Far Below Perfect - "Playing your favorite level accompanied with your favorite song was the greatest feeling ever. No parent wanted their kid to become a ‘professional skateboarder’ or ‘join a band’. The Tony Hawk's games ignited a spark of creativity." - Stereo Stickman

Far Below Perfect “Playing your favorite level accompanied with your favorite song was the greatest feeling ever. No parent wanted their kid to become a ‘professional skateboarder’ or ‘join a band’. The Tony Hawk’s games ignited a spark of creativity.”


To coincide with the launch of the superb and explosive album I’ve Been To Hell Before…, California pop-punk champion Far Below Perfect kindly took part in an interview.

We talk about the fusion of old and new tracks, the inspiration for the songwriting, the re-igniting of pop punk and songs from the Tony Hawk’s Gaming era, plus his plans for live shows and the year ahead. Here’s the conversation in full.

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Hey Fritz – great to connect, and massive congrats for the impending launch of the explosive new album! To introduce things, where did you grow up, and who or what first got you hooked on pop-punk music? 

Thank you very much. This album has been long awaited by friends, family, and fans.

I grew up in Inglewood, California. I did some travelling around for high school where I picked up playing bass. My love for pop punk actually started when a friend of mine in middle school let me listen to “Blink-182’s” self titled album. It had such a strong kick off with Travis blasting out that opening beat in Feeling This. From there, it was our local rock station, “KROQ”, and video games that opened me up to more Pop-Punk and music overall.

What made you decide to fuse the newer songs with the older EP, and are there themes that connect all of these, or just a stylistic approach? 

There was once a time where I wanted to release a CD for the old EP, but felt the track list was too short. Today, putting them together, felt like the right play in case a CD or any other physical media does happen to come in the future. Also, both batches of music flowed well together thematically.

“In my eyes, there’s a nice ebb and flow between ‘Remember to stay grounded in life’ and ‘Let me tell you a story’ that balances it out.”

Why did you choose to open with the nostalgic and celebratory/sarcastic anthem Isn’t Life Grand?

It is the most attention grabbing song I have to date, especially coming after that countdown. I also used it to open my shows. It is VERY relatable. The fact that we are told HOW to make our futures better from a young age by just following certain steps is a theme that everyone can connect with. Be it pressure from parents and friends, challenging social norms, or working dead end jobs. I wanted to really reel the listener in and make them feel like “Wow, this is what I’m literally living.”

Is there much of a reawakening of this music and scene where you’re based, and do you have hope for the future that things will redirect towards rock and punk again? 

Oh absolutely. Living only minutes from Hollywood, the music scene is very tangible and venues love their ‘themed’ nights. Lots of them have “Pop-Punk and Emo Nights”. Last year, the rehearsal space I practice at asked me to open their annual “South Bay Punk Fest”, which was a lot of fun. The Pop-Punk wave is coming and it’s bringing new talent and new sounds. It’s all very exciting!

For Unbroken we enter a notably more grunge-like and almost Muse-inspired, choir-esque realm. What inspired this track, and what was the creative process like? 

Unbroken was a very fun song. You mentioning ‘Muse-inspired’ is either a high compliment or a sobering moment, but the inspiration actually came from a battle theme in a Pokémon game. The pulse of a marching force is something I like and gave my own twist to it. I’m an avid gamer and even started playing Dungeons and Dragons a few years ago. This song is my DnD anthem! And what’s a good adventure without an angry mob to storm a castle?

It was a challenge to write this song lyrically. Once I got out of my way, everything just flowed. With a little help from my friends, who lent me their voices for the mob, we stormed the castle! Did we succeed? That’s up to the listener to decide.

How did you craft these tracks as a solo artist – did you play everything organically, hire musicians, or programme things in? 

I write and perform the Guitar and Bass parts. I’m a bassist, so the finer details on guitar, like the octaves in Isn’t Life Grand?, are played by my Producer, Tyler Wirtz. Drums however, are all programmed. I take my time writing and rewriting just to make sure someone can actually play it. Ty and I have a session where we sit and humanise the drums. Add fills here, push the tempo there. Those little bits help hide my lack of members. Vocals are all done by myself and if Ty has an idea for layering, we put our heads together to make it happen. The extra vocals are sung by hired friends of mine. It’s always a good time to have them with me at ‘work’. You can hear our conversations in-between takes at the beginning and end of the album. As a solo artist, you do what you can with what you have and my friends and my producer.

How do you decide what to write about? 

This is a fun topic and one song has a pretty cliché answer. April’s Fool is that song. For months I had the “He said that he was in trouble” back and forth in my head but couldn’t really nail down anything else. My initial plans were to just shop it in the studio during the vocal session that was only a few days away, but it came to me in a dream. Yeah, pretty damn cliché. I woke up with the words ‘Date Night’ repeating over and over and instantly hopped out of bed to start writing.

Lyrics are usually the hardest part for me. I try not to be too artistic with my word choices to keep things simple. That’s the only OUTLIER song where I can say something ‘magical’ happened. The others are just life experiences hidden in clever wordplay or just me being a nerd and storming castles. April’s Fools is not based on a true story by the way.

Songs like Headaches are distinctly poetic and personal all at once – how important is conceptual integrity and authenticity or emotional truth to the music you release? 

I’m glad I get to talk about this one. Headaches is a window for me into the lives of the people who are struggling mentally. I’m not going to say I don’t have my own mental health challenges, but I’m pretty well grounded in myself and my needs. I really wanted to open up the door to this topic, and as a musician, I have a platform to do such a thing. I feel it’s VERY important to stay focused on the messages you put out with a subject like this. It’s not always about how cool you can make something sound, and in this case, it was absolutely about making sure the listener was seen.

“When I play this live, I always take a moment to highlight the mental health crises we as a people still struggle to treat. I tell everyone “if they know someone who is or if they themselves are struggling, to reach out. There’s no shame in asking for help. Everyone matters. Words can help and people can help other people heal.””

The Tony Hawk gaming era remains a huge part of so many music fans’ lives and memories – perhaps more so than either just skating or any particular genre alone. What do you think it was about the fusion of at-home virtual skating and punk rock that hit a vast audience with such great impact? 

I think it was the escapism of video games overall mixed with a well curated soundtrack of upbeat, energetic, and timeless tunes that really got stuck with fans of the THPS Series. Playing your favorite level accompanied with your favorite song was the greatest feeling ever. At that time, no parent wanted their kid to become a ‘professional skateboarder’ or ‘join a band’. These games ignited a spark of creativity. Clearly, this has had a huge effect on myself and my music. I’m happy people think of the Tony Hawk games when they listen to my music because I’d love to be on one.

Do you have plans to perform live after the launch? 

I am planning on performing as soon as I can, but currently there is nothing set. I’ll be updating my Facebook and Instagram once I have more information about the future on shows in 2024.

On My Own wraps things up rather poignantly. Tell me about the decision for the final arrangement of these tracks, and in particular, the choice to finish with this? 

The track list bounces back and forth between the new songs and old EP. It also follows what I believe to be a proper setlist of music. You start your set fast and energetic, have a slow down in the middle, and finish strong for that last impression.

On My Own is the truest version of myself in musical form. I have played in lots of bands and for one reason or another, I found myself drawing the short end of the stick. I’ve been ghosted, fired, and even told I don’t fit the image the band was aiming for.”

Each time I’d have to start from scratch and try again with another group of people until I decide to do it myself. These life lessons were progressions that led me to be on my own so I ended the album with it.

What’s your biggest ambition with this album? 

I want this album to shake up the norms of a Pop Punk band. I want it to be an example of how much you can achieve working alone. I want it to inspire people to step out of their comfort zones and create their art without fear. There are so many creative people out there that are holding themselves back because they feel a ‘band’ is necessary. I didn’t start playing music to do it alone but I’m glad I evolved and took this path. I want this album to be a gateway for those who are on the fence to achieving their musical goals.

Is there anything else we should know? 

Although I am a solo artist, I’m very thankful for the involvement of my Producer, the Music And Arts Production Studio (MAPS), and my friends who spent time with me recording. I am grateful to the people who buy, stream, share my music, sing along at shows, and other bands I frequently play with. Your support means literally the world to me. I thank you for your eyes, ears, voices and hearts. 

-Fr!tZ óÓÒò

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Find Far Below Perfect on Facebook & Instagram.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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