WIDR FM has been given the opportunity to get to know Longface, the Chicago group that will be headlining for our this year's Battle Ground: Shake's
Noteworthy for creating an unhinged musical satire around its namesake character, Chicago’s Longface employs clever guitars and elegant vocals to form a unique blend of twang, discord, and pop. An absurd universe of characters draws heavily on the curious imaginings of Kentucky-born artist and songwriter, Anthony Focareto (vocals, guitar). Focareto is a veteran of Chicago DIY, having led acts including New Diet and Regular Fucked Up People. He has stomped around the city’s haunts for more than a decade, living the nomadic plebeian lifestyle parodied in his newest creation. After years of more straightforward rock projects, Longface is a decidedly more experimental pursuit that freely associates Focareto’s country-inspired folk leanings with his penchant for grimy urban noise. He is supported by a group of inspired musicians including Glenn Curran on guitar (Man Without a Head, co-founder of Sooper Records), Dillon Kelley on bass (Coaster, New Diet), and Kain Marzalado on drums (House of Normandie).
Focareto broadcasts the ills of modern society through the Longface character in an attempt to divine his freedom from them. The end result is equal parts confession and satire; a world where beer-drinking bumpkins, urban hipsters, and starving artists melt unevenly into a monstrous sideshow of rock n’ roll Americana. In heavier moments, Longface confronts social isolation, substance abuse, and economic stagnation. In lighter moments, he radiates a folksy playfulness and embraces the role of whimsical storyteller. He is haunted by demons, yearning for a return to grace, and trying to catch a break.
The debut EP (“The Life and Death of Longface,” 2015) told the story of Longface’s adult years, and his sojourns between country and city. On its follow-up full length, “Hillbilly Wit” (Sooper Records, 2017), the band trades narrative for theme. They concentrate on embodying the sound of Longface more than they do articulating any specific tale. “Hillbilly Wit” is a musical tapestry where infectious vocals, noise rock, and dark comedy materialize into an album made for the jukebox of a cosmic roadhouse. It is, however, not completely devoid of an organizing principle. The final track, “Hornswoggled,” contains a reveal: the album is a compilation of lost songs recorded by a now-missing Longface, found by his Pa-Paw and Uncle Jackie. The individual tracks are therefore experienced as a series of musical vignettes shedding light onto the contours of a greater Longface saga. Titles like “Candy Store Robbers,” “Deep Fried American Dreams,” and “Howdy” are emblematic of the album’s thematic nature.
A medley of visual content accompanies the roll out of “Hillbilly Wit.” The band undertook a lengthy collaboration with artists, photographers, and filmmakers to illustrate its vision for the first time. Artist Jennifer Cronin painted iconic album covers. Photographer Natalie Escobedo captured otherworldly images. Visual artists Ryan Gregory, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and Mark Skala each made music videos to capture the universe on screen.
Can you tell me a little bit about the band and its background? How did you get into music?
We have all been playing music for many years because music was something we liked to listen to. Sometimes when you try and make it yourself you fall in love with it as a mode of creative self-expression, and as a conduit to an actually existing community of like minded people.
How did you meet?
We all met playing in other bands around the city of Chicago for the last decade.
Where are you from?
Longface is from Chicago.
Have you always had the same sound – how has it changed?
We try to mix noise with pop and twang, and do it in a way that can be both heavy and soulful. Our latest album "Hillbilly Wit" is a much more cogent expression of that sound than our first EP ("The Life and Death of Longface"). Our sound progressed between records when we made more fleshed out songs wierder, as opposed to writing progressive musical movements and placing vocals on top. Before all of that we all played in other types of rock bands with varying sounds.
Who inspires you?
Community, art, love, and the potential goodness of humanity; other musicians and artists and people who pursue life with passion and/or spend their time taking care of the people around them.
How long have you been together?
What is each band members role in the group?
Anthony Focareto - Vocals, Guitar
Dillon Kelley - Bass, Back Up Vocals
Kain Marzalado - Drums
Glenn Curran - Guitar
Do you have any fun facts you’d like to share about Longface?
Longface is a loosely conceptual project, driven by a fictional character named Longface and the colorful universe he lives in. The whole thing is part biography, part social satire. Dark comedic muck-raking rock n' roll Americana.
Do you guys have any upcoming projects or anything special you would like to share?
We would really like for people to check out the video for Crescent Moon, a big production that we spent a lot of time on in order to try and capture the Longface universe visually. The video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2PMIh-UirQ
How did the band get its name?
Dillon said it one time at practice. I think it was one of those "cool possible band names" that band people sometimes keep in their back pocket (sometimes for years).
Where can we listen to/download your music?
You can listen to our music on all streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, etc.) as well as on Bandcamp, Sound Cloud, and the website of our record label, Sooper Records. Just look for Longface and/or "Hillbilly Wit" and you'll find it.
Who is your favorite Scooby Doo character?
Longface will be headlining at Shakespeare's Lower Level with Atsuko Chiba and WIDR's Battle of the Band winner and fan favorite on March 23nd.