26 Apr


“(Fresh and) Only a Northern Song”

If there exists a chance to see individual songs slightly obscured by the flotsam and jetsam of Austin Psych Fest 4 – buried beneath the bands, the beer, the BBQ, the friends, the fans, the fun – it’s through no fault of The Fresh and Onlys.

The San Francisco foursome has become known for treating listeners to an expansive selection of psychedelic song craft, displayed best (or so we thought) on their most recent full-length, “Play It Strange,” a cohesive collection of off-kilter and oft-killer pop-cycles revolving around islands, hookers and waterfalls (maybe).

When guitarist Wymond Miles declared the band to have taken a fresh step forward with the “Secret Walls” EP on Sacred Bones Records, we were prepared to take his remarks as understandable enthusiasm about the band’s upcoming release. Now that “Secret Walls” is in our possession and our minds have been possessed by the five unforgettable songs, we take that enthusiasm to be pure understatement. The “Secret Walls” EP is stunning, fresh, and only the next chapter in a (hopefully) long continuing story.

What impact – if any – does being from San Francisco bring to the sound of The Fresh and Onlys? Do you think there was ever one unifying theme that could be expressed as a “San Francisco sound”?

Absolutely SF is the canvas which we begin from. I don’t think you’d get The Onlys coming from Ohio (Scott Walker is a wonderful byproduct of Ohio). There is an innate romance and mystery in our city, but it also has an inexcusable class divide. There isn’t really much of a normal middle class there, but it’s an artisan’s bohemian utopia of struggle and discovery. No, as tempting as it may be to package, there is no unifying SF sound. It does a disservice to the culture to pitch it that way.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Can you tell us a little bit about the origin of the song “Summer of Love”? It’s a spectacular song – as if someone gave a Vicodin to the Hollies’ “Bus Stop” – especially when paired with the more propulsive “Waterfall” as a follow-up. Was there much thought behind which songs become #1 and #2 in the album order?

Yeah, it’s funny to me you ask. We knew before we recorded them that they were going to be a pair sequenced in that order. To me, “Summer” is a great way to invite someone into your world for a minute. It helps you relax and feel welcome. I also loved the tongue placed very deeply in our cheek with that song. I think people missed that aspect. I love how Tim’s lyrics play with that fake tourist nostalgia against the placement of the SF we know which I spoke to previously.

Can you think of any first and second song combinations from albums that particularly move you? What is it about the combination of those two songs that persists in your memory?

Song sequencing is big in my book, I like two songs that have distinctly different vibes but are completely harmonious in the vision of the work. A few come to mind that do that for me: “Come Together/Something” on “Abbey Road”; “The Kiss/Catch” from The Cure’s “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me”; “Hope There’s Someone/My Lady’s Story” from Antony’s “I Am A Bird Now”; “Who Loves The Sun/Sweet Jane” from VU’s “Loaded.”

What were your previous musical experiences that led you toward The Fresh and Onlys? Are you able to pinpoint a single moment of clarity or inspiration that assisted you in making The Fresh and Onlys sound what you wanted? How has that inspiration changed over time?

Each record has got a tune that I feel evolves us as a band. A few weeks before I joined the band, Tim and Shayde recorded a dozen or more songs and the standout tune for me was one called “The Mind Is Happy.” It framed our early steps as a band. “Peacock and Wing” and “ARM’s Advice” did it for me on record one. “Grey Eyed Girls” and “Invisible Forces” on the next. I feel like I found more of my guitar voice on “Diamond in the Dark” and “August in My Mind” on the EP. “Waterfall” and “I’m A Thief” were biggies on this last record. “Secret Walls” on the new EP that’s about to come out changes the game entirely, and there’s a couple brand new ones that are shedding skins all over again.

Is the phrase “Play It Strange” one that has particular meaning to you outside of an album title? In my mind, The Fresh and Onlys Sound is partially about taking particular pieces of genre sound and then playing it a little bit stranger than most might choose (like the Vicodin-blur of “Summer of Love,” mentioned above). Is that an approach that bands takes, or is it a far more organic development?

Yeah, the title just resonated. But, no, we don’t try and weird anything up. In fact, we try and make our melodies and songs as opaque as possible, but it needs the right elusive mood to get it across. We all used to play in strange bands – now we’re in a pop band.

What music have you been listening to lately? Push comes to shove, what is your favorite Country Joe and The Fish song?

The first Country Joe record is it for me, “Electric Music for the Body and Mind.” I just love the farfisa organ all over it. Personally, the “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die” song is so close to my heart. An uncle who passed used to listen to that in his pickup when we’d go pick up lumber together and he’d go bat-shit crazy like a Muppet character, putting me in utter hysterics. That tune gets me misty-eyed nowadays.

How did you first hear of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any particular bands that you are most excited to see?

Friends went last year and had a blast. I’m just feeling stoked to be playing alongside so many killer bands.

Can you think of a band or an artist who you have seen perform live with little or no context – a band that you came into “fresh” – that left a strong impression on you, but that you probably will never see perform again? A “fresh” and “only” performance, so to speak.

VSS, an old goth-core-punk hybrid.

Francis Bacon said the following: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” Would you agree? Are there strange aspects to your life that you would prefer were less so? Would you be willing to temper the beauty of your life in exchange for more stability?

I suppose strangeness is a requisite entry point. A thing of beauty is fine on its own terms but in order to engage deeper with something there has to be an aspect of intrigue or mystery. Strange also has a connotation of being something unsettling which I think is also inherent in the fabric of life. Life is supported by death just below the surface. By the way: Ever hear the argument for Shakespeare being the cover name for Francis Bacon? Really intriguing argument when you compare their educational backgrounds and if you look for the Rosicrucian/Gnostic symbolism that runs through Shakespeare”s work.

What’s next for The Fresh and Onlys?

Our EP, “Secret Walls,” is out April 26th. We’re super proud of it. We tour the EU in May which ends at Primavera, tour with Woods in July with stops at the p4k festival and Woodsist fest in Big Sur. We have a large body of work we’re building for the next full length. Full speed ahead, really.

The Fresh and Onlys

Original Fresh and Onlys photo by Kristin Klein


One Response to “THE FRESH AND ONLYS”


  1. WYMOND MILES « Revolt of the Apes - September 7, 2012

    […] we last “spoke,” in the context of an interview preceding the appearance of The Fresh and Onlys at Austin Psych Fest 2011, you said, “Song sequencing is big in my book.” How did that […]

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