DIY guitar pop goodness
“It was cold, it was fall, it was depressing,” Joey Lyons says of how The Fuss was born.
While he had been casually writing and recording music prior to The Fuss, Lyons began recording solo under the name The Fuss in 2014 and released an EP the same year.
“I did it for me,” Lyons says, deadpan. “I did it because it was cold and dreary.”
Harsh Midwest weather can do that to a person.
His solo project turned into a band when Holy White Hounds asked him to play what would be The Fuss’ first show at The Triangle Tap in the summer of 2015. A live show called for a band, and Matt Nelson accompanied Lyons on bass.
“It was my fifth day as a bassist,” Nelson says. “It was an experiment really.”
Nelson had recently gotten into guitar and switched to bass for the show, while Holy White Hounds’ James Manson rounded out the three-piece debut by filling in on drums.
“It was thrust upon us,” Lyons says.
The Fuss has since cycled through a couple of drummers, but current lead guitar player Ben Waldschmitt has been a mainstay since joining Lyons and Nelson in late 2016.
As its creator, Lyons is the driving force behind the band and its easily digestible garage-rock-meets-guitar-pop sound. Much of the band’s debut full-length self-titled 10-song album (released in August 2017) had been written before Nelson and Waldschmitt were added to the lineup.
What inspires Lyons’ catchy songwriting?
“People, places, things, nouns,” he says. “Adjectives and nouns, some verbs. Superlatives. Just really anything. I don’t know how it happens; it just happens. It’s just like an internal drive. Like a foot on a gas pedal in my head that’s like ‘You must write songs.’ ”
In addition to the songwriting, Lyons did all of the recording, mixing and engineering himself.
“This is all DIY,” Lyons says. “A lot of trial and error.”
For a DIY project mastered from his bedroom, the resulting LP sounds on par with a label release.
While the album is only a few months old, the band is already looking ahead to its next release. Lyons says they have about 20 songs that they’ve been playing around with and continue to write more. He expects to release another full-length album next year. Once the material is finished, The Fuss will hit the road for a proper tour. They have previously played a few mini tours and a number of out-of-town shows but plan to take a more extended tour this time, including a stop in Davenport for a Daytrotter session.
For the second album, Lyons has relinquished some creative control, trusting Nelson and Waldschmitt to write their own parts. But he’s not sure about working with a more formal, professional producer, as he’s not quite ready to release his self-described vice grips on the producing side yet.
“There’s a certain way that things need to sound for them to be put out into the world,” Lyons says, noting that if it doesn’t pass the goose bump test then they might scrap all the material and start over.
This month The Fuss will play the fourth annual Ugly Sweater Fest at Wooly’s on Dec. 22, along with a host of other Midwest acts. And the band members plan on wearing their ugliest sweaters for the occasion.
“I’m still trying to get mine custom-made,” Waldschmitt smiles. ♦