Down the ‘Rabbit’ Hole With Egypt Central Frontman John Falls
Egypt Central have been through their fair share of ups and downs since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2008 to the much anticipated follow up ‘White Rabbit’ in 2011.
But rather than complain about what they went through, the band instead offers up a diverse collection of tunes each weaving an intricate tale of their own, kicking off with the the biggest adventure of them all, ‘White Rabbit.’ The title track recreates the story of what the band’s been up to for the last few years, so hop in the rabbit hole, listen closely and get reacquainted with Egypt Central.
While the title track paints a vivid picture, the rest of the album follows suit with heavy, gloomy brooders like ‘Ghost Town,’ anthemic arena ready rockers in the form of ‘Kick Ass,’ and softer acoustic tinged numbers like ‘Backfire.’ A diverse offering of songs and emotions, Egypt Central laid it all out this time around proving they aren’t your average rock band.
We recently spoke with lead singer John Falls, who caught us up on the band, the new album and what he hopes fans will take away from it.
The title ‘White Rabbit’ is symbolic of what you’ve been through in the past few years as a band, is it not?
Most definitely, that’s exactly what it is. It’s pretty much the story of everything we’ve been through for the last three years of trying to make the transition from the first record to the second record and just all the things we had to go through and the tough decisions that we had to make. We had to make some relationship changes and the constant hurdles that we had to go through to do the one thing that we really want to do and that’s make music.
The songs on the album definitely tell a story but I keep hearing critics call it a concept album. Did you intend for it to be a concept album?
No, not at all. We get asked that a lot and I think it’s just because of the White Rabbit reference, but that’s just one song referring to one person. I think a lot times, because it’s taken on such a life of its own and become its own character, that it makes people feel like it’s conceptual but the truth is that each song is about specific things that happened and that we’ve been through.
It might feel like a concept because it reads like a book. We don’t mind people calling it conceptual if it causes more conversation but all the concepts behind the marketing of the album, that all came after the music was written. First and foremost for us is writing honest and true music; after you’ve created your art and it’s genuine, then you can have fun with it.
So, if it’s not a concept album, what swayed you to title the album after the track ‘White Rabbit’?
‘White Rabbit’ chronicles our journey from the first record to the second record and it was what we had to go through in order to get there so it was a pretty obvious title for us.
You’ve described the writing for this album as more of an organized process than your first album; can you tell us a bit about that?
On the first record, everything musically was done first and I felt personally that there was always pressure to write the lyrics. [Bassist] Joey [Chicago] has always been heavily involved and influential with the lyrics but he definitely took it to the next level on this new album. [Drummer] Blake [Allison] has always been on the arranging side, so he became a producer and an engineer and took that to the next level, along with his songwriting. Having Jeff [James] do all the guitar work, the collective group just went to a whole new level and it allowed me the opportunity to really just focus on being the singer that I wanted to be and be relaxed going into the process.
I could really just deliver a home run performance once the outside added pressures were removed. It really is amazing to be able to do this with your best friends and have that kind of a vibe.
I love how the song ‘Backfire’ takes you to a simplistic, acoustic place but still remains so dynamic showing off a softer side of the band; was it important to you to show your diversity on this album?
Most definitely. I think it’s important for anyone in any profession. You don’t want to become one dimensional unless you truly are a one trick pony. You want people to know that there are layers to you and what you’re capable of. At the same time it just happens that way. Songs are written and they are what they are, we just try to present them the best possible way that we can. We’ve always been that type of band where we’re very heavy one second and then the next second we’re writing an acoustic song. I think its lame when bands say, “Oh we can’t do that, it doesn’t sound like us.’ How can it not sound like you if you wrote it? You wrote it, so put it out there!
The first time I heard ‘Kick Ass’ I thought it felt like an arena ready rocker and now I hear that the song has been picked up by several NFL teams to play in their stadiums; that’s got to be a cool feeling?
I’m a huge football fan; we all played growing up so we’re all big fans. I actually just finished up an interview with ESPN about football. We’re all looking at our fantasy football teams right now and I think Jeff just got screwed on a trade! It’s very flattering that they picked up the song; it’s an honor and a lot of other things just rolled up into one. It’s a dream come true; it’s unbelievable to be a part of the NFL.
As a New England Patriots season ticket holder, I have to ask, what team do you root for?
I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan!
The song ‘Enemy Inside’ is one that you worked on a lot and it’s gone through many different versions; tell us about how you arrived at the final recording of it and what the song means to you?
It’s actually not that different from the original version, which is crazy. Originally, it was conceived as a darker, deep song and people tried to play with it and take different angles saying it didn’t work in its original form but we didn’t know that because we had never released it as a single. It had just been sitting there so long that people kept wanting to change it. Sometimes things need to be changed and sometimes you hit the nail on the head right from the start and anything else you do just messes it up. That song really came full circle.
‘Good Night’ is one of the standout songs for me. I think a lot of us can relate to the story being told, but wanted to ask you for your personal take on the song lyrics?
It’s about losing someone that you truly care about. When somebody passes on and they’re no longer with us I think that there’s a lot of doubt, confusion and fear that you may never see that person again. I personally believe that you will see the people that you’ve loved and lost one day. I hope that the song helps other people find some comfort.
Joey has said in the past that, “It has been agreed upon since day one that our message would be honest and positive.” Why was this so important to you as a band?
There were just so many bands out at the time that were all about the negative side of things and playing off of that. We felt that if you have that platform and you have the pedestal to shout out to a large amount of people that there’s a responsibility to try to do something positive with that rather than pour negativity on top of negativity; it’s not like chocolate, it doesn’t always taste good.
When you sit back and listen to the album from start to finish, is there a part of the process that you can point to as the most rewarding for you?
For me, the first time I walked into a Best Buy and saw it on the shelf, that was probably the most gratifying moment for me. That was the moment it was like “Wow, we got it out.”
A lil rock ‘n’ roll birdie told us you may have spent some time as an aspiring wrestler; is this true?
Man, someone in this band has a big ass mouth! It’s true, but that was years ago. The guys in the band think it’s hilarious. It’s pretty funny though — it was a great experience for me, and I ended up meeting one of my best friends through the training camp that we went through. They (the band) make fun of it not because it’s a hilarious thing to make fun of — we’re all huge fans of wrestling — but because I did some promo shots that were ridiculous. I loved every minute of it, it was an awesome experience, and I went pretty far with it.
I’ve seen the band live and it’s truly an intense experience. What do you do right before you go onstage, are there any pre-show rituals?
Well, we all hang out pre-show then about 40 minutes before we go on we all go to our own little area and transition into another place. Then right before we go on we all come together and put our hands in and we have a little saying. It’s time to get down and we all enter our own head space and get down to business.
For your fans that stuck with you and waited it out for this new album, what do you want them to take away from ‘White Rabbit’?
I don’t think that’s a fair question for me to answer. I think they should take away from it whatever they need to take away from it. That’s what music was for me as a kid; I would listen to music when I needed to feel happy or when I was upset. We want people to take away from the record what’s lacking for them and what they need.