Fort Wilson Riot have been slowly evolving their electro-tinged R&B sound over the last few years. That change in sonic direction has been made easier with the addition of a full five-piece band during their live shows and studio sessions, which allows Amy Hager and Jacob Mullis to expand their rich sonic palette even further.
Ahead of their two-night residency at Icehouse (which begins on April 12 and continues on April 19), we are pleased to premiere "Tryin,'" the first of two new singles the band are releasing in conjunction with those performances. We were also able to talk with Mullis about the sessions that produced these new tracks, and what the band has in store for their Icehouse shows and beyond.
Gimme Noise: What are the origins of "Tryin'"? When and where did you write/record it, and who handled the production?
Jacob Mullis: It's an Amy-penned tune that came about while we were working toward releasing trilliun. We demoed it out initially but it's the first tune that was polished off and produced by the band in this new five-piece lineup.
This track continues the buoyant R&B style featured throughout your last record. How have you modified your approach to your sound and songwriting over the past couple of years that has made that sonic evolution a smooth one?
We've always been chasing our sound, and each subsequent release informs the next. With trilliun we feel like we hit on something new for us that we really love and want to continue to explore. Our songwriting as a duo has progressed naturally as we keep trying out new ideas that tickle our fancy, but the exciting thing for us now is that we have a crew of excellent musicians to bounce those ideas off of.
Did that same writing and recording session for "Tryin'" also produce your forthcoming new single, "Easy Way"? Are these songs a reflection of a fruitful creative time for the band?
Both songs were written around the same period and are the first songs we finished off as a five-piece. We recorded them in the same session with the intention of releasing them as companion pieces.
Did more material come out of those sessions? Or is this just a more immediate way for you to share new tracks with your fans, as opposed to waiting for an EP or full-length to take shape?
There is definitely more coming. We have a bunch of new songs that we're really excited about and have some fun ideas on how we want to release them.
These singles are being released in conjuncture with your two-show residency at Icehouse. What do you have planned for these shows?
We're gonna be trying out a bunch of other new material for these shows with some of our favorite local bands.
You have a lot of talented, innovative acts on your bills at Icehouse. How inspiring is it to have these creative bands around you for support as well as pushing you creatively?
These are just a few of the spectacular bands in this city that we are blown away by on a regular basis. We wish we could have had six-band bills both nights then we could have gotten more of them on there. We wouldn't be the band that we are if it wasn't for the mojo we get from the crazy talent in this scene.
Jesse Draxler did the artwork for your single and the stylish poster for your residency. You've been working with him for a while; what does he capture visually that compliments the band's sound, and how important is having a visual companion to your work through art, promotion, and videos?
We go way back with Draxler. Our first tour out to NY was a joint one with Dearling Physique, and Draxler was traveling with them selling his work and running live visual projection for them. The first thing we worked on with him directly was the artwork for trilliun. Dude's mad talented and prolific.
What does the rest of 2015 hold for the band? Are you aiming to keep releasing new music via singles, or do you have plans for a larger release?
Much more is in the pipeline. We'll let you know ;)
You're set to play some cool shows on the horizon, including the Midwest Music Fest, the Memory Lanes Block Party, and City Pages' Best of the Twin Cities party. Do you have to adjust your typical club live show at all to suit the festival atmosphere and setting, and how much are you looking forward to playing our party at Orchestra Hall?
Kicking ass and taking names is what it's always about. Although we've never played Orchestra Hall. Is that sort of thing permitted there? Either way we're pumped!
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