So you know how you feel like you know someone, but then, you really don’t, but because you feel like you do you join in conversations about those people like you’ve been best buds for 20 years? Wait, I’m the only one who does that? How embarrassing . . .
Well, anyway, the guys in The French Revolution from Lancaster, PA have been those guys for me. Daniel French sang with a good friend of mine for years, and he also appeared in my college’s yearbook my senior year more times than I did . . . and he didn’t go to our school. Jeremy Bentley was a drummer in this band Movies with Heroes that I saw play all the time because the bassist’s wife is my dear, dear friend. So you can see why I felt like maybe I know them, right?
Now, Jeremy even invited me to his wife’s big birthday bash, and Daniel, well, he still wouldn’t know me from Eve, but that’s okay. No, really it is.
1. Who is The French Revolution?
It started as an idea that Jeremy and I had of being in a band without all the drama of trying to make it in the music industry. I think we were both burned out from our
time with previous bands and wanted to try something new. We wrote and recorded “The Letdown” with Patrick Kirtchner and Matt Campbell and it felt like we really hit on something special, the process was exactly what we wanted, fun, low stress, but the songs felt really strong.
On this new album (Back To Basics), The French Revolution consisted of Daniel French (vocals/guitar), Jeremy Bentley (drums), Jason Sherman (guitar/vocals/keys), and Chris Jakubowicz (bass). Some friends joined us in the studio to sing some group vocals, and one friend in particular, Heather McDonald played some piano and organ.
On our first record (The Letdown), it was Daniel (vocals/guitar), Jeremy (drums), Patrick Kirchner (guitars), Matt Campbell (bass), and Jason (additional guitar/keys).
2. Describe your music. Compare it to something, name influences, use only avant garde language – what is the sound of The French Revolution?
Daniel: After years of being saturated and obsessed by music I needed a long break, so I actually haven’t been listening to much music,. I’ve been mostly listening to podcasts and talk radio. My early influences were bands like Nivana, Built to Spill and Sunny Day Real Estate. As far as writing with TFR goes, I can’t say that I have any main influences, we seem to get in a rhythm and I write according to where it feels like we are going.
Jeremy: The French Revolution is essentially rock music. You might even call it hard rock music, with a lot of pop sensibility. Our influences are so vast at this point in our lives. We both grew up listening to a lot of rocking rock music, both mainstream and independent, so I am sure that shines through in the sound. Now that we’re not really part of the music industry, and since we give our albums away for free on the Internet, we find that the best way to describe our music is to just let people go and download it and hear for themselves. That was always a big hang-up about being in a band – having to try to describe the music to someone. It was a necessary evil of trying to promote your music, but now we would just prefer to let people draw their own opinions, and a free download is enough incentive for folks to easily take that step.
But if you want avant-garde language, let’s just say that The French Revolution’s music is the sound of a Gryphon crying out in the witching hours of the night through a microphone forged in the flames of a Hawaiian volcano, hand-hammered by the tentacles of a mystical octopus/muscle-car hybrid.
3. If you were a spice, what spice would TFR be? Why?
Daniel: Posh spice, because David Beckham is sooo hot, and Sporty is to sassy for my taste.
Jeremy: Old Spice, because that charming guy in the towel, and his pectoral muscles, are a direct analogy of what TFR is all about.
4. Picture your favorite setting to play. Where are you? Who’s there? What’s the mood?
A funeral for a King in a Cathedral, every important person in the world is there, and everyone is sad, and we rock so hard we bring the King back to life, and then he dies again when we stop playing, but for a moment we rocked a King back to life.
5. If you could take only five books to an Amish farm for six months, which books would you take? (You will keep them well-hidden, so you can take anything.)
Daniel: The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombi and The Lord of the Rings trilogy in one book to cheat. (A Bible is too obvious.)
Jeremy: Lamb by Christopher Moore, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, and the Harry Potter series split into 3 volumes. Also to cheat.
6. What is the most beautiful thing you guys have experienced?
Watching a shark being born. Together.
7. Think of yourself as an animal. What animal/s are you?
Daniel: I’m a gorilla that can do sign language and paint.
Jeremy: I’m the gorilla’s baby, who can interpret for his parent, both the sign language, as well as the paintings.
8. You guys are left all the “business” nonsense of music behind. What brought you to that place, and how has it been to do music for music’s sake?
Daniel: Personally, when i was trying to make a career out of music I found myself frustrated, jealous, and trying to write what I think people wanted to hear. With the French Revolution I’m trying to recapture that feeling I had when I was 17 and raw and I didn’t think about it too much. I enjoy the creation of music more than anything, and being in a low stress situation with super talented friends is ideal for me. Plus I always wanted to be in a band with Jeremy.
Jeremy: I agree with a lot of what Daniel just said (especially about always wanting to be in a band with each other). Also, it is all about doing music for music’s sake – being able to create and share it with people, without any strings. Cutting all those binds the music industry attaches to music was one of the most freeing actions of my life. The music industry has a way of sucking all that you love out of your creations, and making it all about creating the music with an end goal in mind (whether that be money, stardom, unit sales, etc.), and aligning yourself with people who help you achieve that goal, even if you normally wouldn’t want to be joined with such types. The way TFR now does things involves no stress, and just leaves us free to create and be inspired. Then we get to share it with people and go start writing more music. It’s a cycle of happiness (whoa).
9. A big open field. Nonprofits in booths. Great, locally-owned vendors. It’s the TFR festival – who do you invite to play?
Daniel: Tegan and Sara, Radiohead, Copeland, The National and Muse.
Jeremy: Arcade Fire, The National, Sunny Day Real Estate, Metric, and Muse.
10. Today, you’re making a mixtape for my readers – what 10-12 songs to you include?
“I’m Only Sleeping” by the Beatles
“Let Down” by Radiohead
“Summerland” by Kings X
“Figure” by Richard Buckley
“19” by Tegan and Sara
“Fell in love with a Girl” by The White Stripes
“Have You Forgotten” by The Red House Painters
“Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap
“When You Were Young” by The Killers
“Vipers, Snakes and Actors” by Norma Jean
“Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National
“Stockholm Syndrome” by Muse
“The Heinrich Maneuver” by Interpol
“Blindness” by Metric
“Stay Gold” by Ben Roth
“Intervention” by Arcade Fire
“All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers
“Sometimes You Can’t Make It…” by U2
“Laundry Room” by The Avett Brothers
“This One’s On Me” by Tyler Speaks for Me
“World Waits” by Jeremy Enigk
“The Ocean” by Sunny Day Real Estate
Be sure to check out The French Revolution’s website and download their FREE debut album The Letdown and get their new album Back to Basics on Tuesday, June 7th. You can also find them on Facebook, where all the cool kids hang.