Falling Up Biography
Anyone who’s carefully followed Falling Up’s discography will likely note 2008’s singles collection Discover the Trees Again was simultaneously the end of an era and the start of an incredibly exciting new chapter. Though the Jessy Ribordy-led outfit is certainly proud of projects like 2004’s Crashings, 2005’s Dawn Escapes, 2006’s Exit Lights and 2007’s Captiva, its forthcoming offering Fangs (BEC Recordings) maintains hints of the band’s alternative/electronic rock blend, but raises the artistic steak so to speak on both musical and lyrical planes.
“We’re definitely in a transitional mode right now and I feel like the greatest hits disc wrapped up one half of our careers,” observes Ribordy, whose confident the stylistic shifts will captivate its current fan base, but also widen the audience to more adventurous heights. “We’re really focusing a lot on every angle of the group- from the studio to reinventing the live show. Back when we first started, we were going crazy the whole time and doing back flips, but the last couple years, we’ve been very jam-oriented, spending six or seven minutes messing around like Pink Floyd.”
Taking cues from those very progressive rock heroes, along with current masterminds like The Mars Volta, Fangs dives head first in a conceptual direction where each and every instrument, lyric and line of vocal delivery revolves around an intriguing world of fiction and fantasy. While previous Falling Up projects have traced more personal sides of Ribordy’s songwriting, this collection was inspired from his other life as a screen play writer, particularly the yet to be released script “Neptuenne’s Cavern.”
“Outside of my time in the band, I do write screen plays and stories of all sorts, but I’ve been wanting to translate them to musical contexts and mold them together,” he unveils. “It’s a fictional story about a guy who is a hero traveling this land on another planet as an ambassador. He’s like an observer, or the story’s narrator so to speak, and we get to see the world in front of him through his eyes across the whole road trip. But it’s not so much him talking about what he saw at point ‘a’ or ‘b,’ but all that he witnesses as he travels across this strange planet.”
Without giving too much away, this highly accomplished body of work is perfect for fans of the fantasy storytelling style (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars), while maintaining an accessible streak for those meeting the specialized art form for the first time. Both the already dedicated and novices alike can also dive into extensive linear notes tracing everything from character development to a legend of the highly detailed artwork to the title itself.
“The inspiration for the name ‘Fangs’ came from the narrator’s opening words ‘”from one small and seemingly insignificant action, comes a vast and infinite world of reaction,’” relates Ribordy. “In other words, Fangs sums up a very reactive type of scenario. We often think of Fangs relating to snakes or poison, which represent the idea of biting and damage. It’s a very reaction-based record where something is always happening. Whether it be good or bad, it’s always significant.”
Of course, these vivid metaphors also draw poetic parallels to spirituality, not in the more overt ways of earlier albums, but still unquestionably anchored in faith. Ribordy is quick to point out that introspection and expressiveness doesn’t just have to come from a three minute pop song, but can perhaps be even more productive in increasingly epic formats.
“For me, imagination is revealing parts of my mind that I didn’t even know existed, which is certainly part of God’s overall creation,” he clarifies. “Sure, mythology has generally been controlled from a secular standpoint because of vast interpretations, but I realized now more than ever that when you use your imagination, you can find God even more than if you’re just painting by the numbers as a songwriter. My journey into this world of fiction is very spiritual, and while there’s not much symbolism in my own life, you can still see how these ideas in general affect my life and other people’s lives.”
As for the musical component of Fangs, expect a fairly organic album filled with lots of personally programmed synths and ambient guitars. Whereas Captiva was very loop aligned and distortion driven, the new tunes are more organic but even more “in your face,” according to Ribordy. There’s also elevated musicality on all levels thanks to multi-instrumentalist/producer Casey Crescenzo (who the front man previously worked with in the bluegrass side project The River Empires).
“Casey is the first person I’ve ever been able to write alone with and the ideas really came together magically,” he continues. “The fact were are also friends outside of the studio had a really positive effect on the record to the point where nothing seemed forced or uncomfortable. Every sound on this album is very custom made, which means we’re going to have a lot of work cut out for us when replicating it live. In fact, you’re going to see us sweating a lot still, but it’s going to be from moving so fast to play all our parts, not from jumping around!”
Given its natural tendency towards abstract comparisons to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or The Mars Volta’s The Bedlam in Goliath, Fangs also has considerable general market appeal that falls well outside the lines of clichéd Christian music. In fact, Falling Up hopes to raise the bar for the faith-based community, both in excellent artistic execution and mainstream perception.
“We’ve always felt like outcasts in the general market and a lot of that has to do with the direct marketing of our music in the past to Christian radio, which makes Falling Up seem somewhat secluded,” observes Ribordy. “But Fangs allows people to have a little more freedom with the band where they will hopefully really like the record because of the music or concept and not get caught up in a stereotype of what they think it will mean before they even hear it. We’re also hoping to challenge the Christian side of the industry to see that something fictional can still be spiritually inspired and effective at connecting with people.”