Facs: Jonathan van Herik, Noah Leger, and Brian Case Credit: Evan Jenkins

Chicago trio Facs arose almost seven years ago out of the hiatus-turned-breakup of Disappears. Bassist and singer Brian Case, guitarist Jonathan van Herik, and drummer Noah Leger stretched the icy, brittle sounds of classic postpunk over gangly new skeletons to create their minimalist dirges.

Van Herik left in late 2017, after the recording of Facs’ debut album, Negative Houses. Bassist Alianna Kalaba replaced him in January 2018, and Case switched to guitar. Kalaba preferred a growling tone and a riffier bass style, and with her aboard, the band grew heavier, darker, and more abstract, pairing ruthlessly precise grooves with alien textures. 

Kalaba has appeared on every Facs release since, including the new Still Life in Decay (due this week via local label Trouble in Mind), but she parted ways with the group after the sessions for that record. Van Herik returned in summer 2022 to fill the vacant spot. “When I offered to play bass, it was from the viewpoint of a fan more than an ex-member,” he says. “They had grown into themselves so much as a band that I felt like I was stepping into a ready aesthetic that I could understand and respond to immediately.”

Because of the communication that connects his bandmates to one another and to their listeners, van Herik explains, making music is “enriching and meaningful in a society that can feel so isolating and commercialized.” And that’s not all: “It’s fun, too.”

Facs play record-release parties at the Empty Bottle on Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8.

Jonathan van Herik didn’t play on Still Life in Decay, but he’ll perform with the band at record-release parties this weekend.

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Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.