The sophomore album poses an interesting situation for any artist: They can either take the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it approach, or they can opt to push the envelope and try something progressive, all the while subjecting themselves to potential failure.
On Run It Up the Flagpole, Greensboro, NC pop-punkers FAREWELL have chosen the latter, toeing the line between sugary pop melodies and unbridled punk-rock energy while creating a record that both Top-40 fans and punk purists can enjoy equally. The set follows 2007's Isn't This Supposed To Be Fun!?, which, along with the band's earn-it-yourself attitude, kept Farewell on the road alongside acts including Forever The Sickest Kids, The Secret Handshake, Four Year Strong and Hit The Lights, as well as earning them a spot on last year's Van's Warped Tour.
When facing the task of writing Fun's follow-up, the band -- vocalist Marshall Davis, guitarists Wil Andrews and Kevin Carter, bassist Buddy (just buddy) and drummer Jeff Ellis -- set out with one goal: to diversify its sound while proving that it's possible to play catchy, pop-based music without pandering to overtly glossy production and studio trickery. "So many bands' second record sounds exactly like their first one, and it's almost always a letdown," says Davis. "We wanted to continue to move forward as a band and help expand our fans' perception of what "pop-punk" could be. That's why this new record has its own identity. It's a perfect blend of our past and present."
If you're looking for a record full of snot-nosed vocals and breakneck tempos, you'll probably be disappointed. Instead, Farewell's punk influence is exuded in swagger and attitude, drawing from influences like Jawbreaker and Screeching Weasel. Even so, it's clear the band isn't pulling any punches this time around. Calling out the "cookie cutter caffeinated teens, deployed for mass consumption," the lead single "Devoid (That's What I Think About It)" kicks listeners in the teeth with massive Green Day-sized guitars and its rallying-cry chorus of "When did rock and roll become this fucking fashion show!?"
No, Farewell has not become a band of crusty punk-rock bellyachers. Nor have they turned their backs on the fan base that's supported them since the beginning. They're simply not willing to stand by and watch their pop-punk scene be overrun by sound-alike clones who care more about looking good than making good music. "We're basically a punk-rock band that's more rock than punk," Davis laughs. "I wish I could sing like Armstrong, but I guess I'll settle for Hoppus."
Farewell's members, most of whom had grown up playing in various punk and hardcore bands, came together in 2005 and quickly built a name for themselves, touring the Southeast and crafting their upbeat pop-rock sound, all the while showcasing for labels across the country. They eventually caught the ear of Epitaph founder Brett Gurewitz, who signed the group in 2007. It was an ideal situation for the band; many of their influences were veteran Epitaph artists. "They understood our band and didn't want to change us," Davis says of the label. "They were stoked on what we had to offer and gave us 100% creative control. It was perfect for us."
Throughout Run It Up the Flagpole, Farewell tempers it's us-against-the-world mentality with a hearty dose of earnestness and sincerity. That's best found on "Catch As Catch Can," an autobiographical mid-tempo number that recaps the band's history - from its nascent stages in the dive-bars of North Carolina to an eventual deal with Epitaph and subsequent worldwide touring. Run It Up The Flagpole not only cements Farewell as a band that won't compromise its ideals for the sake of rock stardom, but also shows its members will never forget their roots and what it took to make it this far."You have to keep in mind that your fans are growing as individuals too, along with their musical tastes," Davis explains. "We're playing the type of music that made us want to do this in the first place. It's what we love, and what we do best."