FSF’s new release fans flames of success

To some fans, Further Seems Forever is known as the group that singer/songwriter Chris Carrabba left to devote his time to Dashboard Confessional – a group that has gone on to become one of major success stories from the indy-label pop scene.

Carrabba wrote the lyrics and sang on the first Further Seems Forever CD, “The Moon Is Down,” in 2000. But Jason Glea-son, the singer who replaced Carrabba, justifiably can note that Carrabba’s impact in the band essentially was temporary and didn’t dictate the sound that Further Seems Forever has today.

That’s because by the time Further Seems Forever was ready to promote “The Moon Is Down,” Carrabba already had de-cided he was better suited for the stripped-down acoustic sound he has fashioned in Dashboard Confessional than the edgy electric pop of Further Seems Forever.

In fact, Gleason said Carrabba only toured with Further Seems Forever for about two weeks before leaving the band and he already had committed to Dash-board Confessional when he recorded his vocals for “The Moon Is Down.”

“Chris quit the band before the record was like recorded,” Gleason said. “So the music was all done for about a month and then Chris came in and just laid his stuff down.”

In addition, Further Seems Forever, which has just released its second CD, “How to Start a Fire,” also replaced guitarist Nick Dominguez with Derick Cordoba early in the touring for “The Moon Is Down.” So fans who came to the shows were seeing a group that already was two-fifths’ new. Gleason admitted that the changes – especially in the vocalist slot – were an issue early in the tour be-hind “The Moon Is Down.”

“When I first joined the band, I got a little bit of flak,” he said, referring to fans who were disappointed to see that Carrab-ba was not the band’s vocalist.

But now Gleason suspects the Carrabba connection not only doesn’t cause problems, it may have brought the band some additional fans.

“Our old fans know obviously that Chris was in the band,” he said. “New fans, I think half of them, not even half, a quarter of them, would be Dashboard fans who happened to check us out. I guess the other kids are kids who came to our shows (on their own). We’ve been touring for the last two years straight pretty much. The kids who came to our shows and were like: ‘This band rules’ have no idea about it (the Carrabba connection).”

The roots of Further Seems Forever go back to the mid-1990s when guitarist Josh Colbert, bassist Chad Neptune and drummer Steve Kleisath were in a Christian hardcore band called Strongarm. That band released two CDs, “Atonement,” in 1996 and “Advent of a Miracle” in 1997 before deciding to join forces with Carrab-ba, rename the group Further Seems For-ever and take the music in a different di-rection. Ironically, Gleason’s roots were also in hardcore. At the time Strongarm was together, Gleason was fronting a Min-neapolis-based hardcore band called Affinity, and apparently harboring similar thoughts of branching out musically.

By the time Further Seems Forever needed a singer to replace Carrabba, Affinity had broken up and Gleason was more than happy to get an audition with the Florida-based band. In creating the music on the new CD, “How to Start a Fire,” Gleason said he and his bandmates sought to bring more variety and a greater sense of musical dynamics than the group achieved on “The Moon Is Down.”

“There are a lot more ups and downs on the record,” he said. “It’s not just a straight-ahead rock record. There’s a lot of slower stuff, or like it will be real heavy, but it’s not that heavy because it’s slow. You know, there are just a lot of different textures on this record that weren’t on the last one.”

That said, “How to Start a Fire” is mostly a brisk CD, as songs like “The Sound” and “Against My Better Judgment” are riff-filled rockers. Meanwhile tunes like the title track, “A Blank Page Empire” and “Pride War” retain their urgency even as the band injects understated interludes into the hard-rocking sound that defines these tunes.

The “How to Start a Fire” CD benefited from the band having extra time to devote to the project, according to Gleason.

“The production is a lot better on this record,” he said. “We had a lot more time in the studio and a lot more time to spend on recording the record.

“I think this time there was just a little more time and a little more thought put into everything, which I think brought about a better product,” Gleason said.

Further Seems Forever plays March 3 at the Creepy Crawl, 412 N. Tucker. Tickets cost $10 for those over 21, $12 for those under 21 and are available at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. Other acts on the bill are Elliot, 238 and Beautiful Mistake.

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