Interview: Chris Farren

Chris Farren

Earlier this month, Chris Farren released his latest full length album Doom Singer. The propulsive power-pop record features Farren’s biggest yet most vulnerable songs ever, as he tackles nagging self-doubts and shortcomings all while the world continually falls apart around us. The addition of Macseal drummer Frankie Impastato and the production from Jay Som’s Melina Duterte, Farren was able to take his soaring choruses and musical idiosyncrasies to new levels, resulting in one of 2023’s best records. Below Chris and I discuss our favorite songs on the record, the making of Doom Singer, the creative process behind his music videos, and Buddy.

I told you, I was going to tell you my favorite Buddy moment.

Oh, yeah.

It’s definitely in the middle after he’s already been exploded once. I didn’t realize dynamite could be exploded a second time, but-

I didn’t either. But, that’s based on reality.

Yeah. I figured there was some science behind that. But I love that he is dancing with you, until you betray him again, and that’s a great moment.

Yeah. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

And then, I had to pause it to read the disclaimer. At the end it says ‘An Angel.’ So naturally, I assumed you were talking about yourself.


And then, it was Buddy, but then I still thought it was you at the end anyways.

Sure. It could be both. Yeah. It’s open to interpretation.

It is. So yeah, Doom Singer. I’ve been listening to it for a couple of weeks now. I definitely think it’s your best record by far.

Thank you. Thanks so much.

The choruses are awesome on it. There are a lot of really cool guitar moments on this record. I feel like there’s some more riffing on it than before. How soon after you wrote “Cosmic Leash” did you realize that was going to be the first single?

I fought against it being the first single. I’m happy that it’s the first single now, but I was worried because it’s long, which is, you worry about getting on the radio or whatever. I don’t even know why I would ever be worried about that, but whatever. It crossed my mind and that it’s… You’ve heard the whole record now. To me, it’s certainly the heaviest song on the record.

Yeah, absolutely.

So, I didn’t want to put a foot forward that was like, “Oh, but the record’s not really like this,” but the record is like that. It’s the most intense version. I’m happy now that we did it, but I certainly had to be convinced that it was a good idea.

Yeah, I heard that song before I heard the whole record, and I realized it was track 9, the second to last song. Because I’ve listened to your music for a while, I didn’t really think the whole record was going to sound that noisy or abrasive. My first thought was, “Oh, I bet this album is building up to this moment.” I believe that’s correct. It feels like it’s building up.

You nailed it.


It might be your best song. I really love it. The video is so cool too.

Thank you.

I always wonder, every time I see a Chris Farren video, do you stress yourself out trying to think of a new concept that’s going to outdo the last video?

Yeah, of course I do. Well, you can’t think of outdoing yourself, but I at least think, I have to make something that is worth watching. There is so much stuff all the time. All I want is to make something that only I could make. There are bands that do this and can do it well, but a video of just me performing the song, it’s useless to me. I feel like I can’t in good conscience be, “Hey, take six minutes out of your day and watch me playing this song.” So, it has to have something more attached to it than just me and my song. I feel like it’s important to supplement the stuff with more ideas or a new angle on the song or something, to make it worth people’s time.

Yeah, absolutely. I love the difference between the “Cosmic Leash” video and the “Bluish” video. So I always appreciate that the concept is always different and you approach it creatively in a unique way every time, too. I love the juxtaposition of the visual and the content of the song.

Yeah. I’ve always been that way where the most basic version of it is that… This record veers away from it. But in the past, my music has been super, almost show-tunesy, really poppy. The lyrics are so brutal to me, very depressive stuff going on. That has always been interesting to me, because the juxtaposition is interesting to me.

You’re an internet guy. You’ve seen the meme with the guy on the bus with the happy face and the sad face. That’s exactly… That’s Chris Farren music.

(Laughs) Yeah.

The song that on the record that really best emphasizes that to me is the title track. It lives up to the title, I guess. But I love the idea of, no matter what you say or do or what you have, we’re all spiraling down to the same fate. That’s the general idea of not just that song, but perhaps the theme of the record.

Yeah. That is where that comes from. Obviously, we all have good days. We all have bad days. We all, at some point in our lives realize that we’ll die. We all in our own ways come to terms with that at some point. I’m sure I will have many more periods of my life where I go through different versions of it. But for me right now where I’m at is like, “Man, I got to stop thinking about this and be happy about what I have and try to have a nice time being alive. Because, there’s literally nothing else in it to me.”

No, I totally get that. I’m a dad now, and so have to-

Oh wow, congrats.

Yeah. he’ll be two soon. But it’s like, you have to let go of that fear, that concept of, everything’s bad. I got to focus on this little dude that I got to take care of now, which is totally a terrible assignment to give me. But, I think it should be fine.

I’m sure you’re doing a great job.

Well, thanks. I appreciate that. This is the first record that you haven’t produced, I believe. And you worked with Melina from Jay Som, and how was that experience for you?

It was so awesome. I really loved that she’s so incredible. She’s so talented. She’s so smart. She’s such a good producer. She’s such a good engineer. She’s such a good musician. She’s such a good songwriter, and she’s such a good hang too, which is, for me, the most important thing. To have somebody that I could feel really comfortable with and fail in front of and be able to figure stuff out with. Yeah, I’ve made all my own records myself, and I realized at a certain point… I’ve always known it while it’s happening. It’s always very… Whatever year I make a record is the hardest time of the year is me producing the record or working it. Because you just spend so much time alone, even if I had other people playing on it. All my records have other people on them. But regardless, Born Hot and Death Don’t Wait were both made in this room right here, that is very small. I realized I don’t have any good memories of making these albums. I’m staring at a computer and clicking away, hating the way my voice sounds, hating the way my guitar sounds, total constant negative self talk.

I was like, “I don’t think I can do that again.” Luckily, I’m in a very privileged position where I’m working with Polyvinyl Record, and they have the resources that I don’t have to make an album like that, if I don’t really want to. They were so great and so supportive about getting me together with Melina and getting it worked out in all the ways it has to be worked out. And giving me the opportunity to make a record like Doom Singer and putting me in a place where I could really enjoy making a record. So, I’m very grateful for that.

Yeah, I think it comes through when listening to it too. (Chris takes a drink of water) Oh shit, there’s The Cup.

I didn’t plan this. It’s simply such a great Cup.

But you could definitely feel it, hear and feel that through the record. Definitely has more of a breezy vibe with more focus.

Totally. I should mention as well, I worked out the songs with the drummer who plays on the record with my friend Frankie. She is going to tour with me into the future forever. I made her sign a Scientology-like billion-year contract.

Yeah. I was going to mention next is that the introduction of Frankie (Impastato) drumming on the record. Having that other person to bounce ideas off seems like a huge deal. The drums are so propulsive on, it’s not as many loops or anything like that. It adds such nice layer to it.

Yeah. Totally. I’m very limited in my drumming vocabulary. So, when I’m making beats for Born Hot and stuff, I’m not a drummer. So I’m either taking stuff from loops that already exist or whatever. So, it’s nice to have somebody who really knows what to do on a drum set and is an incredible drummer. Because I knew by the time I was writing Doom Singer that Frankie would be involved, I was writing towards her style, her skillsets, and even the bombasticness of live drums in general. I was a little less afraid of how it would translate live, because I knew we could make it translate live loudly and big. With Born Hot and other records in my mind, I was like, “Okay, well, I’m going to probably be playing these songs live to track, so I want to be able to have the listener of an album come see me, and it’d be a similar experience.”

You’ve always written great choruses, but I think that Frankie’s drumming elevates them to the next level.


It’s really cool to hear. Another song I really is “First Place.” I like the lyrical content of it, of course. Because I’ve been married for a while too, and also feel all those fears you have of not being great.


This is one of the songs where Jeff Rosenstock plays sax on?

Yeah. He plays sax on this and the title track.

I love the vibe of that song. It definitely feels like it has a little bit of Death Don’t Wait influence.

Yeah. I think it was mostly inspired by Thundercat. I was listening to a lot of Thundercat and I was like, “Man, this is so cool. How can I do something even remotely like this?” I think it diverged a lot with the process of writing and producing it. But, that was the initial idea. Trying to make some cool Thundercat type of song.

Yeah, that’s one of my favorites. I like the lyrical content is pretty relevant throughout for me. I know I relate to a lot as a wife guy.

Sure. Yeah. (Laughs)

Doom Singer feels like it contains your most personal and vulnerable lyrics yet. How is it putting that part of your personal life out there for people to consume through music?

The older you get as a songwriter, as a writer in general, I imagine the more humiliating it feels to express yourself. When you’re 20, you’ll say it all and you’re like, “I’m 20.” I’m 37 now, and it’s like, I have to really fight to write about my life. Because you get more and more comfortable in your life, and you are more precious about things and more protective about relationships and stuff. So, I guess the challenge there is to be able to write about it in a thoughtful way so you’re not like, “I’m mad at my girlfriend and I… “ Because the older you get, the less eager you are to burn your life down at all times.

That’s my feeling about it is like, “Sure, okay, I’ll still write about the way I feel and what I am going through.” But I think I try to be a little more thoughtful about it, a little more considerate of everybody’s, not everybody’s, but of people in the song’s point of views, or protective of people. Even if it’s a mean song about somebody. There’s no point in, I don’t know, going that hard on a indie rock song.

I love the concept of the closer “Statue Song.”  Focusing on how an artist values and spends all this time making a statue. It’s years and years of hard work and love and attention to detail. And it’s done, and then that statue decays. I love the lyric, ‘When the earth shakes I sway along with it.” What a cool song.

Thank you. I am so proud of that song. Certainly the most proud as a songwriter, I have felt about a song. Because it feels so personal, but it’s also so abstract, which is the kind of art I am really drawn to, personally. I don’t feel like I’ve ever quite unlocked that in my own work until “Statue Song.”

Yeah. I think it’s such a cool way to finish off a record like Doom Singer, It’s a really nice bookend to it. And then, you have your tour coming up later in the year. All the artists you’re bringing out with it are insanely awesome. It’s really cool. How are you feeling about hitting the road again?

I love touring so much. My total comfort zone is on tour. I just love performing. I love the experience and the lifestyle of touring. It’s like, it’s truly my shit. I’m so excited with Diners and Mo Troper and GUPPY. It’s like, these are all bands I love listening to. So, it’s going to be so cool to be around them all the time.

Yeah. I think Mo is one of the best power pop song writers in the world. It’s insane.

Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

What Doom Singer songs are you excited to play on this tour, or hoping that you’ll get the debut live?

Yeah, we’ll definitely be playing “First Place,” “Bluish,” “Cosmic Leash” and I think “Doom Singer,” the song. I think there are two other – “Get Over U” and then one other one, I think. Maybe that’s it. It’s hard when you start having so many songs in your discography. It’s hard and it’s cool, because you don’t have to play songs that you think suck. You can only play songs that you’re like, “Oh cool.” Now, we have the four best songs from the 8-track record. Something like that. “Get Over U” is really fun to play. I think “First Place” is going to be fun, the way we’re going to do it. “Bluish” is great. “Cosmic Leash” I am scared about, because it’s been such a long time since I’ve had to worry about constantly losing my voice on tour.

Oh, yeah.

That is one that is going to be stretching the limits of my physical capabilities.

Yeah. But, I love that song. I love it vocally too. It’s so cool.

Also I thought you appreciate this – most of these questions formed my head while I was sleeping. I had a dream about interviewing you about this record.

Beautiful. I love it.

I woke up, I was like-

Dream about me.

I was like, “Well, yeah. I’m dreaming about interviewing Chris Farren. And wow, these are actually some decent questions my subconscious is coming up with.” And so-

That’s awesome. That’s when you’re in a good flow creatively.

I was like, “I got to tell Chris that half these questions came from when I was sleeping today.”

I love it.

I guess the last question I’ll ask before we wrap up is, did you ever expect to see a drawing of you on a woven throw blanket?

Honestly, yeah. I pretty much have expected to see a drawing of, or an image of me in some way on almost anything you can think of. So, I was pretty much expecting and onboard with that one when we figured that out.

Absolutely. I love the merch for the record. I love Cup-2-Go. I hope it’s as successful as The Cup. It should be.

Me too.

We’re always on to go.

I agree. Yeah, that’s so true. It’s the world’s first portable cup.