California’s latest darkwave/post-punk heroes Fearing are ready to unleash their spin on the throwback goth rave. Their latest and first for new label Profound Lore, Destroyer, is a perfect distillation of the act of realizing everything is fucked and deciding to try to just have a good time anyway.
These songs sing with technicolor vibrancy and the best hooks this side of Depeche Mode, with lyrics that acknowledge the dark times of life. According to multi-instrumentalist James Rogers, the record’s lyrics came from an understanding he had about not letting that darkness take over. There’s real growth and momentum that marries with the music beautifully.
“I love that you say it that way,” Rogers says. “Because that exactly how I’ve been feeling. I’ve always been a very tragedy-focused person, defeated and angry. The past few years have been intense for everyone, and I decided to try to let go of the anger and depression. I’ve tried a few different medications, tried not smoking weed for a bit, diet, exercise. All that stuff helps for sure, but nothing is ‘better;’ I just deal with it better. Life is great when you’re bomb at coping. The song “I Was So Alive” is directly about the side effects from the different medications I’ve been trying.”
Fearing could be named Searching with how much their sound has been about seeking an internal ideal that the band members share. Think a mix of all of the best in the ’80s/’90s goth scene with a surprising influence.
“Honestly a lot of our influence comes from the big witchhouse/vaporwave phase that happened on Soundcloud around the 2010s,” says Rogers. “In our previous band, we’d spend hours driving overnight searching around Soundcloud for the darkest and weirdest tracks. I remember seeing artists like Pictureplane doing shows, and it always looked so fun. (We) spent a few years making tracks and psyching ourselves out of promoting them. The tracks were good, but I think we were just too used to being like ‘guitar musicians.’
The first attempt at Fearing was called Teal. It’s roughly the same style as Fearing, but more unhinged. At the time I really didn’t know anything about song structure or recording for that matter. After attempting to perform with that project for a couple years, we decided to scrap everything and start fresh. Fearing was our attempt at a real band that recorded at a studio and did things right. The fact that we’ve changed lineup, live performance, style etc. is honestly just natural progression, and dealing with circumstance. Our drummer simply got too busy to tour with us, so we started touring with a drum machine. We ended up really enjoying it, so now that’s what we’re doing. Maybe we’ll get a drummer again later.”
That sense of going with the flow is essential to what elevates Fearing to the cream of the darkwave crop. What you want and what you end up with can be different, but as long as it’s something special, it’s worth keeping. That motto worked out on this record, as Rogers shares:
“Truly the only goal I had with this record was to keep the song writing a little snappier. Just like, getting into the lyrics quicker. We were really thinking about the performance aspect while writing these songs and wanted to try making the songs quick and fun. Every time we write music we always talk about how we want it to be darker, but it usually ends up poppier and we roll with it.”
Part of being able to roll with the (synth) punches is having a more solidified lineup and being closer together. The main trio were able to collaborate more now than ever before.
“This album is actually one of the first ones where [we all] actually sat down together and wrote riffs. While we were in the U.K. with Death Bells, we spent a couple hours each day with a drum machine app recording riffs to voice memos in the hotel rooms. When we got home, I re-tracked everything and started building from there. Half the record came from those sessions. Since the beginning, most Fearing songs are written as electronic songs, then we either translate the synths to guitar parts or just added more guitar on top of it.”
Photo courtesy of Miwah Lee