FUN FACT: Richie from Guards is the brother of Madeline Follin, singer of Cults.
Had I met Richie Follin 10 years ago, I probably would have found a punk-ass kid at a record store hustling his way through life by trading albums for steaks and weed (hey, what else does a 17-year-old want in life?). Since then, Richie has put his notorious streak for getting fired from his day jobs behind him and pursued music as a serious endeavor. Today, he sings and plays guitar in his band Guards, and has been putting out some really fantastic EPs and 7-inches for the past two years. As the band prepares its first full-length (due sometime this fall), Richie recalls his embarrassing past as a pants-sagging Warped Tour enthusiast. Glad to say, he seems to have gotten his life together now—his pants fit better, his taste in music has improved, and not only is he engaged, but he recently received some deep relationship advice from Santana himself. Likewise, Richie bestowed upon me some of his own love advice—which, though not as deep as Santana’s, is still pretty solid.
Hi Richie! Do you do anything else besides the band right now?
No [laughs]. I’m the worst person to interview for this column. I’ve been doing bands since I was 18, so I’ve gotten pretty lucky.
So you don’t really have past day jobs either?
Oh, I had a lot of day jobs growing up. I worked in a lot of grocery stores, but I’d always get fired. I worked at an independent grocery store and they let people eat whatever they want, but I ate so much that they fired me. They changed the policy after I left.
[Laughs] Sucks for the people who worked there after you. How old were you?
I was 17. I also worked at record stores. I worked in a pie shop, but I got fired from there as well.
Did you eat too many pies there too?
I would always get warnings for sagging my pants [laughs].
You were one of those.
Exactly. But the reason I got fired was because I decided to go to Warped Tour instead of going to work.
Oh my God. Tell me, who were you dying to see at Warped Tour?
It was the year Weezer and Green Day played.
That’s more respectable than the bands that play now.
Still embarrassing though. Wait, I thought Warped Tour was done.
I don’t think so, unfortunately.
Oh man. I think working at the record store was the best job, because it was an independent place and I could kind of run it myself. I would consistently trade CDs for steaks or weed [laughs]. If people see a kid working behind the counter, they’re willing to trade something.
Who carries around a piece of steak?
Well, the guys who work at steak companies would come by during lunch. I used to trade for steaks a lot.
It’s always the food that gets you!
Yeah, that’s true.
Did you go to college?
I did. I went to Cal State Fullerton for English.
Did that affect your songwriting somewhat—at least lyrically?
Yeah, I guess the creative writing did, but it’s not like I use proper grammar or anything like that. I probably don’t use anything I learned in college.
What’s in store for Guards now?
We’re mixing a record right now that’s hopefully going to come out in September. It’ll be our debut full-length.
That’s exciting! I love everything you guys have put out. And that latest 7” rules.
Thanks! We’re actually thinking of not playing any of those songs because we can’t get them to sound good.
What do the other members of Guards do for a living?
Ted, the drummer, does music for skate videos.
You guys all come from skater culture?
Yeah it’s random. I think it’s the areas we grew up in. Kaylie works in film, so she makes our music videos now, John works at a restaurant, and the other guy doesn’t have a job.
What do you guys do before a Guards show?
We try to make sure we’re all in the same area because we’ve played shows where we’ve come together right before going on. But it’s not like we all take E or anything before a show.
Have you ever played a show fucked up on drugs?
Oh yeah, many times.
Ha! You play guitar and sing and you can be on drugs and it’s fine?
No, it’s not. It’s really not [laughs].
I love that Woodstock video where Santana is trippin’ balls on stage.
Oh yeah. I actually just got engaged and the first person I saw afterwards was Santana. I wanted to get a picture with him and I told him I just got engaged. Any other celebrity would be like “Yeah, congratulations,” but Santana sat me down and gave me some really deep relationship advice.
What a love guru. Share some of his wisdom!
He made crazy analogies—stuff that I didn’t even understand.
[Laughs] Did you get anything out of that?
I did! He said that basically there are two kinds of relationships…Oh shit, I forgot. Oh yeah, so there are two kinds of relationships and I don’t remember the other one, but one of them is a spiritual kind. He said you have to pretend like there’s a feather there and you have to keep blowing that feather up, but if one person gets tired of blowing that feather, the other person has to blow.
That’s too deep.
So, have you ever had a Santana moment on stage? He was on acid and thought his guitar had turned into a snake or something.
[Laughs] I’ve never heard that. Mainly I just zone out. I’ve been blacked out at shows to a point where it’s embarrassingly horrible. I’m surprised no one has said anything, which leads me to believe people can’t even tell.
Yeah, I guess not. Did you have any dream jobs as a kid?
First I wanted to be a professional basketball player, then I wanted to become a professional skateboarder, and then I wanted to be a musician.
Well here you are. What are some inspirations you take for writing music?
For this new record, I definitely think it’s power pop, 70s music, but kind of more evil.
Evil? I don’t exactly get “evil” from Guards.
Maybe because we have evil intentions, but a lot of the lyrical content is dark. I feel like our early stuff was super 60s, but we’re branching out to the 80s and 90s too now.
Yeah, the 90s are coming back so hard right now.
I’m from the 90s. It never left me. My hair has always been long.
You’ve got that Dave Grohl hair.
Lastly, since Santana gave you such great love advice, will you give me love advice too?
I would just give you Santana’s love advice [laughs].
Your own love advice, please.
I guess I’d say “put yourself out there.” A lot of times I was shy and insecure, but you just gotta get over it. Be how you would be with your best friend and if they don’t like you, fuck them.
Well, not actually fuck them.
Yeah, unless that’s what you want to do I guess.
No feather analogy, but still solid advice. Thanks, Richie!
Ace of Base's Secret Nazi Past
Before he founded Ace of Base, Ulf Ekberg was a member of Commit Suiside, a Nazi punk band.
Parquet Courts - "Light Up Gold Road Trip" (Full Documentary)
In this new documentary, Noisey follows rising indie rockers Parquet Courts from Mexico to Texas and London as they tour to support their debut LP, 'Light Up Gold.'
Yung Lean Doer Is the Weirdest 16-Year-Old White Swedish Rapper You'll Hear This Week
Yung Lean raps over pillow-fluffy beats and raps about glory holes and Arizona Iced Tea. Who the fuck is this kid? And why is he like this?
Adam Ant - The British Masters, Chapter 6
Noisey's John Doran talks with the great post-punk pop star Adam Ant about tribal body mods and layering tape.
Photos: Taking Acid at Coachella
When Paley sent these photos in, she included a nice little caveat over email that we've decided to reprint here in full, not only because it's too good to edit, but because her photographs of her and her weird buddies riding the snake are some of the best
R.I.P. Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013)
On Thursday, the hyper-talented graphic designer, artist, and famed album cover creator Storm Thorgerson passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
The Internet Is Scary
As of six months ago, my Facebook fanpage is like a dojo where hormonal teenagers hone their technique. Here is a heartfelt poem from some kid who wants to rape, kill, and marry me.
I Accidentally Touched Little Richard's Butt One Time
It was in the Detroit airport. After it happened Little Richard said, "He graze my derriere."
Listen to St. Lucia's Remix of The Colourist's "Little Games"
Last month, Cali quartet the Colourist released "Little Games," and St. Lucia just pulled a warm Balearic blanket over the whole thing, sanding away its rough edges with bright synths and lightly gated percussion.
Aaron Montaigne, Godfather of Screamo, is More Interesting Than You Can Ever Hope to Be - Part Two
On surviving combat in Iraq and Afghanistan with the help of magic, 'Bladerunner,' and everything in between.