“That’s how we imagine that the bands we love do it, like Weezer and Jimmy Eat World, or, going back to our roots in ’80s pop, the Cars. But we don’t sound like any of them.” That’s very true. Very Emergency — Fletcher, guitarist Danny Maupin, bassist Greg Melnyk, drummer Jakob Bell, keyboardist Meghan Hodges and new six-stringer Garrett Hodges have instead minted a sound that echoes between rock’s past and its cutting edge without dwelling in nostalgia for even a moment. Sure, down in the mix there’s the feel-good dance-ability of New Wave as well as the snarl of the punk-pop the group’s members played in earlier bands, but there’s also a modern, urban vibe to their pertly tailored tunes along with the timeless balance of earnest storytelling and pleasing harmonies. In just three years that approach — and their incendiary live shows — has made Very Emergency the kings of the Lexington, Kentucky, pop scene with a growing base of fans across the mid-South.
And now they’ve begun to take on the bigger rock world: playing festivals, making The Getaway with famed producer Chris Kimsey, and even recording and touring with Grammy Award winner Peter Frampton. Kimsey, who’s taken the helm on albums by the Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, the Cult, Peter Frampton, and dozens of other hit-makers, produced The Getaway at Minneapolis’ Terrarium studios, where Beck, the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, and the Bad Plus have also recorded. “I was really captivated by Very Emergency,” Kimsey relates. “Ken’s vocal melodies are great and his disarming style is the opposite of his worldly lyrics, which often subvert the obvious. Plus, the storytelling is believable and the grooves and careful brushstrokes of guitar give their arrangements an uplifting mood. “On top of that,” Kimsey adds, “they are furious board game players.” But it wasn’t their Monopoly skills that pulled Frampton’s ear. It was a shimmering, soulful, and ultimately rocking revamp of Frampton’s 1977 smash “I’m in You.” Very Emergency’s version is such a radical departure that Frampton’s wife didn’t recognize the tune when he played their demo at home.
The reworking earned the group an invitation to the rock legend’s Ohio studio, where he also played guitar and sang backing vocals on the final take. “It was great working with Very Emergency,” Frampton says. “It was wonderful to hear an entirely different interpretation of my ‘I’m in You.’ I would have never thought of it that way. “They are a terrific new band!” The song will be included on The Getaway’s re-release — just in time for Very Emergency’s August dates with Frampton. That tour finds Very Emergency truly ready for a legion of new fans. “Working with Chris and Peter really helped us take a step forward,” says Fletcher.
“Also, our manger David Hadland has helped us grow. He got us to break out of our box by giving us songwriting exercises like making everyone work on a riff or a melody on something other than their regular instrument. “Being with Chris in the studio helped the band get tighter and better, and Chris and Peter both made us feel more confident by validating our songwriting and playing as a band.” Kimsey in particular encouraged Fletcher to pursue The Getaway as a narrative. “A lot of bands will write about girls and parties,” the ebullient frontman says.
“I always found the idea of following a plot line more interesting. And over the course of writing the songs for The Getaway that helped me become more of a storyteller than just a lyricist. “The song “The Getaway” was the first time we really stepped out of our boxes,” he continues. The lyrics introduce our criminal character, who is obviously doomed from the beginning of the album.” The band also decided The Getaway would have no love songs. “ ‘Picket Fence’ and ‘Last Call’ are the only slow numbers on the disc, and ‘Last Call’ is more an anti-love song,” Fletcher explains.
“It’s about a guy who picks up a prostitute he can’t perform with, but it’s arranged so it might sound like a love song, which is our way of maybe playing with people’s expectations.” Then there’s “Leader of Fools,” told from the perspective of a would-be hero trying to stop a bank robbery. Again the band’s subversive streak kicks in as the song’s sweet melody and chugging beat sounds almost blithe as an inevitable unhappy ending looms. “Fun is what it’s really about,” Fletcher observes. “When we’re having fun and everybody in the audience is having fun because of the music we’ve created, well, then we feel like we’re doing something worthwhile with our lives.” Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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