Rock Bands: Five of the Eyes and More than Five, Questions for their Lead Singer Darrell Foster
"Portland has a population of over 63,000 people and, for its relative size, it is a music fan’s heaven. Watching shows at Merrill Auditorium, Longfellow Square, State Theatre, Port City, Empire, SPACE Gallery or Asylum can provide you with ample genre-fication. Whether you are looking for a local or a touring band, whether you are looking for rap, indie, funk, folk, metal, adult contemporary, a jazz band, or whether you are looking for a theatre or a bar, you have that luxury in Portland.
SMCC students need to artistically exercise the right to dig music, whether it’s with following the local band scene or performing in it. Darrell Foster, an SMCC student and the lead singer of Portland-based funk band Five of the Eyes, is on the latter side. Five of the Eyes is a self-described alien funk band with Latin influences, and have been compared to The Mars Volta and The Fall of Troy.
FotE consists of band members:
Tim Meehan (guitar)
Ned Rich (guitar)
Peter G. (drums and bass on “Abyss”)
Tom Meehan (drums and bass on “Abyss”)
Darrell Foster (lyrics and synth)
Foster is a well-rounded musician who excels at vocals. He doesn’t confine himself to a genre and could quite possibly be the best dancer in Maine (you have to see it to believe it). Foster is a method writer who develops his message through improvisation to manifest philosophical energy. He’s also “got a knack for creating a vocal hook that will get lodged in your brain after a few listens,” as described in an article in the Bangor Daily News, who did an interview with Foster in February.
I recently sat down for a Q & A with Darrell Foster and we discussed Portland’s local music scene, how Five of the Eyes falls into it, the enlightenment of pure creativity and a few other things.
How long have you been singing?
I’ve been singing since I was 8 or 9 and I remember my sister would yell, “If you don’t know the words, DON’T SING!” I think I was singing to Backstreet Boys or something ridiculous. And it was around that time I learned to forget what other people say and to do what feels good, do what you want, sing whenever and wherever you want.
How long have you played the synth?
Actually, not that long, only about six months. I’ve been playing around with keys my whole life, but I’ve always been a guitar player. When I joined this band there was just no need for another guitar so I decided to find something else to contribute. I’ve always enjoyed samples and weird ambient effects, so I bought a MIDI rig and haven’t looked back.
Can you play any other instruments?
Yeah, I’m not a master at any specific instrument; my main craft is my vocals, but if it makes noise, I can make music. Not necessarily good music, but music (haha).
What’s your favorite band (besides FotE)?
This seems like an impossible question. It really depends on my mood. I listen to a lot of classic rock, like everyone else that has a radio, but I also like a lot of indie and folk music. Recently I’ve been listening to Cage the Elephant, The Mars Volta, Lake Street Dive, and Arctic Monkeys.
What was your first album?
Ha, I’m not 100% sure. The cool guy in me wants to say “Aenima” by Tool, but I think it was more like “Dookie” by Green Day, or quite possibly “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” by Limp Bizkit.
How long have you guys been playing?
The other members of the group formed the band in early 2014. I joined in May.
Whats does FotE mean?
It means that a sentient being from a distant galaxy is on its way to destroy the planet. Or it’s an acronym for Five of the Eyes.
Do you write the lyrics? Do you have ideas for songs in mind or the music inspires you?
I do write the lyrics, but none of it is premeditated. We have a pretty solid recording setup that allows us to track the songs in good quality at practice. Then I’ll take it home and record different ideas and lyrics, just kind of improv over it until something sticks. Honestly, a lot of times I’ll come up with something, and it will be like, yeah that’s really awesome, but what the hell am I talking about? After I think about it for a while, that something will develop a meaning to me that was never intended. It’s times like those that cause the existential side of me to ponder if I’m even writing the parts, or if it’s all some weird subconscious crap. Like shutting your brain off and streaming dream thoughts out loud. It has to be a really comfortable space to allow this to happen, or your mind will get defensive about what kind of nonsense is coming out of your mouth, and the people listening will think you’re some kind of strange psychopath. Maybe I am? This is why I write most of it alone at my house.
Where can I find your album?
Right now the EP we released on Tuesday is on Bandcamp and can be downloaded at a “pay what you want” price. We have it linked to our website, so you can get it by going to: http://www.fiveoftheeeyes.com. Next week it releases on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and a few other music distributors, but these will not have a “pay what you want” feature.
Was the FLAC file option a conscious decision?
Bandcamp automates that file type. We actually uploaded .wav files for the highest quality, but that means each song is about 123 MB. Bandcamp converts them to FLAC for a better online streaming service. It’s a smaller file, but has a touch better quality compression than an MP3 would offer.
How do you like playing in Portland?
I love Portland, and I love playing in Portland. I’ve lived here for about seven years, and the support I’ve been given in this town musically has been unreal. When I was just starting out I was blown away by just how many local venues wanted to help me get my feet off the ground. Especially Ken Bell, who used to run the Big Easy when that was still a thing. It was such a shame to see that venue go the way it did. The people there were a musical family. These days, we’ve kind of taken up residency at the Empire, doing most of our headlining gigs there. It’s just got such a cozy feel to it for a medium sized venue. The lights and sound are awesome and the staff are probably some of the best people on this planet.
Did you take dance lessons? (Go to the show and you will know why I asked this question.)
I took salsa lessons once, but everything else just comes from years of dancing at parties and a deep love for all things MJ and James Brown.
I love the “Eos” acoustic bridge. Have you guys tried an unplugged setlist?
We haven’t tried that yet, but it’s been discussed and will probably happen in the future. It’s a shame we aren’t truly able to recreate that bridge live with a real acoustic guitar. I’ve been working on genetic manipulation to get Tim to grow two more arms, but it may take a while.
What’s your favorite FotE song?
“Hell Hotel.” It will be released on our full length, but if you want to hear it now, you’ll have to come to the Port City show.
When can I get a FotE t-shirt?
Hopefully soon! We’re looking for someone to help us with designs and ideas. I’m trying to get a fan art submission thing going, but for now, if anyone likes the music and feels inspired to draw something up, feel free to send it to us on Facebook!
Should we have an SMCC FotE show?
Does a dude in a shark suit not give a crap about choreography? Absolutely.
Well you heard it here, folks: if you want to check out some of Portland’s finest local music, come to the Empire on May 1st."
- Frank Coletti / SMCC / The Beacon