Garage bands are meant to be lazy and shambolic.



The Fresh and Onlys are rampant in their output. They have produced three EPs and three LPs in just two years. “I think we all recognise that we have a ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ mentality,” says lead singer Tim Cohen. “It’s about sticking with the momentum and chemistry that we have built with the band.”

“Resting on your laurels is for people without fire,” adds Shayde Sartin [bass]. “You need to keep feeding the fire to continue to be creative.”

Tim: “Some bands create something great and get lots of critical acclaim and success and then go away and take two years off and it breaks the momentum, and what they come back with is often not very good. I mean they’re still rich and happy, but for me and people like myself, I’ll probably never be rich and happy, or certainly not happy because I’m rich.”

They rapidly knock out their San Fran ’50s-doo-wop-meets-Byrdsian-folk-pop, writings songs, as Shayde puts it, “in the length of time it takes to play them.”

“I think it has to happen immediately,” he says. “If you spend too much time canoodling with songs and trying to tweak them too much, then it’s obviously not a good enough song.”

Peculiarly, this quick-fire attitude doesn’t lead to an output as rushed, half-baked and frazzled in its ideas as you’d think. The Fresh & Onlys, while at times rambunctious and raucous, deliver a sense of flush meticulousness that feels like it has come over great time and due consideration. Their latest EP, ‘Secret Walls’, is perhaps the greatest embodiment of this, and arguably their finest work to date.

“There was a point early on in the EP where we thought the songs we have are so good, we thought, should this be a whole album?” says Wymond Miles [guitar], “but, we realised that it was just right and in-focus enough as it was. The EP is a great format.”

Heaps of American garage bands play Primavera every year, though. So why are we so bothered about this one over, say, Ariel Pink, or Ducktails? It’s because they are something of an anomaly in their DIY field. They are representative of a movement and current spate of bands with sounds and influences that are common among many American guitar groups, but there is something slippery about them that makes it impossible to slap a tag on them. In many ways they are working entirely separate from the environment they inhabit. They’re not scuzzy or amateurish enough to truly be ‘lo-fi’, and their naïve love songs are more suited to the hop than the beach.

“I wouldn’t say we are influenced by bands from today at all,” says Tim, “they aren’t our peers.”

“We’re more influenced by what we do within the band,” adds Shayde. “I feel we finally have a body of work that I can look at and be inspired by. In the early days I was fooling around in the dark a little, but now I can look back at all this stuff we’ve done since March 2008 that is very committed, very beautiful and very strong.”

Wymond personally finds inspiration “from simply working with these guys.”

“I’m so inspired by them,” he gushes, “and I try and inspire them in return; I try and bring out the things they may not think of.” And all of them are inspired by their hometown, San Francisco. “It’s the best place in the world to be for music,” nods Shayde. “I’d challenge every other city in the world to a cage match!”

By Daniel Dylan Wray

Originally published in issue 29 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. June 2011

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