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Failure: On The Road To Redemption

Ken Andrews on how grunge and drugs killed Failure before family brought them back together

“Were we the right band at the wrong time? Yes, definitely.” For the first time in our interview today, Failure vocalist/bassist Ken Andrews shoots back his answer immediately. Usually each question would be chewed over and considered deeply as Andrews ponders the many twists and turns that led him down the path of Failure’s unique story. He responds in an honest and articulate way, his replies are much like his band; refreshing, unique and intelligent. But when asked if Failure would have thrived in a different musical climate to the grunge boom in which they found themselves surrounded by in the early '90s, the answer is instant.

“It was a good period for some bands, but not to us,” begins Ken. “Our sound was confusing to a lot of people. It was confusing to records labels, it was confusing to press and it was confusing to a lot of fans. We did have some champions at our record label, and we did have some fans – Fantastic Planet (Failure’s 1996 masterpiece) sold around 75,000 records, which these days would be great, but back then though that was considered poor form, with all these bands going platinum. 

"It was a struggle and we were not helped by the grunge explosion. It all happened two years after we were signed, we heard Nirvana when we were writing for our second album and we thought it was awesome, but it wasn’t an influence on us, we already had our style and sound based on older bands like Pink Floyd and The Beatles. Plus some of the more moodier stuff like The Cure, more British bands influence Failure than American bands.”

The effect that grunge, and the media’s obsession with it at the time, had on Failure amounts to so much more than just a lack of record sales. For a band so immersed in their art, the apathy that surrounded them was hard to take, and it began to drive Failure into darker territories.

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