All the News That Didn't Fit

On the Record

The Olympia Connection, Or Lack Thereof


The Numbness Is Just a Bonus

Hiphop City


Soul by the Pound


Incest is Best

The Rise and Fall of the N-Word


If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Tell the Truth Anyway

You Don't Own Me

Summer Lovin'

Stagger Lee

Music to Lose Your Job By

Boy, You Sure Can Take the Fun Out of Music


Stuart Braithwaite From Mogwai

Going to New York City?


A Whole N'other Level

Who Says Morrissey Fans Don't Get Laid?


Not Modest Enough

The first thing about FCS North to grab your attention are the drums. Obviously they've got a well-trained beat man up there, and that he's a hard hitter makes it all the more vital. Then you realize this isn't just another indie rock trio slouching all over their guitars and keyboards, trying so very hard to sing clever turns of phrase. In fact, the vocals never come. Despite the lack of an obvious focal point, FCS North -- made up of two former members of Satisfact and that pounding drummer, and pronounced "FOCUS" North, natch -- are one of the most riveting bands in Seattle, and you're sorely missing something if you haven't seen them live.

What's more important: lyrics or music?

CHAD STATES (guitar): Music. (Everyone laughs.)

Okay, then why do you feel that lyrics aren't necessary?

JOSH WARREN (keyboards, bass): We listen to a lot of instrumental music, so when we listen to music, we don't listen to lyrics first, we listen to beats and melodies first. When we did [FCS North], we ended up focusing on that. We wanted to do instrumental music and mess with the melodies and ideas between the rhythms rather than bring a point across vocally. I guess that's an obvious point.

Do any of you sing?


ANDY SELLS (drums): None of us have an interest in it, either.

CHAD: But I'll listen to anything, and it will take me two years to realize, "Oh, the song says this," and to put the lyrics together and go, "Wow, this song is about...." I know the lyrics, but I'm not really listening.

ANDY: The only thing I listen to that has lyrics is hiphop, because that is the whole purpose -- it's like a beat with lyrical contents on top. But lyrics in pop music and rock music or even soul music just sound like another instrument. It sounds great, ya know -- it's not important what they are saying, I guess.

I knew this would be a good question for FCS North, because several of the bands we've asked that before have answered, "the lyrics."

JOSH: That's strange, because you are actually doing something where you are all interacting on a musical level. You are interacting, yet you still play a lyrical content above the music that you are constructing.

What's the worst album you ever loved?

JOSH: Jesus Christ, Stanley Clark's School Days. That record is really bad.

CHAD: Depeche Mode's Violator.

What's the difference between a good musician and a great musician, and are great musicians born or made?

CHAD: They are born, but it's all about context. Like there are people who are considered great musicians, but they're just a product of successful marketing -- and you have them in any era. So it's like this weird balance between if you are a genius, or if "they" have convinced everybody you are a genius. Then there are those people we'll never even know about.

What's the difference between a good musician and a great musician?

JOSH: Letting it go. Does it encompass you? Does it completely control you, or is it something you just do? Are you striving for it? Also, longevity. Say you listen to David Bowie -- I think David Bowie is really good and timeless, but it encompasses him. David Byrne is another good example. His music and his art encompass him, whereas -- no dis to the band -- Ringo Starr, the guy was the drummer for the Beatles, and he's pushing [his music]. You hear him on the radio trying to say, "Buy my new record." The record didn't claim him. It didn't push him to the edge.

What have you released so far?

CHAD: We have a 12-inch out on Pacifico. We have some other stuff that's done -- it's getting mastered, finished up, and it should be out in July and it'll be another 12-inch. After that, there'll be a CD of the first 12-inch and the second 12-inch, plus stuff that's not on either one of them.

How long did it take to record all of that?

JOSH: Two weeks.

CHAD: But it's also been a work in progress. We've been doing a lot of post-production work and studio work at my house, Andy's house, and stuff like that. Then we'll probably go back and remix it.

Do you do it yourselves?

JOSH: We work with a good friend of ours, in his basement. He has a really nice setup: studio, good mics. He helped us and produced the technical aspects that we didn't want to tackle; he set up the mics, and then he worked with us on the sound so we could develop something we heard in our heads. But since we knew him, it was a lot easier to go for it rather than be somewhere with someone who doesn't know you at all.

JOSH: It's like a connection thing -- like playing in a band. How are you going to produce art when you're just sitting there going, "Oh, this sucks. You suck, I hate you."

What do you think about the instrumental thing becoming more popular?

JOSH: I don't think we really care. Instrumental and [lyric-driven music] seem like they've always existed together all the time.

CHAD: I love good lyrics when I hear them. Like Isaac Brock -- Isaac Brock is madness.

ANDY: RZA is madness. David Byrne is madness.

CHAD: I don't like Isaac Brock's singing all the time, but what he is singing -- that's right on.

JOSH: Sometimes it's fun just in the context of your own personal space. Like, if I'm at home doing something like cleaning the house or doing something else, I don't always want words in the background. I want something that is spacious, that kinda fills up the room, whether I'm sleeping or working.

CHAD: When you listen to music throughout the day, you can't listen to lyrics over and over and over. You've got to have different ambient records you put on, because it's the beats that fill the space, that make you feel good.

ANDY: But it's all relative. Sometimes with the Talking Heads, I don't even notice the lyrics, because it's really repetitive and it's really tranquil to listen to. You don't really notice the vocals, so you can choose to listen to them or not. But with some music, like a lot of modern rock, there is no choice.

What did you believe in, when you first began playing in a band, that you don't believe any more?

ANDY: I thought I'd end up being in Duran Duran. Seriously, I still want to be in Duran Duran.

CHAD: That punk is where it's at. I was totally into that punk thing back in the day, but I'm bored of people who stop pushing shit, who don't push it to the next level. When I go see a show now, I want the band to be rehearsed and tight. I'm serious -- if they are going to put a show on in front of me, I want them to be like, "Okay, this is what we've been working on," rather than sloppily showing you something they think is cool. I'm bored with that.

JOSH: You can still be punk. Blonde Redhead and Unwound, all those kind of bands -- they're tight, potent. But it's honest.