Bay Faction On Florida Guilt, Pitbull Puppies, & Future Projects (Interview)

From left: Kris Roman, James McDermott, Alex Agresti

It is hard to define yourself without confining yourself, but Boston-born Bay Faction have managed to establish themselves in their scene without forfeiting room to grow.

Photos: Anisha Essani 

With its swamplands, mosquitoes, and Publix Supermarkets, Florida is a far cry from the Northeast that Bay Faction call home. Yet, one cannot deny the strange connection that exists between the state and the band. Their recent full-length is titled Florida Guilt, for example, and last month they happened to visit the state on their ongoing Florida Guilt tour. I had the chance to chat about it all with them in Tallahassee itself, discussing everything from tour stories to pit bulls to what inspired their music in the first place.

"The biggest inspiration for Florida Guilt, musically speaking, was [having Alex Agresti] as kind of a sounding board to really [work out] any abstract idea,"  says frontman James McDermott, referencing the band's drummer, who is also, as James calls him, a "producer-producer." "We're close enough now where he can just be like, 'Okay, that's what it's gonna be."

From a more lyrical perspective, Bay Faction admit they found inspiration for Florida Guilt in the move from Boston to New York City. Agresti adds, addressing McDermott, "Different perspectives, different people around you... I feel like it showed a part of who you really are. I feel like that was really helpful to push you to talk about what you talked about on [the album]." 

McDermott agrees. "I was totally disconnected from everyone I knew in Boston where I grew up. Enough of me was exposed to write about what I really wanted to write about."

I ask about the recording process, and Agresti gives an elucidating "It was fun." This earns laughs from all listening. "James would send over something and we would just sit there and workshop it and record it. It was literally all done in a basement, on my laptop. We did everything besides the final thing—mastering—so the process to the end was all us."

"No studio or anything," McDermott chimes in.

A subject I know to lead conversations to fun places is tour stories, so I ask the band if they have any. McDermott and Agresti are unsure at first, but before long they are collectively eager to share a peculiar recent anecdote. "The first day that we got to Florida we went out to try to see this lighthouse and there was this woman fishing with her whole family," McDermott begins. "She was, like, walking towards us with a fishing pole and there were fish guts everywhere and stuff. And she yelled back to her kid like, 'So-and-so, if you do that I'm gonna smack the shit outta you!' And we were all like—'what.' And that was like the first day we got there, the first hour that we were in Florida, greeted by this woman—"

"who's threatening her child," Agresti finishes.

"Welcome to Florida," I supplement.

Bay Faction admit to having an amalgamation of musicians that they would love to collaborate with in the future—from the evocative hip-hop of Denzel Curry to the anthemic comedy of Zack Fox. "Touring the US constantly is our immediate goal," says McDermott. But beyond that: "I just kinda wanna not have any limits and see how many people, number one, we can produce for—because we have a thing that we're working on for production—and see how far we can get." 

However, Bay Faction's goals do not lie solely in music. "I have a fantasy of owning a dog," McDermott says with a laugh. "I just want a dog so bad."

"So what's stopping you?" asks my friend, Hiba Essani.

"Tour," he says, and Agresti admits he has been trying to talk McDermott out of dog ownership for that very reason. McDermott goes on to lament how his neighbor is a pit bull breeder and a dog just had sixteen puppies that are being given away for free. "They're so cute. They're just these little potato things."

There is a lot to look forward to with Bay Faction. On this summer tour, they are playing an unreleased song entitled "Swan Dive," and tell us they are planning on touring more in October as well, where they hope to work with a few videographers they know and film some music videos in the desert. "It's always tentative," Agresti stresses of their projects, "so it's hard to say when something's gonna come out."

For Bay Faction, there is an emphasis on attempting to define themselves in their principal genre, soft rock, without limiting themselves to a singular realm of music. This is clear in their band name, which does not denote much more than a group of people from the bay of Boston. They have left themselves room to grow— a wise choice which makes one all the more excited for whatever is to come next.


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