Tomorrow night at Mango's, Something Fierce releases their new LP, Don't Be So Cruel, their follow-up to 2009 full-length There Are No Answers, and the band's first release since last year's 7" "Where You Goin Man."
The trio of Steven Garcia, Niki Sevven, and Andrew Keith has made one of the best garage-punk records we will hear this year. Cruel rides on a worldly groove that reaches out far past Houston, for sure Texas, and at least the contiguous United States.
Portions of the 12 tracks are slow and methodical, while other entries echo what made you a Something Fierce plan in the first place five years ago. You can hear a few tracks off the new release on SF's Bandcamp site, including the title track, "Afghani Sands" and "What We Need Now."
Rocks Off spoke with the band this week about their influences, recording, that track "Future Punks" that has been frying our ear buds, and having garage label Dirtnap in their corner.
Rocks Off: Fundamentally, did anything change regarding how you went about recording this new album? Other than the technical aspects?
Something Fierce: We knew it had to be bigger, and it had to be special. With that in mind, the songs didn't fall into place so much as they were mutilated into exactly what was necessary for the album. "Toss that chorus. This song needs an intro. Now, there are too many fucking outros!"
This group of songs saw many rewrites and alternate demo versions. Us not being afraid to scrap our own ideas for the sake of the whole was an invaluable part of the process, and I think we would have been less likely to make such compromise just two years ago.
RO: What outside influences went into this one? For some reason, to me at least, it sounds slower and more methodical than the last one.
SF: We took control over everything. From the tone of the guitars to the amount of delay dumped on the fourth set of background vocals, we made the decisions. To his credit, Chris Longwood at SugarHill Studios did a brilliant job of engineering the sessions. Although I mixed the album at home, all I had to do was not fuck it up and have a vision.
After that, it was simply a disgusting amount of repetitive listening and experimenting with sounds. Given our small pool of resources, I feel like we were able to create an album that we would want to hear, and I'm a fan of "big sounding" albums that manage to not be bloated and over-produced.
RO: Why does "Future Punks" groove so fucking hard? I love it. I get a total Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope vibe.
SF: It's because you are hearing Phil Spector's wall of sound technique. I think The Clash perfected it for punk.
RO: Speaking of influences, what were the ingredients that went into this one?
SF: We were operating on a steady diet of artists like The Clash, The Jam, The Buzzcocks, The Temptations, Mission of Burma, The Wipers, Toots & The Maytals, Sam Cooke, and Wire. Probably more; we operate on a large diet.
RO: How is the Dirtnap label to work for?
SF: The label is everything we could hope for. They give us total freedom, treat us with respect, and put out our music with no strings attached. Without giving too much away, I will say that they've really stepped up their efforts with promoting Cruel. We couldn't be any more impressed and in love with the Dirtnap Records.
RO: If you could bring back any departed Houston band to open for, who would it be?
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SF: Something Fierce, The Party Owls, Archie Bell & The Drells at In Our Dreams.
With The Hangouts, Wicked Poseur and host Fat Tony, 8 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Mango's, 403 Westheimer. First 50 people get in free; $5 after.