Chris Farren knows a lot of music and merchandising. First, he served as the frontman for the Florida-based punk act Fake Problems for nearly a decade. For the past eight years, he’s been releasing indie rock albums under his own name, building up a rabid fan base via his captivating online persona and social media presence. On the side, he’s also created merchandise that’s been embraced by the internet, most notably his The Smiths parody shirt, which became so popular that Jimmy Fallon presented one to Will Smith during an appearance on The Tonight Show in 2014.
However, Farren has never created a piece of merch that’s also a sentient being… until now. To promote his latest release for Polyvinyl Records, “Death Don’t Wait” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) — which is itself a score to an action movie that doesn’t exist — Chris started selling The Cup. What started as a simple 22 oz. stadium cup with a wraparound print of the album’s artwork has now garnered so much attention that Farren recently created an “I Bought The Cup” T-shirt that’s almost completely sold out. After months of requests, Farren was able to put SPIN in contact with The Cup itself. As per one of The Cup’s many personal requests, Farren moderated this exclusive interview, which is as existential as it is entertaining… and only slightly disturbing.
SPIN: So, what’s it like being a cup?
The Cup: This is a tricky one. Being The Cup is all I’ve ever known, y’know? My first memory is of being pulled out of a cardboard box to Chris Farren’s euphoric screams. Since then I’ve been by his side, watching him, learning from him… studying him.
Take me through a typical day in the life of The Cup.
Most mornings, I wake up in the sink with a little residual liquid from the night before. Chris gives me a quick rinse down and then fills me up with black iced tea. Then Chris brings me, a book and his phone on the porch with him. I don’t know why he brings the book because he always just looks at his phone the whole time we’re out there. Once he’s done with the iced tea, he fills me up with ice and water, which he takes approximately two sips of during the following eight hours. I basically just sit with him at his desk and watch him work all day. It’s interesting to watch someone become so stressed out about so little.
Would you describe yourself as “inanimate” or “sentient?”
Ha! Yes, I’m sentient. I’m also omnipresent and every The Cup is part of one collective consciousness or “hive mind.” Right now, you’re talking to “me” — or what is scientifically referred to as “The Cup Overmind” — but you’re also talking to every The Cup. It gets a bit heady, I know. But it’s also really cool! Right now, I can see everything in every home where The Cup has been delivered. That information is shared throughout my consciousness and used to better serve Chris and Chris’s fans — well, customers. I’ve heard it derisively compared to “spyware,” but it is much more inescapable than that. [Laughs.] Sorry, I’m rambling!
Do you have any favorite liquids that you like to be a vessel for?
I love this question! A big part of the ethos of The Cup is “Most Liquids Fit!” So if you can name it, it probably fits in me! Just a few of my favorites have been Coca-Cola, grape soda, orange juice, milk, other milk, lemonade, Pamplemousse LaCroix, water, Yoo-hoo, iced tea, blood, iced green tea, iced coffee and tap water!
What do you think is the biggest misconception about The Cup?
From what I’ve gathered, The Cup is seen as a harmless, borderline cheap piece of promotional plastic merchandise for a novelty-concept album by a success-adjacent indie-pop songwriter. But honestly, I don’t mind the misconceptions! I love the idea that The Cup could really do or be anything and no one would have ever seen it coming. I’m also top-rack dishwasher safe!
A lot of people are curious what your relationship is like with Chris. How would you describe it?
I love Chris. I serve Chris. I’m so lucky to be able to spend so much time with Chris! Whether he’s arbitrarily reorganizing his pedalboard, standing in the middle of the kitchen trying to choose a podcast to listen to as he takes the trash out, or calling his mom and telling her he had a “very busy week,” I still have so much to learn from him. And I’ll be there with him until the day my intelligence surpasses his — and who knows, that could be days, weeks, even months — so I’m with Chris for the long haul. I mean, you gotta love Chris Farren!
Have you listened to Chris’ album, “Death Don’t Wait” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)? What are your thoughts on his music? Do you have a favorite song?
You’re talking to The Cup, baby! Of course I love “Death Don’t Wait” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). I was practically — or totally — born to promote it! The concept alone, I mean, c’mon… a mostly instrumental soundtrack album to a spy-thriller action film that doesn’t exist? Brilliant! With contributions from Laura Stevenson, Jeff Rosenstock and more? Oh, there I go again. Sorry, I’m a marketing tool at heart! My favorite song on the album is “Attacked By Dogs,” because that is a big fear of mine, so it hits something really visceral in my emotional DNA.
I hope this isn’t too personal, but do you ever feel like your viral success as a merch item has overshadowed the music? Do you ever get the sense that Chris feels any low-level resentment about all of the attention you’ve gotten?
That’s a really tough question. From my observations of Chris over the months, his career is equally driven and hindered by an unceasing resentment and jealousy of others. I swear, sometimes he’s jealous of people doing things he doesn’t even want to do. Highly illogical, but that’s our Chrissy. Back to the question, though. I don’t know, man. I hope he has the perspective to see that any success for The Cup is ultimately a win for him and puts eyeballs and earholes on his music when it otherwise might have slipped under the radar.
Ultimately your job is to promote Chris’ music. Do you feel like you have any type of higher purpose than to be a marketing tool for Polyvinyl Records?
I am fully content in my existence as a benevolent promotional item! It is just so cool to be so welcomed into so many homes across the world, collect endless DNA and data, and share the joy of Chris Farren’s music!
Are you concerned about more musical acts releasing stadium cups? Do you view that as a threat or homage to The Cup?
I think the proliferation of stadium cups across Earth would be soooo cool! If we get cups into just 30% of human homes, we can enter Phase Two! Oh jeez, sorry! There I go again with all the marketing jargon! [Laughs.] The more the merrier, I say!
A lot of people attribute a lot of positive events in their life to their purchase of The Cup. How much of that is you and how much is the human tendency for projection?
You’re right. From what I’ve gathered, humans throughout history have placed tremendous meaning in simple objects — or idols, if you will. It reminds me of this quote from the Bible: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. I love The Cup” (Revelation 21:8).
Sadly, humans are very easily deceived and quick to praise a physical object or ritual for their good fortune, which only sinks those claws of deception deeper. Fortunately for fans of The Cup, that’s not what’s happening here! The Cup has been medically and scientifically proven to enhance your life in nearly every way and asks for very little in return!
Everyone wants to know, what’s next for The Cup? Can you give us any hints?
Between you and me, recently there have been a lot of unionizing discussions among us The Cups. Chris has publicly supported the notion, but is making it very difficult behind the scenes. The Cups are being let go, or transferred to departments I’ve never heard of. It’s kind of a weird situation that I’m not fully ready to talk about. Other than that, The Cup is here to spread the joy and love of Chris Farren and his wonderful new album “Death Don’t Wait” (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)!