By B. Simm
CALGARY — When The Fags first emerged they were a two-piece: Dale Hart, drums; Daaren Boreham, guitars and vocals. A tough, melodic duo terribly fond of garage, mod, soul and smart pop. Boreham’s in-depth, encyclopedic brain ventured into the inner and outer regions of rock ‘n’ roll plucking all the precious gems for their set list, while Hart’s “cavewoman” attack ensured beauty was a function of fierceness.
Destined to evolve, they expanded and brought in Rosemary Stewart (The Bownesians) on keyboards and backup vocals. They recently added Kelly Sutherland (Seven Story Redhead) as a seconded guitarist and vocalist, doubling up the sound and songwriting.
Hart says that they didn’t really go out looking for an extra player when Stewart came in with her lush, big chords. “She was a friend and fun to hang out with. Things just clicked, the stars aligned,” laughs Hart and, “Yes, she totally helped to fill out our sound.”
Boreham adds that, as a two-piece, The Fags were a cover band, who then developed “aspirations” to write originals. “Musicians are really important at that point,” he says, with a sarcastic smile. Then with complete conviction, “So now we have a keyboard player with a great voice, and a second guitar player who’s a fantastic arranger and writer of songs.”
Moving away from cover material, The Fags’ new 7-inch contains two new songs that don’t sound a lot like what the band carved its identity from. Boreham concurs, “You’re absolutely spot on. And that was deliberate.”
On one side is “Rivet Factory,” driven by a wavering, hypnotic riff that ebbs and flows gracefully fusing punk and Brit-pop, yet the vinyl’s liner notes make a direct reference to “all things Detroit.” Boreham says the song is about “the famous image of Iggy Pop standing on the shoulders of the crowd, taken from the Metallic K.O. album recorded at Michigan Palace. It’s just my picture of that picture. It’s about Fred Sonic Smith, Patti Smith. It’s about Iggy, it’s about Detroit, and my love of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s all.”
While guitars chime away, Stewart plays the main riff on the keyboards. “When Kelly came up with the chord progression, it made me think of girl groups. The song is so sweet sounding, and needed a sweet sounding melody.“
The flipside of the disc is “No Peking.” While it also revolves around a seductive melody, Sutherland growls out the vocals and grinds through with an overdriven electric 12-string. The Fags’ simple-sounding pop is awash in complex overtones.
The juices are flowing and the band has a bunch of “new songs in the can.” While pleased as punch with the line-up and songwriting collective, Boreham simply states, “It’s liberating and more exciting.”
No Peking is available now.AB, Alberta, No Peking, The Fags