Fang Island just released Major, one of the best albums of the year. No joke. These guys somehow mix power pop with progressive rock, and the resulting chaos is quite appealing. Speaking from a tour stop in Kansas City, and in anticipation of tonight's show at Dada, guitarist Chris Georges talked about everything from barbecue to math rock.
Did you get some good barbecue in Kansas City? Yes, we did. We went to Gates last night and it was pretty good. I like Texas barbecue better, so we are looking forward to getting there. There's this place called Cooper's that was some of the best barbecue I have ever had.
Have you guys been to Texas a lot? We've done SXSW and my dad lives in El Paso. One of my good buddies is also in El Paso, so I go down there quite a bit. I love it down there. I love the countryside and the people.
Any horror stories on this tour? We just left Lowe's because the back of our van doesn't have air conditioning. We bought these tubes to actually help blow air back there. In Ohio, we stayed in this four- bedroom house that had been converted to a 50-room child's fantasy mansion. It's was all tree houses and alligator pits and tropical rooms. It was really crazy. We never have too many bad stories. It's really good to get out together because it's a lot of laughs.
You've opened a couple of times for the Flaming Lips. How was that experience? It was a dream come true. Those guys are inspirational to us. And the crowd was nice as well. Much better than when we opened for Stone Temple Pilots. Those crowds were a little difficult to win over, but that was a cool tour, as we got to play first and there was a buffet set up for us. We got anything we wanted to eat or drink. That band had so many guitars and techs. It was a very plush tour experience. We were real spoiled. This time around we get sandwiches.
The band formed in Providence, Rhode Island, and then moved to Brooklyn. Why make the move considering Providence has a good music scene that is less competitive than New York? Providence had a good music scene for a while. It was an incredible music scene. Then came that fire at the venue where Great White was playing. The pyrotechnics burnt down the whole building. A lot of venues shut down after that. That killed the music scene in Providence. We were there to go to school. We weren't going to stay there too long. I moved to Philly and [guitarist] Jason [Bartell] moved to Brooklyn. I ended up joining him there.
What would you be doing if you weren't a musician? I guess I would be working some nine to five job. I went to school to be a printmaker. Maybe I would be an artist. I would be living in Brooklyn trying to get by.
If Fang Island was a real place, where would it be located? Someplace tropical, some place that had big statues of guitars.
What language do they speak there? They speak the language of rock or the language of riffs. Probably Esperanto as well.
Often you are listed under the math rock genre. What exactly is math rock? It's a punk version of progressive rock. It uses different time signatures, not always 4/4. Usually, it's pretty fast-thinking. I guess it's a branch of prog rock.
Yes, one magazine said the band mixed indie pop with progressive rock. On paper, that sounds ugly. [Laughs] I wouldn't give it any title, actually. I prefer calling it recess rock. It's not math class; it's recess. It's about having fun.
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What are the biggest differences in writing and recording your first record and the recently issued Major? We wanted to put more of an emphasis on singing. We've slowly been working up to that with all of our releases, just trying to sing more. We also to shed some of the math rock ideas and work within pop structures while still maintaining our vibe. We wanted it to be the sound of everyone high-fiving. It's a direction we are really proud of.
I hear a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick and Big Star in your music. Absolutely, we love all of those bands. Fleetwood Mac is one of our favorites and we have been listing to a lot of them. When we were recording the album, we compared it to Cheap Trick's "Dream Police" as a reference. I love Cheap Trick. I love power pop.
Fang Island perform with Adebisi Shank and local Spacebeach tonight, August 16, at Dada.