This spring, Chicago-based supergroup The Falcon will be making their return to celebrate the release of their first studio effort in over a decade, Gather Up The Chaps. For those who may not be too familiar with The Falcon, Gather Up The Chaps is a record that you should be really excited to hear—especially once you discover who is involved with this band’s all-star lineup.
Formed in 2004 by the dark and creative mind of Lawrence Arms bassist Brendan Kelly, The Falcon’s lineup also features Lawrence Arms drummer Neil Hennessey, as well as Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano. While The Falcon only has one album release under their belt, their critically acclaimed 2006 debut, Unicornography, became the best-selling album on the label, Red Scare Industries.
After a few years of inactivity, the band acquired Dave Hause of The Loved Ones to fill in on guitar when they were asked to headline Red Scare’s 10th Anniversary Weekend this past year. Not only is The Falcon an underrated supergroup that consists of many talented and influential punk rock musicians of the last 20 years, what sets them apart from the rest is the band’s long-lasting personal relationships with one another.
A few weeks before their upcoming tour with The Scandals, Worriers and The Lippies, I had the opportunity to speak with The Falcon’s leading frontman and bassist, Brendan Kelly, and talk in detail about their new record as well as the friendships that influence the genuine chemistry of this group.
So, we’re getting close to the release of Gather Up The Chaps, and a few songs have already been premiered leading up to it. How’s the reception of this new material been so far? What are you looking forward to the most about putting out this new record?
Well, to answer the second part first… Man, it’s exciting to get to release the record, and get people to see the whole thing. Because I think the record is more than like a collection of songs, it’s a record, do you know what I mean?
Like, I come from that time where… when you consume music, you buy the record, and not the single. So, even though that’s not the way that people do it anymore, to me, it’s important to get the whole thing out there, because it’s the best way to pass along the vision of what we were trying to do.
I think as of right now, the reception has been super good, but it’s always hard to say. It’s weird to have a band like The Falcon who hasn’t been around in so long, and we’re relying on the networks of The Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio and The Loved Ones, you know? So, it’s important to sort of recognize that in terms of the expectations.
Now, Gather Up The Chaps is The Falcon’s first official album since Unicornography back in 2006. Do you feel like there is a lot of excitement and anticipation for this record to come out?
Yeah, it is the first record in 10 years, and I think that we got a fucking strong-ass bullpen. It’s a cool team to be on, but I don’t have any fucking expectations of it doing anything other than being songs that I really like playing with my friends.
The thing of it is, I can’t think of anytime where a band comprised of musicians from a bunch of other bands has done anything very significant; that’s not the end gain here. In the end, it’s just to have fun and play cool music, you know?
Of course! A few months back, I actually spoke with [guitarist] Dave Hause around the time when The Loved Ones were set to play Home For The Holidays with The Bouncing Souls, and he mentioned to me that he was going to be jamming with The Falcon for this record. How did you reach to Dave to be a part of this band?
It’s a pretty funny story. When Red Scare Industries started, I had this idea that I wanted to do this band with [guitarist] Danny Andriano because he is one of my oldest, dearest friends. And I came up with this idea to do The Falcon, which was basically an excuse to be in a band with [former Falcon guitarist] Todd Mohney who was playing guitar for Rise Against at that time.
When we put out the first full-length, Unicornography, that became the best-selling record ever on Red Scare. So, this past year  was Red Scare’s 10th Anniversary Show, and [Red Scare Industries Founder] Toby Jeg said, “You know, The Falcon is the reason why the label started, and [Unicornography] it’s the best-selling record on the label. You guys need to headline this show.”
So [Toby] booked the show with The Falcon headlining, and we’ve never really played a show before; we didn’t have a guitar player anymore. The show was held at the Metro, which is a 1,200-capacity venue that they sell to 1,300-1,400 people sometimes. So you know there were pretty big expectations, and I was like, “Fuck! Who are we going get to play for Todd? We got to get someone cool.”
I sent out a tweet saying something along the lines of, “Hey! Anyone out there want to be a lead guitar player for The Falcon? Must already be famous,” just to kind of be a dork! I wasn’t really expecting anything to come from it, and Dave Hause texted me and said, “Yo! Do you really need a guitar player in The Falcon?” And I was like, “Oh fuck! If it’s you, then yes, absolutely I do!”
Because Dave and I have been great friends forever, and you know, Dan and Dave, and [drummer] Neil Hennessy and Dave, we’re all cool ol’ buddies. So, it was such an awesome thing for [Dave] to come aboard.
Then, we played that show, and I think all four of us got off stage and we were like, “Wow! That was the most fun that I ever, ever fucking had.” It wasn’t even a question, it was just sort of like, “Okay, this is a band now, we’re going to make a new record,” and it was done.
Wow! It’s pretty interesting how things worked out like that!
Yeah, and the thing that is really cool that I think a lot of people miss when they talk about The Falcon is that not only do we all come from all of these other bands, but it’s like, Neil has been my best friend for 20 years, Dan has been my best friend for like almost 30 years, and Dave is the new guy, and I’ve only been friends with Dave for 18 years. (laughs)
We’re all good ol’ friends. Like, we grew up doing the same thing, and listened to the same stuff. So, this is about as organic as a band from a bunch of different bands can be. Like, we’re buddies who want to make music, and we come from the same sort of discipline and background. It’s not like a fucking all-star team, it’s more like, this would be the band that we would form right now.
Tell me a little bit about the writing process for Gather Up The Chaps. With the addition of Hause in the band, would you say there were lot more contributions and ideas being thrown around amongst everyone involved in the group?
Ummm… yes, and no. It’s like… so, I wrote the record—those 10 songs are mine that I wrote. Dave and Dan wrote each a song, but I ended up writing half of Dan’s song at least lyrically, and Dave’s song was actually the last song written. The 10 songs that I’d written were pretty much the main grunt of the things that we’ve worked on the entire time.
I’ll always come in with a skeleton that’s like the chords, the melodies and the words. Even if I am in The Lawrence Arms or The Wandering Birds, I trust my collaborators to flesh them out. In this particular case, these dudes aren’t familiar with how much I really let the songs go once I am done with them.
When Dave is like, “What do you want to do here?” I tell him, “You tell me what you want to do here.” I think we’ve had conversations on how the record was going to vibe and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, when you’re working with people—Neil, and Dan, and Dave—I’d be an idiot to tell them what to do. They know how to play the bass, guitar and drums better than I can even imagine. It was pretty collaborative, but at the same time, I created the structure of the songs, the structure of the record, the theme of the album and the general darkness of it.
From the standpoint of your upcoming tour, what would you say that you are looking forward to the most about getting out on the road to play these new songs live?
Yeah, I mean this is a whole new thing. I mean, I’ve toured with Dan when Alkaline Trio tours with The Lawrence Arms, but like in the same band, we haven’t toured since we were fucking teenagers. So, it’s really exciting to just get out there, and do something that I think we’re all familiar with, but in a totally new capacity. (laughs)
You know, I was linking it to probably what it would be like to be married for 17 years, and then all of a sudden, go out and go on a date with somebody new. It’s fucking… probably a little weird, and scary, and you’re kind of used to the way things were, but it’s also really, really exciting.
Will the band do anything special throughout the shows considering that Gather Up The Chaps will be fresh off the presses once you start the tour?
I mean, I don’t know. We’re just going to try to offer the best show that we can. It’s not going to be a thing where we are going to showcase the fact that we’re all in other bands if that’s sort of the question. It’s all about this record [Gather Up The Chaps] more than anything, and also the legacy that this band had in the past.
So, we’re going to be out here, and we’re going to be the most kick-ass “brand new band that’s been around for 10 years full of 40-year-old men” that you’ve ever seen. (laughs)
Awesome. Sounds like these shows are going to be a lot of fun. Now, once this tour is all said and done, what do you think the rest of the year has in the store for The Falcon? Is it safe to say that there will be a lot more activity from the band to support the record in the coming year?
We’re going to try to get everywhere, man; this is just the first tour. We’re trying to book a West Coast tour right now as we speak. We’ve been talking about trying to do something in Europe, and we’ll just see. With something like this, all of us are kind of used to the idea of making money on tour, so that makes this kind of a weird prospect in terms of being kind of a new band.
We’re all a little bit older, and have responsibilities and stuff, so it’s not like we can just go off on tour and come home with $20. So it needs to be thought through a little bit carefully than like, a lot of newer bands’ early tours do. But with that being said, I think we’re all pretty interested in trying to get out and play these songs in front of as many people as we possibly can.
The Falcon will be spreading their wings on their upcoming tour with The Scandals and The Lippies this spring. The band will be playing at MilkBoy in Philadelphia on April 1, the Brighton Bar in Long Branch on April 2, and at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn on April 3. Gather Up The Chaps, The Falcon’s first studio release in a decade, is available now on Red Scare Industries. For more information, go to facebook.com/MoFukkinFalcon.