I had the pleasure of chatting the other day with Wes Black, the guitarist for Ohio rockers Fever Fever. I spoke with Wes about the making of the band's newest album, "Aftermath", what it was like working with three producers, and what it's like being on Slospeak Records. Check it out!
From what I understand, the band has been around for awhile. How and when did the band originally come together?
Yeah! The singer, Drew, and I met in high school playing basketball. We started getting into music and stuff together. We started a band. We didn’t know how to play guitars or anything, but it was like a dream thing. Like, “hey let’s start a band!” We just fell in love with it. We’re both driven people, so we found some other guys to play with us, and we just decided to do that and about a couple years ago, we started to get more serious, and we got back to a record label that we knew through a couple of friends, and we told them that we were going to quit our jobs and start playing music. We started a conversation with Slospeak Records, which is the label that we’re on now. James, who’s the founder, is in the Bay Area too.
You’re signed to Slospeak Records. Out of any other label that you either shopped around for, gave you offers, etc., what made you feel like they’d be the best fit for the band?
They’re just so different in how they do things. The world revolves around money, and it’s nice to meet people that don’t revolve around ripping people off, or trying to make a quick buck. One of the things they sad to us early on was ‘we want to find good people that create good art, and then find a market for it,” as opposed to a typical label which would know their market, know their general audience, and find bands that would appeal to the masses. It’s a really authentic label. They’re serious about getting good art into the hands of the people who’d like to hear it. That’s the biggest thing. And then it’s just like a family, for the most part. When we’re in San Francisco, James treats us like we’re his brothers or part of his family. It’s a great label to be a part of.
Tell me about the writing and recording process for “Aftermath”. How did it differ in comparison to anything you’d worked on in the past?
So, part of it was that we were going through a lot changes in the band internally. Starting to take music more seriously means a lot of things. It means you’re going to be traveling more, you’re going to not be making as much money as you once were, and so our two friends who had been with us since high school decided that they wanted to get married and have kids, and good jobs, and settle down. During the writing and recording process, all of that was happening, with Slospeak and everything. We were, for the first time in seven years, changing band members. That was kind of a big deal.
And then with the producers, since we were working with Slospeak, we weren’t working with a major who could necessarily just throw in tons of money. We had to kind of beg the guys that we worked with to cut us a deal, cut us a break. We were able to work with some really good dudes. They were really good to us. We did work with three different producers, which was the first time we did that too, which had its own challenges. We wanted the record to sound cohesive and seamless. When you’re working with three different guys in three different studios, that’s tough. It really is.
You recorded this album with Chad Howat of Paper Route, Mark Townsend, and Kyle Monroe. What did they bring to the table when it came to the recording process?
Yeah! Chad is in a band called Paper Route, and they’re doing great things right now. When we were working with him, he had just gotten home from a world tour with Imagine Dragons. He plays bass in the band, and does all of their recording and producing. They’re a great band, like an electro-pop kind of band, if you know who they are. He was just great at making everything sound big. If you want a big, epic, anthem song, you go to him. We got “Aftermath” and “Blue”, and we were super happy with them.
Then we worked with Kyle Monroe, who did most of the songs on the record. I think he did 7 of the 12 tracks. He is a newer producer to the scene. He’s done some good stuff with his band, Golden Years. The great thing about Kyle is that we felt so comfortable with him. He’s such a laid back guy, and he’s willing to take a few hours and just experiment and screw around. He was willing to lay out some of his ideas. We just felt like we could be super creative because he wasn’t scrutinizing or looking down on us. He was enabling us to just be as creative as we could be.
And then Mark Townsend is a legend in Nashville. He is a master guitarist. He plays in a band called Sixty-Four. They do Beatles covers and they are legit. When you hear them, you know that they are the masters of their own instruments and playing as a band. They’re incredible. When Drew and I started the band, we were actually getting on the bus for an away (basketball) game, and I heard him listening to Relient K. The first words we ever said to each other I think were like “Hey! You like Relient K?” “Yeah!” “Oh me too!” Mark found those guys and really made them who they are today. It was really cool to work with someone like that, who we have so much history with, and have been looking up to for all of these years. And he is just an absolute wizard at engineering. He can get the craziest sounds out of different things.
He was an amazing guy because we could say “Hey, we’re kind of looking for a sound like this, but we don’t know how to get you that sound,” and he would tell us. There were so many crazy moments that we were incredibly impressed by Mark. He’s a wizard at that stuff. It was great recording with all three guys. They brought completely different things to the table. We were just so incredibly honored to work with all three of them.
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I would say that the overall theme of the record is, basically, surrounding this idea of rebirth, or a triumph and struggle. Quite a few of the songs deal with tough things, like being down and out, just feeling bad, but that this is just a cycle that everyone goes through. That’s kind of the general theme of the record, and you’re gonna pick that up in certain songs like “Blue”. In “Sea Meets Earth”, the concept is talking about how the process of sand is so destructive. It sort of starts out as this sea glass, and then over the years it meets rock and glass. They just kind of clash and create this soft, gorgeous sand that we all love to run through. But it’s a brutal process. There’s quite a few references in the album to that. I would hope that’s what some people get out of it. I think that’s a good message that people are understanding.
What does music mean to you?
Music is just…..something that I do. It’s kind of like being tall and having brown hair. Being a musician is just sort of in you. Writing music and playing music, it just never goes away. To me, it’s a deep part of who I am, and it allows me to go to places that I would have never gone physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It’s important to me because it’s really a part of my DNA, I feel like. Same with the other guys. If Fever Fever broke up tomorrow, the next day, we’d all have our own projects. (laughs). There’d be new songs that we’d be working on. It’s just something that doesn’t go away.
This is so dumb, but have you ever heard the story of The Scorpion and the Frog?
I may have.
There’s a frog that’s about to cross a river, and the scorpion says “take me too!” So the frog says, “Remember, if you kill me, we both die.” They get into the middle of the river, and the scorpion stabs the frog. He looks back and goes, “Why did you do that? We’re both dying now.” He says, “Well, because I’m a scorpion. That’s what I do! I stab things.” (laughs). So I think if this would kill us, we would do it, if this would bring our destruction. It’s a tough lifestyle.
What are the future plans for Fever Fever? In terms of anything you’d like to let fans know about?
Well we are doing a trip to California in November! So we’ll be playing in Oklahoma, New Mexico, probably Colorado, Iowa, and then a bunch of dates in LA and the San Francisco area. Maybe Portland. So that’s all in the books right now, getting worked out.
We have a website that has all of our tour dates, and all of our social media outlets. www.feverfeverband.com. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re very responsive and everything, so if anyone wants to get ahold of us, tell us they love or hate the music, we’re very responsive. We get back to everybody right away, and we’ve made some great friendships with bands. In fact, I just got a birthday card in the mail from one our fans that we’ve built a relationship with. He’s never been to one of our shows, but we started a really cool relationship over Facebook. That’s something that we love to do.
“Aftermath” just came out, so that is on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon. We’re super proud of it. We have a couple videos coming up, specifically one for “Hypnotized”, which is going to be released in the next couple of weeks, so just keep an eye out for that!
Fever Fever's new album "Aftermath" is available now!
This has been another Shameless Promotion.