F.O.C. is an alternative/rock band from San Antonio, Texas. Nick Evans (vocals), Christopher Pate (guitars), Scott MacWilliams (drums) and Chris Kosiorek (bass, keyboards), developed the songs of songwriters Evans and Pate for the band’s first album. The self-titled debut was recorded at Keith Harter Studios (San Antonio) and independently released in 2013. f.o.c.’s second album was produced by David Percefull and recorded at YellowDog Studios in Austin, Texas in June 2014. The album, entitled “Color Blind,” will be released in early 2015. We asked them about their start, and their plans and ideas for their upcoming album in the interview below – exclusively here on Entertwine.net!
Could you tell us a bit about each of the band’s members and how you all met and began creating and performing together?
Nick: About six years ago I was playing in a small band in Colorado, looking to stretch out a little and form or join a really good cover band after moving to San Antonio in 2009. So I began communicating with a keyboard player on craigslist, who put together basically a large audition with about 10 to 12 people. The auditioning members got together and Chris P. joined late (naturally) and came in on the middle of us all playing a song–I was impressed with the unique guitar style and the two kicked it off from there.
Nick: Chris and I stayed in touch over the next couple of weeks; Chris indicated that he knew a drummer and asked if I would like to get together and jam. That drummer was Scotty (Scott MacWilliams). Related, Chris P. and Scott also played with a now defunct cover band before Scott, Chris P, and myself finally got together. There were a couple of iterations of the band over the next couple of years and it seems we went through a bass player every other month. We were starting to get a little frustrated about that but as luck would have it Chris P. was playing in another cover band (Oldies) and the bass player in that band was open to coming and playing with us and that ended up being Chris K. Chris P. and Chris K. have worked together musically for almost 8 years.
Nick: We got Chris K. up to speed with about 45 to 50 songs and did that for a little while. But then the doctor (Chris P.) suggested that maybe we should start doing originals and gave me a CD of some of his stuff. I had to be honest with him and tell him that I didn’t really like it and didn’t think they were very good songs maybe because they were just to bluesy and I’m not into that. To his credit he didn’t get all pouty and I also admitted that what the hell do I know I couldn’t write a song if I had to! Well that little fluky exchange between the two of us must’ve started something because shortly thereafter we went to his house and literally just sat down with one other and said let’s try to write a song! The good news? We did actually write a song. The bad news? It was awful. We’ve never recorded it but I actually still have a version of it. Regardless, the process became a little easier each time and Chris’s songwriting skills began to grow exponentially. The two of us have actually settled on a process that works really well and we’re going to continue to utilize that creative process until it simply doesn’t work anymore. Hopefully that never happens!
Scott: I was born and raised in Ohio, lived in Southern California for 21 years and then moved to San Antonio 8 years ago. I’ve played in several cover bands and in one original band back in the day that I thought was going to make it (Perfect Stranger)!
Chris P: About me…played since my teen days…started out playing bass back and singing in Montgomery, Alabama and never quit having a stringed instrument attached to me. Moved to guitar as an older teen, do a little keys. Played overseas in Korea and Japan (downtown Tokyo was awesome) and have done the power trio thing with John Passarelli (Icarus Witch).
Chris K: Former military; bassist and keyboardist. Have played form metal to oldies to what I’m doing now w f.o.c. and have also written some tunes and bring music mastering/production to the band’s capabilities.
Chris P: In addition to being a killer bassist, I will also add that Chris K brings a huge sense of musical production to our sound–live he’s a multi-tasking genius, playing keyboards, bass, key pedals, and singing all at the same time. He’s got a great ear for sound.
ET: What is the significance of the band’s moniker?
Nick: The band name and logo is derived from the fact that when we finally had a solid lineup for the original cover band that group featured three math teachers who all taught math at some level. At that time we still didn’t have a name and I can’t quite remember how it came up but I think we were talking about different types of math equations etc. and then somebody said the phrase first order condition. I remember latching onto that thinking that’s not too bad. So we went with that band name for quite a while until we realized that it was quite a mouthful. Ultimately we ended up just shortening it to FOC. The font that we’re using now is actually something of a math font but we’re getting away from the math references now because with the exception of the doctor (Chris P) the rest of us in the band are math morons!
Chris P: Yes..and f.o.c.’s meaning today is tied directly to the math ideas behind what it stands for (first order condition)–the f.o.c. is the optimal point of a curve (necessary condition)…no matter what you’ve been through, one should always do the best to reach and live your goals. Find your point of optimality and live it. Kind of like we love doing through our music.
ET: What can you tell us about the music scene of San Antonio, Texas? What is it like living in San Antonio? What was it like working on your self-titled debut album in San Antonio at Keith Harter Studios?
Scott: The music scene is here is as diverse as the people living here. There is a thriving Tejano scene, metal is very big here and of course, country is huge. You can go out on any given night and find pretty much any music style you happen to be into, from classic rock, jazz, acoustic or the genres I mentioned earlier. There is also a vibrant original music scene, which we are trying to break into, with a lot of venues that cater to original music.
Living in San Antonio, for me personally, is great. I have to say this is the best place I’ve been. All the different culture, the food, the job opportunities, the people are friendly – I love it here!
We had a great experience recording at Harter’s. It was our first time in the studio as a band, we were doing the first songs we ever wrote. We learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. We shopped around before we settled on Harter’s. The staff there was great to us and Keith Harter gave us some great suggestions on some parts to add here and there. When it was time to do the next album we decided to go to Austin and stay there while we did it, which made a difference, I think. We all stayed together from start to finish which was great. There were no distractions, no worrying about going back and forth to home, no jobs, no family, just the band and the task at hand. We wanted to make a better record, we knew what we wanted and the sound we were looking for. We had pre-production rehearsals with the producer so when we went in we were focused and ready and we knocked it out with no trouble. Everyone knew there parts and we nailed it.
Chris P: Keith is an excellent musician and his studio is state of the art. We had a blast there and only wish we could’ve lived there for a week straight.
ET: What life experiences and events led to the writing and recording of your upcoming album “Color Blind”? What was it like recording this record in Austin, Texas at YellowDog Studios?
Chris P: I think all of us have been through the normal things that people go through–lots of things that suck (divorce, death of friends, relationship stuff, estrangement) and lots of things that are awesome (friendship, loving families/spouses, shared passion for music). Chris K and I are both military veterans. Think that the underlying theme for color blind has been related to relationship strains, losses, loves and even hope. The song “color blind” is complete and finished, yet does not appear on this album. We anticipate that we’ll see that one on our next release. Kind of getting at how people view the world–not in a strictly medical sense, but in the sense that people have different views of the very same subject, and it certainly applies to relationships as well.
Recording in Austin was so very cool. We lived in the studio for 3 days with our producer (David Percefull). David added those subtle musical elements that we could not imagine…the harmonies, the tones. Interestingly, we used no harmonizing effects (harmonizers) in the studio on any of the vocals. Our producer pushed Nick on the laying down some of the most impressive harmonies on several of the tracks, most notably “love my way.”
ET: Could you tell us a bit about the songs that are featured on this new record?
Nick: Well the first thing I’ll say about the new songs is we’re really proud of them. They came together with a lot less effort then the first record did and yet we think that they’ve allowed us to grow quite a bit as songwriters. When we look back at our very first EP, and it’s important to remember that it really was our first songs that any of us had ever written, the only thing about them is while they’re not that bad songs they’re just very basic. But you know what? That was okay for then and still is. You can’t grow if you don’t at least try and do something to get started. The new songs however have a lot more complexity and really have a distinctive groove and FOC feel. It sounds strange and I’m not sure that everybody else in the band would look at it this way but when I sing the songs off the first record I almost feel like I’m performing them in a cover band; you know, like somebody else actually wrote them. In contrast the new songs are almost like a part of me and I really enjoy performing them. I really hope that we can help this new EP get some legs because I really do believe there’s a few songs on this record that a lot of people will enjoy.
ET: Who are your biggest musical influences collectively as a group? How do the sounds, textures, and styles of these artists/musicians/producers find their way into your original compositions?
Scott M: Our influences are pretty varied, but we all love 70’s and 80’s rock, that’s what we grew up listening to. Chris uses a lot of chords that aren’t normally associated with rock. They are more jazz oriented chords, but played with a rock attitude and tone. I respond immediately to what Chris is playing on guitar. That’s always my first focus when I hear a song for the first time. I follow and play to what the guitar is doing, mainly the rhythm pattern, then I adjust what I play depending on what Nick is doing with the vocals. I’ll change the dynamics or make the beat more sparse so the vocals will be more prominent. Nick loves 70’s pop, so that style really comes across in the songs. By the time we add all our individual parts to the original idea, it sounds different. Ultimately though, it always sounds like us, which I think is rock guitars and drums with pop vocals on top.
Chris P: Agree with Scott…very diverse set of musical interests. Personally I’m all over the place. In fact, what’s on my ipod playlist ranges from Pat Metheny to the Deftones to Jamey Johnson to Annie Lennox. You can definitely hear an 80s/90s influence on our music. With guitar being the lead instrument in the band, I try to keep things interesting and use quirky chord structures that are dissonant enough to be interesting yet not so strange as to take us out of the mainstream alt/rock genre, whatever that means. I particularly love some of the guitar tones/structures used by George Lynch in Dokken/Lynch Mob and try to incorporate those tones into the songs/recording. Also love Nuno’s playing/tones, particularly on the “III Sides” album and in fact used the same type of amp that he used on that album (an early 90s Soldano Super Lead 60).
ET: What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for F.O.C.? Do you have any upcoming performances booked? How do you plan to market “Color Blind” in preparation for its release?
Chris P: We just finished a huge show (3 Oct 14) in support of Brooke Army Medical Center with Gary Sinise and the Lt Dan Band. For the rest of the year, we’ll be gearing up for our CD release event, which we’re projecting for January 2015–in fact, this focus is our priority even if we don’t book another show before our CD release. We’ve got some plans to do some acoustic shows perhaps as ways to extend our reach and reach other people that wouldn’t go to live music venues to hear all original music. We think our music would translate well acoustically–in fact, “color blind” was first played live as an acoustic tune! We’re excited about the future and what the f.o.c. has to bring to the music scene locally and nationally. We’re also looking at extending our support to the military through touring with the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment.