Kelli Scott talks the return of Failure

(Image credit: R Daly)

You may not have heard of Failure, but your musical heroes have.

They were the great lost band of the '90s, loved by everyone from Tool's Maynard James Keenan to Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams, yet they slipped away in the late '90s when they should have been hitting it big.

But now the LA alt-rock cult icons are back on the road after being handpicked by Wes Borland to support his Kwong project, and a new album is in the way thanks to a fantastically successful Pledge campaign that delivered backing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars within two weeks.

Shortly after the band made their UK return with a one-off London, we spoke with drummer Kelli Scott on the unlikely return of Failure.

You recently played your first UK show in 20 years - how was that?

"It was packed to the gills and it was a really emotional crowd. It was bitter sweet. It was much better than the last time we were here 20 years ago when we played at the Borderline. I think there were maybe four people at that show. Someone was looking for information about that show on the internet and I said, 'I think there needs to have been five or more people at a show that old for information on it to wind up on the internet.'"

A lot of those people at the recent show would have thought they had missed their chance to see you guys

"We thought the chance was gone. It's been two years now since we started back but if you had asked me if this was going to happen the week before it did I would have said it would never happen."

So why was now the right time to reform?

"Time heals wounds, as they say. We had a lot of time. Ken and Greg's relationship was re-sparked by both of them having children the same age, that bought them together hanging out as friends and parents, something unrelated to music. After a few years of them becoming friends again the topic inevitably snuck in there."

Once the call came did everything fall together quickly?

"Yes. Ken called me, I thought he was calling me for a session because he's done a lot of producing and mixing. As soon as he said that he and Greg had been hanging out I knew what was coming, yet I was still caught by surprised. They had some demos and wanted to record some drums. Four weeks later we were in a room tracking drums."

You started a Pledge campaign to help fund recording a new album. Were you taken by surprised at how quickly you reached your goal?

"Taken by surprised can pretty much sum up the theme of all of this. Even when we started playing again our ideal was shooting really low, just having fun and maybe putting out an EP and playing some small shows. There wasn't much thought beyond that. As soon as we recorded those first things we would play it to friends and you know people that are managers and producers and it all took us by surprise from there. We did the first show, we thought tickets would be on sale for four months so we'd be able to fill the venue reasonably and the show sold out in two minutes."

Failure has a raft of high-profile fans, what has it been like to hear your name dropped by all of these big stars in the years you've been away?

"It's a little bitter sweet. The way things ended in the late 90s, there were a lot of unresolved musical things. We had a future that could have been had and we all walked away from it. Over the years it has always been bitter sweet. For me personally, it took a few years to resolve my own personal feelings about leaving it the way we did. Gradually I learned to appreciate people being fans of the band and our name coming up in circles from other bands and fans. But for a while it smarted."

Have those regrets increased after seeing the appetite for the band that there still is?

"Actually no. After a few years I learned how to resolve my issues with the way things did or didn't wind up. I became grateful of my past and for having had the opportunity to do what we did do. I think by the time it circled around to us doing this again, there's no regrets. There's no looking into the past, just a lot of feeling of good fortune. How often to people get a second chance to do things right?"

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).