It is with great honor and unyielding admiration that I announce the latest interview in the ExplodingInSound.com series comes from none other than Ken Andrews. The legendary singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer/mixer of solo work, Failure, Year of the Rabbit, and more was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding his legacy, collaborating with others, upcoming projects, and family life. As one of the most influential rock musicians of the past decade, he continues to imprint his place in music with seemingly endless production and mixing work, providing inspiration for a new generation of bands, and his highly anticipated Digital Noise Academy.
EIS: Haven’t heard much from you recently, how’s everything going? What have you been up to?
KA: Lots. I co-composed the score for a film called "Shrink" with my friend Brian Reitzell. It just came out last week. I mixed an album for Epitaph, a band called Settle. Scored a few TV ads, and I'm currently producing my wife's [Charlotte Martin] 3rd full-length.
EIS: You and Charlotte welcomed a baby boy into your family last year. Congratulations, how’s that been? Enjoying being a father?
KA: Loving Fatherhood. We are already talking about a second. Knew I'd love it, but didn't know how much.
EIS: Failure has proven to be one of the most influential bands on the early 90’s. Acclaim and success has skyrocketed since the band dissolved, why do you think that is?
KA: When Failure came out, the whole grunge thing had just completely taken over pop music. We weren't grunge, but somehow everything was seen through the grunge prism, and if you didn't quite fit exactly in there, it could be a problem, at least I think it was for us. Because of this I think that it took awhile for the album to get noticed by word-of-mouth. So long, in fact, that we had already broken up! But hey, better late than never. Maybe the fact that we were broken up, added to the mystery, and maybe the appeal.
EIS: The Failure Tribute album “The Nurse Who Loved Me” was released last year through Pop-Up Records with your blessing. Have you listened to the album? Thoughts on the bands/covers?
KA: Totally flattered by this. When Greg and I were working on Failure, I don't think we had any idea that we'd become known as this under appreciated, underground band.
EIS: There are lots of bands continuing on with the sound you and Greg developed. Do you have any advice/suggestions for them?
KA: No advice really. Every band has their own story to live. I'm very happy that people have been inspired by our work.
EIS: What’s the status with the Digital Noise Academy album? Have you involved any more musicians?
KA: DNA is still percolating along. Just trying to get it into a releasable form right now.
EIS: With so many people influenced by your music and production style, who inspires you? What are you currently listening to?
KA: I'm listening to mostly orchestral stuff right now. Henryk Gorecki, Arvo Part.
EIS: You recently worked with some of the biggest names in rock, mixing for Beck and Nine Inch Nails. What was that like?
KA: It was like getting to work with two of my all time favorite artists. Fricking amazing. Two totally different styles and personalities, but both so into what they're doing. Lots of attention to detail.
EIS: Do you stay in touch with Greg Edwards? I’m sure you’re constantly asked but, ever considered a Failure reunion?
KA: I do stay in touch with Greg. We both have kids about the same age, so that's nice. No reunion tour yet, but I am currently speaking to Warner bros. about possibly releasing Fantastic Planet on vinyl.
EIS: How do you feel about the decline of physical retail and the rise of the digital age?
KA: It's a mixed bag for me. I'm very techie, so I love having music on my iPhone, but I also miss the physicality of vinyl. Then of course there is the problem of actually being able to make a living from recordings anymore. That's a very tangible bummer for someone like me, who's not that into touring all the time.
EIS: Ever consider going back and doing second albums for The Replicants or Year of the Rabbit?
KA: Yeah, all the time, but its hard to get it off the ground with everyone's schedules, especially mine.
EIS: You worked on your solo album with several other “one man bands” like Matt Mahaffey and Jordon Zadorozny. What was it like working with them?
KA: Awesome... Mahaffey was interesting because he was utilized more as a session guitarist than his normal multiple instrument thing.
Jordon, produced and actually co-wrote a few tracks with me.
Both of them are very good at thinking on their feet, which was important for that album.
EIS: The ON records were both terrific, do you regret releasing the project under such a non-user friendly name?
KA: Yes, completely. But the whole web as promotion thing wasn't in full swing yet, so it was hard to tell it was going to be a problem.
EIS: You've worked with so many of the greatest musicians of our generation. Who would you still like the work with that you haven't previously? Ever consider working with Matt Talbott?
KA: Talbott for sure, that could be really interesting. Corgan would be interesting as well. Jimmy Tamborello would be incredible, Band of Horses, the list is quite endless really.
EIS: As I’m sure you’re aware, your fan-base can be obsessive to say the least. Do you like having such attention and adoration?
KA: Look, there really is only one reason to allow your music to be exposed beyond your immediate friends, and that's to have it heard and enjoyed (hopefully intensely) by as many people possible. Failure never made it to wide exposure, but the intensity of our fans has led us to feel very appreciated nonetheless. Artistically its very rewarding to have more than a few musicians tell you they love your band, and listen to your albums for inspiration. On some level that's perhaps more intense than having more people casually like your music. However, I won't lie, I would have loved it if Failure would have been more $ucessful.
EIS: Finally the big question everyone wants to know, when can fans expect to hear new music from you?
KA: I wish I could answer that question, but I honestly don't know.
EIS: Ken, you a true inspiration to countless bands and myself as well. I can’t thank you enough for doing this interview, and I appreciate your time. You will always have the support of ExplodingInSound.com for all your projects. It's been a pleasure.
KA: Thanks so much Dan.