Lo Faber Reflects: The Future Professor on God Street Wine, Faber Band and Family
Lo Faber is on hiatus from the music scene. He even hints that he even might be retired. However, the 41-year-old still performs for those closest to his heart.
“I sing them for my baby with my guitar,” said Faber, the former front man for God Street Wine. “He’s my audience.”
God Street Wine, an influential band in the early days of the jamband scene, was together for 11 years, making seven albums before breaking up in 1999. The band reunited in 2001 for one show to mark the closing of New York City’s The Wetlands. After GSW, he formed the Lo Faber Band and recorded two rock operas: Henry’s House and Friday Night Freak Show.
No longer on the road, Faber resides in his hometown of Princeton with his wife Lisa, his 6-year-old daughter Millie, and his son Little Lo. Faber, whose mom was a bluegrass musician, started playing guitar at the age of 10 and taught himself to play the piano by mastering Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.”
He has not performed in front of a live audience since he sat-in with moe. on Oct. 21, 2006 at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. Faber filled in for Al Schnier, who had tendonitis.In the spring of 2006, at the age of 40, Faber completed an undergraduate degree in American Studies from Skidmore College. Later that year, Faber moved back to his hometown to attend Princeton University. He enrolled in a Ph.D. program in early American history and describes it as an “insane amount of reading.” He is a history buff and enjoys learning about the social theory, psychology and philosophy associated with history. When he completes the five-year program, he will become Professor Faber.
“That’s the plan,” he said, “but I want to enjoy the process why it happens.”
During his downtime, he listens to funky music with his daughter Millie, plays unreleased God Street Wine songs for his newborn son, and watches the Mets.
“She won’t stand for anything that’s not funky,” Faber said of his daughter’s musical taste.
GR- How has fatherhood changed your life?
LF- It’s the greatest thing that’s happened in my life. It’s a source of so much happiness —watching this girl (Millie) grow up and now this baby (Lo). Kids are cute, fun and they’re an excuse to act silly and jump around on the bed. You get to be a kid again through them.
GR- Does Millie know that you used to be a musician?
LF- She did see Henry’s House. It used to be one of her favorite videos and now, I’m sorry to say, she’s not that into it anymore. She was aware enough when I was recording Friday Night Freak Show. She was into hearing all the songs while I was writing them, and listened to listen to them over and over.
GR- Does she listen to God Street Wine?
LF- I haven’t really played her too much stuff. Funny though, she found “Better Than You” on my iPod and I was like, “That’s my old band.” She didn’t recognize the voice, because I don’t sing lead on that one.
GR- What music do you find yourself listening to these days?
LF- A lot of Prince. He’s my favorite artist right now.
GR- Do you listen to God Street Wine?
LF- I do, especially now that time has gone by. I find the stuff pretty enjoyable.
GR- Do you go out and see music?
LF- I mainly don’t have time. I get jealous too, because I want to be up there.
GR- Is it strange not performing on stage on a regular basis?
LF- It’s kind of strange. I play almost every day. I’m always wishing I could play more on stage, but it takes planning and it takes playing with people, I don’t think I’ve given music up completely, but maybe I have. I would like to release all the unreleased material.
GR- What do you have in terms of unreleased material?
LF- There’s plenty of live stuff, plenty of studio stuff and songs that were never performed before or performed rarely. It would be fun to put that stuff out for free on the Internet.
GR- You performed a few solo acoustic shows in 2006, what was that experience like?
LF- I was not sure if I could (perform solo). I always thought of myself as songwriter putting together bands to play music. The solo shows were great fun and I started of thinking of the old songs in a new way, but I still don’t know if it’s my forte.
GR- As you look back what show or moment stands out for God Street Wine?
LF- I don’t know. I guess a lot of people think of the large crowds. Probably the H.O.R.D.E Tour at Waterloo Village (Stanhope, NJ 1995). But really, if you want a serious answer the most important moment for me and the most important memories for me were when we were by ourselves working on the music because that’s what I love to do. It was so much fun and I love those guys.
GR- What’s your favorite God Street Wine album?
LF- I like all the albums in different ways and I’m frustrated about them in different ways. One album doesn’t stand out and I don’t think any one album is particularly lame.
GR- Back in December, you had dinner with the other four members of GSW [Aaron Maxwell (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Osander (drums and percussion), Dan Pifer (bass), and Jon Bevo (keyboards)]. What was that like?
LF- It was great. It was like no time had past. It was great to see everybody.
GR- Was there any talk of reuniting?
LF- It always comes up. The guys are worried that the audience won’t be there for us. And logistically it would be hard to get everyone together and no one wants to go into that planning if it won’t work out. Plus, The Wetlands was our built-in reunion setting. I miss that – there’s nothing like that place.
GR- Do you feel the audience won’t there?
LF- There’s definitely an audience, the question is how big and how we could reach it and get the word out. I always said, I’d be happy to play with those guys anytime, anywhere. I would totally welcome it, but I’m only one of five.
GR- With all the festivals, don’t you think GSW could reconnect with its fan base and create new fans?
LF- The ambitious festival promoter should get on the phone with us.
GR- After GSW, you formed the Lo Faber Band, were you happy with how that project went?
LF- I was totally happy with it. I wish I could have prolonged it, but I was subsidizing the whole thing in a loss. It was doomed to die, but musically it was very exciting.
GR- Any future plans to stage Henry’s House?
LF- I wish, but not at the moment. I’m beginning my second year of grad school. I’m totally focused on academia at the moment.
GR- Speaking of which, why have you decided to pursue a doctorate in history?
LF- I’m curious how the world got to be in the messed up state it is now — typically in regards to the United States and why things are the way they are. Where we’ve been and where we’re going. We can create our society and future.
GR- Was it hard going back to being a student?
LF- No. everyone should go to college in their late 30s. When I was a college student the first time around, I had other things on my mind: women, music and alcohol. At NYU, I mailed it in for two years, and then at Manhattan School of Music, I wasn’t giving it my all. I was looking for good times and looking for people to play music with. And I did and I dropped out.
I can’t say enough about Skidmore College [Where Faber completed his undergraduate degree two years ago]. I had some really great professors who put in a lot of time and care for a student who was an ex-rock n roller.
GR- Did you ever imagine you would be attending Princeton as a graduate student?
LF- It wasn’t an inkling of a plan. I never imagined going back. It would have struck me as too hard. It is hard. I just take it one day at a time.
GR- Back to your musical career, what lessons did you learn along the way that you might convey to younger bands?
LF- It would be pretty presumptuous to give advice. Younger bands have to figure out things for themselves. That’s the whole fun of it. If you have a bunch of guys, and you love what you’re doing keep it together. I believe in long-term relationship with bands and women.
GR- If GSW, never plays another show together, how do you hope your music is remembered?
LF- I’d be happy if it’s remembered at all.