(By: Angela McLean)
FM Berlin is certainly having fun. The four-piece, East Coast-based alternative rock band is currently touring the country in support of their 2017 album ‘At Least You’re Having Fun.’ They describe the sound as if “The Police and Led Zeppelin made a baby… in space.” It’s unusual, but it works. The proof is in their growing fanbase and recent critical acclaim.
The band was a recipient of the 2016 Bell Media Prize from Canada’s Music Incubator and is currently in the running for CBC Music’s Searchlight. The contest seeks to crown Canada’s next great undiscovered talent and they’re already ahead of the competition; they were named a standout entry by the network’s producers.
FM Berlin stops in Toronto for a show at The Supermarket on Mar. 3. In advance, we chatted with the band’s lead singer Corey Hachey about life on the road, the story behind the band’s name and taking control.
We’re chatting in the middle of your cross-Canada tour. How are things going?
Things are going good. We finished off the east coast leg of our tour on Friday in Miramichi, N.B., and [next] we head out to Ontario. The shows out east have been great with Saint John, N.B. being the highlight.
How would you describe your live show?
It would be hard for me to describe it, but I was sent a Facebook message recently from a friend whose sister caught our set in New Glasgow, N.S. recently. Here was her impression of her first FM Berlin show: “Watching FM Berlin play is like watching a dude ride a motorcycle on a tightrope. You’re impressed when it starts, you think that it can’t possibly keep going so well, and then they’re done and there’s a ‘well I just watched that happen’ feeling.” The hard part is doing it again and again. I mean there are folks who have seen us play twenty or thirty times, and all we can do is try and give them the same experience that they had the first time they saw us.
Is there a story behind the name FM Berlin?
Glen Farquhar, who plays bass in our band, and I were talking one night after a gig. He shared a story about his father, which would eventually inspire me to come up with the name FM Berlin. In 1960, Glen’s father ventured into Soviet-occupied East Berlin. At the time taking pictures of the city was prohibited, so of course he made the decision to do just that. Luckily, he was not found out and was able to return back to Canada safe and sound with his pictures in tow. FM Berlin stands for a Free Man in Berlin.
If someone only had time to listen to one FM Berlin song, which song would you say best encapsulates your sound and vision?
That’s a hard one because we have more than one sound really. We have always wanted to be like The Beatles in that way. You always know The Beatles when you hear them, but they had the ability to change their sound from song to song. Listen to “Helter Skelter” and then listen to “Rocky Racoon.” They are so different, but you know who it is instantly. I guess [for us] “Yer Honour” would be a good song to start with and then move on to “Plasma T.Vs.”
With your new album ‘At Least You’re Having Fun,’ you re-recorded it in a homemade studio to get the perfect sound. How did the process change from recording in a traditional studio?
We had to find ways to get a big-room sound in a small room. One of our favourite mic techniques at the moment, which helps achieve that sound, is the rubber hose technique. The technique consists of taping a microphone to one end of a rubber hose and then placing the hose strategically around the instrument, amp, or in a random area of the room. It sounds ridiculous, but the results are amazing!
Are there any songs on the album that almost didn’t make the cut?
“Outta Your Head” and “Haligonia.”
Which Canadian artists are you digging right now?
Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs, and Ivory Hours.
Once the tour wraps up, what do you have planned for the rest of the year?
We have applied to a bunch of festivals for the summer and we will be putting together another interprovincial tour for next fall. Also, we are always writing and recording, so we will be releasing some fresh new material this spring/summer. We have a new song called “Pieces” that we are really excited to record and release before the next tour. We are [also] going to be filming a series of acoustic performances which we will be uploading to all social platforms, so stay tuned for that as well.
Thank you, FM Berlin. For more information about the band’s upcoming show in Toronto, check out the Facebook event page. ‘At Least You’re Having Fun’ is available now.
(Header photo credit: Louis-Philippe Chiasson)