Former Friends of Young Americans Not Afraid to Call You Out

Dusk has barely begun her descent on downtown Phoenix when anti-genre conformists Former Friends of Young Americans gather for band practice at frontman Toby Fatzinger's home in the historic Garfield neighborhood. The area is known not only for being one of the city's oldest and largest historic districts but for being one of the Valley's cultural centers, home to a flourishing art scene and thriving music community.

The rest of the band — keyboardist Jessica Kelley, drummer Masa Schmalle, and guitarist Matt Townsend — already is here, but Fatzinger is running late. Something about work and happy hour has him walking through the front door with a slight buzz, but that won't affect much in terms of their groove. With a release party for their latest album, estas diloculo, coming up, they'll make sure to get through some songs and discuss some of the headier concepts involving the making of their ambient shoegaze rock. But along the way, the conversation takes some strange turns.

"Matt likes to tell us all how much he's going to fuck our buttholes," Fatzinger says.

Former Friends of Young Americans: Literally shoegazing.
Former Friends of Young Americans: Literally shoegazing.

"Yeah, I do like to say that," Townsend says.

"And Masa is gay, and he actually fucks bears' buttholes," Fatzinger says.

"So Matt's little joke is, as a greeting, he'll say, 'Do you want me to fuck your butthole?" Schmalle says, imitating Townsend.

"This is kind of how our practices go," Kelley says, laughing. "We get through about one song and then this happens, and we go back into the next one."

"Like, these albums are about deep shit. We talk about this deep shit for about two seconds and then we talk about fucking bears for, like, an hour and a half," Fatzinger says, chuckling.

With the light-hearted candor and banter among the friends, you'd think this musical menagerie has been together for years, but this isn't the first incarnation of the band. It's one assembled after years of sharing the stage. Like a lot of bands in Phoenix, this version of Former Friends started out incestuously as members continued working on other projects.

"Me and Masa were actually fans," Townsend says. "What Toby was doing was fucking rad — it was shoegaze-y, and nobody was doing that at the time. So we would just go out just to be able to hear it while our old band slowly dissolved around the same time."  

"It seemed like everybody that was involved with the band at that point . . . I kept getting the feeling that they were just helping me out, which I totally appreciated. But at the same time, I was, like, they're not into it," Fatzinger says. "And Matt was coming to shows and shit, and we had struck up a friendship. Then I started thinking it would be nice to be in a band with somebody that was actually into the band and was a friend."

To be sure, everyone involved today has to be on the same page and have a certain understanding of Fatzinger's vision in order to assemble the dreamy guitar arrangements, warbled electronic clutter, varying time signatures, and harmonic vocals into the waning melodies the band accomplishes. It's something past members couldn't have contributed to before. "The music has evolved in a completely different way that I'm way more happy with," Fatzinger says. "We would have ended up [like] Ben Folds [with our old lineup]."

"And I wouldn't have hung on," Townsend jokes. "I would have stopped."

Had they stayed the course, they might have enjoyed some of the same success the piano-driven pop-rocking Ben Folds Five achieved with their brand of "punk rock for sissies," but Fatzinger and company decided to opt for artistic expression over a more formulaic rock pattern. That stuff they leave for their contemporaries in Tempe.

"Tempe's really not that bad," Kelley says. "I mean, you run into ASU douchebags . . ."

"That's my definition of bad," Fatzinger says.

"But there are also some really cool people that are out there. A lot of cool bands come out of Tempe," Kelley says.

"There were some cool people that lived in Nazi Germany," Fatzinger concludes with a laugh.

"Phoenix fucking rules, and that's my big dig on Tempe — they don't fucking get it," he says. "They don't know how good these bands are right here. [Necronauts guitarist] Billy [Goodman]'s a friend of mine, but the Necronauts are the Necronauts, and they're fucking a staple Tempe band, and they're really good at what they do, but that shit is fucking dated, and I don't mind saying it. I think what we have downtown is more of an art scene, and what they have in Tempe is more of a college rock scene, and that's fine."

"This shit is super-fucking-hot," Fatzinger says about the Phoenix music community. "It's super-new, super-fresh, super-good . . ."

"And always, always progressing," Kelley adds. "And, to be honest, everyone in Phoenix is fucking close, so you're feeding off of each other and constantly trying to get better."

"And now we've got our own little Tempe on Second Avenue and Van Buren," Fatzinger says.

Speaking about the Crescent Ballroom: Former Friends are some of the few Phoenicians who aren't as keen on the hipster hangout as other locals.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
32 comments
DaveBrook
DaveBrook

perhaps the New Times should remain laser focused on their ever-present Insane Clown Posse beat ... Ya' know, so they can keep digging that credibility hole deeper and deeper ...  just sayin' (it might be time to re-hire AGAIN!!) ... 

DaveBrook
DaveBrook

Can someone back at HQ change the title of the article to DAVE BROOKHOUSER: Not Afraid to Call You Out The New Times as the hypocrites and bench sitters ....  And most people don't have a mic to answer back!! Not cool New Times ... not cool. The New Times has been TERRIFIC on many topics ... sadly music has NEVER been one of them (locally anyway).

DaveBrook
DaveBrook

There is no way to look a this article as anything but HIGHLY IRRESPONSIBLE. In the abstract this is BRILLIANT ... it's click-bait ... SMART self-serving self-promotion for the band. The "reporter" was played like a flute and should be embarrassed. But here's the deal people. Kimber Lanning and Charlie Levy are made of PEOPLE. And Charlie Levy and Kimber Lanning don't need US ... They really really really really don't need us. We on the other hand DESPERATELY need Kimber and Charlie. I don't even begin to understand the half of it. What little of it I do, makes my head hurt. When I'm in the presence of EITHER of those two I (correctly) feel like a grain of sand. Anyone who is anyone that likes music in this city has NATURALLY GRAVITATED TOWARDS THESE TWO PEOPLE FOR A REASON!!!! These two people are SAINTS and need to be treated as such!!! And I'm not fucking kidding in the least bit. Do you people understand what Lanning get's out of promoting local music? Tens of thousands of dollars in expenses!!!!!!! And that's just one ONE of her ideas!!!!!! And she has NOTHING TO GAIN FROM IT!!!! NOT A GOD DAMN THING!!! What she get's to do with HER money is build US a fucking city that rocks!!!!!!!!!! CHARLIE LEVY DID AND DOES THE SAME THING. CHARLIE LEVY BETS HIS MONEY ON ROCK & ROLL EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE AND YOU GIVE HIM SHIT FOR IT!?!?!? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!???!!! Everyone involved with this article needs to crawl their way back to CHARLIE LEVY AND BEG HIM FOR FORGIVENESS! Charlie needs Phoenix like a hole in the head!!!!! Tucson is a far more developed scene and Charlie came back to Phoenix to do us ALL a big huge fucking favor ... ACT LIKE IT! Unfortunately the New Times forgot to tell us that one of the pillars of our scene LEFT FUCKING TOWN!!!! HOW IS THAT NOT ON THE FRONT PAGE FOR A MONTH STRAIGHT!?!? What the FUCK is wrong with the New Times!? Did they tell anyone Charlie left!?! Why did I just learn this last week!!??!!??? And how did we get him back!?!? How is this shit a mystery to everyone!? But yet somehow we all know Charlie doesn't value the exact same thing as every other trendy-ass-kisser in town? Where are the values of The New Times? Where is the ACTUAL reporting on things that matter dearly to this city!?!? WTF? There should be a line wrapped around this city of people waiting to give Charlie Levy hand jobs ... anything short of that is highly "inappropriate" ... 

Bbbennybbb
Bbbennybbb

Yea, because it's vital to he survival of capitalism and this nation that we keep an eye on the covert communist mega power known as...(cue apocalyptic music)...the HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE.

Whatevs
Whatevs

Wow. This Fatzinger guy is really pushing the limits of the term "pretentious asshole". "Like, these albums are about deep shit." Sure they are, Toby. Sure they are.

cougarhunter
cougarhunter

... there is nothing in this article that implies he was drunk driving. Lets not start any more rumors. That's the problem with these things.. Everything is always taken out of context. The article was pretty humorous to me.

Guest
Guest

So much for maturity.

Cosmo_phatz
Cosmo_phatz

"And Vaioh0, I have to say I think it’s kind of sad that you base your definition of the success and fan-base of a band off of how many “likes” are on their Facebook page."

Happy? Message is still the same as intended.

UPS Rules
UPS Rules

I enjoyed the article. Thought it was well written, but seemed a little sloppy. I just read it online, only because I'm friends w/ some of the people mentioned in it. I looked through these posts for the same reason I look through all these online posts whether it's IMDB (that's my favorite) or youtube, because they're funny. Online bickering is the best. I'm not really looking to take part in the silly bickering, but I gotta say I don't understand what the big deal is really. I don't see how these guys are so embittered as one of these posts keeps mentioning. I don't understand how this band's obvious jokes are lost on the readers. I also don't see (unless the joke was really lost on you) how any of their comments were offensive. They didn't as far as I can tell say anything blatantly offensive or attack anyone personally. Their comments regarding Crescent (which is why I read the article to begin with) don't attack any of the Crescent staff or owners. In fact they defend Charlie Levy and say some really nice things about him. The things they say about Tempe are obviously a joke. How could anyone take offense to that. In fact, they even seem to disagree about their take on Tempe. One of them defends the Tempe scene while the other blasts it. This all seems like quite normal conversation to me. Even when they mention another band being dated, they defend them on a personal level. I just don't get it. It's an okay piece, the band seems normal as people, neither the article or the people seem to be anything worth talking too much about, so I guess I'm just having a hard time understanding all the anger. Is it really this easy for a band to stir up trouble? Not trying to offend anyone myself, but there seems to be some seriously thin-skinned posters on here. I'm probably dating myself at this point, but I remember rock bands in the 80's and 90's local or not, saying things that were really offensive about race, gender, and sexual orientation. These guys just seem to give an honest critique of their town. Big whoop!

Paul
Paul

It just makes me sad to see a little honesty so quickly get such cruel reactions.
Toby is one of the most kind, gracious, intelligent and reasonable people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing or playing music with.

As for this bullshit Facebook talk, I think FB can be a useful tool, but it sure as hell doesn't reflect shit about a bands craft.
Anyone that brings up facebook likes to diss a band does so because they don't know jack shit else about music. It's fucking petty and dumb.
FFOYA are one of the few local bands that I know that truly write collaboratively.
There's something to be said for that. There's no lead guy dictating the songs to the others.
Bands that can actually work together as bands like that are rare and special.
And they don't need you to click "like" to make em feel better about themselves.

Disagree with him or not, please try and show some maturity by respecting an honest, hard-working musician.

-Tristan

Guest
Guest

This is a terrible depiction of Former friends as a band and as individuals. I have had the opportunity and joy of knowing this band for a few years. Toby is actually one of the most confident, intelligent, and nice person I've had the chance to meet. I became a fan of ffya the first time I saw them. Their music spoke volumes about their artistic ability individually and as a group. I know for a fact the comments explicitly made about sex and sexuality were not out of homophobia at all. They are a very strong group of friends and band mates who obviously felt comfortable enough to share potentially offensive inside jokes with the writer of the article. As far as Toby's judgement for Phoenix and Tempe, while Tempe does have a few good bands and decent people, it's primarily filled with douchebags.
It is pretty easy to make a good group of people look like a bunch of assholes. I know this after reading this article.

Thefolds
Thefolds

"I am sorry no one wants to sing along to your songs", I don't know if this has anything with the music mostly because shoe gaze bands dont need those bullshit catchy coreses (I'm sure I spelt it wrong but you get the point). Mostly because bands like ffya actually work on the music. I guess in the end it's your opinion but you should keep in mind that their at practice in this article! And the article even says "Toby at zinger stumbles in with a light buzz", I don't know about you but most of the people I know and Im including myself, we are all at least somewhat of an asshole when we're drunk (buzz included). Either way, vaioh0 watch what you say next time you get drunk.

Estaban Flemons
Estaban Flemons

While reading this article I can’t understand how a reporter could write so many of these things completely out of context or explaining before that this group seemed to be joking in nature. I mean maybe the band could have been a little calmer with their jokes but give me a break people. Do you really think these guys are going around trying to fuck 1200 lbs carnivores in the ass? I mean besides that fact that I have not seen a bear wander down the road in phoenix in recent memory, just think about the danger of trying to mount it. Instead maybe they are joking around with each other, like the rest of us do with our friends……just throwing it out there.

I saw them at the album release. Besides the odd video rolling in the background, they were good. I have since downloaded the album and obviously passionate about what they do. Anyone who has passion about something can sometimes come off as a dick when they talk about it or compare it to someone or something else, human nature when you feel strong about something. There just seems to be a lot of anger directed at these guys when maybe it isn’t warranted if you were there for their interview instead of getting a shortened selective version.

Now I am off to go try to nail a cougar. Not a mountain cat, rather an older woman. Wait, maybe that is the joke instead of trying to fuck an actual bear they have an attraction to large hair gay men, referred to as bears. HAHAHA now it is funny, hope the rest of you got it.

Cosmo_phatz
Cosmo_phatz

When I first downloaded estas diluculo, I thought I would just listen to the first track really quick and then add some of its songs to a playlist. I ended up listening to the entire album twice through while I was cleaning my house (exciting life I lead, I know). For the first time in a truly long time (since the mainstream purchasing of Mp3s and the creation of a playlist at the click of a mouse) I listened to a music album from the first thematic track to the rhapsodic last. It reminded me of those days when I could sit in a room with friends and listen to an album, each song driving our conversation. Allowing the lyrics and rhythms into our minds and hearts; stringing together the music with our experiences and emotions. Okay, so maybe chemical influence contributed to the experience as well…

FFOYA does differ from the bands I listened to in those days, however, as I don’t need any mind-altering substances to appreciate the tone and clarity of their themes and messages. The things said by band members in this article reflect things said of anyone on the journey they illustrate in their recent album. It’s all a dreamy-eyed, shoe-gazing (I love that term) look at growing up and maturing as artists and individuals. The way it sounds to me, from the group’s banter and pretention as it’s written in the article, the individuals we are talking about have a sense of humor, candor and honesty that is rarely rivaled in ANY music scene. I mean, does anybody here REALLY not get what they mean by “bears?” And homophobic? Please. Since when is there any room for political correctness in the NT? And let’s not all assume that the way these conversations were depicted in the article is the way they actually occurred during interview. Context and sarcasm are fickle partners when it comes to writing.

Regardless of any of that though, who cares what FFOYA says/thinks about other bands? When it comes down to it, I really don’t care what Toby Fatzinger thinks about any band I like, even if he rips it to shreds. I have my own opinions and my own reasons for them. What this all really boils down to is this: Former Friends is a talented group of musicians and their newest album is hands-down great. You should check it out.

And Vaioh0, I have to say I think it’s kind of sad that you base your definition of the success and fan-base of a band off of how many “likes” are on their Facebook page. BTW – FFOYA has 1,007 “likes” now. Just in case you wanted to update your tally.

Vaioh0
Vaioh0

The Toby Fatzinger guy exhibits all of the characteristics of a typical insecure, bitter, somewhat intellectually challenged person. These type always resort to sarcasm, self deprecation, and offensive statements, all of which are a flimsy veil of appearing to "not taking themselves too seriously". They lack they confidence to charge for their music, to commit to a genre, or to confront their own limitations. It appears that they're opposed to the domains they cant get into. Bitter opposition: It's a natural response to feeling rejected.
Dear FFYA,
I am sorry you feel rejected by Tempe and The Crescent.
I am sorry you don't like the fact that for reasons inexplicable to you, Tempe is the place to be. I am sorry that you've been a band since 2007 and you've only managed to scrape up 1006 fans. Terrible.
I am sorry that you have some problem with attractive musicians that have figured out how to make music that other people want to sing along with.
I am sorry that no one sings along to your songs.
I am sorry that your delicate psyche can't handle the judgment that time has handed down to you: For some reason lots of people just don't give a fuck about your band.
By the way, your "label" is where the dinosaurs go to die. Maybe in the face of the realization that FFYA are being put out to pasture without having ever reached an actual "prime" they decided to throw caution to the wind...a dying man has nothing left to loose.
This band has shit on its own credibility and that of those it is associated with. Good job.
Btw, you don't speak for me so try to make less sweeping generalizations. You don't speak for Phx and you sure a shit shouldn't be talking in terms of "us and them" unless your talking about the "us" that is strictly pertaining to ffya. Statements like the ones put forth is this article only cause and perpetuate the very things that this big baby is complaining about.

Jmmotta
Jmmotta

Finally, someone said it!! Why is everyone in Phoenix in a band? Nobody's content w/ just being a fan. What's worse is this scene seems so political. Everybody seems worried about saying the wrong thing. Kudos to these guys he just opened there mouths and let it poor for once. Totally don't agree w/ them when it comes to Crescent. That place is the most comfortable, enjoyable spot in town to see a show and as a music goer (not in a band & totally in the minority) I prefer to see a show at a place w/ good sound, good food, drinks, in a good environment. I'm sure they have their reasons for playing where they play and that's fine, but thank god somebody finally called out all the locals who are kissing ass so they can pretend to be the next M83. Too much posturing in this town. Just be who you are and get good. That's what I took from the article. Don't know why everybody's making such a fuss and acting like these guys are the worst people ever. Unless you actually think they're serious about sex with animals and that Tempe is comparable to Nazi Germany. If that's the case, I just feel sorry for you. The article was funny and these guys didn't seem to take themselves to seriously so I checked them out and downloaded the album. Low and behold, it was good! Go figure.

Phxmusic4lyfe
Phxmusic4lyfe

God. This is the worst, most egotistical and non-factual bullshit i've read in the NT since Martin Cizmar was running the show. (not a dig on the journalist)

Guest
Guest

You guys sound horrible!!!!!! How dare you, your music isnt art; its noise, garbage and just all together BAD! The members in this band are horible examples of artist in the Phoenix area! I hope they realize how bad they are! Gross! I fell sorry for anyone who pays money to see these yahoos! Just wondering, who is supposed to be GOOD LOOKING?

Rob Smithe
Rob Smithe

Something weird is going on with the comments...my comment shows up sometimes and then is gone.

Rob Smithe
Rob Smithe

Wow...Anthony what a nice story! First of all the proper name for the Garfield neighborhood is not "historic district" but "historic dump". It is a place full of run down property either because A) the people can not make a good enough living B) they say "screw it" rather than improve their property and fight with the communist Historic Preservation Office at city hall who walks over property rights, freedom and liberty or C) there are too many yahoos living in the area as mentioned in this story.

The homophobic remarks speaks volume as does the language and content knowing full well they were in the presence of a newspaper reporter. Such class!

Rob Smithe
Rob Smithe

Wow...Anthony what a nice story! First of all the proper name for the Garfield neighborhood is not "historic district" but "historic dump". It is a place full of run down property either because A) the people can not make a good enough living B) they say "screw it" rather than improve their property and fight with the communist Historic Preservation Office at city hall who walks over property rights, freedom and liberty or C) there are too many yahoos living in the area as mentioned in this story.

The homophobic remarks speaks volume as does the language and content knowing full well they were in the presence of a newspaper reporter. Band members who clearly get drunk, say "fuck" every other word and talk about screwing animals up the ass...clearly they belong in Garfield.

Tobyfatzinger
Tobyfatzinger

I am Toby Fatzinger & I approve of this message.

Guest
Guest

Buzzed driving isnt responsible. gracious, intelligent, mature or kind for that matter! That my friend makes you and these band members douchbags!

Vaioh0
Vaioh0

For one going on about context you certainly seem to have a problem keeping context, don't you? When did I say anything about "success"? ;)
Whether you like it or not, whether anyone likes it or not, fb is a pretty direct representation of the drawing power or marketability of a product, whether that product be a car company, soft drink company, or a band. This is exactly the reason fb and its users are harvested for MARKETING INFORMATION. And still, in light of these facts, I still made no statements about "success".
In reality, I measure the success of any indie band by the fulfillment / contentment / happiness of the members, because that is all they can really bank on. At the end of the day, they may be richer by one or two more fans, but if their bitter resentment cripples them and causes them to discredit themselves, then how successful are they really?

Rob Smithe
Rob Smithe

Kelly- The truth is sometimes "stupid" or "fucking stupid" (if you are one of the people mentioned in this article).

Firstwatch
Firstwatch

Okay, so how is 1007 fans terrible then? Seems like they're doing alright comparatively.

Minibosses - more than 10 years - 3,672 fans

Dry River Yacht Club - formed 2007 - 3,198 fans

Former Friends of Young Americans - formed 2007 - 1007 fans

The Necronauts - around for more than 10 years - 695 fans

Colorstore - around for 10 years - 631 fans

Fatigo - around for 8 years or so - 406 fans

Also, calling their label a place where dinosaurs go to die is tasteless at best. Horrible choice of words considering that label recently lost one of their own. Do your homework before you start spouting off.

Vaioh0
Vaioh0

2) Huh? Circles? Contradictions? Reluctance to own up? I see the problem, you and I have no basis for real communication. You are evidently the byproduct of some seriously inferior education system where they failed to teach you about vital importance of context and comprehension, thereby leaving people like you and non-idiots at a communication impasse. :)
You win, I surrender. ;)

Firstwatch
Firstwatch

Classic! The guy who headed his last remark w/ a 1.) & no follow up is calling me a twit. You are just talking yourself in circles & contradicting yourself. Time to surrender moron. You chose your words poorly at best. This is a fact. Your reluctance to own up is pathetic.

Vaioh0
Vaioh0

Context is key and evidently it's in short supply.
The numbers speak for themselves. Period.
That being said, I still made no connection between their numbers and their success. Read: "I measure the success of any indie band by the fulfillment / contentment / happiness of the members, because that is all they can really bank on."
1) It is no ones responsibility to "do their homework" before they make STATEMENTS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LINES YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO DRAW. The passing of "one of their own" has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH A COMPLETELY UNRELATED COMMENT ABOUT THE LACK OF RELEVANCE OF SOME BAND, you fucking twit.

 

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Thu
    17
  • Fri
    18
  • Sat
    19
  • Sun
    20
  • Mon
    21
  • Tue
    22
  • Wed
    23
Phoenix Event Tickets
Loading...