Gunner Sixx and Jordan Spoliansky of FIGS VISION talk about shattering perceptions,opening minds with music
Gunner Sixx and Jordan Spoliansky have known each other for years which has not only built the basis for a close friendship but also laid the groundwork for their new band, Figs Vision. While Gunner does share a surname and a daring approach to music with his dad, this is not Motley Two. However, if you choose to approach this band with an open mind and without preconceived notions you will be handsomely rewarded with some pretty amazing music. Figs Vision doesn’t occupy one particular style and they have a sound that is all their own and they invite you to hear for yourself on their soundcloud channel where you can download three of their songs for free. Their music is catchy as hell and has a tendency to get stuck in your head for days, always a good start for a band. I recently talked with Gunner and Jordan about their beginnings, their friendship and their music, read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: How long have you guys been friends and how long has this been going on?
Gunner Sixx: We started playing music and jamming together when we were about 12 or 13.
Jordan Spoliansky: Gunner and I met in 6th grade and I will never forget that day when we met because it was the beginning of a great friendship and because Gunner was not very nice to me (laughs). But the friendship prevailed. Actually, interesting story, Gunner was the one who taught me how to play guitar. After we became friends our friendship was immediately based on music because he taught me how to play “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” on guitar. That was the first song and from there it just moved forward.
Gunner: I may have taught him guitar when we were younger but to see Jordan flourish from that point has been amazing. He’s really become a huge source of musical inspiration for me. We were talking in another interview about how Jordan had written “New York Home” earlier in his life and when he brought that up to the studio and we re-recorded this version it was just really exciting and cool. It was his song but it was great when he brought it so why wouldn’t we use it and make it a great Figs Vision song, that was my way of thinking.
LRI: That’s a pretty amazing first song. The songs I’ve downloaded from Figs Vision are pretty kickass. Just really, really good melodies and memorable vocals. Who does the majority of the singing?
Gunner: The vocals are Jordan and when we record the tracks it is basically a combination of both of us doing everything
LRI: You are working between styles and genres not just between songs but even within the context of one song, like “New York Home” for instance….Is that how you enjoy creating, will that continue?
Gunner: I’d say so. Not only are we going to work with other genres and create our own sounds like that but also that comes from each of us having our own unique, individual styles. Each song can be completely different based on who’s presenting it and how we interpret it.
Jordan: Gunner has a very dynamic taste in music so we are deriving influences from all kinds of different genres, electronic, soul, Motown, rock, even hip-hop, anything that has integrity and is of a soulful nature we generally like. We have been passing music back and forth to each other since we were kids so we have a very similar taste in things and are always showing each other new stuff.
Gunner: I don’t think that each song will have a completely different feel, I think that as we release more songs it will become clear that there is something about the sound that ties it all together. It will become clearer in the way that our songs are structured and people will start to see them all as Figs Vision songs. I do have a really wide range of influences in music and I do listen to a lot of soul and R&B and funk but my range goes all over the place, including rock. I’ve had periods of time in my life where I just go through phases of music.
LRI: What about your vocal style Jordan?…it is very unique and interesting.
Jordan: My style has just been a result of emulating different singers over the years and learning about my own voice. I’ve developed my own character and I just feel like I channel some energy and whatever it is just comes out that way. I’m really glad you like it.
LRI: I can read a million influences into it and 90% of them may have had nothing to do with your style (laughs)
Jordan: That’s great though, that’s what we want. I’m happy about that.
LRI: These songs have a wide range of emotion involved, everything from pain and catharsis to joy and humor. Did you guys pour a whole lot of those feelings into these tracks?
Jordan: Absolutely. Each song that we’ve made actually sort of comes from this idea that we have about creating. There’s this philosophy that we’ve talked a lot about and that is the idea that there is a joy to being able to feel pain. There is a joy to feel just about anything and a happiness just to being alive. There is a joy to being able to express your feelings and having some way to make this an extension of our feelings. We enjoy that process and I think that shows in our music a lot.
LRI: Your song “Make It” has a sense of fun or giddyness to it that I probably haven’t felt since I was like 9 years old in 1984 playing around outside the pool while listening to some of these “new wave” artists on this new thing my sisters cranked through the windows called “MTV”. It almost has a transporting effect (laughs)
Gunner: That is great! That is great that it takes you to that memory by your swimming pool in the 80s, that’s what our songs are about, they’re about making you feel things or think about things.
LRI: You are working on an EP called “Darling”. Alternative fans might know of Dave Darling from Boxing Ghandis and Motley fans might know him from collaborating on the “58” album. Obviously, these are your songs but since you have been working at the studio with him, how much of Dave’s sound do you think has made it into your tracks?
Jordan: It’s interesting cause it’s actually a combination of both Dave and our bassist and engineer Zackary Darling’s influence. First of all, one of the reasons it’s called “Darling” is just because of the enormous favor they’ve done us just by letting us record there and helping us get everything down and record it all. We go over and record with them and bring some music and listen to them drop these gems of knowledge on us like saying “Why don’t you try this sound, why don’t you try singing like this? or telling us that we should try this tone or that we’re missing a little something here in this one part. They will drop these gems on us and then just walk out and see what happens. Dave is just very awesome about letting us discover how recordings goes. This is both Gunner and my first experience as far as having all these tools and great instruments at our disposal. He’s been hands on but also has really let us explore and discover on our own which is just amazing for our sound and I feel like it was definitely intentional on his part! As for Zachary, he’s become one of our best friends and is an amazing guy who has really made it all possible, that’s why we decided to name the EP after them.
Gunner: They really contributed on helping us with the songs after we brought them to the studio. Like I said, Jordan wrote the song “New York Home” but when we brought it into the studio was when it really developed. That was a part of Zack and me being there, that doesn’t mean that we wrote that song but it explains why Zack is very special to our sound and this whole experience. There is a lot of great energy and love between all of us and we have all become very close as a result of this experience.
LRI: Obviously people know about Gunner’s dad but the musical background in his blood goes back even further to his grandmother Brie who has a phenomenal voice and was in probably one of the first female rock groups to ever sign with a major label, FANNY! How important is music not only in your relationship with each other but also in terms of your families?
Jordan: I can just speak from my experience of being around Gunner and his family. Music is just such a huge part of everyone’s life, everyone’s. I can remember seeing Boxing Ghandis live and just being blown away by Brie and then coming to the studio and wanting her to sing on our stuff. She’s done vocals on “New York Home” and on a number of occasions she’s come in to lay down some vocals because she just has this amazing and powerful voice. Not only that but when she hears our stuff she also gives us feedback like “Well, when I hear this it kind of reminds me of this”, stuff that can only come from someone who has lived a life of music, which is really a gift.
LRI: Working as a band can be pretty interesting but working as a duo can be a completely different dynamic. Have you guys been friends for so long that you are finishing each other’s musical thoughts or finishing each other’s sentences?
Gunner: One of the first two songs we released “Make It”, is kind of a perfect example of that. That was a complete collaboration. It was me coming in with a partial idea and then Jordan coming in with his input and then us developing it together as a complete song. That’s one of the great things about having so much trust with each other and knowing each other so well musically. It makes the end result special and very personal and it works well together in my opinion.
Jordan: On just a friendship level, hanging out and talking about music, yes we do actually finish each other’s sentences sometimes. We know what each other are thinking and kind of have this sense of humor which is unique to us and is just one of the gifts of friendship. It comes from holding on to a friend. It’s my dream to play music but it’s an even better dream to play music with my best friend.
LRI: I like a LOT of bands but I don’t always like a lot of bands’ lyrics. I think it has become something of a lost art, crafting an interesting or poetic thought. Your songs seem to focus a great deal on lyrics though and interesting word combinations, is that fair to say?
Jordan: Yeah…..I umm…I write a lot of poetry and a lot of short stories and stuff like that. I always have and that’s just transferred over to the way I write lyrics. Thank you for that too, that’s a huge compliment that you feel that way about them. Any of the lyrics that I write seem to come out in a very stream-of-consciousness kind of way and it’s really a theraputic process for me.
LRI: The name of the band is kind of clever and ambiguous. Was it important to you to have something that was memorable but still open to interpretation?
Gunner: It’s memorable and it’s personable to us. That was a very hard thing, coming up with a name for our band which is almost odd because it seems like after all these years we would have something but we just didn’t. When that came up it was like we knew that it was it and we were just going to go for it.
LRI: What is the plan going forward for live gigs after the EP is ready?
Jordan: Live shows are on the horizon, we’ve cut off practices right now because we’ve been so focused on recording music. The EP is taking up so much of our time but what we really wanna do is get out there and play live. We feel like the real way to connect with listeners is to be right there with them experiencing the music so to make a long story short, we can’t wait!
LRI: I love the blood red lightbulbs promo photo of you guys. It evokes a lot of visual ideas and so does your music. Have you guys already put thought into what type of presentation you would like to give people visually?
Gunner: We’ve bounced around a couple of ideas. Something I’ve always believed is that when you go see a show or you are watching a music video it is NOT just about the music. It’s not for me anyways. When I go to a show I wanna see a performance and I wanna see something exciting and memorable. I wanna feel the energy and I want to get up and dance with the band. I think that’s something we both agree, that we want our show and our videos to be really exciting.
Jordan: We are brainstorming a lot and we text each other ideas all the time and we’ve talked about different concepts jokingly in the studio like “Wow, wouldn’t that be cool!” kind of just fantasizing about what we might be able to do, what the possibilities are as far as the visuals that could be associated with the music. Both of us are really influenced by Aphex Twin and the visuals that accompany his music are just mind-boggling and has really been a huge influence on us to just go outside the box and have fun with this. Being a musician is like being an actor or a visual artist and a musician all at once because you are performing to people and you are putting visual elements to your music. It all sort of has to have this theme or this flow to it and I think that’s one of the reasons WHY Gunner and I love music and are drawn to music. It’s really all encompassing on all of your creative senses.
LRI: I have one last question for you Jordan. Here in Rockford, Illinois Cheap Trick is a big deal and Rick Nielsen’s son Miles has always played music since he was a kid. His music is 180 degrees from his dad’s guitar power pop, it’s more like Baroque Pop Americana music but it’s very good and it’s done well for Miles and his career. Are you guys up for the challenge of shattering peoples preconceived notions and blowing minds?
Jordan: I feel like it’s what we’re meant to do. It’s as simple as that. Life sometimes can be looked at as a series of coincidences in an unfolding story. So far, in this story, in this series of coincidences that we are living it seems as though that is our purpose.