Chris Farren is no stranger to the music industry. In 2016 he released his first full-length solo album, Can’t Die, after years of fronting the indie band Fake Problems. Blending bubbly power-pop sounds with gloomy lyrics, Farren puts his charmingly eccentric humor on full display. (If you’re ever in need of a laugh, check out his inventive merch and pseudo-narcissistic tweets.) He recently returned from his first European tour as a solo artist, opening for Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem fame. Before he left, we sent him off with a camera, asking him to document life on the road.
It’s a little more exciting to tour in Europe, where I haven’t travelled to in years. The truly amazing aspect about touring in Europe is being around other people’s cultures, learning about their countries, and watching how they all operate and behave. Everybody was purely nice, kind, and openhearted. Don’ get me wrong, I love touring in America, and it’s great in its own way, but there is something about Europe, especially around Christmas.
This was my first day in Germany (Cologne) on tour with Brian Fallon. We had a day off so my friend Brad and I explored the city. Brad is the guitar tech for The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, Against Me!, and Circa Survive. He is a king when it comes to guitar and stage management. We were walking around when we came across a ferris wheel.
The vista was extraordinary. The pictures don’t do it justice. Europe around Christmas time is magical because they go crazy for it. There are markets everywhere, and every inch of every city is fully decorated. The vibe is incredible.
Later on we began exploring Cologne and came across this beautiful Church. At first I thought it was a castle. Brad is really great to have around when touring because he has such an adventurous spirit. Most people (sometimes myself included) can get trapped in bad routines when on tour for a while. They begin to keep to themselves, only play their venues, and no longer enjoy being outside. That’s why it was so great to have Brad with us on tour. He loves to explore and wants to see the sites in every city.
This picture is of my good friend, the very well-known Brian Fallon, in Bremen, Germany. The temperature took a turn to the freezing, so Brian decided to lie down next to the heater.
Touring with Brian is unrealistically good because he treats his entire crew and band so well. His fans are so fun, receptive, and just love music. This past year I did three tours with Brian, and each was better than the last. In the beginning of the tour I was a bit nervous due to the fact that Brian uses organic instruments/acoustic guitars; I use drum machines, and electronic elements in my live shows. I thought, “Are people going to be mad at me for using drum machines?” In rare occasions people are like, “Oh, you play drum machine? I’m going to kill you.” They don’t say actually say that, but it’s implied through their vibe. But once the tour began people were so nice. People were actually interested and excited that I had a different style.
In Bremen, I began to get tired of playing guitar—which is silly for someone who essentially plays guitar for a living. When I play solo shows, I use my drum machine, a keyboard, and I play guitar. However, I wanted to be free, so when we’d get to the venue, I would ask for more microphone cords and attach them all so I’d have about 100 feet of cords. This makes the shows much more fun for me because I’m going to climb on everything. It’s always fun to play in new places, but I always like to find new, creative ways to entertain my audience.
This photo was in another greenroom in Germany. In large venues the greenroom is made for more than one person, but I had this gigantic room with all this candy to myself. This was the most relaxing time on tour: me eating pizza with my boots. Sometimes (like in this picture) I would invite somebody to the room and say, “Alright, the real reason I invited you in here is because I needed you to take a photo of me.” After the tour ended, I needed to detox from the absurd amount of candy and junk food I inhaled.
This picture was taken in Oslo, Norway. We had a day off, so we were able to really explore this city. Brad and I rode bikes in this gigantic park with all these bizarre statues of naked people swinging each other around. The most peculiar statue was of this man who appeared to be attacked by babies. He was kicking and throwing babies all around. Maybe he didn’t want kids.
This picture above was Christiania, which is near or in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is a lawless land basically run by hippies. You’re not allowed to take photos inside, where all you can smell is marijuana and hash. There are these little shops filled with antiques and potentially bootleg Simpsons and Family Guy merchandise. It was strange but interesting. One hardware store also sole drug-related novelty t-shirts. I was in Copenhagen towards the end of the tour, and I went back to Christiania several times to get Christmas gifts.
Broadly speaking all the Scandinavian countries we travelled to were my favorite to tour (Sweden, Norway, Denmark).
This is me and my friend Tyler (Diners), who owns an enormous amount of Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. While on tour, I came across a thrift store that had one. I proceeded to buy it for him and said, “Let’s take a photo so I can show everyone how nice I am.”
Coming to America. Mark from AJJ took this photo. I remember thinking, “This is funny looking. I just want a photo in front of it.” In the background, there is a graveyard and a bunch of windshield washer fluid in front of it.
I flew to Florida after some fans asked me, via email, to play at their wedding. My friend Tanner from You Blew It! also played. The bride wanted to surprise her groom with Tanner and I. On the way to the wedding, Tanner and I were thinking, “This is going to be weird. He doesn’t know we’re going to be there. We have to be like ‘Surprise, you love us.’” Immediately before the bride walked down the aisle, Tanner and I took a seat, but the groom locked eyes with us, and his head went sideways. He was really excited. It was a really fun night.
After the wedding, Tanner and I decided to crash a corporate ball with an open bar. We were on the dance floor all night! We were on our phones trying to figure out the name of this company in case somebody approached us.
Hear what Chris Farren listens to on his downtime here: