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Fang Island is for Lovers, Positive Thinkers

Published: Thursday, August 9, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 18:08

There is no denying Rhode Island’s Fang Island is not a typical testosterone-fueled rock band. Their newest album, Major, is an electric guitar party bursting with earnest enthusiasm and positive messages. It seems like they are really happy dudes. In fact, if they were anymore optimistic and life affirmative, they’d be singing in a church.   

However, they weren’t always so outspoken. Fang Island was a mostly instrumental band early on. Little by little they found their lyrical footing and now they sing full-on love ballads. The best part is it actually works.

Guitarist and singer Chris Georges chatted with College Times about the changes the band has gone through and how Major is a reflection of the band.

College Times: You used to be an all-instrumental band, so how was it adding lyrics to your music?

Chris Georges:On our first three EPs we were mostly interested in instrumental music and not really giving a narrative through lyrics, just letting people experience the music and create their own narratives. Slowly, we started to work in lyrics that were almost guttural sounds, like “woes” and “ohs” and “heys,” and it became really exciting for us and we slowly started feeling more comfortable incorporating lyrics. With this album, we really wanted to put a lot more focus on it but still keep the idea that Fang Island is very instrumental and keep the lyrics like they could be a guitar part or something. It was an exciting challenge.

Is that what you wanted to accomplish with the new album, Major?

It’s something that we’ve been working on for the past seven years and we finally wanted to make a record that had a lot more [lyrics] but still retained our sound. [We were] working our sound into pop structures and different kinds of music [like] country music, dance music, world music, but still trying to retain our sound. Jason [Bartell] and I were lucky to live in the same city for a while and we were just getting together and jamming. We recorded in the same place we’ve recorded all our albums in Providence. It was a great experience. We did a lot of group singing. We got to mess around and kind of live in a dream world for a month.

How do you find the balance between your heavy instrumentals and sweet lyrics?

We’re attracted to all kinds of music, but there’s part of us that is still teenage boys and we like some kind of aggressive music but we wanted to put our own positive spin on it. I think the lyrics are […] motivational or something trying to help someone through their day. With the music being so positive we felt like the lyrics should also be positive and motivational and sweet. One of the fun challenges of this record was incorporating the idea of writing love songs. It’s an important sentiment, especially in music. It’s something we were really excited to tap into. It’s one of the greatest feelings of all so I feel like it should be covered in our music.

FangIslandlove songs are pretty gentleman-like.

I think we’re very gentlemanly-like. We’re all stand-up dudes.

So what is the writing process like?

It’s funny because we naturally, well when Jason and I are writing together, it comes out positive. It comes out happy. That’s the kind of people we are. We don’t have to take ourselves seriously. We don’t think to be serious you have to be some sort of tortured artist. We try to live as positive as we can and there’s a lot of power in positive thinking. I think that’s a message I feel very strongly about conveying in music. I wouldn’t want to put bad vibes out for people. I don’t think that’s in our character.

For someone who hasn’t seen Fang Island live, how would you describe your shows?

I think it’s pretty high energy. I’ve been taken over by something and we just have so much fun doing it we get kind of lost in the moment. It’s loud and it’s fun and we tend to jump around a lot and get pretty excited.

If Fang Island was an animal, which animal would it be and why?

My favorite animal is the English bulldog, so I’ll say that. They’re just big fat sweeties.

Fang Island w/Zechs Marquise, Adebisi Shank, The Rhythm Room, August 12, 8 p.m., $12 adv, $14 dos

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