Finch Get Fired Up Again

The post-hardcore outfit reunites for the 10th anniversary of their album 'What It Is to Burn'

Finch always did have a thing for drama. The sound from their instruments was made for scoring monumental funerals and back-alley melees. Their lyrics, too, preferred the morose and murky. On more than one occasion, they sounded seconds away from tossing themselves off a ledge. With "Post Script" off 2002's What It Is to Burn, the band's first record and finest hour, someone actually jumps.

Picture the group—then, a pack of late teens from Temecula—performing the song on a 3,000-foot-high perch over an ocean. They start 40 feet from the brink, scooching closer with each note. By the time they reach the song's throat-shredding finale, they're right by the edge. The song strikes and briefly holds its peak, allowing Nate Barcalow to make the sacrifice first. A tortured soul in skatewear and proto-scene-kid bangs, Barcalow grinds his vocal cords for a goodbye: "Take a breath/Now let it out/The worst is over for now." He leaps, plunging downward like a bullet and creating a massive splash. Instead of perishing, he somehow survives, bobbing up with a Cheshire Cat grin. That's "Post Script" in a nutshell: a suicide note that turns into a "Wish you were here" post card stamped from a calm, cathartic place. For two consecutive weekends in February, the band—stifled by the words "indefinite hiatus"— reunite at the Glass House to rehash their post-hardcore insanity with their fans one more time.

The band started in 1999, transitioning from a previous outfit called Numb, a name that quickly bit the dust in favor of something they thought was a little more ambiguous. Inspired by such bands as Deftones, Weezer, Hum and Rocket From the Crypt, their first song, "Awake," yielded something "distinctly different from the Numb sound." After quickly signing to burgeoning pop-punk label Drive-Thru Records, Finch released the 2001 EP Falling Into Place, and then Burn a year later—the latter produced by Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World producer Mark Trombino. Things were good for Finch, especially Randy Strohmeyer; the guitarist hated high school and gladly dropped out to stick with his band. In 2005, Drive-Thru and Geffen Records co-released Say Hello to Sunshine. Despite an impressive run on the charts (Burn sat on the Billboard 200 at No. 99, while Sunshine hit No. 24), the sharp change to a more traditional post-hardcore sound on the album suffered from serious fan backlash.

Strife was also building among the band. At the outset of the tour to support Say Hello to Sunshine, the five-piece temporarily and secretly broke up. A publicly announced, indefinite hiatus followed in 2006, and everyone went off to other bands and jobs. "We just tried to do what we thought was best to keep everyone happy and keep writing records, but it didn't really turn out that way," Strohmeyer, now 29, says. "The band was done after that last touring cycle, just from being fed up with certain characters in the band." Without naming him, Strohmeyer repeatedly references his disdain for ex-bassist/vocalist Derek Doherty, whom the guitarist says was "making outlandish claims and being generally awful" and a "catalyst" of the worst kind.

Finch regrouped in 2007 after personnel changes, self-released a self-titled EP in 2008, announced a third record, and toured more (although these tours didn't go well). Briefly, they had their own studio in Temecula until their landlord kicked them out. Frustrated by the lack of success, it was only a matter of time before the band officially called it quits again in 2010.

After the last dissolution, Strohmeyer was certain there was no way another revival would happen, but then manager Andy Harris proposed a special 10th-anniversary tour dedicated to What It Is to Burn—still a classic in the post-hardcore community. The idea sounded good to most of the original lineup. A poster found on Finch's Facebook page reads, "No more dates. This is it . . .," but don't take that too seriously.

"I think we've learned never to say never, so after this tour, we're not going to say goodbye again 'cause I just don't want to say that again, and then have to be like, 'Oh, we're back again.' It's fucking embarrassing," he says. "I feel bad for our fans, too. We just feel like we're constantly fucking with them, and I don't wanna do that.

"If we're able to pull something together and the stars align, then that'd be awesome, but there's nothing on the table for now."

 

 
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