Review Plus Interview!!: State Faults – Desolate Peaks

Band – State Faults

Album – Desolate Peaks

Label – Tiny Engines

I imagine, anyone that writes reviews of music will have a different process by which they work by. Because this blog is quite specific to the type of music it covers, a lot of the music I get to review is something I’m very excited to listen to. Therefore, I like to give each new release about a week of listening and appreciation before I commit pen to paper, not that pens or paper are used in the creation of these blog posts but you get my drift. Sometimes though I need a little bit longer. In the case of State Faults debut record, ‘Desolate Peaks’, I received this just over a month ago and only now do I feel ready to write this.

State Faults hail from Santa Rosa, California, ‘Desolate Peaks’ is their debut full length album following on from their 2010 EP ‘Head in the clouds’ and is being released on the consistent and fantastic label, Tiny Engines. A fair amount of buzz for this band had been noticed by myself on various social media platforms, so it was with eager anticipation that I first played the record. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The record opens with ‘Sleepwalker’ and with it the sound of birdsong, quickly accompanied by a sweet guitar melody lulling you in to it’s warm sound. The, almost choir-like, backing vocals that follow build atmosphere with help from some huge sounding drums. Just when you start to wonder where State Faults are going with this, the piercing screamed vocals slice through like a bolt from the blue and with this you see a showcase of what State Faults will offer on the next 11 tracks. Juxtaposing often tender melody with the heaviness of the sound and extreme desperation of the main vocal. State Faults pack a lot of power into their music, raw energy and emotion which really engage the listener. You do, kind of, feel exhausted together with the band by the end of the 11 songs.

It’s hard to put a label on a band, especially when the use of a term like ‘screamo’ or ’emotional hardcore’ can be frowned upon and off putting to some. State Faults are certainly one of a few bands who are bringing a credibilty back to the term. Playing this type of music as it should be played, where the songs are equally compelling at their quietest as they are at their heaviest, like Funeral Diner did or Pianos Become The Teeth do. ‘Hallways’ is a good example of this, it’s full of hooks and melody backed up by their intense power. Other standout songs include the superb ‘Arrowhead’, ‘Wayfarer’ which starts off as a hardcore blast and finishes in a minimal post rock way and the last song ‘Skeletons’ which is a perfectly emotional end to what is a really great record.

It has taken me this long to write this review because, sometimes, when I review an album and move on to the next one to write about it can fell like i’m letting that album go. It may sound dumb, but I didn’t want to let ‘Desolate Peaks’ go and I still don’t. I’m sure this album will stay with me for a long time, It is definitely one of my favourite records of the year so far.

You can download/stream ‘Desolate Peaks’ at the Tiny Engines bandcamp page, click HERE to go there. I urge you to do so.

State Faults were also kind enough to answer some questions the Is This Thing On? had for them to give some background to the band and the record. Enjoy:

Is this thing on?: Desolate Peaks is coming out on tiny engines, how did working with those guys come about?

State Faults: Will Miller is one of the guys who runs Tiny Engines along with Chuck Daley and Will was the one who hit us up about working with them. He used to run a music blog called Sound As Language and I guess he managed to come across our EP Head In The Clouds and liked it enough to ask us if we were interested in having TE release a record for us. We sent them a bunch of demos of songs we had been writing which they were really into so they decided to make things official. They’re pretty rad dudes! Considering they had never even met us or seen us play before they hit us up is kinda crazy! They really put a lot of faith in us and we’re totally grateful for it. Hopefully this record made them proud.
How long did it take you to write/record the album?
We started writing for the album pretty much right after we put out Head In The Clouds. So from late 2010 through the summer of 11. By the time Will got in contact with us, we had about 4 or 5 songs written and a few skeletons of what would eventually become songs. Once we finished those and officially started recording for the album, the process took about a week. We set up a little recording/drum booth in Chip’s brother’s spare bedroom and had our firepod hooked up to our computer in the living room. We pretty much did everything from there. It was a lot of fun! It was our first legit DIY experiment as a full band. Mixing and mastering took a couple months afterwards
Desolate Peaks is quite a bleak record, does this reflect how you see things at the moment?
I wouldn’t say so. Jonny definitely writes his lyrics from a very personal place but as far as our general outlook on life goes, we’re a really positive bunch. Believe it or not, a good chunk of our material comes from a very positive place as well. I think what’s fun about playing a more bleak and aggressive style of music is being able to channel all of the frustration, sadness or whatever else is bothering us into the songs we write so that when we finish a set, we can let go of that weight and focus on all of the wonderful aspects of life that we sometimes take for granted. A good deal of the lyrics also come from different things we’ve learned about each other as a band. Finding opportunities to work together to reach our individual goals, even when times get tough and when going it alone seems easier. We’re all best friends and being able to experience everything that comes with being in a band really helped give life to the album. So for me it’s a very positive record. Very therapeutic.
You’ve been compared to Thursday and Pianos become the teeth, who do you count as influences on this record?
Pianos and Thursday are two of our favorite bands so even being mentioned in the same sentence with them is very humbling! But we also draw a lot of inspiration from bands like As Cities Burn, Thrice, Trophy Scars, Suis La Lune and even more indie/rock bands like mewithoutYou, Copeland, The New Trust, Radiohead and Not To Reason Why. And of course, Michael is and will forever be a huge Depeche Mode fan and he and Jonny both enjoy a lot of classic rock/metal. We just love listening to all kinds of music and absorbing whatever we can from it. Being new and different as cool, but art wouldn’t exist without other art to inspire it.
What is your local scene like at the moment? Do you feel part of it? Do you think it’s changed much in the last few years?
With bands like The Velvet Teen and Ceremony coming out of our area and making such a big name for themselves internationally, it can definitely make you feel incredibly small. But the local scene is currently going through a major rebirth and it’s very cool to watch! Not To Reason Why, No Sir and Strike To Survive are some awesome bands that are doing great work and it’s inspiring as hell to watch. We just feel incredibly blessed to be such good friends with all of them. Hopefully we can help bring some more attention to the north bay.
What new bands can you recommend to people who love your album?
All of the bands we mentioned before are incredible! Also our best buds in Ruptures from the LA area. They are one of the most hardworking bands we know and they make incredibly powerful music. Check out their song Junebloom. Insane.
Will you be touring the Uk and Europe at any point in the future?
We hope so! Tackling the West Coast is on our agenda right now. The rest of the US is next. Then Europe (fingers crossed)!
Thanks for reading, feel free to share and comment etc.. of come bother me on twitter (@alextb3). More reviews and interviews coming very soon x
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