Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
When Blond Fuzz (formerly Stonefox) became Young Circles, the shift stretched far beyond a change in name. Their aesthetic and sound has transformed into a new beast entirely. Although there's still elements of the bluesy grit that characterized their former selves, it's all been layered with synth and psychedelia and splattered onto a whole canvas of something mystical. A week before releasing their final album, Perfect Breakfast
, Jordy Asher, Jeff Rose, and David Barnard were bored with what had become of Blond Fuzz and realized they wanted to experiment with new sounds. The album was abandoned, and the band became Young Circles. The final two songs from that "lost" session would become tracks on their new E.P., Bones.
They're planning for a full-length by the end of summer. We spoke to guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Jordy Asher about the metamorphosis.
New Times: You went from Stonefox to Blond Fuzz to Young Circles, and the EP you released, Bones, makes it clear you're exploring a lot of different realms. Can you talk a little bit about how you became Young Circles?
Jordy Asher: We spent a lot of time last summer recording what ended up turning out to be the lost StoneFuzz album. Toward the end of the recording session, we realized we were pushing ourselves in our songwriting and "good enough" was no longer good enough. The last two songs in that session were "Bones" and" Sharp Teeth." It was suddenly obvious to us that Stonefox had lived its life and that journey was very much dead to us. Pushing ourselves into uncomfortable territory sparked an evolution in us, and we weren't ready to squash that evolution in exchange for a mediocre album with songs that have been written hundreds of times before and thousands of different ways over the last 50 years. The spirit of the band is about exploration and doing something no one else is doing.
So in a way, Young Circles wasn't formed by an abrupt change but more of a midrecording evolution. Once those last two tracks marked the change, how did your recording process change?
I wouldn't even say a midrecording evolution as much as it was a life evolution. Things happened in the perfect way to get Young Circles -- the perfect blend of terrible, life-altering experiences mixed with the desire to progress. And two days after I bought our domain, we got discovered by a PR company that got our music into a lot of people's hands. That was just a little more reassurance that we were on the right track.
Our recording process is an ever-evolving thing. As we've grown more mature and learned more about the science behind it, we have consistently gotten better at it. A definite part that's changed is there always felt like there was a stigma around things we "couldn't" do as Stonefox. We couldn't do strings; adding pianos or organs was a limited affair. Young Circles has opened up a door of possibilities because we don't want to limit ourselves in any way. The biggest shift marks musical direction, which is no musical direction. We want to sound like Young Circles. And people have picked out influences that they think we sound like that I don't even listen to.
Can you talk a little bit more about having no musical direction? I like the sound of that formlessness.
We all listen to every different kind of music imaginable, always have. If you saw any of our iTunes, you'd probably think a lot of the music on there was a joke. So if I approach the band with a song I wrote, I'll say something batshit crazy like "I want this to have the feel of a Bob Dylan folk song at the start and launch into the clubbiest Kanye West song you've never heard!" That's the approach. Take things that have no business being together and do them the way we want to do them. Sometimes I'm in the mood to "rap," so I will. Sometimes a reggae beat comes out or a nasty, fuzzy guitar sound. It's all in us; it's just about staying unhinged and unlimited.
Maybe as a result, the songs seem more introspective in a lot of ways, like you're actually deeply exploring new sound and maybe even new lyrical topics. Life-altering experiences can do that to you. So what else led to this lusher sound, and how has the songwriting changed in terms of lyrical content?
The album is most definitely more introspective. I think the EP provides a nice peek into what we just stumbled across at the time. The sound is very dreamy in theory but not in approach. The songwriting reflects the way the album was recorded: just doing things we felt were the right ideas at the time. The songs on the album were more plotted, constructed, with a heavy emphasis on lush sounds created from unlikely instruments.
As far as lyrical content, the album is all over the place but tells a story from front to back. There is a thread that goes through the entire album. As for what that thread is, I'd love for everyone to have their own interpretation. But the main theme is about forgetting all of the small stuff and how being alive is the most important thing you can do. "Love Hitch" [a track from the upcoming full-length] is the antilove song. It's about feeling invincible and hopelessly insecure at the exact same time. The lusher sound led to the lyrics coming out without second thought, literally enveloping the feel of the song. The best examples of this are "Dreams," "Jangala," and "Jungle Habits" [all tracks from the upcoming full-length], which came through because the music said so much without any words.
What inspired "Jungle Habits," if you can narrow it down?
Movement; perpetual motion is really the best way to describe the sound. I have a feeling that music is going to morph a lot, but the thing all of it is going to have in common is something you can move to or a beat you can dance to. "Jungle Habits" is our example of a modern approach to an organic drumcentric song. The need for a genre on everything distracts from what we're trying to do. Ultimately, the inspiration behind this album is that it doesn't matter who or what people are into; we just want people to try it out. It's too easy to judge a book by its cover: "a blues-centric trash-rock band that hearkens back to the early days of Jimi Hendrix making sweet love to the Black Keys." It's those things that automatically give the reader or music-lover a picture in their head that they didn't know they wanted. I know it's crazy to think people would suddenly stop drawing comparisons or even stop feeling compelled to. We're trying to show people that it doesn't matter what you're into; we just want you to listen to us.
Shifting gears, do the rest of you work on anything individually, or is Young Circles the only project for all of you currently?
Well, before Young Circles, there were a few other things we did on the side. Young Circles pretty much combined everything that we love and is pretty much the penultimate project now.
Give a rundown of what's next for you -- what's going on with the album production, since it has not yet been officially released, and are you planning on a postrelease tour? Update us.
We're going to be working very closely with a couple of companies this summer who are going to be doing our management. We're also working with two music licensing companies who are working on getting our music into movie and television placement (most notably an IFC Films movie trailer). We're going to do everything in our power to sign with the right label and not just the first one that waves a contract in our face. It's important for this music to be represented correctly, and having people rallying behind us because they believe in what we're doing is the best thing we've ever felt.
We'll be doing a few dates in New York over the course of the summer and will most likely be on a massive tour in support of the album by the time it comes out.
Check out Young Circles at the SW 3rd Ave Music Festival's New Times Stage.
SW 3rd Ave Music Festival. 5 p.m. Friday,
May 6, at Revolution, America's Backyard, the Green Room, and Poor
House. 100 block of SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. No cover except $11