Show Preview + Interview: Fergus and Geronimo

What? You don’t have your own copy of Funky Was the State of Affairs yet? What are you waiting for? It’s one of the most interesting listens of the year, and the band makes their way into Austin at Beerland on Friday night, ready to share their talents with us all. We caught up with the band trying to get the story on their life and their latest release.

ATH:  On Funky Was the State of Affairs you seemingly steer clear of the folk art rock spectrum you were lumped into on the first release.  Was the progression natural or did you actively seek to distance yourself from your past?

F&G: Interesting, because I also saw the folk rock comparison being drawn. I don’t get it. But to answer your question, it’s both.  This band started as friends making music pretty randomly; without too much thought given to cohesion or style. Our first output was really just a collection of songs that didn’t fit with our bands at the time. Both of us are fairly prolific songwriters. When it came time to do the first Lp we had the opportunity to define the bands identity a bit. We were already tired of being lumped into the indie/garage/lo-fi labels that were popular at the time. Music is so much more fun when you stop trying to please others and just do what you’re gonna do. Fergus & Geronimo is a good outlet for me to be a bit more daring than I am in my other bands.

ATH:  Thematically speaking, what’s the most important aspect of the new record you hope people take away after listening? Do you feel that message is being well received by the regular earthlings such as myself, or have we missed the point?

F&G: I don’t really want to make any suggestions about what the audience should take away from the record. Let them glean what they will, because at this point I’m not sure if I even intended any narrative for it. I definitely don’t think its a record for everybody. I mean, there is a reason that this band isn’t headlining festivals, we can only survive in the very small margins of independent rock music that we do. Music is not a universal language, thank god.

ATH:  I think I unjustly lumped you in with bands like White Denim when you first burst onto the Texas scene.  Who do you guys see as your musical contemporaries, be them past or present?

F&G: I identify with bands that are fiercely individualistic. Funkadelic, Sparks, Devo, Quintron, Beck. I’ve never heard White Denim. 

ATH:  When bands create a piece of work like Funky…. I always wonder whether or not the group is taking a jab at listeners.  Do you guys feel like there’s any relevance to that comment, or did you set out just to create a record where you could have the most fun in the studio?

F&G: Yeah I think by nature we Are slightly confrontational.  But, most of the art I enjoy is cut with a healthy dose of aggression. I can feel how somebody might feel alienated by this record and deem it as being tedious. But, that happens all the time, people ask that artists understand them rather than seeking to understand their art.

ATH:  Do you guys feel like you’re appreciated in Texas, or do you have a bigger response from audiences outside of your home state?  I always feel like Texans have a tendency to look the other way until their bands make a bigger name for themselves.

F&G: As much there as anywhere else I suppose, I haven’t noticed any place that has more F&G fans than others really.  I would say our biggest fans are our close friends, many of which are in Texas.

ATH:  If there’s a statement song on Funky Was the State of Affairs, one where you establish the mood/theme/etc for the whole record, which track do you think that is?

F&G: I think it would be the titular track.

ATH: You guys are obviously in the midst of a good long tour.  What’s the one thing you miss the most about being in the comfort of your own home?

F&G: Well it’s only day three so I haven’t really started missing anything yet.  I’m sure the answer for me is alone time.

ATH:  What advice do you have for all the young upstart bands in Texas?  What should their goals be?

F&G: Just do your thing And have fun. Freak life is a beautiful thing, embrace it.

If you like what you hear, you can catch Fergus and Geronimo rocking things out Friday night at Beerland.  Thanks to J. Baxter for help setting up the interview! Pick up Funky Was the State of Affairs now at Hardly Art.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Fergus+Geronimo_RomanTick.mp3]

Download:Fergus & Geronimo – RomanTick [MP3]

Fergus and Geronimo – Funky Was the State of Affairs

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Last time out, Fergus and Geronimo seemed intent upon playing themselves into the artier side of the garage rock game, but such attributes will rarely be seen on their newest effort.  They set off to make Funky Was the State of Affairs a complete album, and after spending days with this record, their work has revealed a group intent upon making their own way in the indie sphere, compiling bits of proto-punk with hints of Devo and snippets of enhanced messages for the listener.

“No Parties” is the first traditional song, following the album’s opening bit of quirky messaging.  While there’s a bent towards the proto-punk of Wire, Fergus and Geronimo are intent early on to reveal their notes to the fans.  Themes of mass-consumption and indifference to the greater Earth seem prevalent, and it’s something that only grows stronger as the record progresses.  “Roman Tick” soon follows with a brattier rock n’ roll moment, but this time the boys are aiming their guns at the trials and tribulations of modern dating.  I like the propulsive drum beat and the vocal delivery on this note, harkening back to one of my favorite periods in music history.

You could probably skip around on some of the tunes, or tidbits, from Funky Was the State of Affairs, but you might miss some of the elements that run through the entirety of the album.  For instance, “Roman Numerals/Wiretapping Muzak I” wouldn’t make much sense when listened to by skipping the snipped that precedes it, but when it’s all tied in, it makes for a special moment where listeners can see the dedication to tying everything together. Would “Earthling Women” make any sense if we ignored “Earthling Men?” In truth, probably not, but that’s just one of the special attributes of such an intellectually accomplished effort.

I mean, if you’re looking for solid songs from Fergus and Geronimo, those definitely exist within the woven fabric, and it’s not like you have to search for them.  Aside from the previously mentioned tracks, “Drones” is another solid track you’ll find yourself tapping your toes to while you press play.  Nice work on the high-hat gives the song it’s rhythm, and the vocal delivery is sort of spoken word, matching the pace of the track itself.  This one here is probably one of my favorite songs.  Or, maybe you’re looking with something funkier? You’ll find that in “Marky Move,” a track that opens with handclaps and a bobbing bass line.  Just to keep things interesting, the group throws in a nice horn solo to coincide with the stomping delivery of the lyrics.  These are just a few moments of the clever songwriting present throughout.

Funky Was the State of Affairs is probably one of the first records to be put out there that really sticks to the point.  Fergus and Geronimo set out to make a record with thematic elements that hit the listener from start to finish, and their execution is spot on; each song ties into the album somehow, somewhere.  It might not be the album for everyday listening, but it’s an album that requires your attention and dedication to completing your experience from start to finish.  Should you accept the mission, you’ll be rewarded.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/02-No-Parties.mp3]

Download: Fergus & Geronimo – No Parties [MP3]

Funky Was the State of Affairs is now available from Hardly Art.

New Proto Punker from Fergus & Geronimo

You know by now we’re pretty big fans of Hardly Art Records, so we’re always happy to share the new tunes they’re pushing, especially when it’s by a band we love, such as Fergus & Geronimo. We’re getting closer to the August 7th release of the band’s new album, Funky Was the State of Affairs, and I’m really appreciating their state of mind.  Their earliest single was a bit of hodge-podge art rock, but this time they’re taking dead aim at second wave punk rock, using grooving bass work, spoken word delivery and a propulsive drum beat.  I can’t get the similarities to Wire out of me head, especially in songs like “Three Girl Rhumba,” though that track is more guitar than bass. Regardless, we’re totally jamming this tune out.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/02-No-Parties.mp3]

Download:Fergus & Geronimo – No Parties [MP3]

New Tune from Fergus and Geronimo

It’s funny, I always sort of thought at Fergus and Geronimo as Dallas’ answer to White Denim, giving off that constructional post-rock vibe with odd time signatures and what not, but it seems like a lot of people had that problem with the group; they’re a hard bunch to put into a box.  That being said, the band is returning with Funky Was the State of Affairs on August 7th via Hardly Art, and the title alone suggests that the group could be more all over the map, even a bit funkier perhaps. Doesn’t matter what it sounds like in the long run, as this single alone is enough to kick off things in the right direction.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Fergus+Geronimo_RomanTick.mp3]

Download:Fergus & Geronimo – RomanTick [MP3]