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The best kept secret in music


"Music Television, sort of..."

At their CD release show last night, Actress, who always play with style, raised the bar. Votive candles lined the bar, flowers spilled over the speakers and microphones and, as always, their glowing mannequin torso stood front and center. On an unrelated note, a band photo that included the mannequin's hind quarters was deemed not appropriate to run in the newspaper. I've been watching Actress for the past year or so, and they've really come together. This show, always polished to a sparkle, was more energetic than earlier shows as Todd Bridges climbed a speaker and Aaron Ficchi crashed into brother Josh's drum kit. The cherry on top of this rock and roll sundae was the white sheet hanging on the wall behind the band. With the stage dark moments before their performance, dramatic music filled the room and a 1950s-era instructional video, something like "Learn about Electricity," was projected from the balcony by two old reel-to-reel projectors. Different films ran through the show including a black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon and some grainy nuclear test footage.
- M. Trevor Higgins

"Please, Imagine Their Explosion"

Things are moving along quite nicely these days for Actress. On the heels of the release of their critically acclaimed album Isolation (number two on The Pulse’s “Top Ten Local Albums of 2005” list), the hometown boys recently closed out the high-tech cre824 festival and completed a mini tour with new Warner Brothers signees (and upcoming Rick Rubin project) Luna Halo. Word around the rock water cooler is that Actress will soon be signed themselves, as a number of labels—big and small—are showing interest.

In the meantime, 2006 will find this stylishly slick four-piece taking their Garbage-inflected, futuristic brand of rock on the road full force. The Pulse managed tracked down frontman Aaron Ficchi before the explosion.

How is the Chattanooga music scene for a band like yours?

I think it’s good. We’ve been fortunate enough to have the fan base that we do here. The press and the clubs have always been good to us as well.

You guys recorded at Doppler Studios in Atlanta, which has a pretty impressive—though mostly hip hop/R&B—resume. How did you wind up recording there, and did the spirit of, say, OutKast or Kanye West affect the recording at all?

Good Lord! (Laughs.) We did about 40 hours at Doppler and ZAC Studios, which is coincidentally located next door to Outkast’s Stankonia/Aquemini Studios. Our manager went to school with one of the engineers, so I think that’s what initially got us the lock-in. I guess, in some ways, the recording was affected by those artists because we got to meet them and hang out with them during the sessions... Jim Z, OutKast and the whole entourage. It was a different kind of world than what we had been accustomed to.

How do you think Isolation has been received?

The reception has been very good. As with any art form, how it’s received is sometimes going to be different from your intentions, but that’s what makes art exciting.

How rewarding or frustrating is the whole self-promotion process?

It certainly can be frustrating while you’re doing it, but I think in some ways it’s exciting to know that you’re proactively getting your music out there.

Like many bands, you have a MySpace page. How has MySpace affected the way you guys promote your band?

Oh, wow. It’s definitely an excellent marketing tool.

How has it effected the way you communicate with fans and other musicians?

I think it’s really bridged the gaps in communication and networking, more or less. It’s been very useful in building a fan base in other areas of the country. When we played at SXSW last year, we stayed with some people we met through MySpace. It’s definitely made the world a bit smaller.

You closed the recent cre824 festival. How much of a role does technology play with a band like Actress? How important is it for a band to embrace the Web?

From a business point of view, technology and the Web simply cannot be ignored. I’m excited to see how far it can go.

You guys seem to be the most fashion-conscious band around these parts. How important is style to you?

Oh, yes. Yes. I think it’s very important. It’s an expression. It’s the other side of being a performer.

How did you guys get hooked up with Luna Halo?

Funnily enough, we were contacted by American/Warner Brothers about doing the show with them in Nashville. I think they heard some tracks off the record and were interested in seeing the live aspect of the group.

After this next show at Rhythm and Brews, what’s next for Actress?

From there, another tour. We love to win.

- Bill Colrus-The Pulse

"Top Ten Local Albums"


Simply put, Isolation is a slick, pop rock cocktail: Take equal parts U2, Garbage and the Psychedelic Furs, then stir and pour directly into your ears. Goes down smooth. This is a stylish blend with hooks for days, Aaron Ficchi’s tastefully fiery lyrics and delivery, and Matt Goldman’s co-production contributions leaving not a single note out of place. The only things missing are a barcode and a label name on the spine. In time, friends. In time…

- Bill Colrus

"Art Rockers Actress Fitting The Puzzle"

The band Actress is chain smoking and drinking in the graffiti-covered corner booth at the Pickle Barrel downtown. Wearing jackets of velvet and leather and discussing Britpop bands like Pulp and Suede, Actress would seem more at home in a SoHo dive or Delilah's in Chicago.

"You drift toward your influence," Josh Ficchi explains. There is little
that seems local about Actress. Their look, sound, influences, even the air around them seems imported, but the quartet from Red Band, Hixson and Cleveland, Tenn., couldn't be from anywhere else.

"There is this excitement when you grow up in a small town," Travis Knight said. "You know somewhere inside, you want something different, and when you're confronted with something totally not like anything you know, you latch onto it and take hold of that thing. "It's what winds up making you different." he said.

Different is the key word for the art-rockers that share more in common with Franz Ferdinand and Interpol than radio-dominated country and Southern rock. Their sound has evolved from Beatles' records heard at an early age to the discovery of Britpop music in high school. The group as a whole works to build complete songs that are full reflections of their personalities.

"(Songwriting) is atotal
collaborative effort. We start out with the frame of mind that if it doesn't give us goosebumbs it's not worth writing," Aaron Ficchi said. "It means more to everybody
when you know not only do you have your own little piece in there, but when that piece works with everybody else. It's like a puzzle that all seems to go together." - M. Trevor Higgins

"Actress - Isolation (Independently released CD, Pop/rock)"

Actress is a four-piece modern rock band from Chattanooga, Tennessee with decidedly British sounding songs. Playing believable arena rock is these guys' speciality. The tunes on Isolation are reminiscent of bands like U2 and Simple Minds. While the band's music may be out of synch with other bands in their home town, this album would not sound out-of-place in the least if it had been on the British charts in the mid to late 1990s. The band consists of Travis Knight, Todd Bridges, Aaron Ficchi, and Josh Ficchi. If folks could hear them, these are the kind of songs that could easily be appreciated by millions. Toppicks: "Blush,"
"Imagine an Explosion," "The Feeling We Forgot," "The Academy." (Rating: 4++++)
- Babysue/LMNOP

"Weekend Review"

"With their chiming guitars and staccato drums, the Chattanooga band Actress recall the halcyon days of post punk. Though the influence of bands like R.E.M. and New Order predominates, Actress have a melodic sense that's their own. On "Stay Gold", while singer Aaron Ficchi's bandmates alternate between sparse chordal accompaniment and a driving eighth-note pattern, his otherworldly voice soars above in a manner that's as much Gregorian plainsong as "Finest Worksong". Such dynamic interplay is typical of "Isolation", the group's debut, which was recorded at Atlanta's Doppler and Glow in the Dark studios. The record's eclectic touches are likely due to Grammy nominated producer Matt Goldman (Copeland, Underoath), a self-confessed Queenophile." — Paul V. Griffith - Nashville Scene

"Critic's Picks"

"Manchester, England, and Chattanooga have one thing in common: post-industrial blight. That shared malaise might account for Actress, a Chattanooga quartet whose dead-on impression of moody Manchester bands like Joy Division and Happy Mondays is striking. Of course, there're plenty of groups riffing on the Mancunian sound (Radiohead chief among them), and Actress wouldn't be worth mentioning unless they added something to the mix. Songwriting is their strong suit. On tracks like "Such a Bitter End," the band's chord changes are quirky and inventive, and their lyrics are just as enigmatic as those of their forebears." - Nashville Scene

"Reasons To Believe"

"Though hailing from the country-loving town of Chattanooga, Tenn., Actress professes a love for keyboards unlike most bands since, well, those acts whom the group most closely resembles. Which bands, you ask? In lighter moments (of which there are few), Actress brings to mind the synth-heavy, Notorious-era style of Duran Duran; at darker times, the nihilistic, acerbic rock of New Order. Fronted by Aaron Ficchi and aided by fellow Bible Belt-ers Todd Bridges, Josh Ficchi and Travis Knight, Actress is proof positive that not everything from Tennessee is banjos and dirt roads. — Mark Sanders - Creative Loafing


EP Defender (2004)
*Such A Bitter End
*Please, Imagine An Explosion
*The Feeling We Forgot

LP Isolation (2005)
*Minor Heart Attack
*Please, Imagine An Explosion
*Such A Bitter End
*Coming Down Slow
*The Feeling We Forgot
*Stay Gold
*We're Still The Boys
*The Academy


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Unless you had their bio right in front of you, you'd never peg impressive four-piece Actress as being from anywhere other than the U.K. And you'd have to be cheating to guess they're from Tennessee(Chattanooga, to be exact). The band's music has the stylized swagger of the Britpop biggies, sounding like a blend of Muse and Suede, with a little dance-floor verve bubbling underneath for good measure. So far it appears there's only one self-released Actress recording(Isolation). But, if they are not already signed, with a sound this accomplished and charismatic it should only be a matter of time before you find 'em at your favorite record store.