Shaun Lopez first established himself in the early 90s as the lead guitarist for the mighty influential underground legends Far. Since the Sacramento bands breakup in 1999, Mr. Lopez has kept himself busy as the frontman/guitarist for The Revolution Smile, as well as producing albums for Deftones, Will Haven, Giant Drag, and many other bands. 2009 brought the official return of Far, and few are more excited than ExplodingInSound.com. I had the chance to speak with Shaun about Far's new record At Night We Live (due out early next year on Vagrant Records), the pressures of reuniting, producing for the Deftones, and much more...
EIS: How are ya? How was the East Coast tour? After all these years, what brought Far back together?
SL: I'm feeling great. The East Coast tour was great. A bit surreal, the people at the shows were really into it. Far getting back together? Time I suppose, but maybe more than that, it was simply the music. I think we all realized that what we do together is pretty special.. Chemistry isn't an easy thing to find.
EIS: Now that the short tour has ended, what’s next for the band? Can we expect a national/international tour with the album?
SL: We finished the record and we can't wait for people to hear it. I think as a band, we have never been more proud of anything we have ever made together... Touring will happen, we are throwing around some ideas right now.
EIS: Lots of people are highly anticipating the new album “At Night We Live,” dedicated to Chi Cheng. What can you tell us about the album and what to expect?
SL: I feel like it still sounds like Far yet we went much further in every direction. When it's heavy, it's heavier. When it's ambient, it's more ambient. When it's pop, it's more pop... And so on... I honestly believe we have made the anti-reunion record, because let's face it, most bands reunite and make a shit record, right?
EIS: Can we expect any future releases from Revolution Smile? Is there unreleased material since Summer Ever lying about?
SL: No plans for Rev Smile, but we are all still great friends.. I have a couple new projects that I'm working on that I'm very excited about. More on that later...
EIS: Seems like you had a great time in the studio working on “Summer Ever,” with the final product sounding immense. Did you enjoy working on that album? How does recording for Revolution Smile/Far differ.
SL: That was a weird time for me... I had just started to build my studio and there wasn't a time limit on finishing the record. I did enjoy it for sure, and I'm still very proud of Summer Ever. With Far, we had a time limit, which I think pushed me even further to make it great, without over-thinking it..
EIS: Ever consider doing double duty and touring the two bands together?
SL: That might be a bit weird and maybe a bit tiresome.. :)
EIS: Will you be singing at all on the new Far record?
SL: I sang some background vocals on one song, but I don't think Jonah knows.. Or wait... Did I just say that out loud?
EIS: You came in to produce Chino’s vocals on “Saturday Night Wrist” and really did a terrific job. Did your friendship make it an easy work environment after several producer changes?
SL: Yes and no.. I think the friendship got him into the studio with me, but obviously going up against the corporate monster known as Warner Bros, I had to prove myself as a producer. I'm a fan of Deftones, but in no way was I ever afraid to give my opinion on the songs... I'm still very proud of that record.
EIS: Have you been able to keep in touch with the Deftones and Chi’s family? It’s incredible to hear he’s showing improvements. Any further news about his progress?
SL: I stay up on www.oneloveforchi.com pretty often. I know he is showing improvements which gives us all hope. The whole situation still seems very unreal to me. I miss him for sure, I hope for the day that we'll be hanging out talking about all the support and cool stuff that has been going on for him...
EIS: How did "Pony" [a cover of Ginuwine's hit single] come about? Were/Are you surprised by its success?
SL: "Pony" was done on a whim as an inside joke. We had been planning to play a couple secret shows before the first official Far reunion shows and we were doing them under the fake name "Hot Little Pony". We made a fake myspace page for "Hot Little Pony" for a laugh. Of course you can't have a myspace page without a song, so we thought it would be funny to cover Pony, but do it as "Helmet" covering Pony. Jonah and I were always fans of the original version. In fact, on our last tour in '98 Pony was on our mix CD that would play before we went on stage.. Of course we all were surprised by it's success. We never really thought anybody would hear it, let alone that it would be played on the radio... It was a pretty cool surprise.
EIS: With such an enormous cult like fan base, do you feel any pressure on your first new album in over a decade?
SL: In the beginning, yes.. Now that it's finished, not at all. I think this record is the record I have always wanted to make. The record that I felt Far should have always made.
EIS: Water and Solutions has been an all time favorite of mine since its release. What caused the band to split when it seemed things were taking off?
SL: Egos, solo projects, immaturity, and touring in a van for 5 years.
EIS: How does it feel to be playing together again? Have any new favorite songs to play?
SL: We haven't played any of the new songs live yet... Weird, right?
EIS: Your production style has always been known for its sonic qualities, what are your favorite effect pedals/filters?
SL: I like the pedals that have the knobs and the buttons on them... They sound so good.
EIS: How informative! [laughs] Revolution Smile released a great cover of the Smashing Pumpkins “Crush” and there were rumors of a Failure tribute submission being made. Did that song ever get recorded?
SL: It did, but never got finished... I started it, but then I got thrown into Deftones Saturday Night Wrist land and didn't have a minute to spare... Maybe someday, I'll finish that one...
EIS: I caught the Far show in Boston a few weeks ago, and was blown away with the band’s energy. The songs all sound timeless and the energy is high. Do you think the time off has made the band stronger (either as a band/musicians)?
SL: That was a fun show for sure.. We are so much more mature as people, which I think translates in our playing now.
EIS: With a Deftones and Far album scheduled for early 2010, any talks of touring plans?
SL: There have been many discussions about that. We finished our records both in the same week and had a impromptu listening party at my studio afterward. It was a surreal /amazing night...