This interview is part of a series discussing mandates, restrictions and censorship with musicians and music fans—read more of these interviews here.
Gene Owens is an Atlanta based musician and songwriter of the rock band Faithless Town. Their latest record, Into The Light Vol.1, is out now — the first part of a new, two-part album both of which will be released in 2022.
Faithless Town are on tour now and playing in Nashville, TN on July 16!
Music For All: A lot of the musicians I've spoken to are solo artists, it seems to be particularly difficult to find a group of people that hold the same principles and are also creatively aligned. What has your experience been with Faithless Town during such a divisive time?
Gene Owens: Keeping a band together has always been a challenge. People have families, day jobs and other interests so it can be tough finding others that can vibe with your art and who are also willing to show up and commit.
That being said, the Covid-era has brought on all new challenges and a divisiveness unlike anything we've ever seen before. And Faithless Town hasn't been unscathed by that. In 2020 I had to basically start from the ground up to rebuild the band. For those familiar with the band, you'll notice that the line-up we have now is completely different from the line-up that appeared on our last album, EMPIRES.
Some of that is due to interpersonal issues that I won't go into but some of those relationships came to an end as a direct result of the divisive times we find ourselves in. For example, one of my former bandmates, who had been playing with us for a decade, told me that he would never again be in the same room as me because of my refusal to wear a mask. This is a guy who I bunked with on tour, a person I considered a brother in arms and a creative partner. Anyway, it's kinda hard to play in a band with someone who refuses to even be in the same room as you, so sadly that creative partnership came to an abrupt end. Obviously he wasn't listening to the lyrics I wrote for songs like "New World Order" & "Empires" when we recorded them together.
I am however thrilled with the current lineup of the band and I think it's arguably the best we've ever had. We're excited for what the rest of the year holds for us.
What was your experience booking tour dates for this upcoming run? From my perspective it's pretty easy to find a place in the United States where a musician can play restriction free events, but touring still remains full of new obstacles to navigate, especially if you're looking to book a restriction free tour.
For a while most venues were still shut down so our first show back on stage was a show we put together ourselves in April of 2021. We hosted it at a restaurant on the outskirts of Atlanta that had a private event space and it was very DIY.
I was thinking that if things stayed shut down that's how we would have to move forward, booking DIY shows similar to how the punk scenes used to operate. Fortunately, things have opened up and there are a decent amount of venues that aren't imposing restrictions. That being said, we did have to pull out of a show in Athens, GA last year after the venue started requiring that all performers and audience members be jabbed or tested. Now, for the most part I try to only play venues that never imposed restrictions — which at times can be a challenge, but they are out there
Y'all have had a very professional looking roll out for Into The Light Vol. 1 — do you have any advice for artists doing their own publicity and marketing?
Thank you for the compliment, my advice is to get good at doing everything yourself. Even if you get teamed up with a label, a lot of the publicity and marketing will still fall on the band's shoulders.
As a result I've had a crash course in becoming a graphic designer, a webmaster, a music video director, a video editor, etc. Look at what some of your favorite bands are doing and emulate that. In some cases, depending on how big the band is, these acts will have a whole team managing their social media presence but you can learn a lot by seeing what they are doing that works and emulating that. That being said, I hate the marketing aspect of the industry and I would much rather focus on writing and performing music.
Do you have any other advice you'd like to share?
There is a song off of our new album called "What I'm Dreaming Of" that opens up with the following verse:
"You and I aren't so different
We both want the same things
A little love and respect
And all the light that it brings
So don’t trust the TV
Don’t believe your feed
We’re not that different you and me"
I hope people can start seeing past the constant barrage of propaganda that aims to pit us against one another. I hope they will turn off their TV's, put down their phones, and go out and connect with other people in real life, the way human beings were meant to.
Go out tonight. Go to a local show, spark up a conversation with a stranger at the bar, ask that person out that you've had a crush on, etc. Life is too short to spend it cowering in fear and allowing yourself to be manipulated by a psychopathic elite who use the media to keep us dumb and afraid. Go out and live free.
Listen to more from Faithless Town here: