This month Stephanie Nicole Smith interviews Richie Follin, formerly of Willowz and Cults. Richie spearheads Guards alongside his wife, Kaylie Schiff and long time friend, Loren Humphry. He's also working with his sister, Madeline Follin of Cults, in a new project called Follin and currently writing with Nick Valensi, of The Strokes, on Nick's new solo project. A native to California, Richie was influenced to start playing guitar after his musician step-father handed over an Epiphone Les Paul. Read about where he records in Brooklyn and his favorite gear and tours.
How did Guards come about? Where did the name come from?
Guards EP was a few songs I wrote in between Cults tours and I just wasn't really sure what to do with the songs. Finally, I just decided to start a new project and post it on the internet for free. The name came from just thumbing through an Arthur Rimbaud book.
What is your favorite studio? Where do you usually record?
I do a lot of stuff at the Guards drummer's studio in Bushwick, NY. That studio is called Stockholm Sound Studio. I have also recorded a lot at Thunderdome studios in Piermont, NY. Those two studios are great.
What is your writing process? Where do you get inspiration from?
I get inspirations from a lot of music and people and ideas. As far as my writing process goes, I will write on guitar or piano and then try to record a bunch of melodies over the chord progression and then I'll work on lyrics which can sometimes be really quick and easy or it will take weeks and I'll fill a whole notebook up for just one song and then have to edit and decide what the song is going to become.
What are you currently working on / any new releases in the works?
I just finished an old Willowz record we are going to release. I have a new project with my sister from Cults called Follin. I'm working on finishing the second Guards record, and I wrote with Nick Valensi from the Strokes on his new record that he is just now in the studio finishing.
What was your first instrument? What is your set up like?
My first guitar was given to me; it was an Epiphone Les Paul. Then, I was given a Danelectro and I played that live a bunch, but I kept smashing it until it was no good anymore. The first guitar I bought was a 90's Stratocaster. I play a bunch of different guitars. I just got a '67 Epiphone Riviera that I use a lot now.
Who were your main early influences?
Nirvana was my first record. Metallica was my first concert. When I started a band it was a lot of proto-punk bands like Stooges and a bunch of SoCal punk bands like the Adolescents.
What is your favorite recording setup like?
I have an old 50's Magnatone Troubadour amp that I use on every record I make. I always use this 60's Sennheiser 421 on it. I pretty much only sing through my RCA BK5 now. The preamp I use the most is my Chandler TG channel. As far as analog versus digital goes, I have done records to tape and records on my laptop. You can make good and bad sounding records on any format, I believe.
What was your favorite tour you went on and why?
The Guards tour with Queens of the Stone Age was pretty amazing, especially because we got to play an arena for the first time. The European Guards tour with MGMT was amazing because we were on the same tour bus together so it was a constant good time and we went to so many places I had never been before. The Willowz tour with The Hives and Eagles of Death Metal was really great too.
Be sure to keep up to date with Richie and all of his projects:
Stephanie Nicole Smith is a visual artist and make up artist in Los Angeles, CA. You can find her work at stephanienicolesmith.com and follow her @stephanienicolesmith. She currently contributes to the Original Fuzz Magazine via her Five Minutes series.