Three-piece progressive rock explorers Fuiste are back with a (relatively) new seven-track release. If you’ve been following the band for the past couple of years, nothing on the record will come as much of a surprise. But that fact doesn’t make it any less impactful. The “compilation,” as the band describes the collection, includes their debut Slow Burner EP and selections from Big Man Little Tree, an unreleased EP which, until now, never made its way onto the internet. Titled after the band’s first-ever composition, Iceman highlights the development of the group’s unique sounds with a record that is bold and adventurous in its sonic experimentation.
Watching Fuiste perform live, as I had the pleasure of doing a few weeks ago, is an absolute trip. Bassist Johnny Bakos’ spastic vocals jump up and down in pitch long enough to make his veins pop furiously. Meanwhile, guitarist Saam Wilson leaps to his phone to play audio clips over his pickups and loop riffs through his pedalboard as drummer Skylar Brillante hops from side to side on his set, masterfully keeping time as he records the band’s chaotic orchestration on his iPhone camera. At one point, I couldn’t help but peer over to a fellow crowd member as we both smiled along in sheer wonder.
Similarly, Iceman strives in its glorious messiness. While Fuiste’s technical wizardry may be their most overt musical characteristic, it’s their ability to create memorable melodies within their tumultuous wall of sound that resonates most powerfully. Here, I speak with Wilson to learn more about the trio’s new record and to try and get at what exactly makes a creative powerhouse like Fuiste tick.
Who are y’all and where are you from?
We are Fuiste. Skylar Brillante, Johnny Bakos, and Saam Wilson from Atlanta, Georgia.
Can you accurately describe yourselves in 10 words or less?
We are a three-piece musical project focused on group composition.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Groups such as Minutemen and Don Caballero have informed a lot of the basis of the group.
To the average listener, your sound may be intimidating because it is so different. Do you find yourself ever trying to bridge this gap?
While we are conscious of our songs being perceived as complicated, to us, our parts come naturally because of our influences. In our earlier days, we were not interested in the final product as much as we were the process of creating the songs. We [have] never tried to bridge any gap or satisfy anything but our own musical interests.
How do you explain your sound?
Progressive rock/experimental is a good way to summarize our music, but we don’t consciously try to mold ourselves to that title.
Iceman marks the first full-length release from Fuiste, which spans the history of the group. What does this mean to you and for the band?
Iceman is more of a compilation of an era of our band than an actual full-length LP. These songs were all written and recorded well over a year ago, most being recorded in the summer of 2016, some of them going all the way back to 2014. It represents a change in our approach to the music we write. The title is significant because it was the first song composed for Fuiste.
Tell us what the production process was like. Did you enjoy your time working with Bennett Kane and Jeff Bakos?
Both settings were very comfortable. Bennett and Jeff both encouraged total freedom in the recording process. Bennett is a close friend to the band, and Jeff is the father of one of our members. Both are experienced audio technicians who have recorded numerous artists in a variety of styles and adapt easily to our recording style. All our tracks are recorded live as a band, then in some cases we perform overdubs not possible in live tracking to add unique textures. The music is typically composed for live performance and we view studio recordings as documents of the songs at that time in their existence. The nice part of studio recordings is you can make the songs sound like something more expansive. We always are present during the mixing process as well. Additionally, three of the tracks on the release where recorded at various spaces outside of a studio. I recorded and edited “Large Sam” in our practice space in the beginning of 2017, while Noah Greene-Lowe recorded the tracks “Iceman” and “Disruptancy” in his bedroom in the summer of 2014.
What can you tell us about the cover art?
The image itself is a drawing done by our drummer Skylar when he was eight, and then was assembled by Johnny, our bassist, who also designed the logo and back cover. The original intention of the release was to be to tape, so it is formatted that way. We decided to keep the format as the official cover because it represents the aesthetic we want to convey. There will be a tape pressing in the near future.
Who is Dustin “Red” Sargent?
Dustin “Red” Sargent, or as he was known to many, simply as “Red,” was an early music teacher I had who inspired me and helped me realized I could learn an instrument like the guitar. He passed away last year and in the same way that he was critical for my development as a musician and person, this release was critical for our development and growth as a band.
Do you have any plans for a tour or do you intend to keep playing around Atlanta?
We’re currently taking a break from a busy show schedule to focus on songwriting. At the moment we have no upcoming shows. However, we are planning on touring again in the spring of 2018.
What, if anything, is Fuiste’s philosophy?
Fuiste has always been a genuine product of the three of us freely collaborating without any pretensions towards what the music should be or represent. So in a way the material on this release could be considered nihlistic, as it is a product of our aimless youthful desires and our collective need to create something to represent us as individuals in a scene full of other young people trying to make a statement. A big part of this release is: it represents a departure from this phase of our band into something more focused. These songs have been in our catalog for a very long time and were originally slated to be on our first full-length LP, which never came to fruition in the way we originally envisioned. We included the Slow Burner EP and tracks from the sole release with our original drummer, Big Man Little Tree. We originally did not want to re-release music from past releases, however we viewed Iceman as the definitive guide to this era of the group. So this release is also, in a way, a release that never happened, but we always intended for. Like the front cover, these songs are impressionistic sketches from the first phase of our band, and its release represents further development and growth.
Where do you see Fuiste in three months? One year?
Our main goal at the moment is to finish writing and recording a full-length LP that will be out next year. All three of us are also working on other projects that are happening in conjunction with the band, so only time will tell the rate in which we complete it. We already have a large chunk of an album written, which is what we play live for the most part. We have started recording with Nathaniel Kaiser at Sleeping Partner Studios and plan to continue that collaboration. Skylar is currently drumming in the new group Buttata, Johnny is working on his solo material under the moniker Catfish John, and I’m working on an album for my solo endeavor called Spinach.