Faults – Beyond Miller Time
“I’m the granddaddy of this band,” laughs Mic Harrison, feeling a bit elderly these days. At 35, Harrison has almost 10 years on the other members of the Faults: bassist Paxton Sellers (a fellow former V-roy), guitarist Robbie Trosper, and drummer Jason Peters.
But Harrison is proof that you can teach an old lumberyard dog new tricks. “I’m starting to listen to music I’d never listened to before, like the Nerves,” he says, recalling Peter Case’s 1970s outfit. “I’m digging way back for the power pop because I never listened to that. [Also] Television and the Jam and things like that. I’m kind of opening my ears to some new stuff.”
The self-titled debut from the Faults leans quite a bit on that new stuff, compared to the music Harrison used to make with the V-roys. Not that there isn’t some common ground: The album-opening “Dishonest Jenny”, with more hooks than a Peter Pan casting call, belongs right up there on the trophy shelf alongside the ace poppers Harrison penned for the V-roys’ albums, such as “Miss Operator”, “No Regrets” and “Amy 88”. (In fact, “Dishonest Jenny” made it to the set list during the band’s final days.) “Whispering Goodbye” brings the V-roys undercurrent of twang all the way to the surface; the acoustic “Pencils And Paper” skips that suit-and-tie era and looks way back to Harrison’s solo recording, Don’t Bail.
The rest of the album, however, can be labeled pop/rock, although that rather generic tag doesn’t do justice to Harrison’s catchy tunes or to the band’s adept delivery of them. Serving as the prototype Faults song is “Lonely Place”, with a Stonesy intro paving the way for crunchy verses and a harmony-filled chorus. “Let The Angel Lie”, “Lazy Eyes” and “The Queen Has Spoken” and others are variations on that theme. Closing things out is “Poison Land”, an old-fashioned strum-rock singalong that finds the burly-voiced Harrison in top form.
When the V-roys called it quits a year and a half ago, “it was kind of like, ‘What the hell am I going to do now?'” Harrison recalls. He, Sellers, and V-roys drummer Jeff Bills played out a bit in Knoxville at first, and Harrison and Bills formed Lynn Point Records, envisioning it as an unapologetically homegrown label with the mission of resurrecting some cassette-only, late ’80s/early ’90s Knoxville releases from Taoist Cowboys and the Swamis alongside new efforts. (Bills played drums on the Faults album but has since left to dedicate all his time to the label, passing the sticks to Peters.)
With several songs in Harrison’s pocket that he had planned to bring to the V-roys and a new recruit in Trosper, the Faults hit the studio not long after their inception. “I thought, ‘Well hell, let’s just put ’em all down,” Harrison says. “It won’t be like we’ll sit here and make a full-length record where everything fits. I’m not worried about that. Let’s just get all the songs down here that work.”
The album, which came out on Lynn Point in April, offers an early snapshot of a band that’s continuing to evolve. “Robbie’s a writer too, so we’re kind of getting a whole different kind of groove going on here,” Harrison says. “You know, the roots-rock guy, me. And the punk rock guy, Robbie. We come up with some strange stuff now.”
As the conversation winds down, Harrison speaks highly of another outfit he’s been listening to a lot lately, Guided By Voices. “They did it all themselves. They started from the bottom, from scratch. I just like the way they did it,” says Harrison, then adding, in reference to GBV leader Robert Pollard: “And you know he’s an old guy.”