Failure

As otherworldly as Failure may often sound, the Los Angeles band is anchored by the distinctly terrestrial union of a long friendship between three musical allies. The band hinges on the interplay between Ken Andrews [vocals, guitar, bass, programming], Greg Edwards [vocals, guitar, bass, keys], and Kellii Scott [drums, percussion]. That bond fuels an ongoing artistic conversation, and it drives their new full-length offering, Wild Type Droid.

“Failure is basically a creative club where I can bring all of my ideas and skills and have them tested in battle with two people I completely trust creatively,” muses Ken.

“It’s a necessary creative outlet for me,” adds Greg. “I’m grateful that after all of this time it’s so functional and vital. That’s only possible, because I trust Ken and Kellii so completely in the process.”
The process continues to rely on all three members. In the midst of the global pandemic, the band moved into a rehearsal space where they recorded hours upon hours of improvs over the course of a month. For the first time, they incorporated a Fender Bass VI, and a Baritone Guitar for “a combination of sounds we’ve never used before in the studio,” according to Ken.

Being in the same room for an extended period unlocked another level of sonic exploration for the group.
“You simply cannot recreate the musical moments that happen when three musicians are playing together and reacting to each other in real time like that,” observes Ken. “We’ve been together long enough to know that some of our best ideas come directly from these experimental sessions. For this album, we simply cultivated that methodology for a much longer time than we have in the past. It brought out the trio aspect of the band. There was a feeling we could really push the individual parts further away from each other and let the more interesting and challenging combinations take center stage.”

Greg agrees, “We have a telepathy when fitting parts together on the fly. Our intention with the extended improvisational recording sessions was to create a staging ground for those accidental moments where everything comes together. Sometimes, we would play an idea for thirty or forty minutes, and there would only be thirty or forty seconds where it was compelling and worth pursuing. Process-wise, the early stage of this record felt like getting back to our roots as a three-piece.”

The first single “Headstand” spins in concentric circles around the groan of distorted bass, stark guitar atmosphere, and an expansive refrain. Vocally, it leans into an emotionally charged plea, “And I know, I want you back again.”

“The music came from one of those endless jam sessions,” Greg explains. “It has this extreme minimalism that makes me think we were probably all tranced out and slightly detached when the good stuff started happening. The humans had left the room, so the music could be made in peace. The lyrics come from my earliest memory of spacing out in my room when I was seven, trying to conceive of infinity and watching the dust falling through the bars of sunlight pouring through my blinds. I had heard that a lot of that dust was made up of skin cells and that really stuck with me. It’s kind of a love song to those bizarre innocent moments of solitude.”
“To me, it captures a lot of the new musical approaches and techniques we were going for on this album, but somehow is still quintessential Failure,” Ken elaborates.

On the other end of the spectrum, the opener “Water With Hands” rings out like an announcement, effortlessly guiding the listener through a hypnotic drum beat, a melodic lead, and a chantable refrain. On “Submarines,” the push-and-pull of the Fender Bass VI and Baritone Guitar yields Failure’s version of a riff-centric, Zeppelin-esque, stomper. The album leads you down an unpredictable path of alternating tonalities until it drops you off at the final stop, “Half Moon.” Delicately plucked guitar wraps around Greg’s vocals as a dreamy melody burns off into the ether. A ballad that invites you into a feeling of warmth and belonging, while simultaneously creating a mood of instability and isolation.

“I wrote that on the bus in Spring 2019, which was the last time we were on tour,” Greg reveals. “It started out as just a description of the passing landscape as we rolled down all of these highway veins crossing America, but it became a song about returning from total annihilation and how much you can be changed in an instant.”

Over the course of six albums Failure has exerted a similar effect on listeners. Their musical communion has intrigued critics, fans, and peers for nearly three decades. Following Comfort and Magnified, the trio created what is largely considered one of the ‘90s most influential and innovative albums: Fantastic Planet. The 17-track collection not only earned rave reviews and a trove of new fans but saw the Los Angeles-based band headline Lollapalooza’s second stage and craft one of the era’s most recognizable videos (“Stuck on You”). The album’s legend grew over the ensuing years, eventually spawning retrospective think pieces from the likes of Rolling Stone, Noisey (Vice), Decibel Magazine, and more. Failure have been honored with covers by A Perfect Circle, Paramore, Cave In, Melissa Auf de Maur, and more. After a 17-year hiatus, they returned with The Heart Is a Monster in 2015, inciting the applause of Pitchfork, Entertainment Weekly, and Stereogum who said upon the album’s release: “this is a pretty big deal.”

Sold out tour dates followed as the musicians continued to flourish and fire on all cylinders. A series of EPs rolled into 2019’s In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind. With the blessing of Depeche Mode, Failure re-recorded its cover of “Enjoy The Silence” as “Enjoy The Silence 2020” before diving into Wild Type Droid.

As a talisman of their next evolution, the artwork holds a special significance as well. The band initially discovered the evocative Beeple original of a headless astronaut online. It resonated personally, musically, and lyrically, so they reached out and received his permission to use it.

“This feels like a good place and time to abandon the space iconography and theme once and for all,” Greg states. “In a lot of ways, this album feels like a return to earth. All minds have been called back to their bodies. There’s a lot to attend to right in front of us.”

Failure are most definitely attending to it on Wild Type Droid.

“Like all of our records,” says Kellii, “we hope that listeners will disappear from their regular lives into a sonic world that continues to unfold and reveal itself with each listen.”

Greg concludes, “My hope is always that our records are a sonic companion for some people—a soundtrack to whatever they might be going through.”

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