Saturday, August 19
The new album from Fake Cops comes at you like a brick at your windshield. Its all breakneck speed, whiplash stops and broken-glass guitars.
Clocking in at a fierce 15 minutes, theres a good chance you could listen to Thundertheft in less time than it takes to say the name of Fake Cops 2004 debut. Not that there was anything wrong with Absolutely Your Credit is Excellent But in a Certain Way We Also Need Cash, but the new album is hell-bent on proving that less is more.
"The typical Fake Cops situation is 40 songs that arent finished being written and thats part of the reason they are often very short," explains guitarist Jordan Tettensor. "We have all these cool little parts and eventually we realize if we want to play shows and record an album, we need to write some songs."
But even the need to produce material never takes a backseat to streamlining the process. If a part is boring to play, it gets tossed. If it is working, they make sure it isnt overworked. The same applies to the play list for Thundertheft. Fake Cops chose the seven songs for the new album from a pool of about 15 possible tracks.
"We love the idea of short songs. We play short sets when we play live," he says. "We thought it was pretty awesome if we ever got near the three-minute mark with a song."
Truth be told, even if these songs were closer in length to the epic Chicago post punk numbers that Fake Cops take their cues from, the album would have more than enough swagger to carry it through.
"While Fake Cops have retained a little bit of that, I think we wanted to make it more so that people could dance to this stuff."
Between the adrenalin-fuelled call-and-response guitars, the quartz-precision drumming and Jon Hopkinss sweaty yelps, Thundertheft is as sexy as it is catchy.
"I think that was what we were going for, man. For real," says Tettensor. "Thats how I feel about the music when I play it and sort of the attitude behind it."
The cohesive blend of spastic rock and strutting attitude stems partially from the fact that the band has, by their own admission, matured. After forming in 2002, Fake Cops went through a lineup shift which saw bass-playing front man Brooker Buckingham depart when the bands touring schedule got too hectic. Hopkins stepped to the mic and Andy MacDonald was drafted to join drummer Ian Russell in the rhythm section. Tettensor says the song structures became simpler as a result. True, songs like "Better Call a Priest" have an infectious stomp-along beat. Its just way catchier than any song with a 7/4 time signature has a right to be.
The other, more compelling influence on the bands sound comes from some choice grooves that can be found on dusty old vinyl.
"I have been picking up a lot of old Motown and stuff like that and saying, how can I make my particular punk rock have a little bit of that going on?" says Tettensor. "Its not as obvious, thats for sure. Even if you think about some of the vocal approaches, it might most readily resemble some sort of post-punk thing, but we try to put a lot of soul into that."
Of course if an indie band offers up razor-sharp guitars and a beat you can dance to, its inevitable that they will be accused of hopping the dance rock bandwagon. If Fake Cops didnt have such a solid four-year track record, Thunderthefts pelvic grind would certainly incite such a backlash. Even though they attained a cutting-edge sound by staying true to their original MO, Tettensor says they arent oblivious to this music trend.
"The funny thing is, we were worried about that four years ago when we started," he says. "When you were going to all-ages shows five years ago and seeing what the kids really wanted to move to, the writing was on the wall for that shit a long time ago."
"This is less on the Gang of Four revival and more on putting the soul in rock n roll music. That stuff has a fair bit on the funk side of rock n roll and this has a little bit of that. This is more on the soulful side."
Theres no doubt you can easily shake your ass to any one of the tracks on Thundertheft, but with hints of blues to balance out the fuzzed-out bass and fist-pumping blow-outs, the album is ultimately a statement that separates Fake Cops from the rest of the crowd.
"I love the energy of stuff like that, but we dont want to sound like that."