After their unforgettable appearance at this year’s SXSW,Fang Island have finally begun to receive the attention they’ve been worthy of since 2005, as media outlets and new listeners have finally recognized the interesting and unique sound created by the New York City five-piece. Fun, friendly yet still substantial, the group’s tracks have been remixed by the likes of Yeasayer’s Chris Keating, and their debut self-titled LP was released in February to overwhelming praise and appreciation. Having started the band in art school and continuing to add an artistic edge to the group’s indie pop-rock dynamic, Fang Island has proven that regardless of other US cities currently dominating the landscape of North American music, the eastern city is worthy of its hype, and its bands are increasingly impressive. We spoke to the group about the importance of music festivals, what they like best about their LP and if any other bands “get it right”.
Since playing at this year’s SXSW, you achieved the fastest growth in online fandom, resulting in being named one of the Next Big Sounds. Do you consider SXSW and festivals along the same lines to be crucial to a band’s success? I wouldn't have thought that SXSW could still play a role in a band's success until it happened to us, I thought that the festival had just gotten too big for small bands to be noticed at all. Clearly festivals and things of that nature aren't crucial to every band's advancement, but they can be extremely helpful if you're lucky. Success seems to be about 80% luck. How have you avoided being branded as an “it” band? I think probably by not actually being an "it" band, ha. Getting some attention is great but there definitely is such a thing as too much attention. A label like "it" can end up putting a lot of unwanted pressure on a band, it can start to mess with your process. I'd much rather be branded as a "stable, hard-working, productive" band. Maybe "polite" band? In addition to your popularity and publicity (as your music’s been featured in commercials for The Buried Life and praised by the likes of Pitchfork), you’ve also earned accolades from bands like Yeasayer, who’ve remixed your songs. Is it difficult not to get carried away with the hype or do you see it as something relatively fleeting? Hype is fleeting by definition, that's just a fact, so getting carried away with it would be a mistake for sure. We're all very excited about what's going on right now, but you have to take everything with a grain of salt and stay humble. I've basically worked myself into a constant state of disbelief. That helps me stay focused i think... Having begun as an art project, do your art and design backgrounds seem to come into play during the creative process? I would say they are very important to our creative process, in that they are inseparable. This is not to say that it comes out in a very obvious way, it's never like "what would this drawing sound like if it was a song?" but they are always informing one another somehow. Visual art and audible art are essentially one entity in a lot of ways, they both get formed from our personal/shared experiences.
Do you consider it possible for music to be visual as well as auditory? My favorite band's are the ones who have clearly honed both the visual and auditory sides of their music simultaneously. Usually you can't help but think of an image or visual to go along with a song, so it helps to guide that a little. You can really drive home what your music is about in kind of a subconscious and covert way with a perfectly fitted album cover or video. This is pretty obvious I guess, but the music video era probably played a big part in cementing this idea. When I was a kid I used to lie around listening to songs on my walkman and picture the most elaborate music videos to go along with them. Usually they were pretty over-the-top, I was listening to a lot of Rage Against the Machine back then. What aspects of the album are you most proud? Mainly that it got finished at all. There was a lot standing in the way of making this record; we all lived in different cities, we had no money, no label, that kind of stuff. There were about a dozen planets that needed aligning, I'm kind of amazed that it happened. We owe Machines with Magnets (where we recorded it) a great deal I think, they really came through for us. I'm actually sending them a dozen roses right now while I'm thinking of it... Are you already planning your next record or the direction you hope to take? ...and sent. We have a few ideas but I think we're going to try and let it take shape in a natural way. I'd love to take some time off and all move somewhere weird and exotic for a few months and get some writing done. Japan! Maybe Antarctica?
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Do you think with the barrage of new media outlets bands are under pressure to release new material in record time? I remember people saying that was happening back when the Strokes were putting out records so I don't know, I think there's probably just as much pressure as there has ever been to move quickly. There are still bands who put out records every 3 or 4 years and do well, I think it just comes down to using your time wisely. Time will always be a factor if you are making art in a public forum, you just have to learn to walk the line between quality and hastiness. What bands do you think “get it right” in regards to maintaining creative integrity and general interest? I think Lord GaGa is killing it right now, his discography is the very definition of incorruptibility. Where do you see Fang Island in five years? That much closer (wink) You can visit the band by heading to www.fangisland.com Check out our review of their debut album here!