Band Spotlight: False Pockets

>>With an expansive and exploratory soundscape, this indie, math rock trio produce funky, groove driven jams and twisted beats that are unlike any you have heard before. Their level of algebraic articulation and progressive precision, intertwined with their hypnotic numerical rhythms are both captivating and textbook. This is False Pockets.

The band’s origin traces back to when guitarist and vocalist Erik Happ was messing around with a few of his own riffs. Turning them into a couple of songs, he ran into now fellow bandmate and drummer Ben Chesnes. Having shared studio sessions with Chesnes back in their college days at Finger Lake Community College, and with both having similar music tastes, Happ was excited to run these tunes by his friend. With Chesnes quickly hoping on board the two set out to create some sounds. Using a shed that Happ had as their practice space out in Farmington, it all started out through the bare roots of just two bodies and a loop pedal. With Chesnes on drums and Happ on guitar, they first tried overlaying a variety of complicated combinations with the loop to insert into their sound. Looking to fill that space with a more full bodied tone, they decided to ditch the pedal and look for a bassist. With unlocking such a diverse and assorted range, they knew that it wasn’t simply a matter of just finding one, but one that could play for their selective sound. In searching for the right fit, their answer came with the addition of Zach Parker, a superbly talented jazz bassist. Once the three of them got together, things immediately took off. Only three practices in, they had five songs, a rare and equally impressive feat. Though things had taken off, Parker left to get a masters degree and further pursue his music career at Berkeley. Filling in to take his place was Ian Fait, another immensely talented musician and down right mean on the bass.

With grade A instrumentals and musicianship, this band has the algorithm for their signature sound locked in. With the name False Pockets having been kicking around in Happ’s head for quite some time, it eventually stuck. Liking not only the idea of it, but also its symbolic reference, it encapsulates their product, producing sounds that one wouldn’t expect to hear. As for their listeners, Happ shares that there isn’t one specific message or feeling that the band is trying to relay, but rather, they are looking to be more of an experiential platform for people to engage with. Always striving to bring levels of fun and enjoyment and to get audience members intrigued, Happ hopes to get them saying, “...There is something different going on here.” With an eclectic array of sounds, their ever expanding dynamics are awakening, as nothing is ever repetitive or predictable. For Happ he notes that, “I guess I’m just trying to do something that I haven’t heard before.” Digging the far-out elements that they have crafted, the band is looking to propel this aspect of their sound even further with the desire of becoming, “...More technical and more funky, but also at the same time I [Happ] want to yell more. It’s going to be an interesting mix.”

With their newer material in the works, including the presence of more vocals, and with Happ being lead vocalist and lyricist, one may wonder if the storytelling process is the same between that of words and notes. For the frontman, he shares that, “I guess that it’s similar to when I’m working with notes, because I’m piecing things together as I go. Taking every little word and phrase and analyzing it deeply in order to try to create what I want to hear.” In addition, the band has been intentional about the depth and atmosphere they are looking to create, stating, “I want to make it dense and I want to be able to do that with technicality and emotion.” In emphasizing more vocals, Happ hopes to bridge these two elements together through the melodies in his voice and their loop combinations. Trying to devise catchy vocal lines that evoke reactive responses and crowd engagement, the band hopes that their tunes prompt people to feel, be present, and most importantly just have some fun.

As for their own inspiration, it comes in multiple forms. Having an open mind and an eagerness to always learn more, Happ shares it's really just a matter of,

“... Anything that makes my head rock… I’ve always really enjoyed something that hits you over the head that you can’t deny that you like.”

Listening to various artists and genres, the band welcomes new sounds and interacting with different material that carries its own artistry and depth.

Drawn to the alternative culture and its organic fundamentals, Happ shares that it's rewarding to live out a lifestyle where creation is what one does. Serving as one’s own personal medium, it is so much more than mere self-expression. Dedicating yourself to your craft, nurturing, and fine tuning your skills throughout the process and physically creating something that speaks to all these qualities in the end is a raw and gratifying way to live. At the end of it all though, what it truly comes down to for the lads of False Pockets is simply the enjoyment of playing and being able to do what they love. Having the band pushes them to become better musicians and is very growth oriented in a lot of ways, but at the heart of it, “...We’re just trying to have some fun.”

Though Happ is involved in multiple other bands, he shares that, “False Pockets is like mine and Ben’s brain child” in which he is able to execute more creative authority. When speaking about this band in particular, he is super grateful for it and the impact that it has had on him, noting, “There are a lot of things that everybody in Pockets takes out of it, it’s special.” Part of its restorative nature and fulfilment also lies in Happ, “...Being able to challenge myself with creating stuff that I want to hear and the feeling of when I do it… The feeling of a plan being carried out and you have a physical thing at the end.” This tangible satisfaction, paralleled with the emotional journey of it all showcases the layered life cycle that dwells within a musician and their body of work.

Continuing to work hard during these uncertain times, False Pockets remain optimistic as they look ahead. Having finished up a new song right before the quarantine hit, the guys look forward to playing it live and sharing it with others once the time comes. Known for being mostly an instrumental band, they are also stoked about introducing more vocals with this latest piece, adding even more vibrancy and life to their already animated performance. Coupling this with the work of a new record that they’ve been piecing together, the group is hoping to have it completed by the end of this month. Trying to set themselves up in the best situation that they can, the Pockets members fervently await the moment when they can pick up where they left off.

Creating ingeniously, unconventional sounds, listeners are hooked by their level of unpredictability. Waiting to see what they will conjure up next, what lies beyond the next note, that upcoming riff, that is the wizardry that is False Pockets.

Images by: Rachel Coutant