We caught up with Failure’s Kelli Scott. The band is finally back together and hitting the road for a nice long tour.
Northern Transmissions: Failure recently played a show in Los Angeles. What did it feel like getting back on stage after all these years?
Kellii Scott: There was quite a bit of nostalgia, but I think it kind of got a little crushed by our nerves and expectations. We were playing as a trio despite having always played with four people in the past. Coming into the show we had to learn the songs all over again, and some of them are a little bit more technical. We wanted to create an entire new show but in the beginning we had no idea about what we wanted to do or what to expect from the crowd or even if there was going to be one. In the end, the show went over really well. During the set Ken [Andrews] had asked how many people had seen the band before and maybe a third had applauded. After all the hard work we put into it, it felt really good that all these new people came out.
NT: Who or what was the catalyst that brought Failure back together?
KS: The whole story was kind of odd. I had hung out with both the guys but never together at the same time because of our schedules. One day Ken phoned me and I [initially] assumed he wanted me to do a session but rather, he mentioned how he and Greg [Edwards] were talking about doing some music together. At first it was a little awkward because when a band breaks up, it’s like breaking up with a girl; it usually doesn’t get talked about or get resolved. I really wasn’t sure in my mind, but once we started playing things seemed to happen organically and we felt comfortable. All of a sudden we had a manager and a booking agent. Everything happened pretty quickly.
NT: The band came pretty close a couple of times to really making it big. Were there many moments of frustration, not being able to break through to the next level?
KS: You know, it would have been nice. We broke up when the band seemed to have some really good momentum. It was a little frustrating at times. We were, and still are, kind of an insular band. We have always had the attitude that, we were going to play what we want to and if people don’t get it, then that’s how it will be. I was always so happy to play music and tour and it was always great to be part of a band and makes music that you like and enjoy playing. I think in the end I was comfortable with where we were at.
NT: When Magnified came out, it was definitely advanced during that time period. Many critics talked about the unique sonic detail and guitar effects. Did you feel you were recording something special?
KS: When you’re recording an album, you really get deep into it. I never thought for one minute about how the album would be received by the public. It really is an insular type of thing — you immerse yourself completely into it. I mean, I am passionate about what we do and I don’t think that many bands were doing what we were doing at the time. We were compared to Nirvana, but we don’t sound anything remotely close to those guys. I guess I always tend to shrug off comparisons.
NT: With so many digital platforms out there today, do you think there is a bit more of a level playing field for bands and their ability to get their music out, and not having to rely on record companies to market them?
KS: My general view is, whether you get signed or not, it’s secondary. I don’t think it has much to do with talent. It’s 99% about being at the right place at the right time — for both the band and the audience. The audience wasn’t there in 1997. I don’t think people like to use the label as an excuse. The digital platforms can be really great, but bands have to do their part and work really hard. I think many musicians just want to play music and not do the other parts. Today, all the tools are out there for bands to learn how to market their music properly. Music is only one part of it, all the other parts are extremely hard work.
NT: Any plans of heading back into the studio soon?
KS: We have already done a few songs. We approached things in a completely different way. We got rid of all of our amps and got fractals. It took like a month to program all of our sounds which led to our sound becoming more evolved. We would start writing at 9:00 am and jam for a few hours — that part always came easy to us. Thirty hours of new tunes have now been edited to about three hours worth of music. These days we are in live rehearsal mode and all of our shows get recorded so we are able to grab ideas of what we can use for new songs. We can also record stuff on the bus with our mobile studio. We all enjoy multi-tasking, so it’s not a problem. There usually is quite a bit of down-time on tour, so we get the opportunities to write.
NT: Which five albums are still inspiring you?
Kiss – Alive 2
AC/DC – Highway To Hell
Rush – All The World’s A Stage
Led Zeppelin – In Through The Outdoor
Failure – Fantastic Planet (Truly, the only reason this is on the list is because it set the bar for myself. It really made me a better player and musician. It really is a point from where I can learn).