While Facing New York cut their teeth slumming it in all-age dives and playing the smallest of Warped Tour stages, the band hasn't really come into their own until recently. Their formative years were spent living in the dim shadow cast by a pair of At the Drive-In (and the Mars Volta) afros, in addition to the band making offerings at the altar of prog lords, King Crimson. Of course, art-punk and prog have always meshed well enough to coexist, but Facing New York's take on things always seemed to fall on deaf ears. Too smart for the suburban Warped masses, but too devoted to punk's dissonance to draw attention from indie snobs and prog enthusiasts.
But to ignore Facing New York is to have never seen the band live. Much like the earliest days of At the Drive-In (long before they traded the barren dirt farms of El Paso for kicking it backstage with the Beastie Boys in LA), Facing New York is a live wire on the stage, a completely unpredictable group of performers who will gladly physically punish themselves on a nightly basis. When you consider the sheer amount of thrashing and jittery "dancing" the band does in any given song, it's amazing that a stage can actually contain the four (previously five) musicians. "We all get the occasional case of rock neck," explains singer Eric Frederic. But he's not done. "Matt [Fazzi] speared Brandon [Canchola] in the spine with his guitar once. Brandon was pissed. Omar [Cuellar] fought his drum kit one time. He lost."
The (somewhat) organized chaos of their live show also clashes with the usual discipline, and technical chops, required to dabble in the most complex of rock worlds, prog. While that tag might help the band at times, it also hurts them when you consider that the genre isn't known for ushering in new fans. "Prog is a multi-headed serpentine beast. Okay, it was kind of proggy just saying that," jokes Frederic. "It does good and bad things to attach it to your band. I don't really feel like we are prog rock, so it doesn't really make much sense to me. Dream Theater, Yes, Crimson, Genesis—those are serious prog groups. The stuff we do is Fine Young Cannibals compared to those dudes." In the meantime, the band is working on a new record that will be released later this year, if not in 2008, and showcasing their live skills for all to see.
Facing New York performs at Satyricon on Monday, June 18.