By Brittany Ward
July 11, 2018
Alright Lincoln, it’s been a big year for one of your favorite bands, The Fey. Their newest EP Strawberry Lemonade has been released everywhere officially, July 13. To celebrate the album’s release, the band will play a show this Saturday at the Zoo Bar with guest performers, State Disco, Various Blonde and CJ Clydesdale Band. Doors open at 7 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m.
For the past six years, the band has performed under the name AZP but since signing to The Record Machine in September, the group decided it was time to change it to something that unified the sextet. The group consists of Zachary Watkins, Ishma Valenti, Trey Shotkoske, Michal Rogers, Ludwing Siebenhor and John Fuchinaro. The inspiration for the name change came from “Peaky Blinders”, a BBC drama that front man, Watkins, is a big fan of. Long story short, a Scottish priest tells the main character his way of living is “fey.” The word is Scottish for “fated to die” but upon further investigation it can also mean “having supernatural powers of clairvoyance, a visionary.”
Despite the name change, sextet still have that “vintage vibe rock-soul music with a touch of hip-hop and pop.” Or as Watkins likes to call it, “new-age blues.” Blues and soul have always been evident in their sound, the band wants to dive deeper into classical soul and blues with the hopes of listeners relating to the gifts and curses in life.
The band takes inspiration from their everyday lives and interests, some may come as a shock but if listening closely, one can hear the inspiration from the band’s tracks. For Watkins it’s classic, vintage and timeless that inspires he creation. From Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder to The Eagles and Jimi Hendrix, Watkins is also a huge fan of Dan Auerbach’s work. Outside of music he is a collector of vintage electronics and instruments, assumingly stemmed from his dad’s job as an architect and surrounding him in beautiful mid-century furniture.
How does The Fey turn its inspiration into a song?
“Almost every day I wake up with some bass melody, drum pattern, chorus, and/or guitar lick and I run to my phone and save these little voice recordings. Literally a phone full of them,” Watkins said. “From there I just start tracking things, mostly all midi, into a music software. Sometimes Michael and John will stop by with bass and guitar to give more life to the demos. After the song is completed on a basic foundation level, I present it to the band and we rehearse and grow it from there.”
Since being signed to a label, it has helped the guys turn their hard work pay off into a fast-growing business. It has also taken some of the pressure off of them so they can focus on creating the music.
“Before the label, personally, I felt like I was always trying, sometimes overly trying, to prove how “talented” we are. Like standing on top of a building shouting over people,” Watkins said. “Now that we have smart, level headed professionals helping, it’s really took a lot our shoulders with that, even emotionally.”
Due to the preparation for the recording of the Strawberry Lemonade, it went much smoother than the previous two EPs. Understanding and being more direct with the way they wanted it to sound like, look like and be presented was also a huge part in the process. The only challenge facing the group was the deadline, which wasn’t much of a challenge since they always give themselves a deadline. The sessions took place at Ashland’s Silver Street Studios with James Fleege doing the recording and mixing. Then the record was mastered at Focus Mastering by the very in-demand Doug Van Sloun
“I know I speak for all of us when I say, “much love to Mr. James Fleege. The guy is truly a genius,” Watkin said.
From Strawberry Lemonade, Watkins is confident that “Contender” is a listener favorite on the EP since the group has been performing it for two years and has received a huge positive response and the reason why it’s the single. However, Watkins is really proud and excited for “The Cool.“This song is uncharted territory for the band, it’s their first love song with a strong, thick guitar, bass and drums while Watkins sings in falsetto.
Right now, the band is considered on tour, or what they like to call “road runs,” which are quick three-days out travelling to different cities and venues then returning home to go to their day jobs. This streak of “road runs” will last until November when they plan to continue the work, heading to the studio to work on their first-ever LP. Having been all over the Midwest and Texas multiple times, the band have shows scheduled in St. Louis, Nashville and many more. But more importantly The Fey has their show this Saturday at the Zoo Bar.
“I personally want to just say how happy we are to be an artistic representation of Lincoln,” Watkins said. “For six years, we’ve been a part of the local music scene, and for six years this city continues to show love and support.”
Brittany Ward is an editorial intern with KZUM.