It’s a hot and humid mid-June morning. Fairy Bones and myself are standing outside Flying Blanket Recording at around 9 am waiting for producer Bob Hoag to arrive, and the band looks visibly exhausted after spending two long full days recording their debut EP. Yet the fatigue they’re suffering is nothing compared to an even bigger issue that the band is facing: lead singer Chelsey Richard has developed a chest cold, and there’s no way she’ll be able to record her vocals as scheduled.
“Well it’s getting better,” she said, “but it hurts really bad. We’re trying to put it off as much as possible.
“I don’t know how it happened. I’m never sick I swear. And when I get sick, I get tragically sick. And it obviously had to happen on the 5 most important days not to get sick.
“I might be able to push through it today,” she told me, trying to reassure herself. “It might sound bad enough that it’ll actually sound good.”
Now while this is indeed a huge stumbling block for any band to face during the recording process, for Fairy Bones, it’s one of the few that they’ve had to face since their formation back in January. With a unique brand of blues-infused garage punk, a captivating, high energy live show, ever-growing word of mouth and their belief to play practically any show they can get their hands on (including their current month-long Tuesday stint at Long Wong’s), the band of Chelsey, guitarist/bassist Robert Ciuca, drummer Matthew Foos and bassist/keyboardist Ben Foos has quickly become one of the brightest up and coming bands in the Phoenix music scene, and they hope that their upcoming EP will not only help continue their rapid momentum, but will also fully capture the powerful live sound that’s drawn such praise from those in the local music community.
“I don’t think we’re one of those bands where it will never sound like the record,” said Chelsey. “It’s a fine line to walk if you can’t duplicate [your music] live.”
“But it’s definitely not easy,” Matthew added. “You power through your sets live, and you’re like ‘wow we sound like bad-asses,’ and then you hear it [in the studio] its like ‘man, look at all the mistakes we made.'”
A perfect example of the band walking that line was the recording of their song “Anything.” After the previous day’s takes were deemed too slow, Bob and the band decided to re-record the song at a faster speed, and after recording several more takes, Bob came up with some additional arrangement ideas that he thought could make the song even better. When all was said and done, in a matter of minutes he reconstructed the last verse to something that builds to a bigger pay-off and is arguably an improvement, and it’s these sorts of suggestions that led the band to decide to record at Flying Blanket in the first place.
“Someone whose opinion you respect and think matters is nice,” Chelsey told me. “I do like constructive criticism a lot.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of nice to have someone else tell you ‘how about you not play all of this crap and play the crap you need,'” Matt concured.
“But this is definitely our song to ‘get us on the radio,'” Chelsey added, “but it still easily translates to our stuff, our more rock stuff, and hopefully [“Anything”] does well and we can get weirder.”
The other song that they recorded while I was in the studio with them was moody gothic blues rocker “Filler, Baby,” a live favorite that has quite the history.
“That song is so old,” Robert told me. “It was an idea, I wrote the guitar riff 3 or 4 years ago and it never went anywhere. But it was pretty hard (to write) because it’s in 7/4, and it was just me and Ben spending the night hashing out the bridge and the ending.
“It was definitely one of those songs that you have to hash out. But it’s one of those songs that works well with this band. It never worked at all with the other bands I was in, and then with this band it was like so easy, “bam” and it was done.
While Fairy Bones definitely wants to obtain some sort of a following, they made it clear to me that they want to stay true to who they are as musicians, as well. It’s a lesson that both Chelsey and Robert learned in their previous band, Born Loser and the Hangers On.
“I’ve had to learn to not try to please everybody, and I was trying to do that with the last two bands,” Chelsey admitted. “Like in BLATHO we had a song called “Mosquito Song” that people loved, but then people were like ‘well we want another ‘Mosquito Song.'”
“I feel we may scare some people, because we’re just super intense,” Matt chimed in,” but I think we’re really learning to harness our power.”
“I just want to do this for a living. I don’t want to do anything else,” said Chelsey. “I’m more inspired as I get older not by how a band sounds, but how they operate. I get the concerns about being too poppy out of the gate, but I know we’re not a band that’s going to stay that way. We’re not AC/DC.” Yet even though they do want to maintain their credibility, that doesn’t mean they want to be a group of obscure, relative unknowns either.
“I don’t want to be an obscure indie band,” Matt told me. “I want to use this band as a platform for other things. I see ourselves having a projection like The Black Keys where we just slowly build a following. We are manly enough for the boys and sexy enough for the girls. The bands that I feel can be successful are bands that can appeal to both.”
Their first single, the surf rock, text message-influenced “Like Like” (“the lyrics auto-corrected on my phone and added the extra ‘like,'” Chelsey told me) makes its radio debut on KWSS on September 6th (which also happens to be Chelsey’s birthday), while the EP is expected to drop on October 15th (and yes, Chelsey was able to record her vocals at a later date, so thankfully this will not be an all-instrumental release).