Why Won’t People Take Fartbarf Seriously?
The band with the best/worst name explains what it's like being called Fartbarf.
Fartbarf, photo by Emily Shur.
Fartbarf don’t mind being called Fartbarf. Sure, it’s a blunt combination of two gross words that form together like Voltron, creating a mega-gross superword. And yeah, there are downsides to being called Fartbarf, mainly being called Fartbarf. But there are positives to being called Fartbarf too. For starters, people’s expectations are set so remarkably low by the band name (Fartbarf) that they can't really be disappointed by Fartbarf's music. Another positive: Fartbarf is hilarious to say. Fartbarf.
Part of the reason Fartbarf named themselves Fartbarf is that they never expected Fartbarf to take off. Fartbarf was just something they did for fun. And now, Fartbarf is preparing to release a new album, Dirty Power, which Fartbarf are putting out themselves and which you can pre-order on Fartbarf's website. You can listen to a new song, "Panopticon", from Fartbarf's new album below. We talked to Josh of Fartbarf about Fartbarf’s new album as well as farting and barfing and being called Fartbarf.
Noisey: I would like to say this won’t be a stupid interview but it probably will be.
Josh of Fartbarf: [Laughs] Well it’s kind of hard not to, huh?
You’ve probably done a lot of terrible interviews about your band name… and this one will be no different. Why the fuck are you called Fartbarf?
Why the hell are we called Fartbarf? That’s a good question. Basically, we kind of chose that name to keep us sort of grounded. ...Why is this always so hard to answer? There’s never an excuse good enough for this. [Laughs] Our music and the time we have when we play shows, the name itself represents that, where it’s kind of fun and painful at the same time. I guess that’d be an easy way to sum things up.
You’ve got a new album coming out called Dirty Power which is surprisingly good considering your band name sounds like it was chosen by a 9-year-old boy.
Do you think maybe your name sets the bar so remarkably low for people’s expectations?
It kind of does and that’s actually another point I wanted to get to. It’s something we didn’t set out to do but it’s definitely come to our attention when we play shows—that people have very low expectations. When we deliver something beyond that, for some reason, their minds are kind of blown a little bit more than they normally would be. [Laughs] I think a lot of people come to Fartbarf and they think it’s gonna be a really grindy, terrible punk band that doesn’t know how to write songs. Granted, all three of us come from punk and metal and thrash backgrounds. It’s weird that we’re playing electronic instruments now.
What instruments are you playing?
We play nothing but vintage analog synthesizers. The things are notorious for drifting out of tune. They’re really expensive, they’re really hard to maintain, and they’re very temperamental. They weigh a lot. They have their pluses and minuses but we just wanted to stay with these limitations. Nowadays, with electronic music, you’ve got unlimited amounts of plug-ins and computer programs and stuff that you could sit there all day and tweak around and get nothing done. We chose these instruments that are pretty crude and simple in their very basic form. Those limitations, I don’t know if they set us free, but they definitely sparked us to create in a way that we normally wouldn’t be able to.
We definitely want to keep things with more of a punk rock feel. We don’t want to be one of those bands that just hits play on a laptop and claps their hands, you know?
It has more personality that a lot of straightforward synth shit where it’s just some dork crouched over a MacBook.
Yeah and it’s so easy to get stuck in that weird thing too. Computers, you can sit there and zone out with those things for days on end so we tried to eliminate those completely. If we make mistakes live, that’s just the way things are gonna be.
Maybe I’m reaching here but I think there’s a very odd parallel where you talk the same way about your instruments as you do with your band name, where they are crude and set you back in some ways but they also give you personality.
Pretty much. I never thought of it that way but there’s definitely parallels there. We like giving ourselves a challenge, sticking with that, and seeing where it can take us. I do the majority of the graphic design for the band as well and I took that on as a project of my own to see if I could brand the band in way where all the posters look like someone took a massive amount of time in doing, just to see if people could eventually get over the name and take things for what they are.
Does it bother you at all that you guys will forever be overshadowed by your name?
I don’t know, it’s kind of a strange thing where we started this project, not as a joke, but kind of just making sure that we kept humor involved and that we had a good time no matter what happened. It’s taken off to a place where none of us thought it was going to. This has kind of been the first band where none of us have struggled to find shows or done the whole pay-to-play thing in Hollywood. For some reason, Fartbarf, it just resonates that we’re up there having fun and it’s translating to the crowd that we’re not just trying to steal their money. For whatever reason, it’s benefitted us in a strange way. And we get this question a lot: Do we hate ourselves because we named ourselves Fartbarf? But looking back at some of our favorite bands, all of them have terrible names.
What are your favorite bad band names?
Well, like, Metallica, that’s terribly cheesy. Even like, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Either they’re just forgettable names or bad. Sometimes I feel like if people are willing to give a band a chance and look past that, maybe they’ll just be able to enjoy the music for what it is.
You don’t help yourselves out either. In addition to the name, you wear gorilla masks on stage?
They’re actually Neanderthal masks. Conceptually, we’re kind of playing up the future versus primitive where Neanderthals are playing these weird, futuristic instruments, even though our instruments are kind of dated at this point. Something about primates playing electronic instruments is kind of appealing. Being anonymous on stage is a thing we wanted to do too so the masks seem like an easy way to go.
Why’d you want to stay anonymous?
Well, we’re never gonna get old, if one of us quits, we can replace them easily, I don’t know, there’s all sorts of weird reasons for masks. We could sell merch after the show and no one knows we were on stage five minutes earlier.
I would like to read you a few band names I made up and you tell me if you think they're better or worse than Fartbarf.
Puketurd… I’ll say worse.
I’ll go worse with that one too.
Hm, I’ll go better.
I’ll go better with that one too.
Last question. God willing, one day, someone will be on stage and say the sentence: “And the Grammy goes to...Fartbarf.” Who would you want presenting that award?
Wow. That’s a crazy question. Hm, I mean, I would probably like it to be Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo just because, collectively in the band, we have multiple influences but they’ve been a major influence in what we’re doing—keeping the aggressive punk roots with an electronic twist on things. That dude has definitely played a huge role in all of our lives as far as Fartbarf goes.
Dan Ozzi has never farted and barfed at the same time and is kind of afraid of what would happen. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi
Check out Fartbarf on tour: