The Feral Babies are band born out of necessity: four restless musicians who refuse to be creatively static or stagnant. They are comprised of Justin Arnold, vocals; Sylnn Hago, guitar; Marc Cody, bass; and Andy Stern, drums.
One of the last truly punk bands, FB is taking the bay area by storm. With DIY serving as their mantra, they have recorded and released a five-song cassette themselves, and are soon to have a nine-song 7-inch released on Rigid Records (of Assuck and Pink Lincoln fame). I sat down with three-quarters of the band at a popular Seminole Heights coffee joint
How long have the Feral Babies been together?
Marc: Four months?
Andy: Noooooo, it's been eight months.
Marc: Well, time flies when you're in love.
How did you meet?
Marc: Through the scene. We've all played in different bands, respectively, and we all knew each other from our different bands.
Did your other bands fall apart?
Marc: No, we were looking for something new, and we all had admiration for each other's musicianship. When starting a new band you look for people you really have respect for.
Andy: This is our main project and we all do our side projects. We all get very antsy if we're not playing, so we all fill up our time with as much music as we can … Justin and I started writing, and we immediately thought of Marc and Sylnn.
Justin: The first time I wrote lyrically, it was called Violent Boredom. It was about going crazy from not having a creative outlet and, you know, when you're sitting around, there's nothing to do and you'll pick up a guitar, or pick up a pencil and draw a picture, or you'll write some lyrics, or a poem, or something, and that's kind of how the band started. Even though I was playing with someone else and Andy was playing with someone else, it wasn't enough; we had that violent boredom we had to quell.
Justin: We wrote Violent Boredom by ourselves. We had music and lyrics. We asked Marc and Sylnn to play from there.
Andy: The first practice, we really just clicked.
Justin: We all have different influences. When we first started we said Let's do something late '70's early L.A., Dangerhouse Records, old hardcore punk, which is stuff like The Germs, The Weirdos, The Bags, The Eyes … Obviously our current influences are going to turn that into whatever else. It's like any band you start out with a benchmark, and it ends up something else.
Marc: It's all very collaborative, we can bust out at least one song a practice. We are fortunate that we're blessed with all creative people in the band.
Andy: Plus, we're all really good with constructive criticism.
How did you come up with the name of the band?
Andy: This one's Justin's …
Justin: I always have terrible band names. I have a list of them.
Andy: He actually thinks they're really good.
Justin: My entire list of band names turned into song titles. Feral Babies: My wife was a psychology undergrad and she was learning about feral children. It's a crazy scenario where kids aren't raised right; they raise themselves. When they miss developmental milestones they can never learn to communicate.
Andy: You can definitely see FB being a '70s punk band name.
What are your main objectives as a band?
Marc: Keeping good punk music alive, not watering it down, not being concerned about what's going on in the larger pop community, or what's on the radio. What's really important is writing good punk songs without the influence of a bigger scene.
Justin: I hate watching singers who when the music's playing, and they're not singing, they just stand there and wait to sing again. Do they not like the song they're singing over? I wanna like these songs and I want them to make me wanna dance. In fact, we had a band meeting, and said these songs gotta make us feel like we wanna dance, and have fun. I was like, I'm gonna learn a couple of dance moves, I'm gonna be like Elvis. I never learned any dance moves, so I just stared bouncing around looking like a total idiot, but I was in bad shape and I thought I was gonna die. We played, and when we finished I was red, I was hyperventilating. My wife was like "Are you gonna die?" I realized I gotta start running.
Andy: He's very out of shape.
Justin: I literally started running so I could play a full set with the band. And now I can wear nice form fitting T-shirts. I not only perform beautifully, I look beautiful as well.
Andy: He's on a never-ending quest to have the perfect body.
Justin: It just never gets there.