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Behind the Noise: Interview With faulty wires

Edited by Anna Mengani

Jake with his wheelchair parked in a handicap spot in a parking lot at night with Oliver leaning against him.
Photo Credit: Cyril Nnamani (Instagram handle: @Amanifilms24)

Hard-hitting punk-rock band faulty wires is stirring the pot in society with their debut EP, Punk Isn't Dead... But Maybe It's Disabled, that came out on May 14th, 2024. With the hopes of changing the public's perception of people with disabilities while also harnessing the essence of punk-rock. We had the chance to sit down with Jake Walker (Vocalist) and Oliver Davis (Guitarist) and talk about their debut EP, the adaptations they made to the creative process, their hopes to rewrite the narrative of people with disabilities in society, and more in this exclusive interview!


Iceis: To start us off, I thought we would just do a few fun questions before we get into anything too deep. What is the worst name for a liquid water flavoring you can come up with right now?

Jake: [It has to] be something like peach Schnapps vomit flavored. That would be disgusting.

Iceis: That would be!

Ollie: All right, on the spot, let's go with dried-up leftover Chinese food.

Jake: Interesting.

Iceis: Ah, mine would probably be super generic. It would be called Nothing But Clear. So, literally, it has no purpose other than it's clear.

Jake: No flavor. No satisfaction.

Ollie: It's just depression.

Iceis: Exactly!

 

Iceis: If you had to grow an extra body part, which body part would you choose?

Jake: Obviously, not many of my body parts work correctly.

Iceis: Neither do mine.

Jake: Yeah, you get it. So, we’re narrowing down our options here. [I’d] probably [choose] an extra ear. I don't know. It's tough, like I said. You gotta go with ones [that are] gonna work.

Iceis: That’s big-brain thinking.

Ollie: Well, given that mine do work, it’d kind of be wrong of me not to choose one of them. I'd probably go with an extra arm.

Iceis: I feel that. If I were to duplicate my right arm, which is the arm that works, I'd be okay with that.

Jake: Right, it’d probably be my left arm if we’re going by that method.

 

Iceis: If you could play any song over the speakers in a store aisle, what song would you choose? And what aisle would it play in?

Ollie: Fuck it. I’d probably just redo the 'Take on Me’ video. [I’d] just have it go down the produce aisle.

Jake: Oh, interesting. See, I went [in] a different direction with that. I was thinking ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine. I feel like it'd be really funny to see a bunch of people [get hit with] different parts of their songs and have to deal with it while they’re buying their groceries for the week.

Iceis: That’s a good one. I would be a menace to society, and I would play the ‘[Narwhals]’ song in the office stationery section.

Jake: Aye, yes! The ‘Narwals’ song! I love it. Fantastic! We’re all settled.

Iceis: We all have to bring chaos to society.

Jake: Right, use different flavors in chaos.

Iceis: Exactly!

 

Iceis: If you were doing a job interview, what phrase would you say to instantly make them hire you?

Jake: I haven't done a ton of job interviews. So let's see. Although, probably something like, I know how to use Microsoft Word. Something dumb like that. I don't have anything too great there.

Ollie: I mean, I can just go with what I asked Jake when I needed a job and just say, "Hey, bud, you need somebody?”

Jake: It worked. It did work.

Ollie: It did work.

Iceis: If it works once, it'll work again. I would probably say something along the lines [of] "You know I’m very detail-oriented because I'm chronically online checking everybody's status.“

Jake: Exactly. And if that doesn’t say, "Hire me.” I don’t know what does.

 

Iceis: Our final one for this segment is if you could have your face on a piece of currency, what type of currency would you choose?

Jake: I'd rather be on a coin than a paper currency. How funny would it be to pelt somebody with coins that are covered in your face?

Ollie: I was actually thinking along the same lines.

Jake: You have a weapon and a currency with your face on it.

Ollie: Exactly.  You take the American currency. I'll take the European. I'll be a Euro.

Jake: I’ll be a quarter.

Iceis: Wasn’t there a one-dollar coin at one point? I feel like there was.

Ollie: Yeah, [there are] still one-dollar coins.

Jake: I know [there are] at least half-dollar [coins].

Ollie: Casinos use them a lot.

Jake: Oh, really?

Ollie: Yeah, So I'll get them here and there.

Iceis: Now, we know Ollie’s always at the casino.

Ollie: I just live near one. I don’t make enough money to go to said casino.

 

Iceis: When y’all were starting faulty wires, what [was] the initial objective you wanted to achieve through creating your band?

Jake: Early on, it started as a joke. Essentially, a band that I absolutely adore [is] called PUP. They’re from Toronto. Anyway, they were in the process of releasing a new single, and they put out the lyrics and the words for the song but not the song itself. So, I had this idea, and I was like, “What if we tried to make [a version of] the song [that’s] as bad as possible?” I think we kicked around the idea of doing that but never really pursued [it]. But then we just decided, “Hey, this is rad. What if we made our own songs?”

Ollie: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I was working for you at that point. So, usually when it was my shift, ‘cause I had an acoustic guitar with a loop pedal, I [would] just hit a button, play whatever you want, [and] hit it again. It [would] continuously loop. So, we just kept messing with that for a while.

Jake: Yeah, it started with that, And then we got more concrete ideas. I started writing lyrics, and over time, we built up demos for about five songs. We were working on six, but that sixth song sucked. So I had to delete it.

Ollie: All the other ones were progressing, but that one just couldn’t.

Jake: It was crazy. But yeah, the process began like that.

 

Iceis: Your slogan is "Faulty wires start fires.” First of all, that's very punk-rock in the best way ever. if you were trying to describe that to someone who saw that for the first time, what would you say it means?

Jake: It's one of those things that that has a double meaning to a degree. In [the] sense that, obviously, starting fires, chaos, arson, and things [of] that the imagery we associate with punk-rock. But I want to believe that by creating the music project that we're doing right, how our music is, and how honest we are trying to portray our sound, I’m hoping to start a metaphorical fire if you will. In terms of the way that people view disabled art and things like that. That’s the main objective of the concept.

Iceis: Yeah, when I read that, I was like, “I understand exactly what you're going for.” It's really cool because I feel like in the industry, whether through movies, music, or whatever, disabilities are not very frequently represented. Nor are they usually represented accurately. So, I feel like it's a whole mind-shift change for people to see actual people with disabilities in entertainment.

Jake: Right, for me, it comes back to this idea that I saw get posed by a disability activist [named] Alice Wong, which is disability visibility. The idea [is] that the way that we build those bridges, and the way that we have people better understand the disabled perspective, is representing it in [an] honest way from our voice. For years, even disabled stories were told by able-bodied people, and I hope that our project can be a part of recreating the narrative.

Iceis: Yeah, a lot of disabled stories are told by able-bodied people, unfortunately, who can't really accurately represent that because they're not disabled. I think it starts to make people question it. [It] makes people think. In a good way, of course.

Jake: Yeah, and for example, our second single is a song about having too much to drink and being unable to drive your wheelchair. I think that that perspective is not one that has been done in [an] honest way. It’s not [a] disabled story written as inspiration or as pity. I think there’s something humanizing [about] saying, “Yeah, I screw up and get drunk every once in a while.”

 

Iceis: To a certain degree, I understand how your disability affects you. But for people who [are] able-bodied or [are on] the outside looking in, what is something your disability affects that makes your ability to create and work as a musician difficult that people may not know about?

Jake: The first of those is that, obviously, this is a band, and we have live instruments. And it's pretty obvious that I don't play live instruments. I get [how] a lot of people would underestimate how much management went into this project, networking with the right people, and getting people to understand how serious I was about this project. Without Oliver helping me make the demos, I don't know how I would have ever been able to show people what my idea was,

Oliver: Yeah, ‘cause a lot [of] people probably wouldn't think of the [difficulties of] singing. It's not someone like me [who] can sit there and do a full verse. With Jake and having to record it, you have to do it line by line because that's just [how] long his lungs can last. And then it's not even just sitting him up and singing. Sometimes laying [him] down has a better [result], or putting a pillow behind [his] back. It's trying to figure out ways to do it that way. Especially early on when we were doing it, ‘cause I had little knowledge [about] audio recording. So, [I] was learning at the same time [as] doing the demos and trying to capture both his ideas and my creative ideas at the same time.

Jake: Yeah, [and to] piggyback off of that, [here’s] a stat that I like to keep throwing out there. The EP itself is about fifteen minutes long. It took me fifteen hours in the booth to put down fifteen minutes of vocals.

Iceis: Wow!

Jake: Yeah, it was exhausting. And quite frankly, it was painful, but I did that. This might [be] a little bit [masochistic], but I think there’s beauty in pushing through those limits and figuring it out when it’s safe.

Iceis: If you're trying to create something and you have to suffer a bit for it because of your circumstances, there's no shame in that.  That's actually very admirable because that shows your dedication to actually doing creative work or something you set out to do. You just have to do it in a different type of way.

Jake: Right. And the lucky part that I had from working with Oliver [and] anyone that we've collaborated with on this project is that we have been very fortunate to work with people that understand that and have been patient with me. The producer, Daniel, who produced the EP, on those fifteen-[hour-days] of me doing vocals, was there the whole time. We had two days to get it done. On that second day, he was with me until 4 am getting it done. I look at all the people that saw what we were trying to do and tried to help out how they could, [and] I’m just incredibly thankful.

Iceis: I feel like there's a fine balance when you're doing stuff like this. There's a fine balance between people underestimating and being surprised when you actually unveil how much you’ve done. [And] on the flip side, when they've learned how much you've done, it's this intense type of “Oh, my God, you did it! You are disabled, and that’s miraculous and inspirational. [It’s such a] mind-blowing moment!”

Jake: It's the idea of inspiration porn. The truth is that I do think that it is fundamentally Impressive that we’ve gotten to this point and that we'll have a whole-ass EP out in two weeks.  I do think that that can be inspiring. But I think that we have to be careful with how we talk about it. I’m proud of getting it out. I'm also proud that it is what it is. I think it’s good art. I hope that people focus on that and not the surface stuff.

 

Iceis: What is something that you feel needs to be [adapted] or [changed] to be more inclusive of people with disabilities in the industry?

Jake: Yeah, let's assume that we have some success with this EP. I want to tour. I want to do live shows. Do I know what that would entail at the moment? No. Do I know that accessibility at shows [is] probably not where [it needs] to be to facilitate that happening? I’m almost certain. My hope is that the way that these things get fixed is [by] them having to deal with others like me. But the reality is, [it’s] probably not accessible because there have not been a lot of disabled artists that have needed that yet.

Iceis: I think that's a big thing right now. When you have more people with disabilities out there in the public eye trying to do things like you're doing, that's when it starts to make people question, “Okay, how can we accommodate these people who are trying to work their way into this field?” Obviously, there's going to be a lot of pushback with that because society sucks. But at the same time, I think it starts the argument of "How do we change going forward?”

Jake: Truthfully, I don't know how we can reasonably expect things to change without issues arising. There has to be a fundamental [problem] like this venue isn’t able to serve this person, and they had to figure that out. I'm saying without disabled people in the public eye, [the problem is] never gonna solve itself.

 

Iceis: You guys have your first EP coming out. When you decided to start it, what goals or expectations did you have for it?

Ollie: I'm still wrapping my brain around the fact that it's coming out in two weeks. From how long a process it was, and to see where [it’s going to] go. I [am leading with] low expectations [for] how it progresses and how it decides to jump where it goes; Just so it's new almost every single time. That's where my mind is.

Jake: We’ve been working on this project for six years. We've had delays [and] we've had things that have made it look like it maybe never would come out. So, for me and Oliver [to] just get to this point, it almost feels unreal. It has always [been] a dream, but now we’re living it, and it's really cool. As far as the future [goes], I wanna keep doing this with Ollie. I’d love to attract some attention and figure out a way to record more music because I think that there’s an avenue for this project to be successful.

Iceis: You spent so much time with it. Also, it’s a really good EP. Most bands' first EP [sucks] ass. When you hear their sixth album and go back to their first EP, you're like, “Oh, this is where you came from.” You're starting off strong with this one. So, in addition to turning some heads, I definitely think you’re gonna slowly find that niche that you fit into.

Jake: Yeah, without a doubt. I know that there are people out there [looking for] something like this. I’m happy that there's [an] avenue for artists like us now to put music out and find an audience and whatnot.

 

Iceis: You were saying you've been putting this together for such a long time at this point. What led you to the decision that right now is the right time to put it out?

Jake: We had everything recorded in the winter [of] 2022 and [early] 2023. So, [it has] been done [for] about a year now in terms of mastering and everything. We were going to put it out late last year. But  [I had this] weird motivation in the event [that] we put this out and someone wants us to play a show or something like that. I like the idea of it coming out in the spring and summer, as opposed to the winter [because it] is a lot harder for me to get around and do things. Lately, that [has been] the motivation. We put the first single ‘Hold On Tight [(Skitch)]’ out the day after Oliver’s birthday. So, that’s why we did it then.

Iceis: Surprise birthday present to Oliver. Your single came out.

Ollie: Yeah, exactly. It actually was a surprise. Since moving to Colorado and trying to get [a] foot on the ground and be productive, Jake [and I] don't communicate as much as we can because there's a two-hour time difference. So, when [Jake called] earlier that week or the week before, he was like, “Hey, just [a] FYI, we're dropping the music video the day after your birthday.” I was like, "Oh, yeah, that’s rad!” They shot the [ending] part of that video when I was visiting Georgia so that I [could] be a part of it. Brandon [and him] finished it off at a later time, but [it was] still really, really cool. And probably one of the better ways [to celebrate] my birthday was [with] that amazing gift.

 

Iceis: You were talking about how extensive tracking vocals were for this EP. What did the creative process look like from start to finish? You started it years ago, so [I imagine] it [has] changed some throughout the years.

Jake: It was a slow process. A lot of the time when we were writing the EP itself was during the pandemic. So, there was a lot going on. The process of getting the demos to a point that we felt happy about [was] just [taking] our time. We knew how we wanted it to sound, and we weren’t comfortable sacrificing the way that was comfortable for us. The songs were written and done with writing in 2020, and we spent the next year or two figuring out exactly what we wanted it to sound like.

Ollie: A lot of it [was] Jake would have an idea for a melody, he’d hum it to me, and I’d mimic it on the guitar. We'd mess around with octaves. [In] the beginning, we got to a point where we'd have about twenty or thirty of these different audio files that were about fifteen to thirty seconds long. So, [we had] all these different riffs. We [went] through [them to] see which ones [we could] build on and then minimized it to that. I think we ended up combining a lot of them. So, they actually had the full song structure. The end part was just fine-tuning, changing what we [thought] we'd want in there, and talking about ideas ‘til it got to where it was.

Jake: Yeah, obviously, the small [thing] that none of us could avoid is that Oliver had life pull him to Colorado in [2021]. That slowed us down a bit because, obviously, things work better when we’re all there doing it. After Oliver moved, It became [difficult] figuring out [how] to [continue] it.

 

Iceis: Your EP lyrically [has] this tone of fun at times [with] a little bit [of] self-deprecating, dark sense of humor. People don't really understand that sometimes. How would you describe your lyrics to them?

Jake: For me, I feel like the intention of this project is [to show] how similar [and] cohesive the punk-rock lifestyle is to the disabled experience. And for me, I almost feel [an inclusion of] the sensitive side of a disability in a tongue-in-cheek humorous way. I think it shows my power over it. My disability doesn't take anything from me that I don’t let [it]. I think that being able to joke about it and look [at it] in a dark, humorous way [is] refreshing.

Iceis: I feel like for a lot of people with disabilities, you have to have that self-deprecating dark sense of humor. Otherwise, life would be miserable, [and] nobody [would] like that.

Jake: Yeah, if you’re not able to laugh about it, you’re not gonna be happy.

Iceis: If you can’t laugh about it, then you're just depressed, and nobody wants depression.

Jake: [Yeah, I] say that all the time, for sure.

 

Iceis: You were talking some earlier about, hopefully, in the near future, doing more live performances and touring. That would be extensive and it would need to be quite well planned, but what would need to come together or happen for you to make that a reality?

Jake: We'll start with the most obvious thing. Right now, faulty wires is just Oliver [and me]. So, we need to build the band out and find people that want to tour and play these songs.

Ollie: Yeah, we need a bassist [and a] drummer.

Jake: It's not that I don’t know people [who] might be able to fill that role, but it's hard to get someone to commit to that without knowing the other pieces to it. Other than that, it comes down to [the fact that] I've never toured, and Oliver hasn’t either. So, there would be a lot of learning. Not even disability [related], but rather what [it is] like to be a touring artist. It’s almost daunting to figure out because I know that there are a lot of things that have to [be] solved. There were a lot of things that had to be solved to make the EP to begin with, and I did that. So, there's nothing that says I can’t [tour] either.

Iceis: I think it's just about looking at things from different perspectives and problem-solving [things like], “How do we solve this? How do we accommodate this? What if this happens?” Obviously, there's the live musician aspect of learning. It’s also the medical and disability side of learning: “Okay, how do we do this on tour?”

Jake: I will say that I am fortunate in the sense that I have a support system that is ready to help me answer these problems. Not everyone can say that, and I acknowledge that to a degree. For example, if we go to a venue and [there are] some stairs, I know my boys are going to get me up those stairs. Not everyone can say that. I feel like I can say [that] maybe I’m the right person to figure this [because] I have the support needed to really focus on these issues.

Iceis: Well, when you figure these things out, you have to come back and tell me how it goes through trial and error.

 

Iceis: I have a sentence here with a couple of blanks in it [that] I want you to fill in for me. "Punk Isn’t Dead… But Maybe It’s Disabled is the best EP to listen to when you need to blank, because blank.

Jake: “Punk Isn’t Dead… But Maybe It’s Disabled is the [best] EP to listen to when you [need to] try and visit your friend at their apartment, but the elevator was broken, and you couldn’t go up, so you had to go home, [because] you're upset, but you want to let those feelings out.”

Ollie: I don't think I can top that [if I’m being] honest with you. I wasn't ready for there to be a backstory. “[Punk Isn’t Dead… But Maybe It’s Disabled is the best EP to listen to] when you need to blow off steam because life sucks sometimes.”

Iceis: Perfect answer. Next time, you’ll have to come more prepared with [a] backstory though.

Ollie: I don't have the insane, in-depth, creative mind that Jake does. I just know how to play instruments.

Jake: You have. It. It’s just in a different direction.

 

Iceis: When people are done listening to your music for the first time, what thoughts or feelings do you want them to walk away with?

Jake: I just want them to have that moment when you discover something really cool, but you didn't know it existed. [It’s] that feeling [of being] like, “Oh, oh, okay,” That [kind of] vibe.

Ollie: I'm hoping that outside of just liking [the] melodies and how the riffs and everything are, [people pay attention to] how in-depth the lyrics are and [see] a different perspective on how a lot of these things are. When I saw the lyrics that Jake wrote, that's shit I wouldn't have thought of. I wouldn’t have [anyway] because I am not in that situation.

 

Iceis: What is the most important thing for people to know about faulty wires?

Jake: faulty wires [are] not DIY because there are not many things that I can do myself. My friends, the people that I love, [and] the people that care about me all [helped to] put [this] together to make something that we wanted to see in the world. It wasn't there before, but now it is, and I hope that the world is ready.

Ollie: [I] think there shouldn't be an excuse for you not to complete something that you're passionate about, especially [with] how many different roadblocks this project and everything that has gone into it has hit. [There has] just been just this drive to complete it and put it out into the world. So, if that can just be a catalyst for people to pursue their passions or their hobbies, then I think that's what we want it to be about.

 

Iceis: Moving forward after this EP, is there anything that you guys are looking forward to personally, professionally, or both?

Jake: I wouldn't say anything concrete. So much of my last year and a half [had] gone into putting this out. I haven’t really [had] the time to focus on what happens after. Obviously, I wanna keep making music. I want to keep making music with Oliver. I hope that I can turn it into my job and my career. Beyond that, [I] just [want to] enjoy the ride as we go.

Ollie: I'm more simplistic with it. After it's said and done, [I’m looking forward to having] fun [sitting] there [making] music with Jake, [skirting] around, and just [having fun] with it and [seeing] what happens.

 

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