A simple workout, one that he'd done thousands of times, put Mike Fay on his back for two months. The creative force behind Prom Body, one of the most prominent Tucson bands of the past five years, moonlights a personal trainer. It was one ill-fated deadlift that herniated a pair of discs in Fay's back, leaving him stuck in bed and sidelining Prom Body's fall tour until he was fully recovered.
One would assume that Fay's time would be spent with a plethora of DVDs, cocooned under comforters with a bottle of ibuprofen at his side, but that's not what Fay did.
"I actually recorded an album in bed," he says.
Though those recording were primarily for one of his side projects, Pollution Salute, Fay's creative output rarely seems to slow down, back injuries be damned.
"I have keyboards and an acoustic guitar and a mixer and a laptop at my house," Fay says. "I just pulled everything in next to my bed, and I would lay down and hang my hands off the side of the bed, play keys and recorded six songs."
Prom Body's live drummer, Matt Baquet, has to laugh at this. In whatever permutation he takes on, Fay's finding some way to make something, even if he's bedridden (the title of this Pollution Salute EP will actually be Bedriddance, coming out on Prom Body live guitarist Ryan Chavira's Leisure Hive tape label). Post-injury, however, Fay's focused, talking about his weighty new angle to Prom Body songs.
"I'm a drummer by nature, so that's one thing on the [previous] albums where I was like 'Fuck, I wish that sounded better,'" he says. "I decided to write the whole album, do scratch tracks for the drums and then practice them for a couple weeks. I'm going to do all the drums in the studio and then mix it in the studio."
"Ultimate Worrier" is one of two songs on Prom Body's upcoming split tape with local post-hardcore act Hikokomori, which includes Prom Body's live guitarist Gilbert Flores among its members. Showcasing some of that more serious take Fay mentioned, the song opens with a hammered-and-bent guitar line, a chugging bass line and driving, tom-heavy drums that lift into an impressively catchy chorus. Fay's earworm pop sensibilities are all over the track, foiling the heaviness of the production's low end against playful lyrics and his higher register.
That dynamic, condensed into one song, is why Prom Body is one of the most beloved bands around at the moment. Their live shows are packed, they've been one of Noisey's darlings and there's a number of similarly-minded independent acts out that they can count as friends: Prom Body is just fucking fun, recorded or otherwise. Fay's outlook comes through in his music, a kind of rare transparency that's palpable regardless of the circumstance.
"Not to say that I go through life thinking that optimism is the only point of view or that nothing shitty happens, but that's just how I roll with stuff," he says. "I'm trying to keep it pretty lighthearted, even if I'm serious about it."