An Introduction To: Father Figuer

 Photography by Nate Stritzler

Photography by Nate Stritzler

If you live in Burlington, VT, odds are you’ve seen Father Figuer once or twice. With a quiet hum that turns into a wall of sound, residual with emotion and energy, Father Figuer not only warrants attention but grabs hold of it no matter the crowd. They’ve hit every stage on the spectrum of Burlington stages. From “dm for address” basement shows to the main stages at the likes of Waking Windows Fest and UVM’s Fall Fest, the four UVM juniors have become a staple in the Burlington music scene. To help ring in THANKS: a celebration of online & irl friendship, we sat down with Elise (drums), Charity (bass), Caroline and Erin (guitars) to hear about their goals, influences, and their upcoming EP.

hope: How did you meet?

Caroline: Charity and I are from the same hometown and then we all met in college. I met Elise during the first days of freshman year because we lived on the same floor. Erin and I met in a songwriting class and we were like “oh we write similar kind of stuff. That could mesh well together.” We started playing more together and then brought in everybody else.

hope: Were you two friends growing up or did the band bring you together?

Caroline: We were pretty decently friends but not as much as we are now.

Charity: We hung out a ton when we were kids and were always on good terms in high school. Always good friends, but we fell into different social circles and didn't hang out as much.

Caroline: It’s kind of funny now that we’re on this path together. People from high school are like “this is a little unexpected.”

Charity: But it seems natural.

hope: When did the band itself start?

Caroline: It started working its way up freshmen year and it became more serious this year.

hope: And what do you define as serious? Where's that line and when did you cross it?

Elise: In January when we started practicing for gigs.

Caroline: Once we had fathomable events to do. Elise only just came in this year. We were just playing around, figuring things out but once we brought in everybody it just happened pretty naturally.

hope: What's your songwriting process like?

Erin: Typically, I'll write a song or Caroline will write a song and we’ll introduce it to the band and then everybody gauges where they want to go from there. We kind of plant a seed then let it grow.

Caroline: It’s cool to see a song become something you didn’t expect.

Charity: I feel like we go into each song with a different path. We don't want it to sound too much like this song or sound like that song. We want to make it its own thing.

hope: And how do you record your songs?

Caroline: We've taken many routes in recording this upcoming EP, but none of them felt right. We've ultimately decided to just entirely self-produce it at home using a 4-track.

Erin: We were trying to deal with a sense of urgency in giving back to our listeners, but we realized that we gotta step back and really get it right. We'd like to get it out to everyone before year's end.

hope: Are you all involved in the music program at UVM?

Erin: I’m in Plant Biology.

Charity: I'm in Electrical Engineering.

hope: What’s it like being a musician when your educational focus doesn’t involve music?

Erin: I was a musician before I was a biologist; that started in the middle of my college experience. It’s nice to see the similarities between the two. I feel like it makes me an overall better student. It gives me different perspectives.

Charity: I feel like for me, being a musician is a nice contrast to what I'm studying. You get so absorbed in it and it's really nice to have something creative as an outlet for a break.

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hope: When did Father Figuer start playing shows?

Erin: Our first Father Figuer show was in January of this year. We played it in Philly; Elise wasn’t there. We had some random drummer.

Caroline: RIP.

Elise: The first one I played was some random basement show. Rathaus maybe?

Charity: Probably.

hope: Have you kept count of how many shows you’ve played?

Caroline: We haven’t been counting. Lots.

Charity: I would say 1000!

Caroline: We don't play as much anymore but we played almost every weekend.

Erin: Second semester last year we really pushed ourselves.

Caroline: Since we did that we’ve been taking gigs we really want to play and ones that will get us exposed.

Erin: I want to put more focus into writing and be strategic about what we're trying to do with the band instead of just play, play, play.

hope: Is there a gig that sticks out as your favorite?

Caroline: We just played Fall Fest at UVM.

Charity: That one felt real good.

Caroline: It was the biggest thing that we've done. We felt like an actual band, not just playing around in basements. We were on the stage and the lights were moving to what we were playing. I don't know it was just... so cool.

Charity: And it sounded so good.

Erin: It was crazy to sing and actually hear yourself.

Charity: It was an awesome turn out too. We played at the very beginning and a lot of people came out for it.

Erin: It was a very validating experience.

Elise: I felt really mature too. We really held it together.

hope: What makes a good crowd?

Erin: A crowd that is not speaking over us. We have soft parts to our music - it gets louder and gains momentum. We’re gonna play it either way, but it's definitely distracting and takes away from the experience if people aren’t even trying to listen.

Caroline: Sometimes people don't even know we’ve started playing a song but then once it gets louder, everybody kind of shuts up. It's really cool when we can get the whole crowd in on what we're doing, especially when you catch it from the very beginning and everybody's so quiet.

Erin: That’s when we play best. If you give us that energy, we're going to give it back to you. That's what it's about. It feels so good.

Charity: That's why Fall Fest was so good because it was so loud. People were in it the whole time.

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hope: How has being in Father Figuer impacted other aspects of your lives?

Erin: I talk to way more people than I would have without it. I'm way more integrated into the Burlington Community, which I'm very grateful for. I'm involved in science community at UVM, but that's isolated to UVM. It's very nice to actually be connected to the town.

Caroline: Some of our best friends are involved in this scene and you make a lot of connections through that.

Elise: It’s taken over a lot of my time but it's in good way.

Caroline: It's kind of become my life, which was my intent when coming to Burlington. I've always wanted to do music — that’s the only thing. Being in this band has made me feel like that will happen for me. I was scared because if you’re going to do music you just have to send it. Now it feels real.

hope: Father Figuer definitely seems connected. You seem to be an integral part of the Burlington music scene.

Erin: It certainly feels it’s become that way which is sometimes a little shocking. I don't think that we fully grasp what we mean to other people. We’re very appreciative that anybody pays attention when there's so much music.

Elise: When we’re put in the same boat as Julia Caesar or Clever Girls it’s just so cool.

hope: What are the goals for the band?

Erin: We're not stressing about it. We’ll take it as far as it feels like it needs to go.

Charity: We’re going to at least get our degrees.

Caroline: As we were walking here it was hailing I was thinking we should all transfer to Florida or something.

Charity: Father Figuer moves!

Elise: Or we could go west and start playing some western jams.

hope: What's the story behind the name?

Caroline: We better not mess this up. Somebody came up and said “It’s because you hate your dads right?” We really like our dads and that's basically what it boils down to.

Erin: It’s the respect for a fatherly role. I think each of us has our own take on it in terms of what it means to us.

Caroline: It kind of pertains to our sound. I’ve found that there’s a very universal certain sort of sad that dads are — it's like holding back tears and that's just what our music feels like sometimes. It’s “Dad Sad.”

Erin: And in terms of father figures in general, they don’t necessarily have to be a dad or even a man at all. People use gods as father figures too. It’s like that one voice you listen to for guidance.

hope: And who do you consider as influences?

Charity: Oh, Bob Marley for sure. He’s our number 1.

Erin: For myself, Mogwai. I love getting comparisons to Mogwai. It’s such a high compliment.

Caroline: We also really like Mothers. They just released an awesome album.

Charity: Horse Jumper of Love. They’re a big inspiration.

Caroline: Duster is another one . They’re a slowcore band from the 90s. We really like them as well. Everybody has similar taste but we’re all over the place. I like listening to Jazz and I listen to a lot of classical too. You can get inspiration from anything. The stuff I'm writing now is kind of like classically oriented. I think we're going to throw strings into some of our stuff which is very fitting.

Elise: I have a big respect for a lot of the music that we emulate and a lot of stuff that we as a band like but I think my taste in music is not the same as what we play.

Erin: I really like that. It makes me feel like you mean it more.

Elise: I draw inspiration from stuff that’s nothing like our music. You know, I'm listening to The Growlers — like pop music and I think “Alright, I'm gonna like channel some of that emotion and energy into a source.”

hope: Could you describe your sound in terms of genres, feelings, energy, maybe even colors?

All: BLUE

Charity: Blues and purples.

Erin: Some red in there sometimes. If you’re there from start to finish we'd like you to be in for some kind of ride. The rides vary from me song to song. We like to build stuff and then release.

Elise: I was talking to my mom on the phone and she described exactly what you just said. “It felt like you guys were like holding a lot of tension and just as it was about to get too much you resolved it.”

hope: Anything else?

Caroline: We’ve got merch.

Erin: T-shirts and stickers. We got merch, dude. We’ll have them at shows or you can dm us on Facebook or Instagram.

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Father Figuer play Burlington, VT on Friday, November 16th with Peaer and LEAN TEE at The Karma Bird House. Entry to the event is $5 // RSVP to the event here.

- hope all is well


This Article Was Graciously Contributed By:

Ben Demars is a freelance writer based in Vermont with special interest in music, lifestyle, and mid 2000’s reality tv. Read his thoughts on twitter @ive_benjamin