Who is John Faye?
At the end of 2017, with over three decades in the music business under his belt, Philly rock veteran John Faye decided to take a new direction in his creative life and went on a self-imposed hiatus from recording and performing to look back on his life and career in his upcoming memoir, tentatively titled The Yin and the Yang of it All: Memories from the Cusp, as told by a Mixed-Up, Mixed-Race Kid.
As a musician of Korean-Irish descent, Faye was one of the only mixed-race Asian Americans to sign a major label recording contract in the 90’s heyday of alternative rock. As the lead singer and songwriter for the Caulfields, he released two albums on A&M Records, had a modern rock radio hit in the US and Australia (“Devil’s Diary”), had song placements in major films and television shows through a publishing deal with Warner-Chappell, and toured nationally and internationally.
In his memoir, Faye shares his unusual perspectives on identity, race, and fame, and also recounts brushes with the likes of KKK grand wizard David Duke, TV-host Tom Bergeron, Apollonia (from Purple Rain), and numerous well-known rock bands from the 90’s. Ultimately, it is the story of finding his voice and his tribe in the world of rock and roll, with his strong and enigmatic mother as his emotional anchor.
With eleven full-length studio albums, two live albums, a B-sides record, three EP’s, a DVD, and a handful of digital singles to his credit, John Faye has amassed an impressive musical resume.
DIG INTO JOHN FAYE'S MUSICAL HISTORY
Beat Clinic 1985-1991
John Faye cut his musical teeth in this University of Delaware combo, developing his songwriting skills, his voice, and his showmanship over the span of six years, seven if you count the year the band spent as No Excuse when they were fresh out of high school. In the band’s earliest days, they served as the opening act for midnight screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with Faye on drums. Within a year, he became the band’s frontman and Beat Clinic started to gain local notoriety, playing upwards of 15 shows a month, and reaching the finals of the Energizer Rock’n Roll Challenge, a national battle of the bands, hosted by a then unknown, and unfunny, Sinbad. The band released two albums: No Time To Walk in 1989 and Same Bed, Different Dreams in 1990. They received their first commercial airplay courtesy of WMMR in Philadelphia, on Cyndy Drue’s local music show “Street Beat,” and Same Bed won the WMMR/ Big Shout “Spiked Heel” award for “album of the year.”
The Caulfields 1992-1997
Most of the members of Beat Clinic (John Faye, Mike Simpson, Sam Musumeci, and Scott Kohlmorgen) carried over in a name change and musical overhaul that would make The Caulfields ready for prime time. With Faye now writing or co-writing all the songs, the band landed on the melodic side of the grunge era, and signed a major label record deal with A&M Records in 1994, releasing Whirligig in 1995. The debut single "Devil's Diary" cracked the modern rock top-40, and the album cut “Hannah, I Locked You Out” landed on soundtracks for Columbia Pictures "The Babysitter's Club" and Fox Television's "Melrose Place." Faye signed a deal with Warner/Chappell Music Publishing that same year, which led to co-writing sessions with some of his musical heroes - Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens, Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, and Peter Case of the Plimsouls. The band toured the radio festival circuit with new drummer Ritchie Rubini and hit the road with labelmates Del Amitri before capping off the year with a month-long stint in Australia, where “Devil’s Diary” received national airplay on Triple J and reached #61 on the national pop chart. The Caulfields’ highly anticipated second album L, was released in 1997, but was hampered by the firing of the band’s A&R man just weeks prior to the release. With company support suddenly evaporated, the Caulfields' major label career was over as quickly as it began. In 1998, Faye released a "pirated" album called Fraud, which contained B-sides and rare tracks.
John Faye Power Trip 1998-2002
The demise of the Caulfields landed Faye at a serious crossroads. He had already been at it for over a decade, and the crushing blow of being dropped by A&M would have certainly justified a career change, but there was no turning back. Within months after the Caulfields final bow, Faye had new management in Atlanta, GA, where the modern rock station 99x had given “Devil’s Diary” a taste of southern success. In 1999, with the release of The John Faye Power Trip, produced by future Grammy winner Don McCollister at Nickel and Dime Studios in Decatur, Faye was accomplishing far more as an independent artist than he had in his final year on a major label. Tour dates with Matthew Sweet, an opening slot for REM after winning Y-100’s Big Break contest in Philadelphia, and significant airplay for the single “Miss Catch-22” gave John’s career the shot in the arm he was hoping for.
In 2002, the lineup that toured in the John Faye Power Trip (John Faye, Cliff Hillis, Dave Anthony, and Joann Schmidt) took on a new band name, IKE. The quartet played its final show as JFPT and made its debut as IKE on the same calendar day, with an outdoor performance in the afternoon and a club date at night. The band recorded a new full length, again with Don McCollister, with two tracks produced by Butch Walker, and released Parallel Universe in 2003. The single “Deathbed (Na, Na, Na)” received airplay in several major markets, in part on the strength of the song's Citizen Kane-inspired music video. The band appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine, and Faye sang the National Anthem at a Philadelphia Eagles game in front of the largest crowd of his career: 60,000 people. IKE released the DVD Bumper Sticker Wisdom in 2004, which featured live footage and interviews from various performances from the Parallel Universe tour. 2005 saw the release of In Real Life, recorded with Philadelphia legend Phil Nicolo. The single “Into Philadelphia” was chosen as the lead-off track on the WMMR local music CD Jaxon’s Local Shots, Vol. 1 and was put into heavy rotation. The song was played frequently at Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers games and remains a staple on WMMR to this day. IKE hit new heights on the strength of "Into Philadelphia," garnering an opening slot for Bon Jovi at Atlantic City's legendary 10,000-seat venue Boardwalk Hall, a support slot for the Hooters at the Electric Factory, and a headlining post-hockey game concert at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, aptly dubbed "IKE on ICE." In 2007, the band released a live acoustic album IKE presents the Living Room Show, which highlighted a unique aspect of the group’s touring strategy - “unplugged” shows played in private homes, for intimate audiences. LRS was recorded at Don McCollister’s new location for Nickel and Dime, a converted movie theater with plenty of room for the band and a raucous live studio audience. Around this time, Faye began organizing and promoting "Mistletoe Jam," an annual holiday concert at World Cafe Live sponsored by WMMR, which often included tie-ins with local charities like Philabundance. IKE stayed on a roll with 'MMR with its next two releases, becoming the only independent band to score regular rotation airplay on the station with singles from three consecutive studio albums, landing spins for “We Like Sugar” from 2008’s Where To Begin, and “Everything You Love” from 2010’s Tie The Knot With All That you Got. Both these albums featured revamped band line-ups, and would introduce guitarist Brett Talley, drummer Tommy Kristich, and bassist Susie Steen, into the IKE history book. This line-up opened for Free Energy at Radio 104.5's summer concert series at the Piazza in Philadelphia. In 2011, drummer Jason Miraglia joined IKE and the band recorded The Little People, Church and the Steeple, an EP that included both electric and acoustic versions of the five Faye originals. The fast and furious 2-minute rocker “Dead To Me” would, years later, receive airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on Sirius/XM. When Brett Talley was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013, the band rallied behind him with a benefit concert (Brett Fest) and a new single “The Other Shoe Always Drops,” which would be the last IKE studio recording. The band has reunited several times since 2011, notably in April of 2017, selling out the TLA in Philadelphia with fellow Philly bands Jealousy Curve and Pawnshop Roses.
John & Brittany 2010-2014
John Faye met Brittany Rotondo at an IKE show in December of 2008 and within a year forged a musical duo that would once again rejuvenate Faye’s songwriting and career. J&B released an eponymous debut EP, recorded by Brett Talley in 2011 and launched a Kickstarter campaign to record their full-length Start Sinning the following year. The crowdfunding raised $10,000 and John & Brittany, along with drummer Jason Miraglia and bassist Mike Vivas, made a record that would take them places they could not have anticipated. The album’s title track became a Little Steven’s Underground Garage “Coolest Song in the World,” garnering heavy rotation play on the popular satellite radio channel, and the song would go on the finish #3 on the station’s year-end poll. The music video for the album cut “Paper Planes” received airplay on MTV-u. After Crookedletta, Crookedletta, a live album recorded by drummer Carl Bahner in the summer of 2013, John & Brittany began work on their final recording, Stories To Be Told, which yielded another Underground Garage “Coolest Song” - the EP’s lead-off track “St. Valentine.” Personal differences caused J&B to pull the plug just as Stories To Be Told was released, but the duo put on one last farewell show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia as a final send-off.
John Faye & Those Meddling Kids! 2015-present
At the crossroads once again, Faye took matters into his own hands and released the solo album Meddling Kid. Determined to create an artistic tour-de-force, Faye played every instrument and sang every line (with the one notable exception of inviting all of his colleagues from IKE to sing gang vocals on his remake of that band's signature hit "Into Philadelphia"). The lead single, "D.N.A.," was a scathing rebuke of skin-deep relationships and snap judgements in the age of Tinder and short attention spans. The full-length won the 2015 WSTW Homey Award for Album of the Year.
With a live band anchored by guitarist Joey DiTullio, producer/guitarist Steven LaFashia, and a talented cast of players, which has included bassists Michael O' Brien and Michael Vivas, drummers Jason Miraglia, Greg Pinney, Josh Mayer, and Brianna Sig, and vocalists Sarah Eliz Herbert, Katie McCorry, and Tess Emma, John Faye & Those Meddling Kids! has wowed audiences with sold out headlining shows in Philly, and an appearance at the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party with Nate Ruess of Fun, The War On Drugs, and Civil Twilight. The band also opened for Soul Asylum and Faye performed solo opening slots for Pat Benatar and Matthew Sweet. Those Meddling Kids recorded two new singles in 2016 - “Miss America” and “Puzzle Piece.”
John Faye has shared stages with more than 60 national acts:
ALL (ex - Descendents)
BETTER THAN EZRA
BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY
BIG COUNTRY (W/ MIKE PETERS OF THE ALARM)
BOWLING FOR SOUP
JOHN CALE (Velvet Underground)
ROGER CLYNE & THE PEACEMAKERS
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE
GOO GOO DOLLS
GREEN APPLE QUICKSTEP
HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH
LETTERS TO CLEO
MARKY RAMONE'S BLITZKREIG
MIKE PETERS OF THE ALARM
NATE RUESS (fun.)
SHUDDER TO THINK
WAR ON DRUGS