News Upbringing: Fear Of Men

In Upbringing, we ask some of our favourite bands to recall their formative moments. It can be anything from a life-changing gig to a packet of crisps - doesn’t matter. Conversations span from before the formation of a group right up to the point where they are today.

Fear of Men are a Brighton group on the brink of releasing their ‘Loom’ debut. It’s been years in the making. Initial songs were brought together as part of an acclaimed ‘Early Fragments’ collection, but there’s a growing sense that everything’s been building up to this first full-length. Jessica Weiss from the three-piece kindly answered questions about her personal musical upbringing, as well as the outstanding moments that have struck the band since 2011’s debut cassette, the ‘Hanna Schygulla’ demos.

What’s the first gig you can ever remember going to? Describe the experience.
The Buzzcocks in Portsmouth when I was about 14. I only had 2 friends who were interested in punk and we went together. I was into making my own clothes at the time, and we made dresses out of bin bags to wear to the show. It was really fun. I remember my ears ringing for the next day or so. I also made friends at that show from waiting in the queue who are still in my life now.

Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?
I’m obsessional with a lot of songs. At the moment it’s St Vincent’s ‘Cheerleader’ and Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Serpents’. Perhaps my first obsession was ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles. I wasn’t thinking of it like this when I was 10 or so, but it has such a perfect structure, 3 elements that are so strong on their own, and the chord sequence is excellent. I once gave someone a music box with this as the song inside.

As a band so far, what’s the best and worst show you’ve ever played?
The best show… there have been a lot of cool experiences. Probably my favourite was at Fesitval Nrmal in Mexico last year. We played at the sweet spot of the night when the sun was just going down and I was looking out at golden mountains in evening sun and a crowd of people on the other side of the world who knew the words to our songs. It was pretty special. The rest of the weekend was great too - we were in a hotel with Ariel Pink and Diiv and Eagulls and there was a hot tub. The worst is probably anywhere there’s not much care been put into a show by the booker so you’re playing with bands that have vastly different sounds, like a metal band, then an acoustic folk band, then us.

Writing ‘Loom’, what kind of inspirations went into it outside of music?
‘Loom’ was the culmination of a lot of things for us. It’s been a year that taught me some truths about other people and myself, and I think that’s reflected in the bleak introversion of the record. Philip Larkin, Nietzsche, Anais Nin, Fassbinder were all interesting to me while writing, and Goshka Macuga’s artistic practice. Also just general life… making notes in the Met and Moma when we were there last year, going to the theatre.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you?
Self sufficiency. Not exactly advice anyone’s given me, but a lot of people have taught me in small ways. Don’t assume life is stable.

If you could be any band from the past two decades, who would you be and why?
Broadcast, Neutral Milk Hotel or the National. Maybe The Smiths with a happier ending… Broadcast because Trish was a hugely inspiring lyricist and vocalist. I’m in love with the electronic textures and how the parts fit together in their music. Neutral Milk Hotel, because, like with Broadcast’s Tender Buttons, they wrote a basically perfect album that’s a real work of art. The National because they are a great band and we look up to their organic approach of building on and refining their sound over so many albums.

If there’s anything you could tell the person you were when you started writing music, what would it be?
To do more of it. I can get very self aware, which is both something which colours my neurotic world view and probably makes me write songs in the first place, but isn’t helpful in creative. It’s much better to just dive in without inhibitions, produce a lot and be able to edit it down after. I’m working on it. I struggle though, because I know I write best when something really hits me, and you can’t force that.

Fear Of Men release their debut album ‘Loom’ on April 21st in the UK (April 22nd in US) via Kanine Records. Pre-order here.

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