It's a little strange interviewing someone for a band that has already broken up, but after hearing Frodus' final album, And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea, it was obvious that Line and Ink couldn't go without trying. After a long round of trying to get in touch with Frodus singer/guitarist Shelby Cinca, he was finally able to graciously answer a few of our questions after finishing a short tour with his newfound musical interest, which is playing guitar in the west coast rock band Blue Bird. Look for them to record with Shelby on the six string sometime in the near future, but for now just check out the latest and final Frodus record, released by Fueled By Ramen Records. Interview by Will Bell.
Line and Ink: Did you know that Frodus was breaking up before you recorded And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea?
Shelby: No, we didn't know it was going to be our last record.
Line and Ink: Would the album have turned out differently had you known?
Shelby: I think the album would have been the same if it wasn't our last record. It is definitely an album of circumstance, dealing with a lot of things in our personal lives [such as] the eventual loss of loved ones, hope, changes, life.
Line and Ink: Why did it take so long for Weapons to be released?
Shelby We got out of our contract with Tooth & Nail at the tail-end of recording Weapons and then we broke up so we had to re-shop the record around. We ended up on a label called MIA from NYC and they folded so then we were shopping around again; it was now the middle of the year 2000. Finally we came across Fueled By Ramen. Our friend Tony, who has been a Frodus fan since the beginning in the mid-90s, works there and he saved our record from limbo.
Line and Ink: Did you get the chance to play any of this album live?
Shelby: We played a few songs live around November and December 1999. We were also playing an early version of "The Awesome Machine" during 1998-1999.
Line and Ink: How long has Frodus really been broken up?
Shelby: Since December 1999.
Line and Ink: Everyone at Fueled By Ramen seems really excited about the album. Is it nice having such enthusiastic people backing you?
Shelby: It's very nice. Fortunately most of our records have been backed by enthusiastic folks!
Line and Ink: I've read in numerous places where it's believed that the new Frodus record will "revolutionize hardcore." What do you think of this?
Shelby: Hardcore and punk can be a limiting term musically in some ways. However, in the mid-late nineties it seems that many sub-genres came out of it that mirror the "mainstream" music world as well as experimented beyond the regular conceptions of punk. The interesting thing is that they all have a connection with punk ethic. I hope to think our record will open some minds and inspire people to pursue different sounds and not be afraid to create their own thing even if it doesn't fit into the current confines of musical categorization.
Line and Ink: Are there any musical tricks that you've learned recently that you wish you could have tried out in Frodus?
Shelby: More "tapping" like Eddie Van Halen. No, just kidding!!! I can't think of anything...maybe some more strange keyboard sounds.
Line and Ink: What separates Weapons from the earlier Frodus work?
Shelby: It's more dynamic and mature. I feel that it keeps the interest better since the songs shift stylistically and there is a good variation of sounds.
Line and Ink: Was it pretty disappointing that Frodus broke up?
Shelby: Somewhat it was, but in all reality it was discussed and we knew it was going to happen sooner or later.
Line and Ink: What do you miss most about playing with Frodus?
Shelby: The few enthusiastic fans that would show up to our shows and yell weird things at us.
Line and Ink: Is it important for you to stay connected with music in some active manner?
Shelby: Yes, I'm still doing music. It's one of the most important things in my life. It keeps me sane.
Line and Ink: This may be a strange comparison, but I hear almost a 60's style blues influence in a lot of your guitar playing on Weapons, like in the riffs. Do you listen to much of that kind of stuff?
Shelby: I don't listen to much modern music, and things that I do are definitely more in the straight forward rock and roll territory or very experimental. I love The Kinks, Mountain, The Zombies. Actually, I studied the blues primarily with my guitar teacher years ago.
Line and Ink: Who came up with the cover concept for And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea? It looks really unnatural.
Shelby: I think actually Nathan first spawned the idea but we all came up with the concepts. We were on tour in Japan and we just wanted to do some intense photos of us hanging out in a highly technological society.
Line and Ink: Did you try to establish a certain mood with the packaging of the new album?
Shelby: Yes, we tried to document humanity in this growing technological society in the late 20th century.
Line and Ink: When did you join Bluebird?
Shelby: I joined in Jan 2001.
Line and Ink: How did this come about? Did someone leave the band?
Shelby: Nobody left the band; they wanted to add another guitarist so they would have someone else to contribute with songs and make the sound more full. Frodus toured with them in 1998 and we all got along really well. I also took a liking to the band and I felt that they were one of the best bands Frodus ever toured with, hands down. They were contemplating adding another member late in 2000 and they just asked me since it seemed like the natural thing to do since we all knew each other really well from touring together for a month and maintaining contact.
Line and Ink: Are you going to try to add your own style to the band or will you probably adapt to what they have already done?
Shelby: [I'll] definitely add my own style; that's one of the reasons why they wanted me in the band.
Line and Ink: Is it weird joining a band that has already established itself?
Shelby: Not really. It made it a bit easier since they already had a van and all that stuff that bands need.
Line and Ink: What is The Mind Control?
Shelby: My graphic design organization.
Line and Ink: What got you into doing designs?
Shelby: Being lost in record covers as I listened to music and doing my own layouts for early Frodus releases.
Line and Ink: Have you only designed music related stuff?
Shelby: No, I also do freelance work for a design agency where I have done corporate logos, brochures, websites, and stuff like that, but I like doing music packaging the most. That's why that's all I show on my website.
Line and Ink: Which do you like more, playing music or designing?
Shelby: Playing music.
Line and Ink: Is it more limiting when you do designs than when you write music? Because it seems like you would have to please whoever you're designing for while with music you only have to please yourself.
Shelby: It's occasionally creatively limiting designing for other bands, but the challenge is fun. You can learn from other people's perspectives. It's a different satisfaction when you do music and when you do visual art. The best is when I've recorded something and from that put the visual ideas with it and create a layout. Doing my own layout is fun since I see the whole thing from writing the music, recording it, and putting together the images and the package that we are presenting with our final work of art. When I get the final product it's like Christmas every time.
Line and Ink: How long does it usually take you to come up with a design for a record?
Shelby: It really varies. Some bands have a lot of complicated ideas that you have to simplify and you end up with many rounds of revisions. Sometimes you just nail it on the head immediately. With the gaps of correspondence and all that taken into consideration it takes up to a month to complete a layout.
Line and Ink: How many times do you have to listen to it?
Shelby: One to three times. I generally do things where I am a pretty familiar with the band or project already.
Line and Ink: Do you feel that a record's packaging is nearly as important as the music?
Shelby: I do; it enhances the listening experience and makes the final piece a solid and immersive work of art.
Line and Ink: Does the new interest in CD burners take away from record listening experiences? Since many will go without the packaging.
Shelby: I think it may if people lose the desire for the visual experience of a record, [then yes]. I think the 12" LP was the best for music since it displayed the artwork large and you can really immerse yourself into the music while staring at the artwork and getting into the whole vibe of the record. The world is moving constantly faster; I think people have shorter attention spans and perhaps a lack of packaging that may end up in the far future with mp3s may be an example of this. Hopefully some sort of digital packaging like including an interactive "enhanced CD" element that is downloadable will keep the visual element of albums alive. However, I don't think it will be as magical as a physical copy that exists. A thing to ponder is that perceptions change, the new generation of people may not care at all about packaging and in some ways that's the way to go in a more environmentally friendly and streamlined futuristic society.
Line and Ink: I see you're still keeping the Frodus web-page updated, though the band is broken up. How long do you plan to continue doing this?
Shelby: Until humanity or the internet is no more.