Iron Fez defies categorization while mastering musicianship and wit
Let me tell you, kids, this week’s piece has been a convoluted adventure and so far I’ve only written the opening sentence. I love writing, I always have (since I first learned to write, anyway) and while anytime is a good time to write, some times are better than others.
I have found that the ideal time for me to write is about twelve hours after deadline. Few things get the creative juices flowing like realizing that the paper is going to the printer in a few hours and I still haven’t submitted my column. Generally, this is not a problem (though it drives my editor nuts). I almost always have a subject picked out and it’s simply a matter of sitting, listening and writing.
Ninety percent of the time it works every time, until a night like Monday night when I discovered that the subject I had picked out was much larger and more complicated than I had realized and was going to take more time than I had at the moment.
So it was time for Plan B. Plan B was, “do something else.”
Fortunately, I have a folder where I keep leads and recommendations and a quick scan reminded me that my dear friend Lazarus L. Hellgate (the L is for Lunchbox) had recommended Iron Fez to me some unspecified time ago. I did a little digging, heard some tunes and thought, “Hell yeah, these cats are great!”
There was only one problem. A lack of general updates or upcoming gigs led me to wonder, “Is this band still together?”
Fear not, for at a much later hour than my editor needs to know about, I received word from the band that, yes indeed, they are still together, but are currently on hiatus over the summer until their bass player returns.
They were a little cryptic about where the bass player had gone for the summer, but having known a few bass players in my time I thought it wise not to press the issue.
Iron Fez is one my favorite kinds of bands. I’m not talking about genre; frankly I don’t know exactly what the hell to make of them genre-wise. Billing themselves as both “acoustic hip-hop” and “a down and dirty fusion of bluegrass, folk, blues, rock and drunken good times” I’d have to say they’re all of the above and then some.
Doesn’t matter, labels are for the unimaginative anyway.
What they really are, at the core of the band, is a bunch of gifted musicians just having a hell of a good time. Everything about them is fun. Their name, their tunes, their performance, even their website is fun. Right now you can bop over to ironfez.weebly.com and, thanks to years of social media conditioning, take a test to determine which band member you are. I got Lyle. I hope Lyle is cool. I mean, he’s a drummer, but still…maybe.
The band consists of Reed Landry (Reed Landry), David Morris (guitar, vocals), Kan Munson (guitar, mandolin, driver), Stephen Curry (lead guitar), Ben Arnold (bass, sitar?) and Lyle Cammon on drums.
A few things stand out immediately. Most of these fellows have known each other a long time, they all have a quick wit and wicked sense of humor and they all have a worrisome addiction to fried chicken. Take those elements of lifelong friendship, wit, and genuine musical talent and you can’t help but have a band like Iron Fez; silly, cool, laid-back, comfortable and highly skilled at writing and performance.
On SoundCloud (specifically soundcloud.com/munsond-records/sets/iron-fez) you will find five tunes by the band. Every single one epitomizes what I’ve said about them so far. “Butt Nipple” is full of spooky banjo and ripping guitar, though nary a butt or nipple. “Forgetting That I’m Quittin’” is full of fast-paced wordplay and reminds me of nothing so much as Roger Miller for the 21st Century (a phrase I think neatly captures some, but definitely not all, of what the band is about.)
“Mexico” is another laugh-out-loud tune that isn’t so much bi-lingual as bi-lingual-curious and “Indie Song” sums up ninety percent of the self-described indie bands I’ve ever heard in a way I doubt they’d find flattering (though devastatingly accurate.) I am convinced that had Led Zeppelin heard the tune “Rollin’” they would not have hesitated to rip it off.
Although it is a shame we’ll have to wait another two months to go see these fellows live, I highly encourage you to seek out their music now. I’ve paid a lot of service to describing the band and their music as “fun” and “silly,” but here’s the thing: The silly part is only skin-deep; the cleverness goes to the bone.
For all that the group and their work is fun, it’s also very smart which makes it some of the nicest ear candy I’ve heard in a while. You know how to use the inter-tubes, kids. Visit their webpage and Facebook account, but most importantly, go to their SoundCloud page and get set to have a good time.