Interview with vocalist/bassist James Rogers | By Kelley O’Death
According to vocalist and bassist James Rogers, Oakland’s Fearing are “a dark post-punk band comprised of pure individuals all with one major common factor: a high school and early 20s life of touring in hardcore punk bands.” Rogers and drummer Michael Fenton have conquered the road together for the past decade in groups such as All Teeth and Creative Adult, while guitarist Brian Vega is a seasoned merch-slinger and has stepped in as the substitute axeman for bands like Expire and Oblivion. Guitarist and keys player RJ Phillips started out writing and touring with Life Long Tragedy—of whom Fearing’s members are all fans—before joining up with Rogers and Fenton in Creative Adult.
Now, these lifelong punk rock aficionados have chosen to set aside their blazing riffs and galloping drums in favor of moody atmospheres and haunting, reverb-soaked vocals. “Brian and I started making electronic music in, like, 2010, mostly dark house and industrial stuff,” Rogers recalls. “After a few years, we started to add vocals and guitar parts to our songs. It very quickly shifted the way I thought about my music, and I began working on a project named Teal, which Brian eventually helped work on. The efforts for that project turned directly into Fearing, once we felt that we had discovered our sound.”
“If I had to describe our sound, I would say it’s sort of like Asylum Party mixed with Sisters Of Mercy—maybe with a slight Nick Cave edge to it,” Rogers laughs. Though the band’s sonic identity may seem like a total departure from their members’ roots, Rogers notes that their previous experiences in punk and hardcore give “a uniquely abrasive and almost aggressive vibe” to Fearing’s “slower, darkened material.”
Wasting no time at all, the band have already recorded a stellar four-song EP entitled A Life of None, due for a cassette and digital release on May 25 via Funeral Party Records. Recorded by Scott Goodrich at Nu-Tone Studios and adorned with striking occult-inspired artwork by Reuben Sawyer, A Life of None plunges listeners into the murky depths, transfixing with its darkness—but not so much that you can’t dance to it.
The EP’s first single, “Beyond Light,” exemplifies this approach and the band’s overall ethos. “I feel that ‘Beyond Light’ has a sort of fun rhythm to it, which I feel might help give a proper first impression about our group,” Rogers explains. “The music and aesthetic is dark and jagged, but ultimately, we are just trying to chill and have a good time, you feel me?”
Fearing’s moniker and visuals perfectly complement the stately gloom of their music. “I came up with the band name at a gas station somewhere in Australia while touring with my other band, Creative Adult,” Rogers recalls. “I had overheard an elderly gentleman talking about being a ‘God-fearing’ man. I had always thought that was a funny statement—a faith and life code based on fear seems like a bummer.”
Despite being a brand new project, the years of experience Fearing’s members bring to the table are evident on their debut recording. When consumed as a singular unit, the EP’s tracks possess a preternatural cohesion—musically and lyrically—that takes most bands years to develop. “I didn’t intend on any theme, but since the lyrics were all written around the same time, they have a similar undertone,” Rogers notes. “Musically, the four of these songs were chosen from a collection of around 15 songs that we had put together over the course of three to four months while a couple of us were touring with Creative Adult.”
Rogers may not be God-fearing, but he is not completely without fear. The band are gearing up to play their first-ever show on April 19 at St. Francis Fountain in San Francisco with Cursed Graves and The Down House. They will take the stage again after the EP’s official release, playing Oakland Secret with Unconditional Arms and Mother Room on May 28. Rogers admits to being slightly anxious about Fearing’s big debut. “I never shook the feeling of stage fright, to be honest, so I’m a bit nervous,” he shares, “but I’m confident in our music, so I am also excited at the same time. A lot of hard work and money has gone into this project already, so I just hope that the people we play for might notice or at least appreciate the effort, as any artist would hope.”
Though Fearing are just beginning to test their mettle live onstage and roll out singles from their end-of-May release, their eyes are firmly fixed on the future. “We are already writing for our next release, which will most likely be an EP as well,” Rogers divulges. “We are constantly writing and have plans to record again in June. We are planning to tour, though nothing has presented itself yet. We hope the release of A Life of None will help open up some opportunities to do so.”
Promo Photo by Garrett Van Brunt