Farewell Milwaukee

28 Feb

“That’s what’s insane about art…something you create can be part of someones life.”

Some people find it hard to believe that amazing talent can come out of cities you’d least expect. It’s true, big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, hold millions upon millions of genuine talent, however, finding talent in a small city isn’t as hard to come by as you might think. Many people believe that in order to make it, you need to live in a big city, but nowadays with social networking being as popular as it is, you can live on a deserted island, as long as there is wi-fi. Farewell Milwaukee springs from Minneapolis, and has gained a ton of exposure with the help of sites such as Twitter and Facebook. With dedicated fans under their wings, the band has gained a ton of respect in the industry and has received many positive reviews for their heartfelt music and suave lyrics. I was truly happy being introduced to this band and having the chance to get to know them a bit better. Here is my interview with front man, Ben Lubeck.Q. How did the five of you meet and form Farewell Milwaukee?A. Kyle, Aaron, and I, met in College, and Aaron met Brad and Adam at a show. Aaron introduced all of us after that and we’ve pretty much been playing music together in some form ever since.

Q. In your biography, it’s stated that you guys are happy being in the Midwest. Do you feel like living in the Midwest brings you just as much opportunity as it would living on the East or West Coast?

A. I think it all depends. I’m sure there are plenty of opportunities in New York or Los Angeles, but we can accomplish so much though here in Minneapolis through technology, it’s unreal. As far as shows, you can get a lot of exposure on the coasts, but as a band, you want to get out of your own town anyway; show your face in a different scene. We’ve been to NYC twice in the last couple months, so we’re still finding opportunities to meet new folks out there and in towns along the way. New York’s amazing. I love it. I also love Minneapolis, and I think that if your music speaks for itself, and you’re willing to do all that you can to get it out there, people will find your music, regardless of location.

Q. Your band formed about a year ago. Since coming together, what has been the best thing that has happened to you guys?

A. We formed in 2009, so it’s been longer that that now. There’s been many highlights in the last few years. 2011 was especially good to us. We played at Lincoln Center in New York, played at the legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis, and found ourselves on the Cities 97 Sampler, a local benefit CD that sells out to 33,000 folks, and raises nearly one million dollars for charity. One of the other highlights was finding our manager. He’s strengthened our team and is helping us move forward.

Q. Some people believe in destiny and fate. Do you think you guys were destined to come together and make the music you’re currently creating?

A. I suppose I can only speak for myself on this one. I’m not sure. I do know that I’m really happy with the music we are making. It’s the music I’ve always wanted to make. In the past, I’ve come up with a lot of excuses as to why I shouldn’t pursue making music. Those days are long gone and I couldn’t be happier.

Q. When you released your sophomore album, When It Sinks In, back in May, what were a few of your guys’ aspirations? Did you want people to come to you saying the album had changed their lives, or sell so many copies, etc.?

A. I guess you never really know what to expect when you release a record. We worked incredibly hard on it and loved the way it sounded. But you spend so much time in the studio and out of the studio listening to it, and critiquing it that there comes a point where you just have to release it and see what other people think. The response has been great. You never know where your music will meet people, or how it will connect with them. One of my favorite parts about making records, is later finding out the stories from people…this song helped me through a break up, or I listened to this song after my dad died, or my wife and I listened to this tune when we were dating. It’s really quite incredible, and I’m just honored to share in peoples lives like that. That’s what’s insane about art…something you create can be part of someones life. Sometimes their most intimate moments that they don’t share with anyone else. That’s why I say, once I write a song it’s no longer mine. It belongs to all of us at that point…anyone who listens and wants to share in it any way. That’s why I wrote the line in “Ain’t No Rules”, “Beauty isn’t meant to be owned, unless you share with the rest of the world.”

Q. It seems like your music is influenced by country. Who are a few of your favorite artists that inspire your writing?

A. Country music reminds me of my Grandparents who play a special role in my life, Rock and Roll reminds me of my dad. When you combine the two it creates this special place for me. It’s really like nothing else. That’s why I fell in love with Neil Young in high school. He has a way of combing the two. I love that man. I didn’t realize you could do that until I heard him. I didn’t even realize what it was. It was just Neil. Then when I found Wico, Ryan Adams, Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks, it was over. It was music speaking to my generation, with the same influences that I grew up with. I’ve always loved classic rock, and obviously still do, but felt a little removed when listening to it, like wishing I had grown up in that time period. Wishing I could see Dylan live in his prime. My mom would make fun of me, telling me to get my own music. So when I heard guys like Tweedy, Adams, Louris ect. putting out fresh songs with these roots soaked influences, something really clicked for me. I knew I had to contribute with my own songs.

Q. I also read that you shut yourself from the world and write as much as you can. Do you feel like that helps you more than being surrounded by distractions?

A. It’s tough to say. I do it more out of situation. I’m laid off in the winters so I have the time to write. But Minnesota winters can play mean tricks on your psyche. You can go 20 days without seeing the sun. Sometimes longer. It gets dark at 4:30PM. On the weekend, if my wife and I go out, I feel really weird, like nervous to talk to people. It’s bizarre. So I’m not sure if that’s the best way to write songs, but I run with it and try to get as much done as I can. I’m thankful for the time, and a wife that supports me.

Q. Your current album was produced by Brad Bivens, who has produced for big artists such as Kings of Leon and Cold War Kids. How was it being in the studio with someone who has worked with major artists? Do you feel like the process helped you come out stronger in the end?

A. Absolutely. Brad’s great. He challenges me as a songwriter and a musician. He’s also a great support. He cares about the song. Doing what’s best for the song, making albums rather than just singles. He knows a lot about the integrity of music and he protects that. That’s something I hold high as well, so working with him has been a blast. He also challenges us in the studio and knows the right time to encourage us, which is a great quality in a producer.

Q. Personally, one of my favorite songs on your album is, Morning Stars. It’s a song that’s perfect for a rainy day when you’re feeling a bit blue. What are a few of your key essentials to writing a song that is bound to mend peoples hearts?

A. Thank you! I’m not sure, I try to write from an honest place. That song is very real to me. I’m glad it connected with someone.

Q. The new year has just begun. What is on your guys’ resolution list this year?

A. Not sure about the other dudes, but nothing official here. Let’s say…drink more beer, exercise less, and eat more french fries.

Q. If you were stranded on an island, and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. Maybe I’d sell the song for a guitar on the mainland before I got shipwrecked. I love writing new songs.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of their most recent album, When It Sinks In, but since I can only pick just one, here is “Waiting On You.”
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