Photo by Daneil Belis
Ah, like Chuck Norris taking names in a bar fight, Fair to Midland are dominating the beginning of 2008 with the east coast leg of their tour. About two years ago the Texas band were signed to Serj Tarkanian’s record label and are now touring with the System of a Down front man. If that isn’t enough to get you to your local Wal-Mart and buy some albums, Smashed Chair got a chance to chat with bassist Jon Dicken when Fair to Midland played the Troubadour. A few choice words, while a line formed outside before the band went on.
SC: How is Los Angeles treating you?
Jon: It’s our home away from home.
SC: Fair to Midland got signed about two years ago. How have things changed?
Jon: The touring has gotten easier now, that we have a tour budget. We got to go into the studio and record with some proper tools. It’s been nothing but good – but we’re not a success story by any means. We’re a lot better than we were two years ago I guess.
SC: That’s being a little modest. You’ve got people lining up outside.
Jon: It doesn’t always happen like this. Like I said, L.A. is our home away from home. But we’ve still got a long way to go – some places are welcoming and some aren’t as friendly.
SC: You guys went back and re-recorded some of your earlier work. Do you think that’s necessary for artists – like the saying “a paintings never done”?
Jon: It can be. I wasn’t in the band when the earlier stuff was recorded. You know, there was only 3,000 records in circulation – we took a few of those songs from the first record and tweaked them up. We gave them a bit more attention and made them better songs than they were. We’re not trying to change anything, but what with having the excess to better equipment it just seemed like the right thing to do.
SC: Anyone you want to collaborate with?
Jon: I’m kind of out of the loop when it comes to modern rock. I’m not really a rock guy- I’m more of a country guy. Stuff like Hank Williams, Wayland Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson are more my thing. So pretty much anyone I want to collaborate with is in country… or dead.
SC: Is there anyone out there that you would want to cross paths with while on tour?
Jon: I really like Muse, Queens of the Stone Age.
SC: Do you keep up with social networks?
Jon: Not really. I’m not all that computer savvy. I was given a smart phone because I’m in a band – But I don’t do anything fancy.
SC: When on stage is it weird to make eye contact with someone in the crowd?
Jon: We’re so used to doing tours back before we were known so we got comfortable playing with ourselves. It kind of sounds bad, but I don’t make much eye contact when playing. It gets to me. I get a little nervous, so I zone it out. I guess I’m in my own world. In between songs I’ll interact more – you know say thank you.
Photo by Orlando Piña
SC: How do you stay sane on tour?
Jon: I don’t know if I have. We give each other space. We’ve known each other long enough to know how we click or what gets under each other’s skin. When you’re touring there are moment you wish you were home doing normal stuff. But once you’re home it’s great for tow or three days, but then you’re ready to get back into it. It’s been nothing but good to us. We’ve all worked normal jobs, so it could be a lot worse.
SC: Is that a fishing hook on your hat?
Jon: Yeah. You can actually go to the fishing section at Wal–Mart and get yourself a hat hook.
SC: So, you’re a fisherman?
Jon: Oh, I love fishing. I love golfing. We’re country bumkins – you know we’re hicks.
SC: If you could be anything what would it be?
Jon: I’d love to be a cowboy. You know I grew up around horses. I’ve sort of did the cowboy thing before.
By Nathan Solis