Last updated: 01/01/2008 11:00:00 AM
Faktion is a new band whose name, which guitarist Josh Franklin conceived, is one with which the members identify strongly. “It means 'family' to us, acceptance,” Franklin says. It also speaks for the band's fans, which he describes as a wide-ranging group with many factions within. “We have people my age, but their parents like our music too. We'll have a group of guys that'll be moshing to 'Take It All Away,' but when we get to 'Letting You Go,' they'll be singing along with the girls.” “Nobody gets excluded,” Dutton adds. "We're a small faction and we do everything together, we are all about teamwork. It definitely fits us.”
This young new band's all-inclusiveness means an amazing synergy with listeners, who very often become fans. Their site, faktionband.com is a popular destination, as is their page on the hugely influential community portal, myspace.com. Their over 26,000 'friends' (those who have actively registered to get more info on the band) and 247,000 plays exceeds the current numbers for Breaking Benjamin, Crossfade and Shinedown - sonically similar acts that have already achieved Platinum sales. Moore, the band's main 'tech-meister' explains the phenomenon “We always strive to be one with our fans, so we all answer every email we get, personally. We make the connection with them and then they connect with their friends to spread the word. We wouldn't have it any other way.”
Musically speaking, it almost seems a contradiction that a band capable of generating the sweeping modern rock of the song “Letting You Go” could also summon the visceral groove of “Take It All Away”. But that channelling of both the tough and the tender might not be as difficult to comprehend if you spend time out on the West Texas plains, where most of the band grew up. Those wide-open spaces tend to create an awareness of life's extremes – a journey that can either make a person close up tightly or, as Faktion has, become as grand and glorious as the space itself.
Singer Ryan Gibbs grew up in Newcastle, TX, population 505 - his high school graduating class totaled 14 students. It's the kind of town that loves its country music and tolerates little else. Ryan's mom, however, was a rock fan, and turned him on to Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, AC/DC. He can still remember his grandmother scolding him for listening to “devil music” when he sang along to “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Of course, now she's his biggest fan. AC/DC proved to be a linchpin of sorts for guitarist-vocalist Marshal Dutton, too. One day in a music store, he spotted a guitar just like the one favored by Angus Young. His father had him work in the fields on their farm in Tulia, TX to help pay for the treasured axe.
But it was in Denton, Texas, 35 miles north of Dallas, that Faktion came together. Dutton had moved there to attend the University of North Texas, known for its prestigious jazz music program. He teamed up with drummer Jeremy Moore, who moved to Denton from Lubbock (where he was in school) to join him in 2002 and began to write songs - guitarist Josh Franklin and bassist Jeremy “Brink” Coan made it a quartet. The band played a few shows around town, but the foursome knew they were missing something, or more accurately, someone: Gibbs. He had it all: powerful vocals - deep, evocative lyrics, and a dynamic energy on stage. When he sang passages such as, “You wonder why I'm broken, you wonder why I have to lie,” he made it impossible to turn away. With his addition, the band became whole - it became Faktion.
To record its Roadrunner debut, the quintet returned to Gridlock Studios in Orlando, Florida, where they'd recorded an EP called Make a Dent. The team at Gridlock included Justin Thomas and Brett Hestla (of the band Dark New Day). The studio experience, for Coan, was “like a dream… we dug deep and really put a lot of ourselves into this album.” The disc was then mixed by Grammy-nominated legend Chris Lord-Alge, who's worked with acts such as No Doubt, Foo Fighters, and Green Day.
The impassioned first single, “Letting You Go” is an emotionally evocative musical exploration of the conflict between desire for a lasting connection and the need for freedom. With its melodic vocal harmonies (not to mention vivid lyrics), “Distance” has the same irresistible combination of masculinity and sensitivity. The sensitivity of “Distance” is a true revelation. Meanwhile, “Take It All Away” is an intense, compact track that offers a snapshot of Faktion's sound. The drums have a tribal urgency that plays off the song's driven, expressive vocals and guitar. On “Always Wanting More,” Faktion reasserts its harder-core, opening with a lacerating vocal scream the song transitions between spells of contemplation to fiery tantrums, in a struggle to inflict order upon the chaos.
The band strives to make their songwriting a collaborative process, Dutton says. “One person will bring in a piece, and we'll all build on that. I think that's the most amazing way to write, to connect with someone. It's difficult to connect one-on-one, much less with four other people. If you can get that connection going, there's an amazing power in it.” They have done just that, “'Take It All Away' was a total accident – I brought in the intro for it, and Jeremy just started playing along with me.” Says Coan “…everyone just jumped right in and we had the song written in 5 minutes. The song hasn't been tweaked at all since that day. It was an amazingly intuitive exercise in songwriting.”