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An Interview With Public Faces

The latest release from Public Faces seems to be derived from a combination of influences that range from new wave to alternative rock and a few in between as the record spans a vast horizon of colorful yet edgy soundscapes that all have a way of grabbing your attention.

The Endless Dream EP comes through with a lusciousness but still never loses that particular edge or drive the songs are built from in the first place.

This record is enormously fun and most of the songs are danceable, catchy, and have this pop-oriented approach that lurks just beneath the surface; however, they also rock hard when they want to.

The fun of this release is its combination of digital and natural instrumentation because you get the best of different worlds when it comes down to it.

You have this electronic and synth-based undertone that helps the songs build into explosive and pretty heavy bangers in the end and this is something that lets the songs feel like they're alive and breathing.

There's also something somewhat cinematic about a lot of these tracks like you can see them in a film for sure but it also gives the songs a certain kind of atmosphere or even a vastness that isn't right up in the forefront but is there floating in the ether of the songs.

That touch of vintage sort of synth-pop tonality that the record hints at from time to time lets this feeling of nostalgia float in and out and deliver massive hooks and choruses that bounce around in your head for hours or even days after the record has ended.

This release is a bright pop-rock soiree that gives you layers that you can peel back and within its five song spectrum, lets you be surprised at what comes around the corners.

This was completely refreshing because the way that they were able to mend the textures of the guitar tones and the keys and synthesizers was really well done and the record came through feeling somewhat loose but very polished at the same time.

I love a record that you can listen to halfway through and still have the feeling that you don't know exactly what to expect next and this EP gave me exactly that.

I also really liked that little bit of escape that you get when you listen to this record.

There's an almost fantastical element to it that lets you jump into another place or another world for a little while and forget about your own reality which by all means is quite relieving.

I have missed music that lets you forget where you are and what you're doing. Music that just lets you swim through the Sonic textures and places.

You can also tell that these guys have a love for their craft and that although there is this sort of youthfulness to the energy on the record, there's definitely maturity in the songwriting, and was built from seasoned musicians.

These guys know how to write a good hook but they also know how to do it with a bit of punch and the element of surprise which at times I feel has been something long forgotten in a lot of genres.

In the end, the thing that hit me the hardest was the record's character because one of the things that you don't come across too often is a record that has its own sort of persona and when you do come across it, you recognize it immediately.

This is 100% worth listening to from beginning to end and although there are singles that stand on their own two feet, this is much better soaked in as a full EP, find that time pop on some headphones, and do it.

Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the Endless Dream EP! This record showed a ton of character! It blended classic 90's rock with progressive, post-punk, and alternative! How did this release come about?

Bill Dunphy: Thank you! This EP started as a way to keep some creative momentum during the early part of the pandemic. I had written a lot of music and wanted to focus on developing what I considered the most interesting songs from that period. I had been doing a lot of free writing to try to grow as a lyricist and to allow myself to go to some more abstract places. I also was really interested in exploring different production techniques to try to create a sonic palette that was specific to this batch of songs– a kind of mini-world for the songs to exist in. It was a nice creative challenge to work within those boundaries and give each song a unique identity while still hopefully maintaining a sense of overall cohesion. To that end, I used more modulation effects, sampling, looping, synthesizers. That kind of stuff.

Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as a band?

Bill: Filipe reached out to me back in 2021 after he moved back to the Boston area from Northern California to see if I was writing or working on anything. He and I had played together in another band a few years earlier, so we were already friends and knew we got on musically. We started getting together weekly to just play, hang out, and work on some music in my basement. I had been working on the recordings that became the Endless Dream EP, and Filipe suggested giving some more shape to the project and turning it into a band– bringing in some collaborators, recording drums, gigging, and formally releasing the music. Filipe and Raf were childhood friends, and Filipe invited him to play bass and synth with us– the three of us gelled really quickly. Raf is super into the tech side of things, which is really inspiring too. He builds pedals, constructed his own modular synth rig, and restored an old reel-to-reel tape machine. Max just joined the band over the summer on guitar and synth after responding to an ad we posted online. When Max auditioned with us, he immediately made us all want to dance and goof around, plus he’s a fantastic songwriter and musician in his own right.

Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?

Bill: All kinds of things inspire me when I'm writing and developing new ideas. I never really sit down to write something specific. I find that can be creatively limiting for me, whereas following some sort of spark of inspiration and staying open to where it could go helps to keep new ideas flowing. That said, I generally tend to write about day-to-day experiences and anxieties– personal, political, technological, whatever– and how it feels to exist in the world today. Musically speaking, I'm really interested in developing a sound that's textural and experimental, but still memorable and accessible. To that end, I also find inspiration in other types of art like books, visual art, and movies, and I try to pull in the feelings those other works give me.

Buzz Slayers: This release has some great approaches to it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?

Bill: I’ll listen to anything, and for this EP I tried to pull in some different writing and production techniques and philosophies from a few different areas. I was really immersed in the Cure’s whole catalog for a while, and paid attention to how each instrument is essentially creating different hooks and textures, which then coalesce into a distinct whole. We’ve been covering “Lovesong” live lately, and that song is such a perfect example of this– I could hum you the bassline, guitar line, synth line, or vocal melody, and you’d know exactly what the song is since everything is memorable on its own. But of course, they’re all layered and working together. I was really influenced by Wye Oak and The Mountain Goats from a songwriting perspective. Preoccupations was another big inspiration for me– their sound design is incredible.

Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

Bill: I feel like my brain is always kind of "on" for my music no matter what I'm doing, but I love reading, playing chess, making art, seeing live music, cooking. Those sorts of things. I'm also a parent, which is obviously a full time thing too– it's the best. I love sharing the things I love with my kids and learning new things from them and the things they gravitate to.

Buzz Slayers: Who's in all your headphones right now?

Bill: Let’s see– what’s my fall mood? I’ve been enjoying the new Nation of Language record Strange Disciple and the new bdrmm record I Don’t Know. I’ve also been digging into some early Dinosaur Jr. records. You’re Living All Over Me has some really gnarly fuzz and noise that I love. Men I Trust is another cool band, and Filipe turned me on to The Japanese House. I recently started checking out some Perfume Genius records, too, which is really intriguing from both a songwriting and production perspective.

Buzz Slayers: Are you guys doing any live performances right now?

Bill: Yeah, we actually just wrapped up a string of shows we played around the Boston area in support of the EP. We’ll probably sneak some more in before the end of the year as we continue working on new music. We released the EP back in August, and we’re looking to have a formal release party for it before the end of the year too.

Buzz Slayers: Do you record these at a big studio or do you have a home studio set-up?

Bill: A little bit of both. The nice thing about producing music today is that it’s pretty easy to make things happen just about anywhere. Most of this EP was recorded using my home studio, which is admittedly pretty lean. I had some microphones, a bass, a guitar, an amp, a MIDI controller, and some pedals, essentially. And my DAW, of course. Filipe recorded drums at Mixed Emotions, which is a cool studio run by a guy named Kenny Lewis, who also mixed the EP. Most of the vocals were recorded at The Record Co. in Boston.

Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

Bill: Well, we’ve written a ton of new music that we’re working on demoing and developing now, which feels really good. We traveled to New Hampshire together a few weeks ago, hunkered down, and focused on some songs that we think will bring something new to the table. We had modular synths and drum machines set up, but it’s still early– we’ll see where things go! We’ve also been talking about how we want to release upcoming music. Standalone singles? Another EP? An album? We’re not quite sure yet, but we really want to continue releasing new music in 2024.

Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

Bill: I’d say, “thank you and stick with us!” For me, the best thing about putting music out into the world is the opportunity to connect with other people in different ways. So whether you listen to our recordings, or come see us live, or collaborate with us, I hope you’re able to connect with what we do in some way. We’re really excited about where our music is heading, and we hope you will be too.

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