-Interview- Fellowcraft (4/29/19)

Fellowcraft talks about their eclectic Rock sound, the DC music scene and much more.


From: Washington, DC
Sounds like: Grunge/Blues/Rock

1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound?

Who thought of the name “Fellowcraft" and is there any meaning behind it? - “Fellow Craft” is a term that ancient stone masons used to denote their members. Today it’s used in Freemasonry where it harks back to the idea that we’re all tradesmen longing to perfect and protect our trade, so JR thought it would be a great name for a band.

We’re in a complicated relationship with our sound, because we don’t want to be boxed in to any one type of music or genre to the detriment of the song. That said, we tend to fall back on indie, blues, and grunge rock genres in the majority of our songs.

2. What do you want people to take away from your music?

We take a lot of care in crafting the message of each song, so we hope people take something away from the lyrics as well as enjoying the music. That’s why we tend to write about poignant issues of our time like gun violence, inequality, untimely death, or homelessness while also trying to lift our audiences up with undertones of hope, solidarity, and love. We do our best to stay progressive and relevant by touching on subjects that are personal to us.

At any given Fellowcraft show you're going to hear songs that we hope will lift our community up, encourage personal well being, and inspire our friends and coworkers. We also tend to dive head first into themes that are inspired by pop culture, film, and literature. For example, JR has been influenced heavily by writers like TS Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and Alan Ginsburg.

3. How would you describe your sound to the average listener?

We’d probably call ourselves an Indie-Blues band. Our sound has ebbed and flowed over the years, so you’ll find Grunge elements are more prevalent on our first LP Get Up Young Phoenix. However, as we grew both as individual musicians and a unit, our writing changed based on the various influences and perspectives of each member. Three has a mix of funk, indie, blues, and rock, but it wasn't without some lingering hard rock and grunge elements as you can hear in songs like Stonehearted and Proliferation Nation.

4. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

We think we’d be a good fit with bands like Highly Suspect, Rival Sons, and Clutch. But, if the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Foo Fighters came knocking, I’m sure we’d all quit our day jobs and abandon our families to tour.

5. What are your three desert island albums that you'd never get tired of listening to?

To avoid one of our members going crazy having to listen to everyone else's’ music, here are four:
JR - John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme”.
BRANDON - Twenty One Pilots, “Vessel”.
PABLO - Iron Maiden, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”.
ZACH - Kenny Wayne Shepherd, “Ledbetter Heights”.

6. What’s your take on the current state of Grunge/Blues?

To be completely honest, we’re unsure; we don't necessarily follow a stable of Grunge/Blues acts locally or otherwise. That said, we feel the overarching Rock scene is still as prevalent as it always was because it is the undercurrent that spawns other genres. Rock isn’t dead... it’s just wearing a different pair of pants and has a different haircut. Grunge Blues, Heavy Blues, Rockin’ Blues, and traditional Blues all share similarities and are wildly loved everywhere. That’s what makes the genre so special - it has an enormous mass appeal.

7. What’s the current music scene like there in Washington DC both locally and state-wide?

The DC music scene is unique with a wide range of popular genres ranging from rhythmic Go Go beats (that you still hear blasting from stores on U Street) to the Punk scene that DC has hosted for more than 20 years (which is still widely accessible in DC venues, both large and small). The same can be said for indie, pop, blues, bluegrass, hip-hop, and rap. It’s not uncommon to go to a show and see a punk band, an indie synth pop band, and a blues band sharing the bill; every local music show in DC is eclectic and interesting. DC seems to be lacking metal bands, but Baltimore has a great metal scene and is a quick train ride away.

Additionally, the scene we know is rich with support from individual members from other bands in DC. Musicians here are amazing, overwhelmingly positive, and incredibly deep people. To really climb the DC respect ladder you need to have Fugazi’s authenticity, Trouble Funk’s work ethic, Bad Brains’ devil may care attitude, and Chuck Brown’s sense of swagger. It’s an incredibly high bar that we all aspire to reach.

DC is notorious for its tight, expensive living situation, which makes accessible practice space incredibly rare. Again we find the people behind the scene willing to step up and now have a space to not only practice, but also give and receive lessons. This is thanks to the innovative and motivated owner of 7DrumCity, who is currently expanding his operations to a second building to continue to help build a vibrant music community that DC and visiting bands benefit from.

8. What’s your take on legal/illegal music downloading?

We advocate for fairness and think it’s more than fair to pay for the music you love and listen to (like any commodity or other form of entertainment in your life), so we’d rather someone buy our music or stream it through a paid service. We’re also realistic enough to know we can’t control the masses, so we also try not to worry about it. Shutting down the next Napster isn’t going to stop the underlying activity, so we’d rather concentrate our energy on writing new music that’s better than before and giving our best at every single one of our shows.

9. What’s next for Fellowcraft?

Having just solidified our new four person lineup, we’re convinced that a new record is the next big milestone. It’s going to represent a new turn in style, genre, and songwriting, and we’re all very excited about this prospect. After that we’d love to finally go on tour and/or play some larger festivals. Finding new faces at shows in the local scene is often difficult; you have to either hit the road and try to sell your music on tour, or you try to get in on the ground floor of some of the larger festivals. Either way, we’d like to spread our music outside of the greater metro area.

10. Any shoutouts?

We’d like to thank the DC Music scene writ large, from its musicians, bands, venues, bookers, sound engineers, emcees, and promoters to everyone else who supports local music. Basically - if you're supporting someone who makes music locally, thank you.