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Interview: Folly


Last December, rumors went around that a possible Folly reunion was in the works. January came and we finally heard about their reunion show at the School of Rock. Needless to say, tickets vanished rather quickly which led to the addition of 4 more reunion shows. Folly vocalist Jon Tummillo took some time and answered a few questions about how the reunion started and his take on the overwhelming response to these shows.

1) How did the reunion come about?
Some general “re-living the dream” feelings made this all come about, surely, but the major factor in reuniting us all for this was that Arben is going to be shipping out west, to Colorado, in April. He’s doing the ol’ Lewis and Clark exploration of his near-to-future future. Being that a sudden realization came to us when Arben announced his departure from NJ, we figured, “What better way to celebrate his send off than to play some old jams?” This set of shows, which originally was going to be one or two at the most, was merely mean to be a social gathering to celebrate Arben’s good tidings. It’s strange for all of us to consider him leaving us in the physical sense, as we have all been so accustomed to each other being around. Even within the past three years, post-Folly, we have all maintained a strong friendship. This will never change, but I assume that we all possess the typical anxieties involved with a loved one leaving the area… Many of our friends have come and gone, but we have always found a way to revisit these friendships one way or another. I suppose the Folly reunion idea was a simple gesture akin to this. Let’s get the crew together and party. It’s been quite some time.

2) Did you expect such a big response from the announcement?
Not at all. In fact, we didn’t know how to gauge the response before we formally announced the shows. It’s been three years, which really isn’t that much time away from it all. To the seasoned vets and NJ music scene fundamentalists, it’s way too soon. To some, however, this may seem a little premature. There appears to be a great response from people who got into us later in our tenure; these folks may not have been able to catch one of our shows while we were actively writing and touring, so, to them, this reunion couldn’t have come soon enough. We’ve been playing together as Mix Tape and Hoover Flags since Folly’s last shows, so it was not like we had to search too far into our contacts lists to locate each other. Additionally, Arben and Agim have taken greatly to picking old-time country and blue grass with some Sussex County buddies through impromptu hootenannies. Geoff pursued music engineering and audio production, which he now does professionally, so he merely altered his approach to the sonic environment. Musically, we’ve at least prevented the rust from forming- in mind and body. I think it would have been a differently examined decision if we simply gave up on music three years ago. It definitely eased a decision in knowing we all actually could still do our songs justice. Now we just all need to get in shape and we’ll be A-ok.

3) What can fans expect from the shows?
Old dudes, completely out of shape, giving it their all.

4) What current NJ bands are you guys into?
In one way, we’ve been a little out of the loop and have kept our fingers off the pulse of the NJ music scene as time has gone by. Other than getting to know the bands we have played with while in Hoover Flags or Mix Tape- or from our old friends, from old bands, that have all jumbled together- we’ve only peripherally followed the scene. Perhaps this is based on our professional obligations now. So be it. Conversely, when Folly stopped its course of nationally geographic circles and we all “grounded” ourselves, we were all able to concentrate on being “local” musicians. Fortunately, because of this, we have gained incredible relationships with bands like Communication Redlight, ManVsWild, Control, Killed By the Bull, Joe Wilson, Lakeside Drive, Maya’s Ruin, Eyeswan, Young American Artists, and many others. It’s fairly common, I suppose, to think the music scene is fading away; I think this is a cop-out for someone reluctantly maturing. These bands prove that all is well here in New Jersey. Creative people with genuine intentions will never stop happening here.

5) What's the status on Hoover Flags and Mix Tape?
We pretty much play when anyone asks us to do so, as long as we don’t have to drive too far and we are able to get a free beer or two… and maybe a cheeseburger. We haven’t really decided what we’ll be doing when Arben leaves, but I am sure we’ll still jam here and there. These two bands were formed simply for us to maintain that punk rock spirit we held so dear while in Folly. I know that Agim needed to keep writing, and so did we all have to keep getting our energies out. I guess that when Folly stopped playing, we wanted to cling to something pure. Maybe that was born from fear of what to expect in the “real world.” We’ve been listening to, writing, and performing punk rock for over half our lives. It’s something that is as unhinging to our greater good as breath is to lung. Our infliction, quite simply, is the need to express ourselves musically. It’s an impossible way of life, yet the only way we know how to live.

6) What was the most memorable show that Folly have been a part of?
I would only be able to do this question justice if I remembered any of them. Anyway, to pick one would dismiss all of the others. They were all brilliant experiences.
7) What are you guys most looking forward to about the reunion shows?
Surely, we’re really excited to release the proverbial hounds and go a little nuts. We can’t wait to “let slip the dogs of war” and smash ourselves into a cathartic sonic discharge. We’re all very mild mannered nowadays, and I am sure I speak on behalf of all of the Folly crew, fans and friends alike, that sweating to the oldies in March and April will cleanse our souls of a built-up angst for something or other. Most of all, we can’t wait to see old friends and meet some new ones. I, for one, am excited to spend Arben’s last few weeks in NJ the right way- as a tribal band of brothers relentlessly unearthed. It’s a reunion. Our old days are new.
An integral part of the excitement for me was reapplying the lyrics of these songs to my present-day situation. A lot has changed for me, and for all of us, since we stopped concentrating full-time on the band. I now teach high school English, which really created a stationary, new environment for me- one I was not used to while traveling and screaming my head off for a living. One of my largest dedications in life is now to my students and their intellectual progression. In a way, it’s not too removed from what I was doing as a musician. When Folly started meeting up again to practice a month or so ago, I started reexamining these songs in accordance to being a public educator. A song like Discussion is for the Pigs, which focuses primarily on institutionalized educational systems, used to come from the perspective of a student. It now comes from the perspective of a teacher. Somehow, regardless of perspectives, it’s still as dystopian as it originally was. Fans can expect to hear these songs again, and hopefully reapply their meanings to their present day situations. As much as I want people to go back in time when they see us, I really hope people concentrate on how these songs affect them today. Three years in 45 sweaty minutes.


Tickets are still on sale for their show at the School of Rock on Friday April 1st.

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