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Spotlight on Faceman

Spotlight on Faceman


On the eve of the release of their fifth studio album — to be released only on vinyl —  FaceMan continues to carve an unusual niche in the Colorado music scene; an americana-flavored indie trio that defies a lot of the standard rules. For one thing, there’s no bassist. Guitarist David Thomas Bailey plays a 7-string, so he’s playing bass lines on the lower strings while also comping on the rest. Musically, the band covers tremendous ground from rock to funk to folk to jazz, all the while never losing their own identity in the mix. Here, frontman Steve “FaceMan” Schnepel took some time to chat about the band, some of the crazy shows they’ve played, and why he loves “the process” so much.

French Davis: What the hell is “FaceMan?”

Steve FaceMan: When I was young, my dad used to say I had a “rubber face!” Apparently, he thought I could make myself look like anyone or anything. Looking like anyone or anything, I spent most of my youth, bored out of my mind, sitting in the garage, imagining things to build with my brother and childhood friends. We thought of everything to build but could not build everything we could think of and almost everything we built (e.g. bike jumps, snow forts, model trains, tree houses, etc.) were colossal failures. In 2008, after about a 6-year hiatus from music and returning to Denver from New Orleans, I had a vision of anonymously fronting a new band where my face constantly changed and looked like anyone or anything. I spent endless hours building prototypes and imagining different ways to bring the idea to life. That was the basic concept originally. We started building idea after idea after idea and gained momentum when we met set design engineers (Justin Hicks, Katie Webster, Kellie Sequoia) from the Denver Center who were able to take the builds to a new level (e.g. giant cardboard shark we called FaceMan’s Megalodon at Lost Lake, a giant shoebox diorama modeled after a Bukowski poem for a performance at the bookstore Mutiny Information Cafe, etc.). Reflecting on all that we have accomplished 14 years later as a band, I think this basic concept of a rubber face and a desire to build still anchors the band and drives us to continue. Can’t remember why we didn’t call the band “RubberFaceMan.”

FD: Tell me about this new album.

Courtesy of Steve Schnepel

SF: We’re releasing our fifth full-length album in 14 years as a band. The album is called Western Jupiter and I believe the music on this album is most similar to our 2016 release, Wild And Hunting, and feels more like a continuation of a sound than a departure to something new. Since the 2016 release, we’ve fallen into writing extremely simple songs and focus on the belief that any good song will play itself. I believe the writing represents the deep connection we have developed as musicians and the shared desire to find ways to constantly improve our band, work as a team, and be a part of the artistic community. If we were a math equation it would be 1+1+1 = 4. That would be a cool idea for our next stage design. FaceMan’s Giant Math Equation. I’ll call Justin at Incite Productions and get started immediately.

FD: What is it about vinyl that makes you want to release TWO albums at the same show?

SF: Vinyl is awesome. The world needs more vinyl! If you don’t listen to vinyl you’re missing out and it took me 40 years to figure that out. I’m absolutely addicted to vinyl and after the success of our 2016 release, Wild and Hunting, we decided to reissue it on vinyl and it sounds incredible, especially with performances by Ron Miles and all the horns!  We figured we might as well call this a double vinyl release and knock out two birds with one stone.

FD: Is it really true David Thomas Bailey wrote horn lines for Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Rebirth Brass Band?

SF: I’d have to check the credits on the sheet music but I believe it was both DTB and Dean (Hirschfield, drummer) who shared in writing parts for both legendary New Orleans groups. Those tracks can be found on our 2012 release Feeding Time. That was a hell of an experience and I still can’t believe they agreed to help. My amazing wife Jenna, who is a beautiful southerner from North Carolina, made a massive pot of gumbo for the fellas in Dirty Dozen during the breaks in the studio and they were LOVING life that day. We were too. It was a delicious time.

FD: FaceMan has done some incredibly ambitious shows over the years. Tell us about a few and why you took on those challenges.

DF: In the early years, I realized that a band, like life, is about the process. I realized if we tried to pull together an impossible show it would take months of hard work and the lead-up and anticipation would last for months. When you do that, the process becomes expansive and I find it incredibly enjoyable as an artist and human being on this planet. A basic lesson I’ve learned through all of the ambitious shows/events we’ve organized is that you will put 100 times more heart and effort into the world than what you perceive is returned. It’s important to fight through this perceived imbalance. Never give up.

Courtesy of Steve Schnepel

FD: Tell me about your songwriting process. How the inspiration hits, how the lyrics and music all come together, etc.

SF: My songwriting process is extremely lazy. I am not the type of writer that tries to write something every day. The process is quite torturous at times because ideas, especially the older I get, seem so clear but if you don’t catch them in the moment, you have no chance of remembering them the next day. So I basically wait and wait and wait until there’s ideas flowing regularly and constantly and then I go into a dark room and drink and try to spend time with them. For whatever reason, I have no ability to write music if the weather is warm. I can only write when it’s cold as hell and miserable. I’d like to understand why this is someday. Once I have a couple solid ideas, I bring them to Dave and Dean and they make them way better or help me put them in the trash. Once the ideas get to Dave and Dean, that’s when the fun begins and the real creativity starts and it actually quickly inspires more ideas. Dave and Dean are incredible artists and I know I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to play with them. I deeply respect their dedication to their craft and their day-to-day approach.

FD: Tell us about the new video — which is awesome, by the way — and how that all came together.

SF: The new video, written by R.W. Perkins, a great filmmaker I’ve known for many years, features the lead track off Western Jupiter called “Cold Light of the Moon.” The video was produced by Film Locale and we had a great concept and crew. The storyline follows the actress, Chloe Colleen, as she falls into a relationship with the moon in an exploration of loneliness and acceptance, which hopefully inspires reflection and sympathy from the audience. (see the video below)


FD: What makes the Colorado music scene different from others around the country? What do you like and dislike about it?

SF: I have been asked this question many times in the past and given extremely detailed answers. I realize my proclamations over the years are completely inconsistent. It is a confusing question to me but I’ve realized the reason for this is that the Colorado music scene is constantly changing and my relationship with it is also variable. I guess the “scene” is anyone and anything! Ultimately, I think most musicians that have a drive to perform want to be a part of something and want to be respected for what they decide to share with the world. If you share something with others you want them to take what you share. A healthy scene is people sharing and people taking what others share. I think the biggest problem with musicians, including me, is it can be hard to be on both sides but if you want to be a part of something you need to be on both sides of the sharing. If you don’t want to do that or can’t do that then you’re not a part of the scene. It’s simple. Play shows. Go to shows. Play shows. Go to shows. Share!


French Davis
Meet Dave Flomberg | Writer, musician, creative director (aka French Davis). There is so much to say about Dave aka French that we think you should read these articles: https://yellowscene.com/2020/02/29/french-davis-a-master-of-many/ ••• https://shoutoutcolorado.com/meet-dave-flomberg-writer-musician-creative-director

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