There's a new album coming down the pipe from Fort Worth punk band the Phuss, who recently signed with Albany, New York record label Magnetic Eye Records. And while the record, which will be titled On the Prowl, won't get it's official release until September 16, the band has whetted our appetites for what's to come by streaming a couple new tracks on their Bandcamp page.
Given the fiery, brute strength of the duo of songs made available, "Straight Line Impala" and the motor-revving title track, it's safe to assume that many will proceed to enter their credit card numbers sooner rather than later. Now together for over six years, the Phuss, consisting of lead singer and songwriter Joshua Fleming, bassist Forrest Barton and drummer Trey Alfaro, has already done enough to suggest Speed Freaks will be intense and compelling even before these tracks were available.
While the album was essentially finished eight months ago, holding off on its release for so long for the sake of the band's cool new partner, Magnetic Eye Records, is more than worthwhile as far as Fleming is concerned.
"Anytime you add someone to your team," explains Fleming, "there's a moment where you have to step back for a bit and readjust the formula for how the band is going to work."
Perhaps the main adjustment for the band during the recording of the album was the way in which they created the content as they entered the studio. For previous records, the Phuss walked in with a complete work ready to roll on.
"We wrote and recorded three songs in three days with Jeff Saenz at Modern Electric Sound Recorders in Dallas," says Fleming. "He was great to work with because he's also a musician. So for me, as a songwriter and guitar player, it was cool to come up with an idea, show it to the band and lay it down that day, which isn't something we have done before."
Not to be overlooked on this record, according to Fleming, will be the sonic differences developed during those freewheeling sessions. The group went for tighter stylistic boundaries, though the frenetic pace and feverish playing that's won them so many fans remains pleasingly intact.
"In a nutshell," he explains, "my idea for this record was to have spitfire lyrics, more of a down-stroke guitar sound that really chugs, leave the blues sounds kind of where they are and get a little weirder with our chord progressions."
After three tours behind the group's killer 2012 self-titled record, Fleming's lyrics have also taken on greater importance to the group's overall product.
"I'm a speed freak," he says. "And when I would ride around on my motorcycle, I'd come up with these scattered, crazy lyrics. I'd been listening to a lot of [T-Rex lead singer] Marc Bolan, and I loved the way he described things by using such odd words for adjectives."
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Such detailed calculation may not sound too punk rock, but the result of the band's writing and creating most certainly is. And yet, as has always been the case with the band, they play fast and loose with the style of music, blending genres into a kaleidoscope of sounds.
"I was in a ska band in high school," Fleming says. "But at the end of the day, everything I write is rock and roll. When I've been in punk bands, I was too rock. When I've been in straight-forward rock bands, I've been too punk. With the Phuss, it's been nice to have the ability to take my influences and the things I like listening to and put them together in one band."
Indeed, the Phuss is a fine example of a punk-influenced band that is maturing before our ears.
"We've gotten a little older and we've gotten a little better," reflects Fleming. "We've decided to hone-in on the songs themselves and not just the live performance."