What Goes On: The Ginger Faye Bakers
Making noise since 2009, the Rochester-based power trio, The Ginger Faye Bakers, are well-known in the local music scene for their dizzyingly eclectic arsenal of fuzzed-out guitars, doomy undertones, and infinitely catchy hooks. Ahead of playing with Tonstartssbandht and Jimso Slim this Thursday at the Bug Jar, we caught up with the band to dig more into their latest EP, what audiences can expect from the upcoming show, and their recent ambient synth explorations.
After two studio albums, The Ginger Faye Bakers — consisting of singer and guitarist Nate Briscoe, bassist Tim Sadue and drummer Billy Martin — returned last year sprawling in a more dusty stoner rock direction on their EP Camaro. The opening track title track is cruising desert rock anthem soaked in sinister swagger with its heavily-distorted riffage and motorik pulse, while "Satan's Helpers" is smeared in scattered electronics and grinding guitars. Earlier this month, the trio released Ratman 22222, a welcomed detour of futuristic synth-based recordings and free-form improvisations made in Martin's home studio alongside Mike Turzanski of Drippers! and Kevin Burns of CD-ROM.
Breaking through the thudding grooves, we caught up with The Ginger Faye Bakers ahead of their gig this Thursday at the Bug Jar with the cultishly beloved Florida duo Tonstartssbandht and rising local singer-songwriter Jimso Slim, to dig more into their latest EP and what audiences can expect from the upcoming show.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. The full interview will appear in our next print issue, Paperface Zine Issue 3, out later this month. Pre-order your copy on Etsy or Bandcamp.
Paperface Zine: First tell me how you guys met and formed The Ginger Faye Bakers?
Nate Briscoe: Tim and I grew up in the same small town and started playing in bands together in high school. We started this band really just as an excuse to hang out and jam together. A couple of drummers later, we met Billy on Craigslist in late 2011. Things gelled quickly and we knew we had something that felt good and we've been rocking ever since.
What was your vision when first beginning this project? Also what’s the significance of the name?
Briscoe: I guess for me anyways, the overall idea is to just play rock 'n' roll. I don't think we are out to reinvent the wheel or anything. For me, it's a compulsion on some level — the electricity you feel when you strum a loud fuzzy guitar chord combined with some loud bass lines and drums. The "raw power," as Iggy would say. I've also always loved bands that write and play songs that an 8th grader could learn on guitar, keeping it simple and loud. As for the name, I think Tim and I had a few other names in mind, but the idea of combining the names of two very different, shall I say, weirdo outsiders, was interesting and seemed in line with our sense of humor. But really there is no real significance behind it.
As individual musicians who maintain other projects, how would you describe the way each three of you shape the band's sound?
Briscoe: I feel we are the sum of our parts really. Billy shreds the drums. Tim is a ripping bass player. I'm an adequate guitarist and vocalist. I feel that a lot of our songs are riff or rhythmically heavy, so having such a powerful rhythm section really propels and defines the tone of the band. At this point if you replaced any one of us, it would be a different band as I feel that we have a chemistry defined by the three of us playing in a room together.
Tim Sadue: Yeah I love playing with Nate and Billy, they are both super talented, creative guys who tolerate me rotating the same 3-4 bass parts in all of our songs. I think we all just bring a pretty pure, rock 'n' roll spirit to how we play together and we try to write stuff we'd like to listen to.
Billy Martin: There is a chemistry the three of us have when we play together. Maybe it's because we were born in the same year and all reading guitar world at the same time.
What's your guys' recording process like? I imagine a lot of heavy jamming.
Briscoe: Well usually I will demo out songs or ideas, mainly just the music. Rarely are there lyrics or whatever in the beginning. I'll pass it along to Billy and Tim and then we will usually jam on it and see how it feels. We might arrange parts differently or change a few things here and there, but if it feels good, we'll work to get the music tight and I'll work on lyrics and whatnot. Sometimes songs do come out of jams, for instance the song "Camaro" started as a jam and we just added parts as we went and eventually we had a pretty bitchin' song.
Take me through the recording of your latest EP Camaro, released early last year. Was this recorded during lockdown?
Briscoe: This particular set of songs were recorded a bit differently for us. Our other two releases were recorded in studios with other people. Billy built his home studio in his basement where we rehearse now. As we have gotten older, our time to focus on music has altered, so we worked on recordings when we could. The process was, and Billy can correct me if I'm wrong, shoot from the hip and see what shakes out.
Martin: We spent a few years pretty inactive as our focus was in other places. I had been collecting microphones and recording gear and built a small studio in my basement in the meantime. In early 2019 we began constantly jamming and all felt that I could handle the recording with the gear we had. We know what we want with our sound and we figured out how to get it. We recorded the basic tracks quickly, while spending more time on vocals and solos and layering. Messing around with different amps we all have, stuff like that. The key was to always keep it easy. Recording was mostly finished before the pandemic started, and Ian Fait did final mixing remotely at Wicked Squid. It was strange not being able to participate in those sessions but he did great work and elevated the production.
What do you think makes this EP stand out from your previous full-length releases?
Briscoe: For one we recorded it ourselves, which we hadn't really done before, and to Billy's credit, I think all the songs turned out pretty good. I also feel that the songs on this EP are a bit heavier than what we normally write, so it made sense to release them together as one complete thing.
Martin: There is definitely a heavier feel to them, kind of in a classic metal way. Recording it ourselves was a milestone. I like that it is concise too.
Sadue: I'm a sucker for an EP, which is probably due to my short attention span. I think that the songs have a little bit more of a heavy metal vibe than some of our previous releases. That, combined with the EP format, makes this release sound more cohesive than some of our earlier stuff.
Is this EP hinting at a larger project in the near future? Have you been able to record new music as of late or just sketching?
Briscoe: I think so. It took a while for everyone to get back in the swing of things because of the pandemic, so getting together was sporadic. We have been working on some new jams that are very much in a similar vein as the songs on Camaro, so maybe there will be a Camaro II or we'll call it "Camaro and Trans Am."
How did Ratman 22222 come about? It's such an exploratory dive into electronic music.
Martin: I texted the guys in December and said "Do you want to get together this week and play synths?" We just improvise and look for a groove. Most of the recordings have simple repetitive drum machine patterns some with live drums. Everything is wired up to record every note we play. After two months, we had 15 hours of music. That was edited down to the best bits which will be released in bursts through the year. Reference points are John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Eno. We are actually playing a live show on April 1st as The Digital Faye Bakers.
What do you personally get out of making songs?
Briscoe: I guess it's the satisfaction of creating something. It's also the challenge of "Can we do this?" or "How will this sound if we try this?" The putting together of the puzzle that is the finished piece of art. I don't generally have any personal or political agenda when creating music, and it's beautiful that other musicians and artists can share that part of them. Personally, I get a lot of fulfillment from just playing rock music with my friends.
Martin: The process of making music is the reward. That's what I love. Having friendships with people over a bond of creating music is a cool gift. I am very lucky to be able to make music with The Bakers. We have been together for over ten years and still enjoy playing and hanging together.
Sadue: I get a big sense of accomplishment from listening to the songs I've been a part of with The Bakers. That feeling never gets old for me.
You got a show coming up with Tonstartssbandht and Jimso Slim this Thursday at the Bug Jar. What can audiences expect from your set?
Martin: Rock 'n' roll. It might be a little mellower, but still will have teeth.
Lastly, what fellow Rochester musician would you collaborate on a split 7" with and why?
Briscoe: That's a great question...Armand Schaubroeck because I'm certain it would get weird.
Sadue: I'd like The Ginger Faye Bakers to be the backing band for Rochester's most famous Juke Box Hero, the one and only Lou Gramm. Why? Because "Hot Blooded" is a great tune.
RATMAN 22222 is out now. Stream the recordings below and purchase tickets to the upcoming concert here.