MEET FLEET Fleet Foxes

Eschewing pre-fab punk, the Seattle band aims for lush, original pop.

 

BY HAL
BIENSTOCK

 

It takes a
special kind of person to become a lead singer. Not only do you need a good
voice, but you also need a healthy dose of ego and narcissism. That’s why it’s
so surprising that Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold decided to thrust
himself into the background as the band recorded its debut album.

 

“As we
were recording, the band jelled and some songs that were lead vocal-based
didn’t seem that exciting,” he says. “The most upbeat songs on the record are
the least focused on one guy singing. That was fun for us to do because it was
fresh and different.”

 

Instead
Fleet Foxes opted to create a combination of acoustic folk music and big pop harmonies
along the lines of ‘60s bands like the Beach Boys and the Zombies that Pecknold
grew up loving. “I wanted the record to sound like a band and I think the
easiest way to do that was to have all the voices going,” he explains.

 

Fleet
Foxes began in Pecknold’s basement, where he and guitarist Skye Skjelset began
writing songs in junior high school. You’d expect a couple of kids growing up
in Seattle in the ‘90s to be penning punk and grunge anthems, but instead the
two teenagers bonded over the music their parents loved. “When I was growing up
punk seemed more commodified than pop,” he remembers. “The fact that you could
walk into Hot Topic and walk out with a studded belt on was as far from the
punk ethos as possible. We saw that as something to not participate in.”

 

But by
looking back, Pecknold and his band seem to have landed in exactly the right
place, as indie rock fans embrace rootsy artists like My Morning Jacket, Band
of Horses and fellow Seattleites The Cave Singers. “I guess people are now looking
for more natural sounding music instead of bands like The Killers,” says
Pecknold. “Maybe people can only listen to so much synth-rock before they go
into a coma.”


 

[For a review of the Fleet Foxes’ album, go
HERE.]

 

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