Interview By Scott Hammond –
Read Scott’s Review of Fossil Collective’s Louisiana, Bristol gig here –
With a debut album released at the start of April, a support slot on an upcoming North American tour and their own headline US shows in the offing by the end of the year, it is a very exciting time for Dave Fendick and Johnny Hooker of Fossil Collective. Right before their tenth show of a UK tour which has included a sell-out show at London’s Borderline, I sat with Dave backstage at The Louisiana, Bristol to discuss the evolving dynamics of the band, life on the road and all things Fossil Collective.
With both of you having achieved success as part of a 5 piece band in Vib Gyor, how are things different now that you are a 2 piece; particularly in regards to the writing and recording of your material?
I think that when it was Vib Gyor there were 5 people in the band that were all pushing in a different direction so there was no kind of uniform direction that the band was going in. When Johnny and I started writing as Fossil Collective, we just kind of stripped it all back and wanted to get back to the essence of what we wanted to do at the start.
So you’d say that there is more of a converging together now you are Fossil Collective?
Yeah, definitely and what’s happening now that we’ve started the ball rolling in the direction we wanted it to go, we’ve found people that have come on board like Antonio (bass player) who are in to the same kind of music and who can understand where we want the project to go whereas, when we started with Vib Gyor, there were 5 people all starting at the same time, all wanting a different thing from being in a band so things were always being pushed in different directions. So, I would definitely say that it is a change for the better.
As musicians that are described as ‘multi-instrumentalists,’ to what extent are you and Johnny able to be self-sufficient in the studio?
Well, when we first started working on some of the demos and stuff which were going to be for the album, it was just a case of me and Johnny sort of trying to start the band off so in a way we become more proficient in other instruments whereas in Vib Gyor I was just playing guitar with Johnny just drumming. Now I’ve learned a bit of piano, Johnny’s picked up the ukulele and is getting better on guitar so it kind of helped us in that respect but over the last year or so, the band is more developed now so we can get a more settled structure for recording demos and we can take it into the studio with Antonio and Sean on board and we can realise the songs in their true form.
So with the extra musicians would you say that you’re now pretty much set in regards to who’s going to do what?
No, we do swap around a lot. Antonio tonight is going to be playing bass, ukulele and drums, I’m going to be playing some bass as well as guitar, Sean’s playing acoustic guitar and electric guitar so we do all mix it up a bit.
So how many musicians will be playing tonight?
At the moment there are 5 of us, which we need for the bigger gigs like tonight but, like I said, it is a collective so we can either bring people in or strip it back depending on the gig and how many people we are playing to.
I’ve read about your eclectic musical tastes that range from everything from Ravi Shankar to Daft Punk but which artists would you say were the most direct influences on the new album?
I think that it’s a hybrid of the music that we grew up listening to so you’ve got artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and stuff that are parents would’ve been listening to.
I assume that would be later Fleetwood Mac as opposed to Peter Green’s original incarnation of the band?
Yeah, later Fleetwood Mac when Stevie Nicks came in, that kind of era with ‘Rumours’ and all the harmonies, that kind of thing. So that’s one side of it; looking at the past and the music we were influenced by and then there’s a mix of bands that we like at the moment; so Sigur Ros, and there’s some Radiohead in there…..
I would say that I’ve listened to your vocal and it does sound very Thom Yorke. I know that it’s a comparison that you’ve probably heard before; is this in any way a conscious influence?
No, it’s totally not. I mean, we don’t try and sound like anyone or try to be anything other than us sitting in a room, writing and seeing what comes out.
So, tonight you are playing your 10th show in a 21 date UK tour; with this pretty much being the halfway point, what are your thoughts on how the tour has gone so far?
It’s been really good. Tomorrow’s our day off, actually, so I think we are all looking forward to that.
Will that be a day off in Bristol or will you be moving elsewhere?
No, we’re driving back up tonight, back to Yorkshire. It’s got to the point where our clothes are starting to stink a little bit and we’re out of underwear and socks.
So laundry is required at this point?
So yeah, it’s going to be a big laundry run and a day away just to catch up on sleep. There’s been a lot of drinking, a lot of late nights, a lot of driving and hangovers, so it will be a day of recharging our batteries.
So there’s no drinking in Bristol tonight then?
Probably not; I don’t know. The problem is, you wake up and say, ‘right there’s definitely no drinking today’, but before a gig you might get a little bit nervous and say, ‘okay, we’ll have one beer’, and then you meet people after the gig and have a couple of beers and before you know it you’re drinking a lot. But I think tonight, if there is a beer it’ll only be one or two.
Or three, four, five…..
Ha, well we’re going to have to be sensible as we’re travelling back tonight and it’s a 5 hour journey.
What has been your favourite venue so far on this UK tour?
Probably so far I would say The Borderline in London because it was nearly 400 people. It was sold out and really kind of hot and sweaty. I mean, London is always pretty crazy for us, in many ways it’s the centre of the tour and we get a lot of industry people that come along, the management are always there and the label and our booking agents are there. It’s usually crazy getting into London and parking the van and unloading everything and getting out; so it’s crazy but kind of cool as well, you enjoy it but it’s a long, long day with lots of interviews, a lot of press and things like that but, if all goes well, you can drive out the following morning and just think ‘Yeah’ and feel like you’ve nailed it.
You have a North American tour coming up supporting Boxer Rebellion starting on 23rd May. How does the adventure of a North American tour compare to that of a UK tour?
It’s really good actually; in some ways there’s less pressure because were supporting them so what we are going to do is strip it back to me, Johnny and Zane as a 3 piece. It’s going to be a bit more of a road trip really, we haven’t got as many dates as we have on the UK tour and it’s over a longer period; we’re going over for 5 weeks and it’s only around 15 or 16 dates so it’s going to be a bit more relaxed and hopefully the weather’s going to be nice and warm.
And America’s just an exciting place anyway…
Yeah and it’s just going to be a bit of a road trip really. We are going over there just to test the waters really and to show our faces and we’re going to go back as a full band in October/November time for headline shows which we’re really excited about.
Did I read that either you or Johnny haven’t played New York before?
No, we haven’t. New York is going to be a hard gig to beat. We are playing Webster Hall which just has an amazing history so it’s going to be brilliant.
What is the capacity for that venue?
It’s around 2,000 maybe 3,000 so that gig is going to be great.
You made an appearance at SXSW Festival last month…..
Well, we didn’t actually.
Did you not? I think I’ve been lied to!
Well, this is it, we were due to play but I got laryngitis and couldn’t talk for a month, I literally whispered for a month. Then I got better but Johnny got ill so we just basically both fell apart and thought ‘what are we going to do? We can’t do this.’ But luckily things have worked out for the better; Boxer Rebellion are friends of ours and they knew that we couldn’t do it so they asked us ‘do you want to come on tour instead?’ so we’re actually going out [to America] for longer so it’s kind of a silver lining for us really.
Finally, with so much quality music existing slightly under the radar and out there waiting to be discovered, I think that it’s very important to speak to fellow music fans and share ideas. Can you recommend the readers of The Fix a band or artist that they probably wouldn’t have heard of and why they should check them out?
That’s a good question. Well there’s a few people actually, a lot of the people that we’ve been touring with have taken us by surprise. On the last tour there was this guy called Luke Sital-Singh who’s a really good singer-songwriter, Joe Banfi who we are on tour with at the moment is really cool, Dark Dark Horse who are a really good band and also Saturday Sun who have amazing voices.
To find out more about Fossil Collective visit their official website