It’s no secret that San Francisco’s psych and garage scene is experiencing a serious revival, and one of the groups at the forefront of that movement is the Fresh & Onlys. Frontman Tim Cohen talks to us about the groups new record due out in 2012, signing to Brooklyn label Mexican Summer and more.
In just a few years the group has had a number of critically acclaimed releases, including 2010’s Play It Strange as well as this year’s Secret Walls EP. With the year coming to an end, we talked to Cohen about the group’s new album, which is currently being mixed and will be released spring of 2012, as well as signing to record label Mexican Summer. The Fresh & Onlys co-headline a sold-out show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall on New Year’s Eve with Thee Oh Sees and White Fence.
Congratulations on recently signing to Brooklyn record label Mexican Summer, how did that come about and what drew you to them?
Every release that we’ve done so far, a “handshake deal,” has been through some friend or other who helped us get the deal. it’s always been a one off kind of thing, and it works, but it also kind of puts ourselves back into a corner so to speak by doing it that way.
At some point we just realized it’d probably be good for us to work with a label that can get behind us and continue to put out new records so we’re not having to jump around label to label. The good thing about the size of the label is the fact that it’s so small, but they’ve had some good releases and they really have a cool catalog. They gave a lot of advice to us as a band, too.
You’re recording the new record in SF at Lucky Cat Studios. What do you enjoy most about recording SF and what is it about recording here that hasn’t taken you other places?
First and foremost, we live here and some of us work here so it’s just easier. But also we’re very touched by this city and it plays a big part in our music just being here. That can be described only intangibly, but I just love the idea of recording at the studio and then going home. We’re not opposed to going somewhere else to record. If that were to happen I would be totally open to that idea.
How would you summarize 2011 for the Fresh & Onlys? What are some of the highlights that stick out in your mind?
I would say the highlights were definitely our two European tours this year. It was our first full Europe tour, and just the excitement and adrenaline of it all—it turned into a blur and it just kind of went by. When we went back in September, I think we all took a little bit more time to appreciate and enjoy what was going on. In May, we played Primavera Sound in Barcelona, which was definitely a highlight for all of us.
In September, when we went back, we took a little bit more time to engage with people that we were meeting, and I really tried to make an effort to connect with people and connect myself with the world in a way I hadn’t done.
When you guys started out could you have ever imagined touring the country and abroad playing to packed crowds every night? Was that ever something you thought was going to happen?
It does seem like a non-reality when you’re in Europe and you’re looking at some medieval castle and you’re just like ‘playing guitar in my bedroom somehow lead me to this.’ It does seem a bit like a fantasy, but we’re not living the high life. It does still feel like we’re just working hard. When we did start playing shows and touring, that’s when I started getting the idea that I could reach people with music.
Is there anywhere you haven’t played that you have your eyes set on, like Asia?
Yea, totally. Australia is the first thing that comes to mind. I would really like to go to Japan, too, and other than that I’d like to go back and spend some more time in some of the places that we’ve already been like Italy or Spain.
This New Year’s you’re co-headlining with Thee Oh Sees and White Fence is opening. You are three of the emerging artists in SF’s garage and psych scene, and there seems to be a strong connection between a lot of the groups coming out of SF.
It’s in the water. They put LSD in the water, so something is bound to happen. I just think that we all have an eye on each other, so to speak. We get inspired because we’re friends, if we didn’t have each other I don’t know what would happen, or if there could be a ‘scene’ here. But to have that, you need a lot of people participating and working on their own stuff but always with an eye or a nod to what everyone else is doing. That is how you build energy and culture. Having this symbiotic relationship with art or your interests and having it span across a community is important.
The Fresh & Onlys co-headline with Thee Oh Sees Saturday, December 31st at the Brick and Mortar Music Hall with support from White Fence. Doors are at 8pm and tickets are tickets are sold out.