When FM Berlin lead singer/bassist Corey Hachey had to spend over two years and 32 auditions to find a drummer who could complement his band’s British-based alternative sound, you get the impression that the Moncton New Brunswick region isn’t exactly teeming with musical talent.
With their debut album, `Are You Having Fun’ finally released late last year, Hachey, guitarist Glenn Farquhar and guitarist Matt Cloves initially struggled as a drummer-less three piece before finally securing the services of Nick Michaud to complete their lineup.
“We played a lot of acoustic gigs without a drummer, our guitarist, Matt Cloves has some hand-clapping skills to we would tape him and then loop the sound,” allowed Hachey. “There are drummers around here but none of those we auditioned could relate to our sound. It took us years to find the right drummer, then she quit but fortunately we found Nic shortly afterwards.”
Hachey originally began writing with Farquhar and when Cloves joined up, the band released a 2014 debut EP, ‘In The Interest Of National Security’ before they had even performed their first gig. “Initially, we were like a surfer band but I have always liked British bands like The Smiths, The Police and Oasis and we are big fans of The Strokes so when we started to work on our first full album, this was the direction we wanted to take our sound.”
Initially recording at the Dartmouth Nova Scotia community college, FM Berlin struggled to find the right sound and eventually scrapped those sessions and elected to build their own studio. “We completed that first album but we weren’t really happy with it so we started from scratch again, So we put all our money into building our own studio and that’s where we developed our sound,” Hachey informed. “
With assistance from top producers Jason Dufour (Tokyo Police Club, July Talk) and Jason Bowman (Matthew Sweet), FM Berlin produced a recording with songs like the title track, “Yer Honor” and “Outa Your Head” which reflect a strong British ethic.
“We have always operated under the idea that if we were good live and put out a decent album that someone in the music industry would find us,” Hachey allowed. “The reality is that you have to do a lot yourself, there are people in the music industry (Incubators) happy to give you advice but they don’t necessarily want to sign you. But then, when you get to the point that you can do things yourself, then they want to step in and take you to the next level.”
Considering that this Maritime region which boasts a number of colleges and universities, should be a hot bed for local music, Hachey concurs that the last big explosion of local talent occurred in the early 1990’s when Sloan, jale, Hardship Post, Thrush Hermit and Moncton’s own Eric’s Trip were caught up in the grunge movement sparked by Seattle-based Sub Pop (Nirvana’s original label) which came snooping around Halifax and triggered a minor signing frenzy.
However, only Sloan outlasted that original hype and recent talent output from the Maritimes has been, at best, sporadic.
“Things are starting to pick up,” allowed Hachey. “The local economy isn’t the greatest but things are starting to happen, especially in Halifax where local indie record companies, recording studios and publishing houses are popping up.
The band has written a song about Halifax titled `Haligonia and reflects the feeling of most Maritime area bands that they would be better off based in the Nova Scotia capital. “We’ve all felt that if we were based in a different city, things would be better,” Hachey informed. “But then you realize, it’s really up to you. It doesn’t matter where you are, if you are making the right noise, you are going to get heard.”
FM Berlin themselves have benefitted from being recipients of a Bell Award, showcased at the 2015 East Coast Music Awards in St John’s Newfoundland and won Top Emerging Band at the 2014 New Brunswick Music Awards. And although they haven’t toured much outside of the Maritimes the band is set to make their Toronto debut March 3rd at the Supermarket with further Ontario dates set for Windsor March 8th and Ottawa March 10th.
As for the band’s name, Hachey came up with the idea after bassist Farquhar told the story of how his father had snuck through the Berlin Wall in the early 60’s and captured camera footage of what was going on in East Berlin at that time.
“We were really stuck on coming up with the right name and then Glenn told me the story about his father so we settled on FM Berlin,” explained Hachey. “I originally liked Toro – but who want’s to be named after a snow blower?” For further info on FM Berlin please link to the FM Berlin Website.