Interview with Arben Colaku from Folly: The Final Goodbye

After breaking up in 2008, the New Jersey-based hardcore band Folly has decided to pick up their instruments and play five final shows. The five-piece is gearing up to make memories with old and new friends. I was able to talk to bassist Arben Colaku before the first of the shows about what fans can expect, fond memories from life as a musician, if he has any regrets and whether or not he was more of a knucklehead or amateur philosopher.

What sparked the reunion shows for Folly?

A bunch of things, we actually have been talking about it amongst ourselves for a long time. The band’s been broken up for almost three years so, pretty shortly after we’d joke amongst ourselves “Oh, are we really going to do this again.” We all kinda knew that we’d do something at some point, and we felt that now is the right time. We’re all physically back in New Jersey, also I am moving at the end of April, so knowing that we were all kinda like, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do this, we have to do it now or we probably never will.’

When the reunion shows were announced what were your initial reactions?

Going into it we were like ‘Hey, let’s do a show or two and if people come, awesome, and if the shows are less than packed, who cares. It’s going to be about us having fun with our friends.’ When we initially booked three shows we thought that might be a bit much. We were just like, ‘Fuck it, we’re going to play three shows and invite our friends to come party with us and leave it at that.’ When the shows sold out so quickly and with the feedback being so overwhelming positive and strong we were thrown back by it.

On your Facebook page, there’s a note to the fans stating that you “never wanted to formally stop playing together as people, but just as Folly.” Why is that?

We felt that what we were doing under the name Folly, we wanted to leave it in a specific way. We were a full-time band for a long time, we didn’t want to downgrade if we didn’t have the time or energy to put into it and do it as hard as we could.

Throughout the years in Folly, what were some of your favorite venues to play?

We were around in a time where we’ve seen a lot of different places come and go. The Bloomfield Ave Café in Montclair was a home base for us. It was a place where we were comfortable and there were a lot of memorable experiences there. I think it was one of the first places we headlined a show and sold it out. Over the years we had the chance to play a lot of places that we never really thought about playing, we just ended up there. Playing at CBGBs was huge for us. Just to set foot on that stage and be part of the living history that it was, was particularly cool.

That’s awesome! Is there one particular memory from one show that stands out the most?

I don’t know if I have one specific memory that seems so broad. Our last shows that we did in 2008, going into that, knowingly planning these shows, our last shows, and just how wildly successful they were, and what a special, fun and beautiful weekend it was. Just like, what we’re trying to create with these shows coming up, it’s about getting our friends and family and people who dug the band together in the same room to celebrate in life as in death. That’s a huge reason we’re doing this again, obviously it’s about the five of us playing the songs and being on stage again, but it’s also about trying to share some good times with good people.

With the upcoming shows, what is your ideal set list and can you spoil it a bit?

Well, that’s actually something we’ve been discussing a lot. What I think we’re going to do, since we have five shows, each night one of us is choosing the set list from top to bottom. But I’m sure, as far as specific songs, there are certain songs which would be expected and there are a few surprises, whether it be dusting off some of our really old, embarrassing ones or some of the newer ones that didn’t get their chance in the sun, stuff off of our last release that came out back when we were playing our last shows in April 2008. I think it’s safe to expect a kind of retrospective look at things and maybe a little tweak or surprise here or there.

Did you come up with your ideal set list yet?

Actually, I have not. There are a few different ways I want it to go by planning out the mood from the start of the set, so I’m still sitting on the fence. At times it seems like the first note the band plays, or the first word the singer says is so important and a lot of the times determines where the rest of the set goes. As people and as a band, we kind of waiver between benevolent knuckleheads and amateur philosophers. But there are several songs that I think are very, very important as far as thematically, musically, lyrically as far as what the band was and what the band did and became known for. Certainly there were always crowd favorites and they always were for a reason. I don’t think anyone would neglect what people want and expect to hear but also infuse our personal ideas of what we’d like to play as well.

Are you more of a knucklehead, or more of an amateur philosopher?

It changes every day, usually multiple times within the same day. So it depends on when you catch me. And if I’m a dozen beers deep then I’m probably a knucklehead or, no, maybe that’s when I’m an amateur philosopher? I think that kind of lighthearted attitude about ourselves and our place in this world, and Folly’s place within whatever musical scenes we’re involved in, helps to keep things enjoyable. It was like let’s just be idiots and see where things happen.

Do you think that the balance between knucklehead and philosopher help the band reach the status of legends in the NJ scene?

I feel a little weird about the word “legend” being used, not that you can’t print it. It certainly did contribute because, in a lot of ways, if we were more calculated and serious or concerned about business or image of preparing a band as far as industry status goes, I feel that we may not have gotten to the level that we were at and enjoy some of the things that we did enjoy. Being able to keep things lighthearted and fun was so important. And the ability to look at ourselves and poke fun at what we are doing was so necessary; we wouldn’t be anything without self-deprecating humor. And that’s the only way we found to get through very trying times.

Whatever it may be, the idea of being a knucklehead goes pretty far amongst all of us, as far as how important it is to be an idiot sometimes and not worry about what happens as far as the greater picture of things. We still live with a zest for life that we had while we were in the band, and we’re still living that way and I think it could have only come to us through all the experiences we had in the band. Without living that way we would have been cheated out of all these experiences that now we look back on as truly life defining as shaping our lives and the outcomes of our lives for all these years to come. People have religion, or philosophy to cling onto when the world seems scary and sometimes hurtful, and I think our experiences in Folly helps us make sense out of what’s awkward, anxiety-producing, scary, fucked up or beautiful. It also helps us with registering and noting important shit and what really makes life worth living.

Would you say you had any regrets from being in Folly?

A few years removed, I don’t know if I have a regret but I would have preferred to do more, maybe something like a last tour or what we did with the last shows but just doing it around the country. As far as my experience goes, I value and treasure everything that we have done and I look back on it so fondly. I think my fondness of what we did in the band will continue, if not increase.

Folly will be performing at the School Of Rock East in South Hackensack on April 1 and April 2, and at the Stanhope House on April 9. More info at