Often recognized by many as a hybrid between Bry Webb of The Constantines and Bruce Springsteen, Bradey Feil from the Canadian rock ‘n’ roll band The Fight just wants to make his listeners feel “electric.” Since the release of the band’s Birds EP back in October 2010, The Fight have also released their very first 13-track LP titled New Young Electric. In it, Feil delivers each lyric with soulful intensity and his bandmates Todd Andrews, Devin Fortier, and Erik Grice (who all play a wide range of instruments) contribute their dynamic sounds and occasional vocals. The Fight took the time to talk about their song-writing process, future goals, and their greatest (and worst) gig to date.
Cliché: Firstly, how did you all meet each other?
Bradey: I met Erik working at a record store a few years back. He was a bit younger than me and I like to think I got him into some things that he might not have otherwise gotten into. He is a hip kid as it is though, so it’s hard to say I had any influence. We stayed in touch after working together and when his band was nearing the end of the line, I kind of swooped in and took him and most of the members to start The Fight. Devin and Todd have been friends since they were kids and they had played with Erik for a few years. I remember Todd coming into the record store way back when and Devin was a stranger to me. I think people are meant to come together for different reasons at different times and I couldn’t be more fortunate to have come across such like-minded individuals to work with. These guys are my best friends and I’d take a bullet for any one of them.
Cliché: Have you boys always wanted to be in a band, or did you have other career paths in mind?
Bradey: I’m a house painter, and before that I was a sign maker. Devin and Todd have both spent time working in warehouses, and Erik’s in school for design. I think more than anything we see music as an outlet. That being said, I think we’re all hard workers and would like to make it a career—but there are just so many variables involved. For now, I’m happy writing records with my friends. Before The Fight I was recording rough demos and writing poetry in my bedroom. Being in this band satisfies my desire to connect words together. Writing is something I enjoy doing and plan to continue no matter what my career path might be. I never thought I’d tour around playing rock ‘n’ roll but I definitely enjoy it and it’s already taken me places I’ve never imagined going. You work a job to afford yourself the opportunity to do what you love, and I think we’re all alright with that.
Erik: I had been more involved in Theatre until I was about 18 but have since moved over to more music and design work. I don’t think it really mattered what we were doing to sustain ourselves; our outlet of creativity would come back to making music and art together.
Todd: Music is just one of the things in my life. It’s not the only thing I do, but I love doing it. Plus we’ve always been a part of a band in some way through our years.
Devin: I’ve always played in a band, but in no way think of this as a career thing. It is a part of my life, yes, but not the part that brings home the bacon. However, music will always be there for me in one way or another.
Cliché: What is the significance of the LP title “New Young Electric”?
Bradey: We’re all connected, we’re all electric. We live in an age where it has never been easier to share what you do with others: a photograph taken in Paris can be seen in San Francisco a moment after it was taken; a story can be shared across the world in an instant. We forge relationships at local pubs and across oceans. We can connect to our peers at home and abroad, sharing ideas, sharing moments, sharing thoughts. We’re young, we’re electric. We’re inspired by what’s going on around us just as much as what has come before us.
Devin: It’s the general feeling we had at the time of recording the album, as well as the general message and feeling portrayed by the songs.
Cliché: Have any particular artists or groups inspired certain tracks on this LP?
Bradey: We’re all inspired by different things. I think we all give nods to certain artists in different ways. The title of a Gaslight Anthem song inspired “Take Back The City” somehow but in no way do I think it sounds like a Gaslight Anthem song. I’m pretty inspired by a lot of old Motown and soul music, feel good stuff. Our tastes are all pretty broad and varied. I think that translates into our sound.
Erik: We’re all fans of a lot different types of music but I think every song has a slightly different meaning for every one of us. When we started the band, Bradey turned me on to a lot of really good soul and I began to become pretty influenced by Sam Cooke and David Ruffin but I think we’re all fans of just straight up rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know if I could pin a certain artist to a certain song.
Todd: A lot of old soul artists like Bill Withers and Sam Cooke are in there and so are bands like The Constantines, The Clash, and Bruce Springsteen. We are all big music fans, so it generally comes down to what we’ve been listening to during the year/around the writing period.
Cliché: Did your Paperbird Music label come first with the intention of writing an LP under it, or vise versa?
Bradey: I got involved in the music scene at a young age but never with the intention of releasing my own records or promoting myself in any way. I tried to shy away from that. I started putting on punk shows at halls when I was twelve or thirteen and continued to do that throughout my late teens. Through connections I had made doing that, I started managing a few acts and started Paperbird to release their records. I had largely been running the label by myself up until the inception of The Fight, when I decided I needed help. You can accomplish much more as a group than as an individual. With the help of the rest of the band and others, we’ve released close to ten titles in the past two years by artists such as: The Wicks, The Rocky Fortune, Calvin J. Love, Lions For Sheep and more. It has been nice to have the experience running Paperbird has lent me. I like to think that we make smart decisions based on our own experiences and the experiences of others. It makes it easier to map out what we want to do and accomplish those goals.
Cliché: What was the greatest and/or the worst gig you’ve ever played as a band to date? What made it so special, or so awful?
Bradey: We played at The Exchange in Regina, Saskatchewan a couple summers ago with former Jade Tree artists Despistado, who had reunited for one weekend only. I was born in that city and lived there until the age of ten so I felt right at home. On top of that, I think we all looked up to those guys and it really inspired us to give it that extra push that night and just explode on stage. Also, a pal gave me a handful of green after the show so the trip home was all free smoke. Definitely a night to remember!
Erik: We’ve been pretty fortunate to have played a multitude of really amazing shows with really amazing people (bands and promoters included). I feel like our worst shows were always accompanied by some really good times and hilarious stories. We played to almost nobody in Nanaimo, BC this summer and were only paid $17. That being said, we were put up in a hostel for the night and experienced some pretty funny shit—see our tour blog at newyoungelectric.com.
Cliché: What about your song-writing/editing process?
Bradey: In the beginning, we largely worked from rough ideas I had recorded at home over the course of a few years. These spanned from thirty seconds to two minutes in length and provided the base of a lot of the songs on New Young Electric. Over time, we’ve started to collaborate more and more. We have no structure as to how a song comes about. We’re all involved in the process. We’ll still pull from my archive of ideas, Devin and Erik will record acoustic demos for me to work on, or we’ll just work things out and jam. For the large part I work on all the lyrics at home and bring them to the band.
Erik: When the band first started Bradey was just sending me demos he’d done, most of which weren’t longer than a minute and a half. But having played with Devin and Todd prior to that, we were always used to playing music together. So when Bradey’s songs were introduced we had a fairly easy transition into writing music around lyrics and vice versa for him. For a while we would have lots of original stuff that culminated out just jamming but when we hit a wall we always had this library of Bradey’s demos to go back to for inspiration or new material. Nowadays in addition to just jamming while we’re at practice, we’re doing a lot of stuff on our own and doing demos and either bringing them to practice or emailing them out to everyone to play around with.
Cliché: Are there any tracks in particular that have a special meaning to any one of you?
Todd: “Electric Avenue”… but you’d have to ask Bradey about that one.
Bradey: They all mean way too much to me.
Erik: Lyrically they all came from Bradey, but we certainly went through some trials while finishing songs. For example, “Song For Jae” was finished while we were recording it and I think at one point Todd, Devin, and I had played every instrument on a different rendition of it…
Devin: There are definitely favorites that I have, like “Fortunes,” which is just a really good song and a lot of fun to play. New songs are always my favorites, including “Northern Belle,” just because the ideas are so fresh and exciting. I often push to play these songs just because I’m so excited about them that I want to show them off, even if we’re still working out the final kinks.
Cliché: “Northern Belle” is supposed to be a B-Side to New Young Electric, correct? Has it officially been released yet?
Bradey: It’s so close, I’m telling ya. I thought it was done but decided a couple lines didn’t fit the way I’d like them to fit so it’s back to the drawing board to try to write a few new lines for the bridge. We’ve tried it out live a few times. It’s weird, I’ve probably rewritten every part of that song three of four times now and I ended up using a lot of the first draft in the end. We’ll put it out as soon as we can, we promise.
Erik: Fun fact: while we were recording it, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, a friend and bandmate of Robbie (our producer), stopped by and suggested we play the bridge the way it’s played in the final version.
Cliché: What else are you guys working on for the near future?
Bradey: We’re in the process of demoing a few new songs, but we probably won’t release anything until summer or fall. We’ll try to get an EP or another LP in before the end of the world. We’ll see what happens.
Erik: 2012 is already starting with the bang! New merch is in the process of getting made, and we have some dates in January with our good friends Library Voices, and some in February with Lou Wreath. As of right now we have about six or eight songs finished or nearly finished.
Todd: We have dates in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and around Alberta, too. Hopefully [we’ll release] new t-shirts, and have a lot of good times.