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Emerging from the Grunge capital of the world (Seattle), Faith and Disease are a definite escape from the typical sound that thrives in that area. Mixing elements of gothic and ethereal with many other styles of music, they cross many genre boundaries. Many of their works feature Cure-like bass mixed with ethereal, female vocals, often harmonized between Dara and Charlotte on their earlier albums. Their music is excellent and captivating, often melancholic and with thematic lyrics that form a well-rounded sound.
Formed in 1991 by Eric Cooley with Dara fronting the vocals and incorporating keyboards, they have released many albums on smaller labels, including Eric's own label, Ivy records. They have just recently signed with Projekt Records, and are bound to receive a lot of exposure with the release of their latest album. With the release of their latest album in 2003, Passport to Kunming is already receiving positive reviews and interest from around the world.
Be sure to check them out on tour, on the radio shows and anywhere else you can.
Go To Album Review
Go To Concert Review
Go To Interview
Passport to Kunming - Review
As the press releases came out, the big word was "change of style" for this popular, but well-rounded band. Their style never really has fit well into a genre, ethereal was too light of a term to describe it, because the music was often quite dark and more minimalistic than ethereal or neo-classic. The buzzword for the genre they fall into now is "sad-core" which I don't entirely agree with either, but could be argued as a great description of most of their music. They continue with most of the elements of their original sound, remaining mostly laid-back without any real upbeat or danceable songs, so they will appeal more towards the minimalistic, dark gothic folk and ethereal crowds (mainly because of Dara's beautiful vocals). I love this album and feel it fits perfectly within their discography without alienating any fans, so don't hesitate in picking it up just because of what a press release might say.
So, on to a little bit more about the music on this disc. The ultimate captivating song is definitely "she's got a halo". Apparently they planned it this way, because it appears on this album as a remix as the last track and as a bonus multimedia video track. The video is great, very melancholy and dreamy. The remix is fun too, not really deviating, but mainly just a adding a little more of a beat to the song. If you were to pick up the album for one song, this would be worth it.
Of course there is a ton of other material to enjoy though, so you won't be picking up the CD for just one great track. For me it's every track on the album, but some excellent highlights are the dreamy, yet very moody "How Far Does The Sky Go". One minute you're swooning to the soft and subdued vocals, then you're listening to some grinding guitars and then a soft piano solo. "Between The Folds" drifts back into a blues-like approach with a prominent bass, snare drum and guitars grinding away in the background, non-obstrusive and very nice.
I don't think we could have a decent album from this group without the minimalistic approach taking shape in the form of one or two songs. A great example is "Girl At The Window" which is mainly Dara, piano a slight guitar throughout providing a somewhat lazy and slow-tempo atmosphere. There is an excellent set of this style of music mixed with other more mid-tempo tracks to make this album very interesting and excellent.
I've been very impressed with each album released by this group. They have managed to continue on in their excellent talents and way of making music. A very highly recommended album.
Salt Lake City Show - July 13, 2001
I had the great pleasure of spending my Friday the 13th in the company of this nice gothic ethereal group as they performed live in our lovely city. I can't really think of anything else that I would have rather been doing at the time. It turned out to be a wonderful night and a very enjoyable show.
They took the stage and my heart began to beat with excitement. Charlotte and Dara started off the show with their very beautiful accapella song, "Beneath these trees". Then the entire group performed their excellent work "Fortune His Sleep". This was very impressive as they used live percussion and other types of little "noise makers" which gave the entire concert such an authentic feel.
We were then treated with my personal favorite F&D song, "Marie don't sleep in your makeup". The sound was beautiful, the vocals resonated throughout the club and I was completely engulfed in the entire feeling of the music. Most of the set was from their latest album Beneath The Trees, but also included other works from other albums. The entire set included such songs as "Persephone", "Crown of Sorrow", "Shallow.. two doors down", "Rubina Verde" and "This part of fortune lies".
"Rubina Verde" is another one of my favorite songs from this group which I was happy to be able to hear live. The sound was perfect, and listening to it live just gives you that special feeling. There's nothing like being able to watch the performers in a show like this.
To close the show, they treated us with an unreleased track, "How far does the sky go?". This is a beautiful work of art and was performed excellently live. I'm sure it won't be long until this track is recorded in the studio and appears on another F&D album soon.
There's just something about listening to music being performed live with such a group that really makes any expense worth while. This was almost their last performance on this tour, so if you missed them this time, you're probably out of luck for a while. But when they do go on tour again, you will definitely want to make plans to see this show!
**Note: Above image is not from Salt Lake performance.
Interview - July 13, 2001
While Faith and Disease were in town, they stopped by the KRCL studio and did an interview with Troy Flandro, host of Dark Star Rising on KRCL 90.9 FM. I have included here most of the interview by Troy (with his permission). Part of the interview has been edited due to size constraints for this page. However, I believe the essence and main points brought out in the interview are here.
Faith & Disease had their touring lineup in town for this interview. The members interviewed include: Eric, Dara, Charlotte and Greg.
Troy - Was there not a fifth member of the band at one time?
Eric – Well, there have been many mutations of Faith & Disease. This lineup is our touring lineup for this summer. We’ve gone through quite a few lineups in the past.
Troy - Tell us about the name of your band, Faith & Disease. Does that have a particular meaning? Or where did the name come from?
Eric – Dara always points to me to answer this question. No, there isn’t really a manifesto or deep meaning behind it. I came up with the name about 10 years ago. I had it kind of kicking around before there was even a band, I just kind of liked the name and met a person I formed the band with, this guy named Brad. He had all the equipment and I had all the ideas. He was the first person who really encouraged the name, he liked it a lot. A lot of people thought it was a little bit too “out there” or too pretentious, whatever. I liked it, and at the time, we just decided to call the project Faith & Disease. It makes more sense to keep a name, with the investment you put into a name then to keep changing it. I’m glad we kept it, and to me it’s just the essence of what we do. There may come a time when we change the name or disband it altogether.
Troy - When did F&D get started?
Eric – The first full-length album came out in late ’93, so you could say 7 years. You could dig deeper and say 10, but the band really took off in ’93 and ’94 with "Beauty and Bitterness" which was the debut album. There were a lot of years before that, but a lot of those were just four track recordings, playing little shows and stuff.
Troy - F&D is from Seattle. Was it hard to compete with the Grunge scene in that area?
Eric – We played at all the same clubs that the other bands hung out during that era. At one point we even had Nirvana next to us practicing, just to show you how insular that whole Seattle music scene is. But I never really felt any competition, I felt that we were really doing our own thing that few other bands were doing at the time, which was a good thing.
Troy - How would you describe your style of music? I’ve heard it described as "Ethereal" or "Gothic", but how would you describe it? [Dara points to Charlotte]
Charlotte – I don’t know why I’m being pointed to… Eric doesn’t like the word "Ethereal"…
Eric – Not really don’t like it, it’s just been pounded over our head…
Charlotte – We’re not "Gothic", I mean we all come out of that influence, that’s for sure, but that’s not the type of music it is. It has certain elements of folk. When people ask me to describe it, it’s "Lullaby" music. It’s the kind of music you put on when you go to bed and try to ponder when you go to sleep.
Eric – I hope people do that and have bad dreams, because I like to think there is a lot of darkness and angst in the music… I know there is. I mean from creation, that’s why I’m a little hesitant to embrace "Ethereal" or "Ambient". To me that just sounds a little "toothless" in a way.
Troy - Speaking of influences, what bands or styles of music have influenced you in the band and music?
Eric – I think we’re all sort of enamored by the post-punk British era in music, the 4AD label, Swans, Cure, Siouxsie and even more recent bands like Rasputina. Dara is quite fond of bands like PJ Harvey. It’s not a one-dimensional influence by any means. Greg’s really into Lydia Lunch and Velvet Underground.
Troy - Are there any current projects you’re working on as a band?
Charlotte – We’re working on touring (laughs). We’re working on driving a lot…
Eric – People ask us if we’re writing songs on the road. I know maybe Bon Jovi does that when they’re lounging around in their limo.
Dara – When you have four or five days off between shows going from city to city, it’s not like we have all the time in the world to sit and write songs.
Eric – We just don’t have time, I don’t see how bands can write songs while on tour. The last thing you want to do when you get in a hot van is…
Charlotte - .. be creative?? (laughs)
Dara – I think our music is very real. If I could best describe it, it’s just real. People don’t have enough time or take enough time to listen these days. So when people come across our music, I think most of them fall instantly under the spell of it because what we create is so genuine, sincere and real.
Charlotte – Part of that is the adjective “slowness” always comes to my mind, cause we just have so little of it. I don’t know if it’s just America or The West or what, but we just seem to have so little “slowness” in our lives. Our music is all slow and all very downtempo and sometimes I think it’s hard for people to have the patience for it. But that just kind of indicitive of the kind of society we live in and this is our reaction.
Eric - … when you see us play you just have to kind of relax and watch us play…
Troy - Let’s talk about your latest album “Beneath the trees”. The second song, “Rubina Verde”, is there any type of story behind it?
Dara – No (laughs) … it has a meaning I guess, the ending of all things.
Troy - Is there a theme to the album itself?
Eric – Yeah, but it’s not spelled out, you kind of have to interpret it, it’s subtle. It’s not footnoted like in a book or anything. There is definitely a thread that runs between all the songs. We labored over that, trying to do that and not make it obvious.
Troy – So you have to kind of read between the lines when you listen to it?
Eric – Yeah, and even the title has a good story because I was thinking of titles for the album and I was constantly suggesting things to Dara. “Beneath the Trees” was kind a title that we both enjoyed. But the funny thing is, Charlotte had written a song that the translation is “Beneath These Trees”…
Charlotte – We should probably clarify, I didn’t write it, it’s actually Handell’s, I just arranged it. He wrote this wonderful piece of classical song and the loose translation of it is “Beneath These Trees”. Often, Dara and I will do just one or two accapella songs because that’s coming to be what we’re known for. So we’ve concentrated more on that lately and that was the song I was thinking about having us do. So it just kind of came together.
Eric – And when I found out that “Beneath these Trees” which was going to be the opening track coincided with the idea of “Beneath The Trees”, that was just something that was waiting to happen. At that point there was no doubt that the album would be called anything but “Beneath The Trees”.
Troy – Is there anything you wanted to tell listeners or any closing remarks?
Dara – Just “Thank You” for all the support you’ve given us. I know a lot of people came out to the show and I know that we have quite a following here in Salt Lake, so that’s always reassuring to come back and see everybody.
Charlotte – The audience tonight was really good to us. It’s hard to play in bars all the time, so I really appreciate the audience tonight. They were attentive and really into it we got the sense that it was very well received.
Eric – It’s also been very nice to have Greg on tonight with us. I would tell Dara if I could handpick up a lineup from Seattle, Greg was always one of the people that I would like to have on Faith & Disease. It’s cool after all these years we’ve been friends and he finally had a chance to play.
Greg – I never thought it would happen. (laughs)
A very big thanks to Troy Flandro and Faith & Disease for permission to post this interview here.