Chris Farren is a true DIY Renaissance man. For the past decade he has fronted the Naples, Florida, act Fake Problems but over the past few years he's cultivated second life through his solo work, ceaseless touring and accidental viral success with a T-shirt design as well as his musical and podcast collaborations with Bomb The Music Industry! frontman Jeff Rosenstock via Antarctigo Vespucci and Back From the Island. We can't say it's strictly due to the O'Douls but there's no question that you can't have such a tireless work ethic when you're rolling out of bed every day hungover at noon. Even if you live in Florida.
Farren's latest two releases are his three-song EP Where U Are and his split 7-inch with Tim Kasher which both came out in April and established Farren (according to Stereogum) as "something of a legend in certain circles." He started writing the EP to challenge himself to outdo his home-recorded album of Christmas originals Like A Gift From God Or Whatever but wasn't able to finish it before embarking on an Australian tour alongside the Gaslight Anthem earlier this year. "I ended up bringing a portable set-up to Australia with me and I was doing handclaps and back-up vocals in my hotel rooms before and after the shows every night," he explains. However one of the benefits of this approach is that he was able to get the band's frontman Brian Fallon to lend his signature pipes to 'Permanent For Me.'"
That same tradition of ambition and collaboration lead Farren to work with one of his musical heroes Tim Kasher (Cursive, The Good Life) for his new split 7-inch You Be Me For A Little While on Saddle Creek Records. "I met Tim on tour in 2012 and we kept in touch. One day I had the insane idea to see if he wanted to do a split with me. I agonized over the email for two days before I sent it but within ten minutes he wrote me back and said he would love to," Farren says of the split. "It was his idea to make it a little more interesting and write songs for each other to interpret." The result is a unique collection of songs that showcase both artists' talent as songwriters and sees Farren taking an unorthodox idea and not only pursuing it but transforming it into a tangible collection of tunes that are sure to become fan favorites.
As you can see by the two aforementioned releases, Farren also enjoys collaborating with the long list of friends he's accumulated over the past decade on the road and nowhere is that more evident than it is with Antarctigo Vespucci. "I was kind of in a low place in the beginning of 2014, I felt really burned out creatively and was not having a good time making music," Farren admits. Thankfully he reached out to Rosenstock and ended up coming up to Brooklyn to write some pop-punk songs together (as well as taping some episodes of their LOST-inspired podcast Back To The Island). The result is the Weezer-worthy 7-song release Soulmate Stuff, which sees Farren getting in touch with the energetic sound of his youth.
In addition to constantly writing songs and working on new musical projects, Farren stays busy with other extensions of his art such as his T-shirt designs (His "The Smiths" parody shirt was famously shown to Will Smith on the first episode of The Tonight Show WIth Jimmy Fallon) and Twitter feed, which straddles the line between fan interaction and bizarre art project. "I like talking to people online and at at shows, anywhere," Farren explains. "I've put myself out there as a fan of a lot of different things so when people talk to me we usually talk about stuff I like instead of "myself" which is good because I'm borderline obsessed with Frozen and I talk about O'Douls all the time, which are both great subjects to discuss with like-minded people."
Although he didn't start a solo artist, it's clear that Farren has come into his own with his two releases in 2015 (and keep in mind this bio was only written in April) and he explains that "after spending a lot of time alone onstage this year, I'm starting to really enjoy myself." Furthermore, Where U Are sees Farren taking his DIY sensibilities even further by releasing the EP on Boyfriend Island, a new label started by himself and his wife. "We call it Boyfriend Island because the label is sort of freedom in isolation, not really bothered about what anyone outside of it might say or think. It's about just doing things because you like it," he adds.
When you think about it, the mission statement for his label also describes Farren's own career pretty accurately. That constant need to strive forward without worrying about music industry norms or genre restrictions hasn't only made Farren one of the most prolific artists in music but also one of the most unorthodox when it comes to what he's going to tackle next. "Over the years I've learned that everyone is terrified of everything all the time but the people who have the more exciting lives just forward through it anyway," Farren summarizes. "Still totally scared, but moving forward."