While driving to Petco the other day, I shoved the Ginger Faye Bakers' boss disc, "Feast," into my dashboard, cranked the volume, and did a double take. I could've sworn I heard the ghost of Ron Asheton haunt the speakers amidst this Rochester band's heavy jam. The Ginger Faye Bakers rock harder than a lot of bands that consider themselves heavy in the first place, aligning itself with breakthrough and exploratory artists like Pavement, Wilco, and The Flaming Lips. So maybe heavy isn't the right word. Let's swap it out and say intense.
The band — Nate Baker, guitar/vocals; Tim Sadue, bass; and Billy Martin, drums — has been burning with melodic intensity since 2009. Both Baker and Sadue grew up outside Watertown, a "cultural and economical armpit," according to Baker.
"There's nothing going on. People there fuck and fight and drink and that's about it," Baker says.
Amidst all the fornicating, fisticuffs, and fluid intake, the boys found themselves surrounded by musicians. "It seemed that all the friends we had played in bands," Baker says. "Which, for a small town, is kind of weird."
After college, Baker and Sadue both landed in Rochester. Baker initially lent guitar work to the indie-leaning group Cavalcade, "but it really wasn't my thing," he says. It was around this time in 2009 that he and Sadue began playing and writing, creating what would be The Ginger Faye Bakers.
Drums — or more specifically, drummers — were a bit of an issue. What is it with drummers?
"One dude was a student and he was gone at the end of May," Baker says. "Another was a lost soul and he just decided to move to Alaska." Finally, along came Martin.
"Billy's the best drummer we've played with," Baker says. "In terms of the band's sound, it's gelled more, the songs have become more focused. The feeling before was just a grab bag of songs. Before I'd write whatever, and we'd do it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't."
The Bakers' live shows are a constant and consistent cataclysm of tones and beats that give a heavyweight punch on flyweight legs. This is where Baker cuts loose. The studio, however, is it a bit daunting for the group — especially when it comes to singing.
"It was pretty intimidating for me, because I'm a little self-conscious at times," says Baker. "You've got to be in the right place to do it. It's easier to sit in my basement for three days when no one's around. Say, 'Let's do this,' and wail it out, scream it out, instead of people looking at you. 'Let's do it again, that wasn't quite right.' It's a weird dichotomy. I think it's because of the pressures. 'OK, this is it. This is what everyone's going to hear, documented for the rest of our lives. It's going to last forever.'"
Forever didn't take long in the studio, though. The band had done its homework and banged out "Feast" over the course of a weekend at More Sound Studio in Syracuse.
"We did the whole record in two days," says Baker. "Everything was rehearsed and had been demoed, so it wasn't that much of a stretch. We tracked it all — bass, guitar, drums — live. Prior to that everything we'd done was in my basement. It was the first time I'd been in a real studio."
Though it took relatively no time to produce, it took a while before Baker could comfortably sit down and enjoy it.
"Upon reflection, I love it," he says. "I spent a whole three weeks before I listened to it again."
It's definitely good enough for forever — or at least for the next generation. "I'd like to have my daughter pull it out and take it to show and tell," says Baker. "And maybe she'll turn on some other kids. 'Wow, your dad's in a band? Wow, you have a record. What's that?'"