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March 1, 2011 / punkcakes

Jon Tummillo of Folly, Interview

As you all know, the gods of New Jersey Skacore, Folly, have decided three years is long enough. Folly will be playing five reunion shows in the one and only New Jersey : March 26 at Maxwells (Sold Out), April 1 (tix) and 2 (Sold Out) at School of Rock, and April 8 (tix) and 9 (Sold Out) at The Stanhope House. Vocalist Jon Tummillo enthusiastically answered some questions about Folly, the reunion, and the home state we share.

Sorry if I rambled on. Like any good Allman, I was born a ramblin’ man – Jon Tummillo

Q: On a scale of 1 to how much you missed Folly, what are we looking at here? What did you miss most about the band?

A: I suppose I miss the spontaneity of traveling- most notably the impulsive ability to pick up from where you left off each day and ship off to do it all over again in a different place. Stasis will always be a grand foe. We have been known to mentally spare each other from time to time. Additionally, I surely miss all of the people I met along the way- band members and fans. I still maintain a few of those relationships, luckily. I suppose this is what excites me the most concerning these reunion shows- the chance to reunite with the crazies. As Arben so righteously explained in his formal welcome-back letter, being into this band was like being inducted into a tribe. I have missed the animals in my tribe. I miss our tribal, primal rituals.

Q: Was the decision to break-up a difficult one? What was the hardest thing to let go of after 10 plus years?

A: It was rather natural, to be honest. Being that we all mutually wished to pursue other interests, everything ended amicably and organically. The spirit of it all is certainly hard to rinse off, though. Don’t get me wrong. It still runs wild in us, and most likely always will. It’s best for me to think of this experience as a mere liminal and transient bridge from a former era to now. We all live on these liminal bridges- neither here nor there- until we’re somewhere else entirely. So why distinguish between any static periods of time as if they are unattached from each other? Folly wasn’t just something that started and ended. It’s always been in me, and it won’t leave me. My biggest mistake was initially regarding the whole experience as a “chapter” in our lives. I think I used that phony cliché in the formal break-up letter I penned. What a sham. How shameful of me to limit this to just a decade of my life! It’s well more vast than this.

Q: What have you guys been up to since the split? Jon, I know you are an English teacher. Is it weird looking back on your Folly days, in terms of where you are now?

A: We all scattered about since, but all of us are still centrally located in NJ-NY. Geoff pursued audio engineering, which he went to school for and now does professionally. Agim became a mailman and, funnily enough, delivers mail to my parents every once in a while. Arben, after finishing up school, is preparing for a long haul out west to relocate in Colorado for an indefinite amount of time. Anthony is currently in graduate school in NYC. I finished up graduate school and quickly began teaching. Although it seems so far removed, my career choice was influenced heavily by writing and performing punk rock. I suppose I am now a bit subdued and grounded, for sure. However, I carry the same enthusiasm into teaching Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as I would screaming Folly’s Piano Player. Every once in a while I will reference a Folly memory in class… I think it’s important for my students to know that side of me. I try my best to weird my students into learning. This is something that I was able to rehearse for years while in the band!

Q: What can we expect at the reunion? Any new songs?

A: No new songs at all… We are merely dusting off the oldies for another round (or five). You can expect to hear a range of songs spanning our complete discography- early demos included. We’re sprinkling in a few atypical tunes over the typical crowd favorites, and our set lists will definitely vary from night to night.

Q: What sparked this reunion? How did you guys know it was time to grace New Jersey once again with your beloved presence?

A: When we all learned that Arben was brazing the trail to Colorado, we figured this would be a good two-for-one send-off celebration and reunion. This idea simply spawned from wanting to socially reunite a lot of old and current friends. What better way to achieve this than by holding a Folly show? It’s kind of what every one of our shows was for us and our friends- a reason to see each other and feel the love.

Q: What has been your favorite show to date? A favorite venue to play at?

A: To name one favorite too easily shames all others. They were all beautiful experiences.

Q: Your shows sold out within minutes, which proves how strong of a hold you have on the hearts of ska kids not only in New Jersey but all over. What did you guys think about that? How does that love and support of your fans feel, even after a 3 year split?

A: That was a very bizarre situation. A part of me was naturally exhilarated, and yet the other part of me was a bit taken back by it. None of were able to gauge how well received our intentions to jam would be after three years. The most impressive part was that without formally announcing anything, so many people already knew about it. As if it wasn’t our decision. I like that it was a decision made essentially by everyone and not just the five of us. Word travels fast. Oh, did you hear? B-b-b-bird-bird-bird, BIRD is the word.

Q: The way you blended together ska, hardcore and punk basically created an entire Ska-Core movement, which influence so many bands today. Who were your influences when it came to writing music?

A: It’s extremely humbling and amazing to think we would influence anyone to do anything. Our “skacore” influences ranged from Mu330 to Voodoo Glow Skulls to Assorted Jelly Beans to Mighty Mighty Bosstones to Skankin Pickle to Big D and the Kids Table to Op Ivy to Suicide Machines… On the reggae-ska-dub end of the spectrum, all of us were drawn to bands like The Slackers, The Toasters, The Scofflaws, Let’s Go Bowling, etc…  Whereas most of us were into ska, ska-punk, skacore, and any ska subgenre, we welcomed hardcore and metal into our life soundtracks. On the heavier side, bands like Converge, Hope Conspiracy, Botch, and Candiria allowed us to at least contemplate what it would be like to mesh it all together. The meshy glue like material, which bridged the two extremes, was mostly due to the skate punk, street punk, and hardcore punk influences of Bad Religion, NOFX, Lagwagon, Kid Dynamite. One of our greatest assets, I believe, was our ability to maintain an open mind. So much amazing music exists… so much existed for us to better accommodate our own styles. When I think about how much I love the aforementioned bands still, it makes it all the more intense to know that Folly may have even had an inkling of influence on a younger band or fan of the genre.

Q: Looking back, do you have any regrets? What do you feel makes it all worth while?

A: No regrets. We did what we did because we wanted to and not because we had to. The mentality this band helped create in us all is eternally self-serving through all avenues of life. Although I don’t speak on behalf of all in the band, I am pretty sure everyone would agree that regrets would only exist had we not gave it our all for the time we gave it. Folly somewhat saved us from regret.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to any young bands starting out, what would it be?

A: Be yourselves and love what you do. Challenge yourselves musically, socially, and spiritually. Be accepting of all and learn as much as you can from others. Is it ok that I provided only clichés? Seriously though- have the time of your lives with your friends while making music.

Q: Being a native from New Jersey, I have to know – what is your favorite thing about NJ and its music scene?

A: The incredible access to an array of local diners for post-show pizza burgers.

Q: The obligatory Punkcakes question – what is your favorite dessert? A favorite recipe? A connoisseur of the pastry, perhaps?

A: I have been somewhat addicted to the apple turnovers at Varrelman’s Bakery in Rutherford for about a year and a half. Best milk snack ‘round town.

There you have it, friends.

Bands like Folly give kids a reason to love music, and the people involved. They made growing up in New Jersey worth while, shined a light on us all, showed us a future. This is what music is about. This is Folly.

Check it out: Video Clips from their final show April 13, 2008 in Pompton Lakes, NJ.

“Please Don’t Shoot The Piano Player, He’s Doing The Best He Can” Here

“The Wake” Here

Samantha Sicilia 3/1/11

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