I grew up on 60s pop/rock. The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Supremes, Johnny Rivers, Lesley Gore…I loved all of them. And if I was holed up in my room listening to the oldies radio station, I was listening to my parents albums which gave me a huge appreciation for 70s folk rock.
When it comes to my taste in music, you could say I’m an old soul. I yearn for the days when music was pure, not everything had to be perfect and the mistakes became your favorite piece of the song.
So when my friend Amelia sent over a link to her band, Fidelio’s, debut album, I was immediately hooked by it’s classic rock ‘n’ roll vibe. From the music itself to the sound of the recording, the band transported me back to those days when I was young but listening to music decades before my time.
Today, I’d love to introduce you to Zach Toman and Amelia Quint, aka Fidelio. >>>
Home: Columbia, South Carolina
For fans of: classic rock, southern gothic rock
About the band: Zach Tamon and Amelia Quint first met in 2010 when a mutual friend suggested Zach produce an album Amelia was working on. The ease of making music together was immediate, and the duo formed a band called Jurassic Heat, added a drummer and live bassist and toured for two years before calling in quits. The need to create music together was still there, and Zach and Amelia regrouped to form Fidelio. It’s the perfect blend for the pair (who work very differently, says Zach) to pursue their love of music, any and all ideas and style
Good Groupie: “Fidelio” is the name of a Beethoven opera – is it your band’s namesake?
Zach: The opera, though excellent, wasn’t a direct source of inspiration for our name. Fidelio is lifted from a certain now-infamous Stanley Kubrick film. Yeah, that one. Come on, it’s a great movie. Not nearly as bad as people say it is. So, I guess we are two degrees separated from the opera. The name and its Latin root serve to remind us of our loyalty to, and belief in, our original mission: to make whatever art we want to make regardless of style. It also serves to remind us that the Illuminati is cool, and so are occult sex parties thrown by oligarchs.
GG: Your bio describes your band sound as resurrecting “the ancient blues traditions and rock and roll circa the British invasion” – I think you NAIL this. Everything about “All My Friends Are Now Enemies” screams late 60s rock and roll to me. What attracted you to this sound? What bands influenced the songs you recorded?
Zach: We don’t have an attraction to that sound as much it’s simply an inescapable part of who we are and how we play. We noticed it the first time the two of us ever played together. If I pick up a guitar or set up a microphone, that’s the sound that comes out. If Amelia sits down in front of a piano, it’s 1971 and she’s channeling the ghost of Nicky Hopkins. It feels so natural, I doubt that sound actually comes from us most of the time.
Playing that way can also be frustrating — we don’t know any other way to play, and we’ve tried. We’re just not able to do it differently.
The retro revival of the last five years or so has been interesting to watch. Many of those bands are presenting this sort of forced, distilled version of rock’s past. It’s like they read the Wikipedia article on Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and said “It says here they had fuzzy guitars. Better add some fuzzy guitars. It says here they mentioned occult stuff. We better do that too. Don’t forget to wear black robes and masks.” The end result is too often one-dimensional, deliberate and ultimately soulless. This doesn’t capture the past adequately or move the art form forward. You’re left with this exaggerated, almost cartoonish portrayal of what rock and roll once was, kind of like “Jaws: The Revenge” compared to the original.
We don’t do it like that. It’s not a deliberate thing at all. One of our core tenets is, “We just make things how we make them.” It comes out how it comes out. “All My Friends Are Enemies Now” sounds like it’s from 1971, but the next record might sound like it’s from space. It’s much more fun that way.
Also, when we say “ancient blues,” we mean it. We’re very much influenced by the old blues masters, guys and gals like Memphis Minnie, Jimmy Reed and Leadbelly. We are not influenced by the ever-popular art form that is White-Guy-With-a-Stratocaster blues, as perpetuated by Eric Clapton, John Mayer, et al. The latter form is boring, feckless, inoffensive and best enjoyed by bankers.
We’re also heavily influenced by the wave of British bands that hit after The Beatles, like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. The Stones give us our grit, Zeppelin give us our guitar sound and Floyd give us our sense of reckless experimentation. We’re also influenced by more modern music, like Radiohead, Run The Jewels and Queens of the Stone Age, though those bands aren’t as audible in our sound and may impact our worldview more than our actual sound and aesthetic.
It’s also worth noting that our aesthetic isn’t really something we draw from music at all, but rather from human history and talking with the old gods. Amelia and I are both fans of classical music, and I’d be willing to bet there’s a dash of that thrown in there too.
GG: You guy have also described Fidelio as an experiment – has the experiment been a success?
Zach: I think the experiment has been very successful! But, of course, I’m biased. We wanted to see if music could still be made our way, and it definitely can. We don’t use modern recording techniques, for the most part, and we do all of our recording and production in-house. We don’t use much modern equipment either.
A record should sound full and thick, like chocolate pudding. Think about “Let It Bleed” – that record is a sea of bass you can feel in your chest, with really thumpy kick drum and the guitar is very nasty. Guitar should be gross and a little messy – also like pudding. I get really sick of modern guitar solos. They’re all amorphous and blobby. Give me a melody I can sing in the shower!
We explore difficult topics – hurt, betrayal, death, the occult – but it’s important to us that we don’t cut corners for the sake of palatability. We didn’t make any concessions with this record, and as a result we’re very happy with the finished product.
GG: What are your plans for Fidelio in 2016?
Zach: For 2016, we’ll be hitting the road. Folks, if you’d like for us to play your town, get in touch. Or hell, just get in touch to say hello. We’d love to hear from you.
We’ve already written a follow-up to “All My Friends Are Enemies Now,” and that new record will be out sometime in 2016. We’ll begin recording very soon, and we can’t wait for you to hear the results. We like to put out records quickly. The standard two-year cycle doesn’t really work for us – we write quickly, and we like to record quickly to commit a moment to tape. If you’re recording two years after you wrote a song, how can you possibly put yourself back in that mindset?
Amelia and I aren’t the same people we were two months ago, let alone two years. We also work quickly because it’s messy – in a good way. Again, I return to my disgusting pudding metaphor. You get a much more live, accurate recording if you don’t have time to do a take 137,931 times till your fingers bleed and you absolutely can’t stand the song anymore. “Mistakes are magic.” That’s my recording ethos. You know the ghostly pre-echo of Robert Plant’s voice on the bridge of “Whole Lotta Love?” That’s a mistake. They couldn’t get that off the tape, but could you imagine the song without it? I certainly can’t. These days, that magic moment would be considered unacceptable.
GG: Do you have a favorite song on the album? What makes it your favorite?
Zach: Because the album was written as a complete work, it’s really hard to pick a favorite song. We wrote and demoed the whole damn thing in a few days, so it kind of feels like one tremendously long song to me.
But if I had to pick, I’d have to choose the title track, “All My Friends Are Enemies Now.” Amelia’s vocals are magnificently haunting, and her keyboard parts are inspired. My vocals were one take, as were the guitars. It just fell together immediately, with minimal effort, as the best songs usually do.
Find Fidelio online: