“From the start we wanted the band to be a collective of musicians, you get more flexibility this way and stepping outside the standard band format has enabled us to bring talented musicians into the fold to play specific parts or instruments,” explains Fossil Collective drummer Jonny Hooker. “We’ve added brass, strings and slide guitar to the album this way, and we will continue to explore this.”
Originally meeting on the music forum Leeds Music Scene, Hooker, along with singer and guitarist Dave Fendick spent the first few years of their musical partnership playing with the alt-rock band, Vib Gyor. However after five years, the duo decided to take their music in another direction, and Fossil Collective was born. “We played in a previous band together and our friendship comes through this really,” Hooker says. “We started Fossil Collective towards the end of the other project when musically we were just starting to pull in another direction. We’re really proud of what we achieved.”
He continues, “Fossil Collective feels like a more honest representation of the music we wanted to write. We wanted to get back to writing songs that had a timeless feel and no matter how grandiose the arrangements, they would always work with a simple acoustic and vocal.”
In 2010, Fossil Collective made their presence known with a three-track EP and soon followed up that initial release with two more EPs, released this year – Let It Go in June and On and On in October. “The songs are a continuation of [Let It Go] really as most of the 9 songs from them both were written over the same 6 month period,” he conveys. “We have been experimenting with the production a little though as we wanted to use these two EPs to try and find the album sound, experiment a little and find a space that works for us for the full length.”
Through the recording of their last three EPs, Fossil Collective had the opportunity to tackle songwriting in numerous ways. “Every song is different really, sometimes it might be a chord sequence or a groove that we’ll add melody, then lyrics and finally the orchestration to,” Hooker says. “We’re really lucky to work with some great musicians in the live band and it feels like the process is evolving and could really become a combination of us all, we’re starting to work on ideas as a full band from much earlier which is different to the past and pretty exciting for us.”
Aside from all the experimentation, working on Let It Go and On and On this year afforded them the freedom to put together two bodies of work that each contained a cohesive message and feeling, as well as to craft some pretty memorable tracks.
“’Rivers Edge’ was a song that was really enjoyable to work on,” Hooker reveals. “It’s actually a track that we originally recorded as part of the studio sessions for the first EP, Let it Go, but we just couldn’t get the feel and groove of the song to work properly. In the end, we got frustrated with it and decided to let it breath for a while. When we came back to it with fresh perspective, it came together really quickly. It’s my current favourite to play live, too.”
With all the music these two have been churning out this year, it would seem logical for a break to come in at some point, especially with the Christmas holiday coming up. However, the band is quite keen on getting the new material recorded as soon as possible. “We have some songs already written and recorded and we’ll finish the rest over month,” he states. “We love the studio as everything about it has an analogue vintage feel, from the desk to the mics, it really suits our music. We then have 5 days away from the music to freshen the ears and then we’re off to London to mix it with Ian Grimble. It’s a busy and exciting time for us.”
The duo’s mix of earnest lyrics and classical and sometimes haunting folk melodies has placed them in the same category as notable bands like Midlake and Bon Iver – a comparison that they are more than happy to welcome.
“Both great bands so very flattered,” Hooker says. “I really like the way Midlake layer their instruments and vocals – when you listen back there’s so much going on in the mix but it all sits in exactly the right space that it never sounds too much – this is something we’re trying to learn from. Bon Iver is pretty much on top of the world at the moment, amazing songwriter.”
Whilst they are pleased being placed among some big name bands of the folk and Americana genre. Fossil Collective’s influences range from Ravi Shankar to Eric Clapton. According to Hooker, their growing and varied playlists are “great for getting you through a 6-hour journey home from Glasgow.” And when asked about who the two would dream of collaborating with, they took threw another unexpected response and said, “We’re all fans of French electronic music and would love to work on a remix with Daft Punk or Air. That would be pretty special.“
Fossil Collective may need to wait a bit longer before getting into the studio with Daft Punk, but their sound caught the attention of American country folk duo, The Civil Wars, who invited the band to open their Glasgow and London gigs in early November.
“It was amazing,” Hooker exclaims. “We’re lucky that Joy and John Paul are fans of our music and asked us to play the shows with them. Part of the tour was a sold out show at the Roundhouse in London and the atmosphere was electric, it was our biggest live show so far and to play in a venue with such musical heritage was great. Very honoured to have been asked.”
Despite the burgeoning success Fossil Collective have garnered thus far, they don’t let it go to their heads and just want “to be happy and creative.”
Hooker elaborates, “It feels really special to have the opportunity to do what you love in life and that’s it really. If we can keep being creative, writing songs and playing them to people who really connect them then it’s a pretty good place to be. They hardly ever forget where they came from and are always grateful for the city that started it all for them.”
The humble and grounded demeanour continues with the pride they have for their Yorkshire roots. ”Leeds is a magical city musically with some great venues and a constant supply of super talented bands,” Hooker expresses. “It is also very lucky to have some amazing countryside within a 10 minute drive. You can quickly get to places like Otley, Chevin and Brimham Rocks. As people who naturally feel a little more at home outside of the hustle and bustle of a busy city, this has really helped us.”
With an upcoming tour that visits Stockton Calling, Sound City and the 35 Denton Festival in Texas as well as a debut album release, it looks like the hustle and bustle is set to continue for Fossil Collective in 2013.
Fossil Collective’s Eps are available to purchase via this link.