“If two men just ain’t right, then I’m living in a world that’s upside down…” sings Matt Rogers, lead vocalist of Montreal-based LGBTQ indie band Fleece.
The lyrics come from the single “Upside Down” off their striking upcoming LP Stunning and Atrocious. Fleece hold nothing back on their new album, and a whole new version of the band has surfaced.
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From going viral on YouTube with their cheeky video, ‘how to write an Alt-J song’ to their psychedelic rock beginnings on their debut album Scavenger to now, Fleece is a fluid multitude of all things sound, genre and aesthetic.
Fleece was founded on the song-writing and lead vocals of Matt Rogers alongside the perpetual energy of drummer Ethan Soil. After some personnel changes, Megan Ennenberg (guitar/vocals) and Jameson Daniel (guitar) joined the band, fulfilling the missing pieces and completing the band as a cohesive whole.
The rebirth of Fleece boasts a brand new record that will be out in full this Friday (August 20). Stunning and Atrocious explores the complexities of vulnerability, sexuality, love, anxiety, depression, joy, silliness, honesty and power. It delves deep into the duality of human experience: the stunning and the atrocious.
In preparation for the album release, we sat down with Fleece. They shared their insights into who they are, their sonic journey and what we can expect from their new music.
Check out their new singles and what they had to say about their new album below.
Indie88: Who ARE fleece? How would you describe the band in 5 words?
All: Fuzzy layered fun queer playground!
Indie88: Stunning and Atrocious is the title of your new album coming out very soon, what does the name mean to you?
Matt: Stunning and atrocious were just my favourite words forever. When we were on tour in 2018 I was describing everything as either stunning or atrocious. Then this album came along less as a full overarching story but we were starting to notice how there was this lush side of Fleece and the rock n roll side of Fleece. Half of these songs were kind of more beautiful, ethereal and half of them were more intense, rock n roll. Jameson once as a joke said why don’t we call it “Stunning & Atrocious” but literally it encapsulated the past four years of our lives and it also encapsulates a lot of themes in our songs. We wrote them at a time when our lives were incredible but we also all had some awful times in the past couple of years, so overall just a lot of growing. This album is kind of a smorgasbord of stunning and atrocious.
Indie88: This will be your third LP as Fleece but there has been quite an evolution from your debut to now with your newest album – how would you describe the sonic journey of Fleece from its beginning to now?
Matt: At the beginning, there were 5 members and it was a completely different band. We were 18-year-olds and kind of a band of bros, we really had no idea what Fleece was, we were just playing and having fun. As we we’ve gone further, Fleece sonically and emotionally became more communicative as a whole as Megan and Jameson joined the band a couple years later. Making sure everyone was on the same page and together became a really important thing and I think that’s really blended into our sound. In the past, it was more me bringing composition to the table, but now it’s more a full communication together-vibe where we play and improvise together and really work with each other’s ideas. We have this sound now because we’re able listen to each other and we all have a place where we fit in when we play live. I’d say we use to listen to each other less maybe and now we’ve really grown to make sure we’re four people working together.
Jameson: For me a huge thing is that at some point since Voyager, we started checking in quite a bit. Checking in about regular things, like “how are you doing”, “we’ve been on tour for so long, are you going to be alright?” You know, but it sort of turned into this thing now where we always make an effort to take the pulse of the group, which really changed the sound. It’s not one person taking it all on, it’s a group effort, always a big communicative group effort.
Matt: Our sound is support group.
Megan: The idea that when were in rehearsal space, we always try to make room for each other sonically. It’s always just a fun back and forth when we’re writing to make a cool sound so that your band mate can get excited to add something on top of that. Really it’s such a fun back and forth to see your friend get excited about what you’re making and then you get excited. We’re all just trying to find the pocket and getting excited about it.
Indie88: The instrumentals on the entire album, especially on songs like “Upside Down” and “Something Real” are incredible. Truly refreshing. While at the same time, the lyrics are powerful and will definitely resonate with a lot of people. How do you approach song writing? What’s the crafting process like whether its music or lyrics?
Matt: We get in the room. I think often I’ll just be playing chords that are kind of improvised and then everyone will jump on those chords and we’ll keep playing them until we find a sequence that we like. I’ll start singing some lyrics or Megan will start singing lyrics and then later we’ll listen back to those voice memos to see what kind of stream of consciousness lyrics were there. Then we try to make the song make sense based on that stream of consciousness. This is my absolute favourite way of writing. I think songs feel the most natural when I do it this way. I’m not big into writing lyrics and then putting it into a song, just because for me at least, it can sound more forced and the words don’t fit as well. Overall, the process is very improvised until it feels good, then it becomes the song.
Megan: You can’t force words into a melody in the same way that you can’t force a note into a part. So when we’re writing we have to find which words might fit into the part and that process happens live when we’re doing it.
Ethan: Yeah, I think 60-70% of the lyrics that end up on the album are improvised and then it’s just piecing it together to make it make sense. Usually we just riff on some lyrics then we bring logic to them later.
Jameson: The really really really good stuff comes out of improvisation.
Indie88: Everything you’ve done for the upcoming album – the music videos, photo shoots and the album art itself – is so visually striking and creative! What inspires you?
Matt: For the album cover we wanted this duality that we have in the title Stunning and Atrocious and Jameson came in with these really cool mock ups of a model with a sea monster as its head.
Jameson: I made a bunch of collages from fashion magazines and mashed them with a National Geographic sea special issue.
Matt: We loved that idea but we wanted it to feel more intense and striking, so an edited image wasn’t cutting it. We had the idea of making a mascot, like in our first two albums there’s an iconic mascot and we wanted to go for that again. Megan found Sophie El Assaad, who does a lot of theatre production work, and she created this beautiful head piece. And we still have the mask so I’m excited to use that on stage maybe.
Ethan: The album cover was crazy because we were so unsure of how we were going to do it. Everything just came together. This photographer we found is so talented and I literally met him at the dog park where I take my puppy. Everyone was on the ball and just made it happen.
Megan: It’s so exciting to see it all come together because people in our community in Montreal or Toronto are so excited to be engaged in projects like this. It’s so fun to be able to work with friends and just get really excited about something and feel like they’re involved in it. There’s so many people who have dipper their finger in the project.
Matt: We have some intention, I think our intention mostly is to have striking images and make something we all love. How that happens and what it ends up being is just a process that we figure out as we go.
Matt: I would love to collaborate with Weyes Blood. I think we’d have some musical chemistry together, whether it’s with Fleece or just me and her. Omg that would be a dream.
Jameson: I want some hip hop act to pick up our shit like Tyler the Creator or Drake or someone to want to have our sounds in their music.
Ethan: It’d be cool to get to be a backing band, not sure for who but yeah. Like BadBadNotGood shows up and they’re just Frank Ocean’s backing band.
Jameson: It’d be Kacey Musgraves.
*All start discussing how to become Kacey Musgrave’s backing band*
*Ethan puts on Kacey Musgraves merch*
Megan: Mine would be Moses Sumney, I would just love to sneak in a little whisper sing, alongside his little whisper sing. Also just be in the same room as him.
Indie88: With your upcoming US tour just around the corner, what are you most looking forward to?
Matt: I’m definitely just looking forward to seeing Jameson, Ethan and Megan’s faces again on stage. When we all look at each other when we’re playing a show and just smiling like ‘We’re doing it!! We’re doing the thing!!’ it’s such a magical feeling. I’m excited to play some of these new songs, I’m excited to show off a little bit.
Jameson: I’m excited to do the tour bus and just do some shows again for crying out loud. We’ve been really working so it’s going to be so nice to be out there again and see some smiling faces.
Ethan: I’m excited for Texas and to just be in the south. Ready to feel Texas on my skin.
Megan: I’m excited to see a giant audience of smiling mouths. If masks are required, then smiling eyes! It’s like getting high on stage every night just being up there, being able to play music with your friends.
Indie88: From social media and this interview, you guys seem like really genuine and funny people –you even have a fan meme page now! What are some of your greatest memories as a band?
Matt: I think one of my favourite memories was being on tour and playing this random show one night in Boulder, Colorado in this really small town through a friend of Jameson’s and it was so magical. It was in the mountains and I just thought wow ‘Fleece is taking us to this magical place’. Just felt surreal, being in a place I never expected to be, since it was a random last minute show.
Ethan: That show was so much fun. I was just talking about that show, it was insane.
Jameson: One of my favourite memories is when we all went to Sombrio together and we were all by the river and Ethan skipped the best stone of his life, then he did it again but even better. Matt had a rock as a phone and we were all just hanging out and having a really good time.
Megan: One of my favourite memories is when we ran out of gas in the middle of the desert, right outside of White Sands National Park in New Mexico. That morning we had this really emotional moment where there was so much amazing listening and supporting going on in really healthy ways. While we were having this really important conversation, we just ran out of gas in the middle of the desert. But just the way we can handle stressful situations without getting angry, we really as a team got gas.
Indie88: In your own words, what can we expect from Stunning and Atrocious?
Matt: Expect something completely unique, one of a kind. It’s our sound, it’s Fleece, it’s fun, it’s sad, it’s a journey.
Megan: It really is a bit of a journey. Lots of ups and downs, such a variety of stories, sounds and it’s exciting to see it come together under the Fleece umbrella.
Ethan: It sounds like us. The four of us playing from the era of 2018-2020.
Matt: It’s a good album to listen to when your road-tripping.
Jameson: Don’t expect too much and just go in there with open heart, open ears and open mind and you’re going to find what you’re looking for.
Ethan: Expect some merch.
All photos courtesy of Cameron Mitchell.