WRBB’s Paige Ardill got a chance to speak with Matt and Ethan from Montreal based indie-rock band Fleece about their two hit albums and the famous Alt-J video
Paige: Hey guys, Paige Ardill here from WRBB 104.9 FM, how are you doing today?
Matt: Vundabar! We’re a bit tired, we’ve been on the road for about five days now.
P: What’s the story behind your first time meeting?
Ethan: Myself and Matt and Gabe all first started jamming at a summer camp when we were about 16 we started a band in high school called Darbus Fridge. After Grade 12 we all went to university in Montreal, so the old band broke up and we made a new one with some guys we met and called it Fleece, that’s how it all started.
P: Any reason behind the name Fleece?
E: No, no reason. We had 100 names and we were like “oh my god we need to pick one already” and Fleece sounds cool.
P: Is your songwriting process anything like your name-picking process or is it a little bit more complex?
E: Great question. It depends, the Fleece songs in the past have been mostly Gabe writing them and bringing them to the band and eventually we started arranging things together, getting Megan and Jameson in the studio with us, but it’s completely different live, now, because we’ve rearranged it so much. It’s a lot funkier live so our song writing process is always moving a bit. In terms of when I’m writing songs, it’s hundreds of little snippets and we’re like “oh that one sounds okay let’s use that one”.
P: I’m sure the question has been beaten to death but I have to ask, I remember finding you guys back in 2015 when you released a video on YouTube entitled “how to write an Alt-J song”. That video currently has over 8 million views. Obviously other than a certain level of publicity within the indie/alternative scene, how do you feel as though that video helped the band progress?
E: Which video? *Laughs*, every time we have a fan, like last night all the people that know us knew us from the video. It wasn’t meant to be that at all.
M: It was meant for our 200 fans at the time who were our friends and our friend’s friends.
P: I understood that Voyager is a concept album that addresses the question “if you could go back in time to speak to your younger self, what would you say?” Would you like to elaborate?
E: It was the first time I had ever done that kind of thing for a concept album. When I was listening to music as a kid, I felt like nothing was speaking to me as a confused child who was coming to terms with being gay. I didn’t necessarily want to make an album specifically about that, but I wanted to make something about being a teenager and feeling different, harboring a secret. A lot of the lyrics have abstract qualities about me talking to myself back in time and listening and being like “I understand what you’re going through”, but also talking to the kids out there who are going through that currently. So although I can’t talk to myself in the past, I can send this message out to kids now. I don’t know, I think half of the people pick up the album for that reason and the other half just like the music.
P: How to do you feel as though your albums Scavenger and Voyager work off of each other or interconnect, if they do at all?
M: They are totally different. The first album had two other guys that left the band shortly after the album dropped, just sound wise it’s more garage rock, still using some psychedelic elements we have now. I’d say Scavenger was kind of putting the different elements that all 5 of us were inspired by, music wise, and picking up the pieces, scavenging, to put it together. Voyager was kind of a different process, we were still figuring out what Fleece was at the time. It was pretty much me, Ethan and Gabe trying to construct something different before, but what we are doing now compared to voyager is completely different. So I’d say the albums are very different. The first album, we were 18 and now we are 20 and still young as hell, but our influences are changing all the time.
P: Do you have a favorite song from each album?
M: From Scavenger I’d say ‘Demanding’ and ‘DLXVII’ are my top and ‘What You Got’ from Voyager or ‘Fried Eggs’ *the rest of the band chimes in about loving ‘Fried Eggs’*.
P: Was there any inspiration behind Ethan’s inflatable palm tree in your “On My Mind” video?
E: I think we were just looking on amazon, the music video really has nothing to do with the song but the people making the video with us were like “we should make this Ethan trying to get to the tropics and make Montreal out as this tropical paradise in the middle of the winter with this inflatable palm tree”. It’s just fun, whacky. The original idea was to have me dancing with a ribbon in a giant house and it somehow evolved into a storyline of me getting to the tropics. The video when we first saw it was missing something and so we had our friend add the animated clip art.
P: When I think of Ethan I think of that video, it’s very pure.
E: I bring it into all of my job interviews. Here’s me!
P: Is there any new music coming our way?
E: The pseudo plan right now is, we’re touring again in May to June. We’ve been touring the material we have for 2 years now so we’re gonna write new stuff, see how the fans like it, and we like it because when we play things live it’s totally different from in the studio and we wanna get more like the records this time, hopefully record. For now our plan is both we and new music are coming your way soon. We’re coming to Boston again on May 4th!
P: That’s it from Fleece! Thank you so much for chatting with us here on WRBB 104.9FM. You can catch Fleece live on tour this year and back in Boston on May 4th. Make sure to grab tickets here!
Listen to the full interview here:
[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/wrbb/fleece-interview/ width=800% height=120 hide_cover=1]
Want more Fleece? Check out their bandcamp and make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!