Smile Politely

Fauve: A composition of sorts

If you’ve been to Mike ‘N Molly’s, you know live music in the beer garden is fantastic. The upstairs is a whole different beast. It is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the same experience. Instead of being spread out, relaxing at your table, in a crowd of 100, you are one of maybe 50 people. You’re in an exclusive club. The sound and the people surround you. You’re in.

I got the chance to talk to Joseph Meland of Fauve recently. They’ll be upstairs tonight (because the beer garden is a place for devout smokers by this point in the year). You should see this band live. Make it a priority.

Smile Politely: How did the band get started? What’s your origin story?

Joseph Meland: I started the band about a year ago. I had been writing music that would later become material for Fauve without an intention of live performance. These songs were inspired by different things that were going on in my life at the time- a long distance relationship, a peanut allergy, a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, etc. Once the Light EP was written, however, I decided that I wanted start a group using those songs. Justin Peters, our drummer, Erik Opland, our bassist, and I all had a music theory class together, so I connected with them there and asked if they were interested in starting a band. They were! (Random aside: Before I really knew Justin, we played in a rock band through our dorm’s Living Learning Community with myself on drums and Justin on piano and vocals. Funny how those things work out.) 

We soon had a full line-up consisting of the previously mentioned members, Noah Gehrmann, Sam Hasting and Mark Hartsuch. During the following semester, we spent a lot of time rehearsing, getting a good feel for each others playing and becoming as comfortable as we could with the songs. Our first show was the Light EP release party back in August, and things have been going great since then. Mark has since transferred to UNT, and our friend Dan Hinze has been playing saxophone in his place. As of our last show we’ve been playing with Maciej Latawiec too, which we are very excited about.

SP: Who is Maciej Latawiec and what makes him so exciting?

Meland: Maciej is another friend of ours from the school of music who is currently pursuing a Masters in Violin Performance. It’s exciting to us because the songs were written for a rock band instrumentation plus a string quartet, and we have been performing sans strings. It’s not exactly feasible to work around that many schedules and players. So, now that he is playing with us, we are starting to incorporate some of the string sounds into the live show that you’ll hear on the recording. He’s also just an awesome player.

SP: Where was your first live show?

Meland: Our first show was a release party at the House Cafe in Dekalb. It was a great time. A large portion of the audience were friends and family, which was cool since we were finally able to show all of our loved ones what we had been working hard on for the past year.

SP: That makes it real, doesn’t it? I never feel like my character work is really done until I perform in front of an audience… 

Meland: Absolutely. The feeling I get when performing this music is unlike anything else.

SP: What are some of your favorite places to play? Why -is it the food, atmosphere, patrons…?

Meland: We haven’t played many places in town yet, but we played at Canopy a few weeks ago and it was awesome. I think it was the combination of great sound and the fact that playing on a bigger stage made us all feel like rockstars for a few minutes [laughs]. Another band that some of the Fauve guys and I play in called Church Booty played at Cowboy Monkey about a month or so ago, and they also had awesome sound. I also really dig The Frequency in Madison, because I played some of my first shows there in high school. Fauve will be there on December 30th, and we’re all really excited about it.

SP: Cowboy Monkey’s one of my favorite venues. If you haven’t yet, try the food next time! 

What have you been listening to lately? Do you listen to music privately or socially (like listening to records with the cute girl from homeroom)? 

Meland: I usually listen to music privately, although when I’m with my buddies there’s always something playing. Recently I’ve been checking out some Jaga Jazzist, a nu jazz/rock group that plays some really interesting stuff. A friend of mine also introduced me to a band that he played in for a little while called Make A Rising, and they play some of the coolest rock I’ve heard in a long time. Also some Zappa, and Gabriel Kahane. Gabriel is a composer that also releases singer/songwriter type stuff that is incredible. On the classical side of things I’ve been studying the music of Steve Martland, Christopher Rouse, and Henryk Gorecki (check out Babi Yar, The Infernal Machine, and Symphony 2, respectively- if you dig Gorecki’s third, you gotta check out the lesser known second)… Judd Greenstein is another composer I have been really enjoying lately, he’s got a great piece called Change that I’ve been checking out.

SP: How would you describe Fauve’s sound?

Meland: That’s a hard question for me to answer, as I don’t think that we fit neatly into any genre. I would say that Fauve’s sound reflects a composer who grew up listening to and writing rock and metal music but now has an equal passion for contemporary classical music. Both worlds get tossed into the blender inside my head, so no matter what style I’m writing in—rock or classical, I draw from the same influences.

SP: Perfectly perfect answer.

They have a few shows coming up: This Thursday at Mike ‘N Molly’s, obviously; 12/28 at Township in Chicago; and 12/30 at The Frequency in Madison. 

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