Fury Things keep the fuzz-rock dream of the '90s alive on VHS

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Fury Things

Comprised of three Minnesota transplants, Fury Things have acclimated well. Formed in 2012, they’ve released a pair of EPs over three years, with their debut full-length, VHS, set for release this Saturday at Triple Rock.

Fury Things will be joined by some of their favorite local bands — Alpha Consumer, Kitten Forever, and Strange Relations — to celebrate their first vinyl and first release for Modern Radio Record Label, one of their earliest introductions to Minnesota music and another sign that their adopted state is welcoming them in.

Playing self-described fuzz rock and with a name lifted from a Dinosaur Jr. song, Fury Things have understandably been hit with ‘90s references since day one. While there are obvious vintage indie-rock similarities, the band considers those easy comparisons (made even easier since they opened for Hüsker Dü's Bob Mould in January). 

VHS, unlike the band's more abstract early material, features a more personal tone, says guitarist/vocalist Kyle Werstein. “I've always been at odds with feeling like my experiences are insignificant when stacked against individuals who deserve to have their voices heard,” he says, repeated in conversation when talking about the band’s successes on stage.

Started as a cassette EP that featured VHS-style artwork, the more matured set of songs grew into a full-length while keeping the title. While the tape art on a tape no longer applies, it’s still conceptually relevant and fitting, given the group's glitchy, lo-fi intangibles.

City Pages caught up with Fury Things ahead of Saturday's release show to discuss VHS, the thriving local music scene, and why fuzz rock will never die.

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City Pages: You’ve gotten some attention, at least in the bloggy side of things (a Daytrotter session, Picked 2 Click mention, opening some notable shows, etc.) How do you deal with that as a band? Does getting that recognition motivate or push you to do new or bigger things?

Kyle Werstein: I've never been that good at taking praise. Music has just always been the thing that makes the most sense to me. So I've always been eager to share, but always surprised at the warm reception we've been given. It's easy to get down on yourself, but every little bump we get makes it easier to just keep going.

At the same time, most of the opportunities we've been given are just due to persistence and luck, y'know? You get used to unreturned emails, but I'm still always sending them. It's important to keep telling people about who you are and what you're doing. Someone out there is listening to us and that's more than enough motivation to keep doing what we're doing.

CP: As three non-Minnesota natives, how do you feel you fit into the local music scene? Has your place in it changed as you’ve been here longer?

KW: I don't personally feel like we have any sort of seniority or anything like that. In fact, I'm always kind of taken aback when bands I like want to play shows with us or bands I haven't heard of say that they've heard good things about us and want to get together.

I've met a ton of non-Minnesota or at least non-Twin Cities natives, so I don't think that being from here inherently makes it easier to play shows or get noticed. What does go a long way is just participating in the scene and showing up and trying your best to make something.

Devon Bryant: I love so many of the bands playing locally these days, it’s an amazing problem to have that there’s always eight shows going on every night that you want to check out. Are you gonna go see Kitten Forever or Deleter or Royal Brat or Bruise Violet or Hollow Boys or Ego Death tonight?

I suppose we have some kind of seniority by default simply because bands break up, reconfigure, go on hiatus all the time, and we’ve stuck it out as the same three people who like hanging out with each other and playing music together. I don’t know that it really means anything other than that people have heard of us before.

CP: What strikes you as different about the Twin Cities?

KW: I think one of the biggest things here is just how much can be happening on any given night. There are a ton of great rooms to play and an almost endless amount of great bands participating in a scene that really celebrates and supports itself, for better or worse.

I mean, obviously playing at a place like the 7th Street Entry or the Triple Rock is like participating in a well-oiled music machine, but even places like Memory Lanes or the Kitty Cat Klub offer a cooler atmosphere than a lot of other rooms around the country. Some cities feel like they have a couple venues and a couple well-established bands, but here, it's just full-tilt all the time.

CP: With the Dinosaur Jr. name you get a lot of ’90s comparisons. Do you consciously take influence from any bands of that era or is it less thought out?

KW: As a 23-year-old (19-year-old when we first started playing), I don't have any actual or borrowed nostalgia for the period where fuzz rock ruled the airwaves or whatever. I've just always liked the music that I liked and the chords I wanted to play and the mood of the songs I wanted to write.

I kind of worked backwards through the music of my youth, from Green Day to Hum to the Pillows to Pixies to Dinosaur Jr. and Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk and all that. I guess you could say that I subconsciously take influence from all those acts. The first time I heard "Little Fury Things" was kind of life changing. I couldn't get enough of it. Discovering Hum in middle school felt the same way to me.

It was like listening to my own description of ideal music. The juxtaposition of aggression and sensitivity and gnarly guitars with soaring choruses. It's always stuck with me. I've never said, "I wanna be in a band that does this particular thing." It just kinda ends up that way.

DB: We like fuzzy guitars and loud drums, and the ‘80s-90s alternative era was a time when that sound had some purchase in the public consciousness, so I think that’s why we may seem more ‘90s than other eras. Fuzzy guitar rock has never really gone away though, particularly in the U.K. and Europe.

But in the U.S., the ‘00s were much more about disco beats and haircuts than rock music. Nothing wrong with a disco beat and a haircut, mind you, but when the three of us got together, I was definitely in the mood to get onboard with the kind of loud songs Kyle wanted to write and Andrew’s caveman stomp.

Fury Things album-release show for VHS

With: Alpha Consumer, Kitten Forever, Strange Relations

When: 9 p.m. Sat., Dec. 5.

Where: Triple Rock Social Club.

Tickets: $5-$7; more info here.


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