It's the one thing that's nice about "bands in the summertime," says Ferndale-based musician Frank Lee: "...basements."
Havens from the heat, the typical dwelling place of rock bands can be cool respites from the debilitating humidity of long sun-singed days with seemingly ever-increasing temperatures.
A cool place. A sound-proof space.
It's also a place of rejuvenation, creatively and somewhat spiritually. A laboratory, a think-tank, sometimes a gymnasium; a private domain in which to freak out without worry or self-doubt.
For Lee, who plays in local trio JFn'K, and for other Ferndalians like Johnny Headband's singer/keyboardist Chad Thompson, basements can also be recording studios.
JFn'K will be releasing a special pair of cover songs via a unique EP format - the media will be on USB "flash-drives" fashioned into HotWheels toys - on Thursday at the Berkley Front.
Johnny Headband just returned from touring the UK, and while Thompson admits he can sometimes overthink this band stuff - be it the anxious yearning to see tangible results from the hustle and heave of an overseas tour or anyone's perception of their latest album's blooming into atmospheric "space-funk" territory - he knows that when it comes to this band, he finds renewed motivation by always whittling it back to the band's origins.
As he once put it to me, it came down to: "Brothers...basement...music..."
That's what it all comes back to... back to where (how) it (the band) started. Basements - the where and the how of lots of bands, really.
JFn'K and Headband came to be...in a basement. And the basement cures any discouragement.
But back to Mr. Lee, referenced above, otherwise known as Frank Lee-("Harvey Oswald"), backing up creative frontman Jeremy ("Jack Ruby") Otto in JF'K, along with drummer Ken ("Warren Commission") Welsh.
Lee joined his musical co-conspirators about 10 years ago, whisking off on whimsical jams in, where else, a basement and then later sound-tracking cheery, rollicking house parties. Recently, three-ish years ago, the trio decided to start earnestly perusing/flourishing this as a substantial band/recording project. Hence, 2010's "Back And To The Left EP."
There's pure-pop in these tunes, but it's got a satirical sneer, a lo-fi gut-punch to the boogie of 50s rock 'n' roll, warped by the syrupy tones and brutish, fist-pump bluster of 70s arena-anthems and then shunting an irreverent shoulder into the daze and glaze of typical "stoner-metal" aesthetics. Exhaust-pipe fuzz revs and yowling croon-style vocals surf atop all-shook-up percussion style, a grimy grinning guttural thing, oh yeah.
JFn'K - "Louise"
As Lee put it: "Nice dorky guys playing off big dumb rock and mocking jocky dude-car-stuff... ...super-fun, excitable...and playing with as many dumb-rock cliches as we can, just cuz it's goofy."
Thursday at the Berkley Front features another round in the monthly series curated by local label-collective Axis Mundi. JFn'K's "Left" EP appears under one (of several) labels in the Axis Mundi family, that being the Communist Daycare Center. Thursday night's free show features performances from Letter Carrier and Brandon Frye and The Bullshitters.
Featured on JFn'K's curious USB/HotWheel will be covers of two automobile odes (a theme they revel in irreverently shredding): Queen's "I'm In Love With My Car," and, fittingly, a song of the same title by avant-garde anti-folk singer/songwriter Mike Ness.
New record store
By the way... Did you make it out to the grand opening of Found Sound, the new/used record store operating out of the former location of Mother Fletcher's on Nine Mile? Check it out. Fans of the bygone Record Time will likely find it to be a cozy and invigorating reboot of said-store's former glory, as the two managers were once longtime employees. Expect to see regular movie nights and live in-store performances featuring an array of local bands.
Check up with them on Facebook...
More upcoming events
Beyond that - This month's Duenseday revue at the Loving Touch features newly awarded fellows of the Kresge Arts Foundation. The hip-hop duo Passalacqua were among the 24 metro-area artists (along with singer/songwriter Don "Doop" Duprie) to receive the 2012 grant from the Troy-based foundation to finance and foster their craft (i.e., tour and produce a third album in the coming year).
Joining this month's line-up at 8 p.m. on Aug. 1 is a newer band called Factory Girls, a super-group whose potential has oft been posited by its founders, consistent Ferndalian rock roustabouts Kyle McBee and Mike Anton, now having taken form, backed by Scottie Stone, Eugene Strobe and Brandon Frye. Provocative, ruminative, keyed-up psychedelic pop...
Also on the bill is your usual host, the fresh-out-the-studio Duende, who'll have a release ready likely in mid-autumn. Rounding out the romp are the stunning and stylish soul rollers The Wrong Numbers.