Q&A: Guards’ Richie Follin Talks EP, Tour
By Adam Valeiras; Photo by Olivia Malone on July 26, 2011
The Guards EP came out about a year ago, was made available for free on Bandcamp, and ever since then, the band has slowly but surely gained more and more prominence on music blogs across the web. Guards, originally from New York, is led by Richie Follin, brother to Madeline Follin, who is the lead singer of Cults.
I got a chance to chat with Richie about their upcoming album plans, their current tour with Writer and Cults, and a few other divulgences into some of the inner-workings of Guards. Check it out below, and if you already have tickets to their two upcoming Los Angeles shows—this Thursday and Friday—then get excited. If not, I highly recommend scouring Craigslist or Stubhub. They're sure to be two killer shows.
Listen to their single, "Resolution of One," while you read.
The Guards EP was released for free via your Bandcamp. In today's industry do you find this to be the most effective way for a new band to get their music out there?
Richie: It's way better than Myspace, I feel like. And you can put up high-quality audio. But yeah, when it initially started, we were just putting up our music for people to hear, so we weren't going to charge for it, and Bandcamp lets you do that. The only thing that really has changed is that they charge you to give it away now, so that's kind of not that cool. But it's a great outlet to give music away for free.
What was the process in your more-or-less recent rise in popularity?
I don't know. The thing that initially got people to read about us was Madeline from Cults Tweeted about it, and Caroline from Chairlift put it on their Myspace, Facebook and stuff, so that helped a lot. And then we got some cool magazine articles.
Your sister Madeline is in Cults. Is there any sibling/band rivalry?
No. I mean, first of all, I was in Cults up until Coachella. Like I was in the band since it started. But, no not at all. When all the stuff started happening for Cults I was happier than I would be for myself, but then I do get competitive with certain people about band image and stuff, but my little sister is not one of those people.
Well that's good. How has the tour been with Cults and Writer? Any good stories from the road?
Yeah, the tour has been great. There's been a great turnout and I feel like all the people coming down to the shows are there for all three bands, or at least it's not the type of show where people come to just see Cults play. So, in that aspect it's been great. I can't think of any crazy stories off the top of my head, it's all been kind of mellow.
What have your favorite stops been so far?
New York was awesome, because we lived there. Toronto was amazing, as we have actually never played North by Northeast before, and I've never even been. That whole festival was amazing.
A lot of Guards songs feel pretty intimate to you in particular, as the singer. What inspired the songs on the Guards EP?
Well that's kinda weird. I'm glad that it feels that way because when the songs were written, they were supposed to be for Madeline. They were supposed to be Cults songs when I was writing them, but I suppose we do have sort of similar voices. For you to say that, that makes me happy [laughs]. At first I didn't know how cohesive the songs would be together. One would be super poppy and then one would be super dark. But I think that kind of all ties together with the omnichord and the twelve-string. We always joke that we could write any kind of song and as long as we put those two things on it, it'll sound like a Guards song.
Guards has a very raw, nostalgia-inducing sound. Who are some of Guards' primary influences?
I think we pull from a couple bands from every era. Some of the songs sound like Dion or Jackie Wilson. But then there's crooning over Black Sabbath, and a lot of modern bands like MGMT, Ariel Pink, Tame Impala, and then I love songs by The Beatles. Then of course there's all that post-punk and early punk like the Stooges and the Misfits. I mean, I could go on and on.
So is there a debut full-length in the works?
Yeah, we actually are finishing it up after this tour, so it should be done by early September, and then I think we are going to go mix upstate with our producer. And we actually have a single coming out on White Iris that'll come out way before then with two new songs.