Modern Fix

FIVER – interview by tom maxwell


At the end of the day, if a musician can hang their hat on their music, it’s really all they care about. Now, that’s not to say that success is not a handsome reward for your hard work, but it’s better than being a sellout. Fiver has been doing what they love and loving what they do for years now. They have become the bread and water, but also the fine French wine of label Devil In the Woods. The latest effort from Fiver, “Here It Comes” is their best work to date. There are so many atmospheric sounds to support the core music that my brain nearly reaches an overload. Every time I listen to “Here It Comes” more of the music is revealed to me and I understand their so-called “tour de force” just a little bit more. The layers truly are awe inspiring. This “noise” is not to take anything away from the lyrics, which are indirectly about the earth’s degradation and human involvement in this destruction. These songs are eye opening on all fronts. I got a chance to talk to lead singer and songwriter Dave Woody about the epic Fiver.

Tom: Your music and its development over your three albums has been very interesting. What has been the most important contributing factor to your development as a band?
Dave Woody: We’ve just stuck with it. The development is just as interesting to us as well. We don’t have a set plan or direction. It’s more just play the music and see what comes out next. So far that’s worked out well for us.

Would you say that your most recent album, “Here It Comes” is your best album to date?
I would say that it’s the best record we could have done at that point in time. We’ve always tried to out-do ourselves with each progressive record and learn as much as possible for the next time around. “Here It Comes” was a big step forward for us because we got closer than ever to how we want to sound. This time around we’ve finally assembled our own studio and we can do everything in-house, so that’s another big step forward. So far it’s been really amazing. We’re in the process of recording our next record and I think it continues in the tradition of us challenging ourselves to make the best record we can at this point.

Someone who just pops in, “Here it Comes” into their crappy stereo in their bathroom or car really misses out on so much of your masterpiece. In fact, it says right in your album sleeve that you should use headphones at high volumes. When you try the headphones, the high frequency and atmospheric noise really rounds out your sound. Do you think this approach will be used on future efforts?
I’m so glad that you noticed that. I wrote that on the first 2 records as well, but this last one is when it became really essential. I just think that that’s the best way to listen to music. Listening to songs in your car or while you’re in the shower or whatever is great, but that’s just the Cliff-note version of any record: you get the main points, but you’re missing out on all of the intricacies. If you really want to experience the whole thing, headphones are the only way to go. Otherwise you’re missing out on a whole other layer of the music.

Was this album just a blast to make or what?
Actually this was a really crazy record to make. It was a weird time. There were car accidents, more line-up changes, master tapes being eaten by the ADAT machine, just all kinds of stuff like that during the recording and mixing and everything, not to mention September 11th and what that did to everyone’s mindset outside of the band. And during all of this there was this strange excitement that always surfaces for me when we record, so that was a strange feeling; being really excited inside of all this chaos. What came out of it was really great, but the process was a bit draining.

Is it hard to create such a complete album? My ears are just completely bombarded with sound and none of it sounds bad or out of place.
That’s another thing we try to do with each album is make it as connected as possible from song to song so that people associate it as a whole rather than just ten separate songs. My favorite records are the ones that once you hear the first few notes you just have to hear the whole thing. Not that we’ve really accomplished that as of yet, but that’s what we’re striving for. As far as the bombardment goes I’ve always really loved the “Wall of Sound” idea; plus I generally have way too many ideas and little melodies that keep popping into my head when we record. It’s really exciting when you start layering and layering until all of the sudden the individual sounds start to create a melody of their own. I also like to hide little things in the mix. You know how sometimes you’ll hear a new part in a song you’ve been listening to for years and you say, “Where did that come from? How come I never noticed that before?” And it adds this whole new dimension to the song.

How many times have you crashed Pro Tools in your day?
We’ve had our share of funerals for crash victims. They will all be missed. But often those losses have led us in a direction we may not have even thought to go before and the song completely transformed and turned out much better. Messing things up every once in a while can be a good thing.

What sort of following has Fiver built up around the country?
I like to think that our following is still pretty tiny and made up mostly from people finding us by accident on the Web when they’re searching for a different band. I wouldn’t say that we’re invisible, but I still consider us a relatively unknown group.

So more people like delicately crafted indie rock than you might think…
I certainly hope so. We’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback from record to record so someone has to be listening somewhere. Though one of our recent reviews was just scathing. The author was really just mean, almost like our music had personally offended him or maybe one of us had dated his ex-girlfriend or something. But then we came across a Top Ten List for 2001 that he had compiled and that made us realize where he was coming from. All I’ll say is that number 2 was Pink.

Are you comfortable with the level of success Fiver has been able to attain?
Everything has been incredible so far. We’ve gotten to do a lot of the things that we always wanted to do ever since we were just kids with guitars, so I can’t complain.

How has your relationship with Death Cab For Cutie helped your success?
We both went out on our first national tour together and since then they’ve really just blown-up. I’m super happy for those guys. They’re amazing people and they deserve every bit of their success. I think a lot of people who like Death Cab have at least heard of us, so if nothing else, that’s at least helped our name to get out there.

It’s been a pleasure. Please don’t stop making music.
Well thank you very much. There are way too many more songs to be written to quit now. I hope you enjoy them.