Fang Island

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We recently described Fang Island’s Major as a straight up, sometimes sideways, slice of proper, sweet, heart on sleeve, riff-laden pop and rock – which roughly translated means we love the shit out of it. This group know their way around a good song, they fire riffs off like they’re going out of fashion, drop melodies for fun and rock the fuck out whenever the mood might take them. It was clearly time to track one of the three-piece down – thankfully guitarist Jason Bartell stepped up and provided the answers.

Bowlegs: This album has more vocals. Was it liberating to give a little more narrative to your music? Did you have more to say or was it more a case of what seemed right for these particular songs?

Jason: A little of both I would say, in both cases. It has been liberating to have more lyrics, but also kind of scary, and I definitely try to follow what the song seems to be demanding. Riffs like the rhythm hook in Sisterly just beg for lyrics and vocals, so I followed that need. I had been kicking that riff around for a good year before finding the right vocal hook for it.

Bowlegs: While writing and recording do you all instinctively know when a song is working or do corners occasionally have to be fought? Were any songs won or lost while recording Major?

Jason: I think we all kind of instinctively know when a song is working in Fang Island, it’s usually when a riff or idea makes us laugh and smile. When I walk around singing fake lyrics to a silly riff I know we’re on the right track. Theres not too much fighting in this band ha.

Fang Island Shot

Bowlegs: Are any of the songs standing out as road favorites yet? Asunder sounds like it could be a bit of a blast played out to a crowd!

Jason: Asunder is definitely a live favorite of mine, I think the energy translates really well to a live show. Seek it Out has been really fun too, it has a heavy bounce to it.

Bowlegs: Was there any specific point when it all clicked with Fang Island and you knew you were onto something special? If so, what and when might that have happened?

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Fang Island Interview: The Island of Happy Maximalists

Fang IslandThe Providence/Brooklyn trio Fang Islandmakes over-the-top, uplifting rock music that could put a smile on the face of even the most belligerent, hateful, misanthropic pessimist.

The band’s sophomore album, “Major,” is out this week on Sargent House, and it’s even more absurdly ecstatic than their 2010 debut. From flashes of classical piano (“Kindergarten”) to bizarre combinations of hair-metal, saloon romps and West African riffs (“Dooney Rock”), the band reaches for ’90s alt-rock glory with blazing electric guitars and colossal hooks. I caught up with guitarist and vocalist Jason Bartell to talk about “Major” while Fang Island was preparing for the next stop on their current U.S. tour.

You’re in the middle of a tour. Where are you?

Today’s our day off. We’re in Campbell, Ohio; tomorrow we play Cleveland. Tonight, we’re staying in a sub-suburban mansion paradise thing owned by one of our touring band members’ cousins, who he hasn’t seen since he was a baby.

This guy should be the star of a reality show, for sure. He’s brilliant, but also kind of insane. He built this house himself, and all the rooms have different themes — there’s one with a Jacuzzi and a television, a pirate-themed room that he’s putting a boat in, a bar with zebra prints and tiger stripes — it’s insane. I think some weird stuff is going to happen tonight.

nullThat sounds kind of scary. What does Fang Island normally do with its days off?

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