interview: The Fresh and Onlys

[more by Louise Lynn]

After releasing the eminently enjoyable Play it Strange LP back in 2010, Amoeba‘s famously prolific employees Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartin of The Fresh and Onlys brought their listeners to a lowered state with this year’s EP release Secret Walls back in April. Apart from contributions of two previously-unreleased tracks for the Castle Face Flexi Disc Book, the band recently released a new 7″ single via British DIY label SEXBEAT. “I Would Not Know the Devil” was debuted shortly before the group left for a one-month long European tour. We caught up with Shayde for an update as the F&O wrap up their face-melting jaunt across the old continent.

Can you describe working with Pirate Press/Castle Face on the Group Flexi Disc? Who contacted you for your contributions? It’s such a beautiful piece.
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SS: John Dwyer contacted us directly, just as he did when he put out our first record The Fresh and Onlys. We just submitted two songs, we had no idea the thing was gonna come out so incredible. As far as the concept, the execution, [resident Castleface artist] William Keihn‘s artwork, it is a truly unique piece of musical history and we are honored to have been included.
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Can you talk about Woodsist Fest a little bit? We heard Tim was a fan of the White Fence set.
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SS: For me, White Fence and Thee Oh Sees absolutely dominated. The first band and the last band, wouldn’t you know it. Such a great festival, small and intimate, you can’t beat the natural reflection of a redwood forest. I would play every show in a redwood forest if I could.
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Does Europe love the Fresh and Onlys more than anyone else?
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Well we hope so. Whats more romantic than love, European style? Spain completely tore my brain apart, France was amazing, more to come. We are on our way to Scandinavia, where perhaps we are the secret fascination of a collection of very tall blonde women with amazing health care.
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Who are you playing with (in Europe)?
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Martin Rev (of Suicide!) for one show in Stockholm, we played two shows with Wooden Shjips. A bunch of other bands, whose names are not yet memorable to me.
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Please be wary of any rickety stage set-ups.
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Thanks. Wait, you mean don’t get too drunk, right?
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The Secret Walls EP represented a stylistic change from the “non-stop hit parade” that was Play It Strange. The newly released single “I Would Not Know the Devil” is a barnstormer. When you writes songs, how do personal events in the lives of band members shape the tonality of your records? 
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Personal events have their way of insinuating themselves in art/music, but I think that process is beyond one’s control, and it’d be presumptuous to try and explain how songs necessarily come to exist, or how exactly something in the real world can translate into a melody, a rhythm, a composition, i.e. the “tonality” of a song. It may be easier to draw parallels between lyrical content and life experiences, but in some ways I like for lyrics to leave clues to understanding their origin, not necessarily follow a strict narrative.
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Two recently discovered bands you would like to share – maybe one from San Francisco and the other from anywhere.
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From San Francisco, Preteen is one of my new favorites. Weekend, too. From Bermeo Spain, Los Steaks are awesome.
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Your next show in San Francisco is at Great American Music Hall in October co-headlining with LA-via-SF transplant Tamaryn and Wax Idols. What else is on the horizon?
We begin recording our next full length in October, and nothing else is really planned. Hopefully a New Year’s Eve show. But The Great American show may be our last show for quite some time.
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The Fresh and Onlys conclude their European tour 9/26 before heading back to the States — tickets for the GAMH show are on sale here. Pick up Secret Walls on vinyl here and the new single over here (limited to 300 pressings). I can testify that the Castle Face Flexi Disc book is fucking awesome. You can buy that up in person at Aquarius Records or online from InSound – purchase comes with a mp3 download code.
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