The Fletchers

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of those upper 20-somethings that still wishes he was partying in college (though it’s not a horrible thing to want), but I will say this: I miss the music. Oh, the bombardment of music! New bands in town every night – hell, almost a whole different style of music in town every week. And if I were still on campus, I know I’d be pumped when these guys came around; our latest feature: The Fletchers. Frontman Gary Kaplan, Dan Coffey (bass and backing vocals), Rob Freda (guitar) and Cliff Heaton (drums) are marching up and down the east coast out of Highland Park, New Jersey, and they have a new record to boast about.
 
It’s called “Heroes of Gravity”, the follow-up to their sophomore album “Lights Out Loud”. The band gets into it: “The sound is a unique blend of American and British rock sensibility. Influenced range from a lot of indie rock over the last 30 years… a bit more up tempo and has high energy. The songs have a bit more range and I think we have continued to meld as a band in terms of chemistry as musicians. It has been a great time for us and we are really psyched about the new album.” Check it out ASAP. And I wasn’t kidding about the college scene takeover – “Heroes of Gravity” just landed on over 320 college stations. Look up the schedule, and read on for all the answers to the XXQ’s.
 
XXQ's: The Fletchers    
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

A: The sound is a unique blend of American and British rock sensibility.  Influences come from a lot of indie rock over the last 30 years, but we have been told that our music is straightforward and sincere and that the new album is upbeat, punchy yet melodic.  WE use a lot of 3-part harmonies on our music and it is also guitar forward. The new album is not heavily weighted with special effects on vocals or guitar. Pretty straight up indie rock.

PEV: Based out of Highland Park, New Jersey, what kind of music where  the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first  concert?

A: The band members are huge fans of a wide variety of artists that we have seen live like the Pixies, Sonic Youth, Blur, Stone Roses, Wire, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and REM, but also really 60’s pop, psychedelic and garage rock.  The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones are biggies.  Only got to see the Stones and the Who.  I’ve been to some really memorable shows like at The Who and Clash concert at Shea Stadium, The Pixies and Happy Mondays at The Fillmore West and the first Lollapalooza tour. 

My first concert when I was barely in junior high was with tickets I got free and unsolicited by my aunt who worked in the record industry. She gave me and a friend Bee Gee’s tickets and we begged for our parents to allow us to go and drive. Was not my first choice of bands to see, but I was a kid and later came to appreciate the kitsch and pop of the brothers Gibb.

PEV: Tell us your take on the music scene is like in your hometown and what was it like trying to break into it?

 

A: The Fletchers grew up in different parts of NJ and we all played in multiple bands growing up. I was in two signed bands in the 90’s – Rotator Cuff and Dandelion Fire. I was a big part of the New Brunswick Music scene, which was very fertile ground for launching many nationally-known bands like The Smithereens, The Bouncing soles and more recently Gaslight Anthem and The Screaming Females.  New Brunswick’s history of punk and rock is rich.  There used to be tons of cool places to play like the notorious Melody Bar, The Court Tavern, Bowl-a-drome, Roxy, Patrix and Tod’s. Rutgers University used to have national and international acts play at all 3 campuses.  Matt Pinfield was the main DJ at The Melody bar and went off to host 120 Minutes on MTV.  We both are from East Brunswick and we both played music in Junior High and High school. We met cutting class when we were 14. Stay in school kids.

PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live show?

A: Our show is energetic and has a nice blend of power pop with tinges of melodic psychedelic sound and a lot of harmonies and high energy. The band has a lot of collective talent and energy and it shows on stage. We also have had the same line up since 2008, so the chemistry is really apparent.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

A: How much fun can we have with our friends and fans? Did I drink the write combo of coffee then beer before the show? Will we wow and amaze… the usual.

PEV: Having all played, practiced or just been booked with other musicians from time to time, how is playing with The Fletchers as a group, different than the others?

A: This by far is the most reasonable, rational and easygoing group of guys I have ever played with.  No drama, no surprises and we really get along well. Of course we have not tested our relationship in a van for weeks at a time yet.  But when we do I think it will be fine. We have all been playing in bands for many years and it shows.  I don't have to worry about their skills or energy ever…it really a great vibe.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

A: As the singer songwriter of the band I would say my songs are mainly about relationships and people. I have been through many trials and tribulations and huge opportunities to learn things. You are supposed to get wiser with time. I always inject a bit of hope in my music. There is always hope even in tunes about break ups and hurt feelings.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you've arrived where you are today?

A: I never expected to form my own band or be prolific and lucky enough to put out three albums in 3-4 years. The Fletchers have been a great opportunity to develop as a songwriter and work with some really talented people.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of The Fletchers?

A: We love Tater Tots. We all have day jobs and haven’t killed each other in the past 4 years. We all have working record players. We all like good beer…I am a home brewer for over 10 years and sometimes provide beverages for the band.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a huge – if not the biggest – part of your lives?

 

A: I think we all share a real love of music. In my life when I was upset, angry or stressed out music always served to make me feel better.  It always could help me get outside myself for a moment and see the bigger picture. Some of my biggest peak experiences and inspiring moments in life have been during live performances of gifted songwriters/musicians.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, “Heroes Of Gravity”. What can fans expect from this? How is this different from past works?

 

A: The Fletchers’ third album at times conjures the spirits of the Rolling Stones, the Black Crowes, and “Screamadelica”-era Primal Scream on standout tracks like “Believe It Then” and “I Can’t Wait.” A unique blend of American and British rock sensibility. The album is a bit more up temp and has high energy. The songs have a bit more range and I think we have continued to meld as a band in terms of chemistry as musicians.

 

It has been a great time for us and we are really psyched about the new album.

 

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

A: I did east coast tours and played a few gigs on the west coast in my previous bands, but The Fletchers have only played regionally so far. I hope to change this and get us out for some touring in the next year. We picked up a lot of fans on the last album release. We were in rotation on dozens of college radio stations nationally. Heroes Of Gravity is going out this week to over 320 college stations and we are excited to see how it does.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could play?

 

A:  I also would love the opportunity to play in Europe.  I think the band’s music would get a great reception there. I have traveled a lot in my lifetime and there are so many great music cities in the US and internationally. I would love to play gigs in the UK, France and Germany. I also would love to play Portland, Seattle and Austin.  Perhaps we would be big in Japan. Stranger things have happened.

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