Columbus, Ohio’s XFactor1 have built a name for themselves with strong live shows, intense songs and the loyalty they show their fans.
Coined as “America’s Blue Collar Band” by one writer, XFactor1 is currently out promoting their third album and first release on Megaforce Records, Famous Last Words.
The album features thirteen strong tracks built around the real life struggles of a band trying to make it.
XFactor1’s lead vocalist Ricky “Qball” Wolf took some time to answer some questions on Wednesday where he was enjoying a night off and the Indian Summer weather that the Midwest was being treated to for a few days.
Q: You’ve been playing shows on and off with Dope and Bobaflex but what else have you been doing touring wise?
A: We’re doing some dates with Smile Empty Soul and Hurt too.
Q: How have the shows been going?
A: It’s been going pretty good. I mean we’ve known Bobaflex for awhile and we’ve crossed paths with Dope here and there too. So yeah, it’s been pretty good.
Q: You played in Flint at the Machine Shop last week with Dope?
A: Yeah, right. It was a great show over there. Awesome people over there. You know Kevin and Craig Zink are good people who really get it when it comes to the music scene.
Q: Tell us a bit about the album.
A: It’s called Famous Last Words and we dropped it June 5 on Megaforce Records and so far, so good. Our first single from the radio, “Bring It On”, has peaked into the fifties on the chart so we’re pretty amped about that. We just dropped our new single “The Stroke”, which is a Billy Squier cover. We dropped that a couple of weeks ago and so far, so good on that as well. We’re actually releasing a video for that on Halloween night.
Q: So you’ve seen a good reaction to the album and the singles from the fans?
A: Oh, absolutely! A lot of people don’t even know about “The Stroke” because it’s a 1982 cover song. You know being a guy in my thirties obviously I remember Billy Squier but it’s been so long since he’s been really relevant with the classic stations or whatever that a lot of the youth don’t know him. They don’t realize that this isn’t a original song for us.
Q: Is there a song standing out for you off of the album?
A: Well I really like “Bring It On”. I also like another single we are hoping to drop next which is the first ballad off there called, “Miss Me Now”. This has a lot of the personal feeling about the way life is when you’re in a band and how relationships can be very difficult when you’re on the road a lot. How they tend to be pretty dysfunctional so it’s kind of a story about that. It’s pretty close to my heart right now.
Q: Did you have a concept in mind when you sat down to work on the album?
A: Well we think this is the most complete cd we’ve done to date because we’ve had the same lineup for awhile and because we really thought that we’d dialed in our formula. Every band from Tool to Pearl Jam has a formula and that’s what kind of separates them from other bands. We think this is our own original formula that really defines who we are. You know our passion, our intensity and our desire to be seen and heard and obviously the best songs are the ones that are true and that’s what comes through on the songs on this record.
Q: You’ve been opening for a lot of big bands over the last couple of years. Is there someone you want to tour with?
A: Yeah I want to tour with Five Finger Death Punch really bad. I think we’ve very compatible. We’ve crossed paths from being on different festivals and I really love their passion. I think Ivan [Moody, vocalist] is just a really ballsy tell it like it is type of guy and I’m that way too. I really respect guys that kind of do things their own way so Five Finger would be the epitome for me. They’re super hot right now and they’re just a hit machine and doing things on their own terms and I really respect that.
Q: You guys have gained a reputation for having a close relationship with your fans. A lot of bands don’t take that time to go out and spend time with their fans. What does it mean to you?
A: It’s just gratitude. I mean the respect and the reciprocation of that respect. I know what it means to people, and there’s several hundred people at a lot of our shows, but just to have these guys onstage come out and shake some hands and have a couple of shots, that was something I always respected when I was growing up. I always thought that that was really the best part about this situation: the meeting of people and having stories and having people that are singing your songs and just getting out there to meet them. You know hearing how something that I’ve been through and that I’ve put to lyrics has helped them. To me besides being onstage and the feeling that gives you, the meeting of the fans is kind of the best part of the job. Why more bands don’t do it besides some guys that have insecurities or disorders or stuff. I understand that but a lot of guys I just don’t think that they really enjoy it. The decadent partying and getting to know people and raising hell. You know your fans they want that whether it’s Monday or Saturday night. They want everything that you got and we still got it in the tank and they’re going to get it.
Q: Do you feel like that relationship has helped get you to where you are?
A: I believe that and our music and our live show together. We’re basically putting a bunch of ping pong balls in a hopper and just turning it on fast. That’s kind of what it looks like on stage and we’re very passionate and we let it all out every time. I think people respect that we don’t want anyone to say that we had a bad show. I think people respect that consistency and the humility and the respect that we show our fans and the gratitude because people have a choice. This is a tough economy right now.
Q: Yeah within the music industry right now there are so many bands and so many avenues to hear that music.
A: It really is. There’s a crazy amount of competition out there right now and you know when it comes down to it somebody has to make a choice and obviously you want them to make that choice of you and your band and if they do you’ve got to stay humble and you’ve got to be grateful for them. You’ve gotta understand that these people are helping you live your life on your own terms and without them you’re nothing. Without a fan base you’re nothing. You can be the greatest band in the world but without people who support you nobody’s gonna give a sh*t! You’ve gotta keep that in perspective. I think that no matter how big you get because it’s the ones who forget after they’ve made it that don’t last.
Q: Growing up in the Midwest I’m sure you were exposed to a lot of different genres. In your music there is certainly a lot of different influences.
A: Well I’m in my thirties and you know we’ve got some guys that are only twenty-two years old too so because we are a band that welcomes everybody’s input you get to hear that influence. You know whereas I’m more of a Pantera, Metallica, Disturbed fans, we’ve also got guys who are into Korn and Suicide Silence and more of the heavier bands. We’ve also got guys that really enjoy bands like 3 Doors Down and Alice In Chains so you kind of get that full influence. That’s one of the things I’m kind of proud about. I feel like we have our own formula now. Some of the reviewers have said that the songs don’t sound the same. Sometimes you get that with a record. You get guys stuck in one kind of riff or one kind of vibe or one kind of tempo in the music. That was something that we were really proud of. Kind of like some of the old records from the sixties and seventies and some of the eighties. The bands seemed a little more versatile than a lot of bands are today. Today you can tell who the band is on a song in the first couple of seconds. I never really liked that myself. I like the fact that you get a chance to appeal to a lot of different people just by appealing to different genres. Some heavy ballads are on the record. There’s even one on there with bongos and it’s acoustic and that’s one that I’m really the most proud of ever. Versatility, I think, wins the race.
Q: Do you see that come out in your crowds?
A: Yeah we’ve got a pretty diverse crowd. We got all nationalities, all races and we treat everybody the same and I think people like that. You know you can hear something for the ladies, who are very important. [laughs] And for the guys who really want to get brutal in the pit we’ve got something for them too. We’ve got something for everyone.
Q: Where are you heading with the band?
A: Well I’d like to be successful. To be making at least somewhat of a decent living. I’m not looking to be a mega gazillionaire. None of us are really in it for the money but we’ll take it. It’s a real tough business and money will always play into it so I’d like to be more financially secure for the band’s sake and I’d like to be successful at touring. You know playing full clubs, if not arenas, and I’d like to be a household name across the United States and be popular in Europe. Much is possible and we’re ready for it because we struggled for so long. I’m very confident that we would never change no matter how much success we’ve had. We’ve been in the trenches so long that we’re extremely grounded. We’re ready for anything and hoping for everything.
Q: What are your plans for Halloween?
A: We’re playing a local show in our hometown of Columbus. It’s got a big costume party there with some big bands in the area and we’re gonna release “The Stroke” that night. Hopefully it becomes a giant, passionate music orgy! That’s what I’m looking for.