Small Talk with Joey Fake

Joey recently did an interview for Finnish pop blog NRGM. It’s in Finnish, so we thought we’d share the English, uncut version with all you non-Finnish readers out there. Ken Stringfellow, Ron Sexsmith, Mark Arm and James Blake are a few of the others who’ve done this Small Talk section before.

What is the first pop song you remember liking? What did you like about it?

The very first pop song I remember really getting into is “Rain” by The Beatles. When I was just a small kid I watched a Beatles documentary that my dad had taped, and when “Rain” came on it floored me. I just loved the sound and the atmosphere and I hadn’t heard anything like it before. To this day it’s one of my favorite Beatles songs.


What song have you listened to the most in your life? What makes it special?

I guess that must be the song “Corduroy” by Pearl Jam from the album Vitalogy. I was heavily into the whole grunge scene in the 90’s, and Vitalogy is one of the most brilliant albums of that era in my opinion. I love everything about it – the diversity of the songs, not to mention the elaborate artwork that followed with it. It’s one of those albums that I keep coming back to and never tire of listening to. “Corduroy” is the most direct song on the album, and I love the way they make use of different energy in the different parts of the song. Unlike most songs, where you have a sort of laid-back verse and then a chorus with more power – in this song it’s the other way around. The verse is powerful as hell with a desperate feel to it, and then they take it down to a sweet pop vibe in the chorus. The song’s climax is the bridge, which still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. It made me think about songwriting in a different way, and it’s one of those songs that I wish I’d written myself! When I saw Pearl Jam live for the first time in 2000 they opened with this song – it was a powerful moment…


What classic song have you never really understood?

Tricky question. Most songs become classics for a reason – it’s got the “it” factor somehow, whether it be a riff or a hook in the melody or whatever. Even if I don’t particularly like a song myself, I can usually understand why it became a hit and a classic down the line. I’m mostly baffled by new music and the success of songs with almost complete atonality – like “Get Ur Freak On” by Missy Elliot. I can’t for the life of me understand what’s so great about that song. A pointless waste of time in my opinion.

What is your favourite piece of pop lyric? Why?

Tricky, again. One of my absolute favorite lyricists is Andreas Mattsson from the Swedish band Popsicle. He’s a master of direct, heartfelt lyrics. The themes are always simple, yet his lyrics in all their directness and simplicity never turn out cliche. It’s hard to pick one of his songs as my favorite ’cause they’re all great through and through, but the lyrics for “Not Forever” is probably one of his finest moments and it’s one of my all time favorite pop songs, both musically and lyrically.


What are you most likely to sing if you find yourself in a karaoke bar?

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen! Because I never do karaoke unless I’m extremely drunk, and when I’m extremely drunk I get delusions of grandeur 🙂

What record are you most likely to request from a DJ when you’re really, really drunk?

Appetite for Destrucion by Guns N’ Roses. It’s the greatest rock n’ roll album of all time!


Whose musician’s death has lately hit you hard? Where were you when you heard about it?

There have been quite a few recently that saddened me a lot. Alex Chilton‘s (Big Star) passing for instance. But the death that hit me the hardest was Will Owsley‘s suicide. He was such a genius, and his solo debut from 1999 is one of the modern powerpop classics. It’s so pointless that a guy with so much talent who had so much more to give decided to leave us at only 44 years of age. I was at home writing songs for the next Genuine Fakes album when I heard about it, and I was in a state of shock for the rest of that week. It was unexpected and horrible and it’s a shame that he didn’t get more of his fantastic music out while he was alive.


What band or artist is making the most important music in the world today? Why?

Depends on what you mean by important. Musically? Politically? Experimentally? I guess there aren’t that many “new” acts doing anything revolutionary at the moment – myself included. What makes me happy is bands that have been around for a long time who are still passionate about making relevant music and continue to challenge themselves and their fans. Two such bands that I admire a lot are Pearl Jam and Radiohead. PJ I still listen to a lot, Radiohead not so much anymore but I’m glad they’re still around. Both bands are also in the forefront when it comes to non-traditional music marketing and distribution, something which is becoming increasingly important now that the physical sound carriers are more or less obsolete. 

What will change in music business during the next ten years? What will remain?

Well, when you look back at the past ten years, the whole music business has been revolutionized and the record business has collapsed. What I expect to happen, and what has already started happening, is that the major labels lose their power and musicians and songwriters have more control over their own material. The downside is that it’s going to get increasingly difficult to reach out on a broader scale because of low budgets. Therefore the focus of bands will have to go towards making products that have the potential to go viral, much like OK GO! have succeeded with their inventive music videos. I also think that it will become essential for bands to work on their live acts, because touring is really the only way to make a living as a musician today since people don’t really buy music anymore. You will have a better chance of succeeding if you’re great on stage. I also think that the time for huge commercial bands is over. There will never be another Beatles, Sabbath, Queen, Guns N’ Roses, U2, Foo Fighters or even Coldplay for that matter. When you think about it – is there a single band in the world that has emerged in the past five years that has reached that level of success? I can’t think of a single one. It probably could happen, but I find it unlikely. If the machinery behind it doesn’t exist anymore, then there can be no such movement. One thing that I think is here to stay is cloud-based music services like Spotify and Wimp. It’s pointless to download mp3s that clutters your hard drive when you’ve got access to a library of all the songs ever released online for streaming. Also, people will never quit going out to concerts to see their idols.

Which one is more important: the song or the way it sounds? Why?

The song is the most important. A good song is always a good song, and if it’s a good song you can subject it to any kind of abuse and it will still be good. It’s all about the melody. That’s why the classics are classics – the songs of The Beatles sound fresh today because of how they’re written, not because of how they were recorded. The sound can of course help a song on the way, but it’s not what’s most important. A lot of bands today focus too much on sound and too little on actually writing good songs. Look at Dylan, for instance. His songs were great the way he did them, and they were great the way Jimi Hendrix and The Byrds interpreted them.


What made you decide to become a musician?

I remember the precise moment when it happened. I was seven years old, sitting on the floor in my cousin’s room hearing “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses for the first time. I hadn’t heard anything like it and music had never made me feel that way. I was hooked and I decided that I wanted to become a musician. My mind was set and I never looked back.

What would you be, if you weren’t a musician?

Over the years I’ve tried quite a few professions. I worked as an English and French teacher at a junior high school for a year and that’s something I think I could enjoy doing more of. I’ve also worked as a chef, and I still take on freelance catering jobs from time to time. I don’t think I’d like being stuck in a restaurant though. Another thing I’m interested in is psychology. It’s not entirely unlikely that I will pursue that subject down the line.

Which music video do you remember the best from your childhood?

“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. That video is wicked!


What three things inspire you at the moment?

My wife, my fellow band mates and the Discovery Channel!

What are the three definitive power pop groups of all time?

The Posies, Jellyfish and Popsicle.


You have recorded an interesting cover version of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable”. What made you to choose that particular song?

It started out as a joke. We were fooling around in our rehearsal studio trying to “fakeify” modern r n’ b songs. “Irreplaceable” happened to turn out really well, and we thought it would be a fun thing to try and make it our own. I thought the song in its original form and production was pretty boring, but the musical theme is quite intricate and I found that the song could handle quite a bit of abuse and still sound good, if not better even, compared to the original. This ties in well with the previous question about whether the song or the sound is most important :). “Irreplaceable” is the kind of song that has such a strong melody that it doesn’t really matter how you approach it, it will always be strong and catchy as hell. We also thought it would be a good idea to have a cover on the album that everybody knows, but an unexpected one that we bring something new to. If we’d recorded a Posies cover or something like that instead, it would’ve been too obvious and you would’t even have asked me why we did it.

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Genuine Fakes continues the great tradition of the band members sharing the same surname. What is your favourite band of “brothers” of all time: Ramones, The Walker Brothers or some other?

The Ramones! They’re also our drummer Johnny’s favorite band, which is how the idea came about in the first place. And, of course, it’s not to be taken too seriously 🙂

Have you ever lied about your musical taste to seem cooler than you really are?

Haha, no I can’t say that I have! I’ve never been ashamed of my music taste and I’ve never pretended to like anything that I hate in order to make an impression on someone. On the other hand I’ve never really cared about what anyone thinks, and I think that people in general spend too much time worrying about other people’s opinions instead of focusing on finding out what you think yourself and concentrating on that.

Have you ever had sex to your own music?

Yes! As per my partner’s at the time request.

What is the most irritating musical genre you have encountered?

I really hate that South American flute music. I don’t know what the genre is called, but it aggravates me to the core. All summer long you encounter those Indian groups in Swedish cities where they pester the environment with their takes on ABBA classics. Why?

How deep is your knowledge of Finnish music? Do you have any favourites?

I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the subject! Here in Sweden we’ve mostly been subjected to Arja Saijonmaa, The Rasmus, Lordi, Nightwish and stuff. I myself like our fellow powerpoppers The Sugarrush, who will be joining us on our gig in Turku. I also enjoyed Leningrad Cowboys back in the day 🙂 Our bassist Morty is a big fan of Hanoi Rocks.

Who is the most famous person on your Christmas card list?

Wow, I don’t even remember the last time I sent a Christmas card! But, if I had one such list, I guess Ebbot Lundberg from The Soundtrack of Our Lives would be the most famous person.


Who or what is definitely overrated?

Religion. It’s also definitely dangerous.

What is the last really good new song you have heard?

“I Love the Feeling” – the new single from David Myhr (formerly of The Merrymakers) which will be released soon. Insanely catchy!

What is the most embarrassing thing in your record collection?

Mikael Rickfors‘ album Judas River. I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought that one! But, in my defense, I must’ve been like 12 at the time.

Vinyl, cassette, CD or mp3? Why?

Graphically it’s definitely vinyl. The bigger the better, ’cause it enables elaborate artwork. I also like the way it inevitably divides an album into two sides. When you’re listening to a vinyl record, it’s more hands-on – you have to be more active when you’re listening. But when it comes to convenience I’m definitely an mp3 fan. Vinyl at home, mp3 on the road.

Jim Morrison – a genius or a buffoon?

When I was in ninth grade I was a Doors freak. After I saw the Oliver Stone movie I was hooked and I submerged myself in the music for a whole year and read every book I could find about Jim Morrison. If you’d asked me then I would’ve said without a doubt that he was a genius. In hindsight, I think he was just as much a buffoon as he was a genius. But there’s no denying the fact that during the five years that The Doors existed they put out a number of albums that have withstood the test of time. Kudos!