bradley: We’re curious, beyond the song “I’m Stoned” what is your creative relationship with cannabis, do you use it to influence your music?
Lucas: Yeah everybody in the band smokes so…a couple of us who I won’t name grow.
Bradley: You grow?
Lucas: A couple of us.
Bradley: Oh that’s cool. We do a bit of that as well.
Bradley: So, the name Faulkner, where did that come from?
Lucas: That’s a good question, so this shaman that was high on mushrooms, he just told us to name the band Faulkner and that was it. It wasn't some big strategy or anything its just this guy was tripping on mushrooms and he just told us to do it.
Sunny: Do you have any idea what he might have been thinking when he said that? Because I thought of William Faulkner.
Lucas: Yeah yeah a lot of people do, but no it wasn't William Faulkner.
Lucas: I went to 48 countries just looking for the meaning of life and stuff, and met this shaman, and he was just blazin’ man, and he told us name the band Faulkner, and it was cool because [we wanted?] one word names.
Sunny: What country was that in?
Lucas: So that’s the name of the band. I feel like the history of any band, why they got their name is always kind of not as interesting as people think.
Sunny: Yeah, you like to think there’s meaning to it, everybody tries to attach something to it for sure.
Bradley: So you're originally from out here [in California] right?
Lucas: No, that’s actually my production partner, I’m originally from New York.
Bradley: Oh okay. In terms of musical influences, obviously there’s a lot of that New York sound. You mentioned Wu Tang Clan 36 Chambers in some of your other interviews as musical inspiration. So, I was curious with that sound and balancing that out also with the LA vibe in your songs and lyrics as well, was that natural? Or was it a result of the different people in the band coming together bringing in different influences from their backgrounds that made that happen?
Lucas: Yeah, it’s really a combination of the four of us coming together. We have a song “Revolutionary” it has a little bit of a reggae beat, with the steel pan and stuff like that, and that was a big departure from like “Im stoned” for example, having the steel pan and the reggae influence, that’s primarily because of Eric, my co-producer. You guys need to meet him, he’s high as a motherfucker 24/7.
Bradley: *laughs* dope.
on starting the band and the cannabis industry...
Lucas: Yeah so we’re a bunch of unique dudes and everyone comes together to bring their influences into it.
Sunny: Where is everybody from?
Lucas: All over so we got the drummer from Canada, the bassist is actually from over in Europe, and Eric plays piano, the keys, and sings with me. He’s from LA, I’m from New York.
Sunny: And you guys all just came here to do music?
Lucas: To start a grow op, and when that didn’t work we just said fuck it, let’s do music.
Sunny: That’s crazy
Bradley: So what do you guys personally think of legalization and the outlook for California?
Lucas: I mean so obviously I think it’s a good thing, is anyone saying it’s not?
Sunny: There’s definitely some people out there.
Bradley: Yeah we find that some growers are against it, we’ve found that some want to keep it local and don’t want big business and big money to get behind it, some of these people see it more as a holistic medicine. It can just be very polarizing for people in the industry, I'm sure some of it is financially based, they want to keep their business and maintain it.
Lucas: I don’t agree with that though. I think the less that it’s taboo, and seen as a drug in the first place the better. I think it should just be like water… I think the first step to making it less taboo and more common, which is good for everybody, is to make sure it’s legal. Because otherwise its put into this term, being a “gateway drug,” and you have these politicians starting to talk about how you hit a joint and the next thing you know you're doing heroin, which is totally not true right? And, so obviously legalization is going to make it a little more of a normal thing, a common thing, and that's good for everybody involved in the cannabis industry. So I don't think that just because something becomes financialized or has money, necessarily means that the quality will go down, in fact quality could even go up.
Sunny: That’s definitely not something that's inherently tied to it but i think still with the premise of money being there, there’s room for big marketing teams to misrepresent the culture… I dont know if you watch Netflix at all, but there’s this show called “Disjointed” and I fucking hate that shit. It’s just commercializing these taboos that you were just talking about, the stereotypes. It’s honestly blowing it up, it’s not trying to angle it a different way.
Lucas: It’s the same as what happened to hip-hop. Hip-hop was this super exclusive community right? And it blew up and these corporations get involved like FUBU and Daymond John and all this stuff but it didn't really diminish the power of hip hop at all, even though it became big, because the real hip hop heads still know every Nas lyric. So, I think it’s the same kind of thing, when a culture gets really big and in comes a “McDonald's,” that’s not going to be the heart of the culture that actually will probably start to get people into the culture so they can experience the real culture.
Sunny: That’s very true.
On hip-hop, alternative music, and the "MonoGenre"...
Bradley: Speaking of hip-hop we noticed [in the past] you said you see hip-hop as an extension of punk and incorporate that into your music, so I’m kind of curious how did you get into hip-hop? And, how has that contributed to your collaborations with people like Royce da 5’9” and RZA, how does that all come together?
Lucas: That’s what I listen to so, I listen to more hip-hop than any other form of music, I play alternative but I listen to a lot of hip-hop so..
Sunny: Why do you think you gravitated towards that kind of music? To alternative as opposed to hip-hop?
Lucas: Well, its raw, you know? I like that. I think punk used to be like that a lot more, the Sex Pistols and The Clash, and it maybe isn't so much anymore, [but] hip-hop still has that.
Sunny: Where do you see alternative music right now, as a genre? Where is it’s place in the music field right now? It’s obviously not as high up there as it used to be in terms of like popularity and what people listen to.
Lucas: I think what’s happening now is just people like something that’s good, and if it’s not good then people don’t really vibe with it. I think all genres are just going to become “monogenre". And you're just gonna think oh that’s dope or it’s not dope. It could be dark pop, it could be deep house, it could be punk or hip-hop, you're just gonna like it or you’re not gonna like it.
Sunny: What do you mean by “monogenre"?
Lucas: So mono, one, one genre. I think it will just be good, the good genre.
Sunny: That’s interesting.
Lucas: I feel that’s what Kanye West did in a lot of ways is all the time people would be like oh I don’t listen to hip-hop but I love Kanye, right? Or, even hardcore hip-hop fans or super hip-hop heads would be like I only like hip-hop, but I love this melodic stuff he does. You know especially on Yeezy or something. So, I think it’s just gonna be one genre, and you're gonna like it or you're not gonna like it, and you’re not going to worry about whether it’s alternative, or hip-hop, or punk, or house.
Sunny: That definitely makes sense seeing that Faulkner doesn't really necessarily sound like one thing all the time, the music that you guys do is kind of all over the place.
On the messages behind their music and Social Equality...
Bradley: As far as messages go for your lyrics, there’s a few songs in particular, like “Equality” talking about LGBT rights, and kind of what’s going on with what Trump is doing right now. Where do you see Faulkner in terms of like what message you wanna send to your fans and the people who listen to your music?
Lucas: I mean, it’s a very dangerous time I think if anybody is on the sideline right now, and says that they don't have an opinion. I think everyone needs to have an opinion on things like equality or even more so what’s happening with sexual harassment with the Harvey Weinstein thing and all that stuff. I think you're not allowed at this time to not have an opinion, you have to have an opinion. It’s weird but you know its really dangerous what’s going on right now. I think you can make the case that what’s going on right now with profiling immigrants or profiling trans people or profiling anybody, I mean you look at before WWI or in the 1920’s, whenever they start profiling any subset of the society its not too far of a stretch to have a genocide. And, I’m not saying Trump is gonna cause a genocide, but how does everything start? It starts with someone profiling someone else as being different. So yeah I think it’s a very dangerous thing.
Bradley: So you're saying also like saying nothing is akin to being on that opposite side saying you're okay with it.
Lucas: Yeah exactly, you're an accomplice if you’re neutral.
Bradley: Yeah, I agree
Lucas: Yeah, so we could write just pop songs and we could write, you know, stuff that’s maybe easier for people to digest. I just think that we have a responsibility to talk about these kind of subjects right now as artists and not ignore them because if you don’t have it in your material and if you're not addressing it I think neutrality is an accomplice, so you're an accomplice to it if you're neutral.
Sunny: Can you think of any particular example of things that artists have done in music? Obviously for one thing the little Eminem response freestyle video, directly addressing Trump? I don’t know if you saw that.
Lucas: Yeah even just saying like Fuck that (laughs), things like that, you don’t even have to be a political person just be like fuck that. Just do something… When I was writing “Revolutionary” I was just like thinking of Bob Marley the whole time, you know.
On their latest EP, Revanchist, their upcoming album, and their artistic vision...
Sunny: I had a question about that EP, is it Revanchist (kist)? Or how do you pronounce it?
Lucas: Revanchist (CHist). It’s a french word.
Sunny: Oh okay, I looked it up because I had no idea what it meant, it means like revenge or like giving territory back. That was my question also, who/what are you getting back? Who are you getting revenge against? Who’s the enemy?
Lucas: So what we’re doing right now, we’re creating a series with our music, where everything is gonna all make sense after one album, two albums. The EP is a chapter in the story and the story is gonna be a book right? The book is all of our music all together, and right now its telling a story of revenge. If you listen to the first EP, it’s “Water’s are rising” [the first song] and that’s a prophecy of doom for someone. We all know someone who thinks they’re untouchable, and they’re super high up, and then all of a sudden something happens to them and they get taken down really hard. Well, we see that in the news everyday, so that’s what waters are rising is about. And, it’s not a revenge on a specific individual, its more a revenge based EP, because when we come out with our full album it will make sense, we’re telling a full story as artists. [Also] are music videos are all going to connect into each other so every music video we shoot is gonna be part of the sequence almost like a feature film. When you watch all twelve music videos together, then it will tell a story.
Sunny: That’s really dope.
Lucas: Yeah, so it’s not just a revenge to an individual, we’re trying to tell a story, and more and more of it is going to be revealed as we release the album.
Sunny: Is that album still untitled?
Lucas: We’re leaning towards calling it Street Axioms. Yeah we’re leaning towards it, that’s one of our titles, working title we call it.
On their Favorite Places to Perform...
Sunny: Do you perform in LA a lot?
Lucas: Yeah, we perform everywhere, we got a show tomorrow. We got some coming up on the schedule.
Bradley: What are some of your favorite venues to perform at in the area?
Lucas: In New York, it’s the Bowery Ballroom and in LA it’s the Troubadour.
Sunny: Why do you like the Troub?
Lucas: The stage is lower, people can get up close to the artist, the acoustics, the sound is good.