Interview: Fanno Creek

Comprised of Quinn Mulligan on guitar and vocals, along with Evan Hailstone and Dane Brist on drums, Fanno Creek is a magic trio of talent and adorableness. Seriously, they’re like the music equivilant of fucking unicorns. And by that, we mean unicorns who are fucking. So, get ready to be super gay about it, bronies. 

How long has the band been together in its current form? How did it come together?

Evan Hailstone: The band’s been together in it’s current form since late 2009 but it really started a bit earlier than that, in 2007. Quinn and I had been in a blues based rock band in high school which carried on through our first two years of college — I played rhythm guitar and he played lead, but we rarely sang, and when we did it was backup. The band was slowing down and Quinn began writing, singing, and recording his own songs which were very stripped down and honest, and it turned out he had a great voice. Hearing those songs inspired me to try writing and singing a few songs myself and a short while after that we started playing together. We would basically get together after work to drink and smoke and unwind and we would end up practicing songs for hours. Our first gigs were open mics and house parties in Forest Grove, where we would both play acoustic guitars and scream all of the lyrics — it was all a very liberating thing and we didn’t really care where it was going, it was just fun and it felt right. It was a couple years later in 2009, when Dane joined as our drummer, and everything just came together; he really helped shape our songs a lot and brought an amazing energy to the table.

How would you describe your sound? What are your key influences? 

We have a very hard time describing our sound, but we’ve heard it referred to as junk-folk, which is pretty close. I would say it sounds something like The Everly Brothers after hanging out with The Kinks all night and drinking way too much (not to say we’re as good as either of those bands). We are influenced by all sorts of things: film, literature, nature, friends, good conversation, love interests, family, and of course – THE MUSIC! To name a few artists: The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, Caetano Veloso, Animal Collective, Woody Guthrie, Simon & Garfunkel, The Kinks, Townes Van Zandt, David Bowie, Son House, Grizzly Bear, BOB DYLAN, the list goes on and on . . . .

Tell us your thoughts about recording live. What makes you interested in recording live at the ‘Stand?

Quinn Mulligan: Recording live gives us the opportunity to capture our live energy, something that has proved hard to duplicate in the studio. It’s a nice chance to give people who haven’t seen us live an idea of what it’s like to be at a Fanno Creek show! What interests me about recording at the “Stand” is both the professionalism of the people who run the project, and the sort of folks that come out to watch these shows. It’s part of what attracts me most to the Portland music scene. There is a genuine sense of community, where talented people seem to gravitate towards each other with a kind of warmth that seems lost on many other aspects of every day life . . . like working a soul sucking job.

EH: What Quinn said.

What’s your favorite memory of a live show? Least favorite?

EH: Favorite artist I’ve seen live: Paul McCartney, that was a dream come true. Favorite show we’ve played: The first time we played the PALS Clubhouse! We had never been there before and we didn’t know what to expect at all. It looked like it was going to be a pretty mellow night at first but by the time we started playing the house was packed. I don’t think many of the people there had heard of us at that point but by the end of the night everyone seemed to be singing along with us. It was one of those nights where everything just came together and nothing else mattered. A truly great time! Least favorite: We’ve played some pretty shitty shows . . . .

QM: David Bowie was one of the first concerts I saw that really struck me as not only amazing musically, but theatrically. It’s the presence the man has on that stage, and control of his craft that really boosted my ideas of what a live show could be. Then there’s the other side of the coin. House shows for example. The performers are drunk a lot of time, and the audience is usually much further down that line. Everyone is genuinely happy to be watching their favorite bands in the most intimate setting, someone’s home. And though things get sloppy, and lyrics are often forgotten, there’s a powerful sort of honesty in the performers and the “conversation” they have with the intimate crowd they’re playing for. As for least favorite, I agree with Evan, we definitely have played some bombers.

What are your favorite live albums?

QM: David Bowie – Live, How the West Was Won [Led Zeppelin], Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged, Johnny Cash – Live at Folsom Prison, and Duke Ellington – Live at Newport.

EH: The Bob Dylan bootleg series (especially the early performances, so amazing!); MC5 – ’66 Breakout (mostly recorded at high school dances, weddings, and basement rehearsals); Nirvana – MTV Unplugged; Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Alone in San Francisco.

What other projects are you all involved with?

QM: Musically, just the Creek.

What are you working on lately?

FC: Right now we are finishing up an EP of some old material which we haven’t been able to get out there yet. At the same time we’re practicing a lot of new songs, experimenting with our live set-up, planning some music videos, and gearing up to record as much new material as possible. Also, T-SHIRTS! We are trying to decide on a design and we’re broke as hell, but we will have them soon, damn it!

Thanks to Fanno Creek to answering questions. The band will record at our secret space later this month. Find out more about Fanno Creek on Facebook and Bandcamp.