Interview With:: Chevonne & The Fuzz

We, over at Lucy Out Loud, absolutely love the Fire At Will EP you guys just released! One thing in particular that we are a fan of is the male/female dynamic you guys present, especially on Burn Out, which adds that little bit of extra to your sound. Was that intentional after the guys joined the band or did things just kind of happen?
Chris (vocals):  Thank you so much for the kind words about the record. We never get tired of hearing that and it really just means so much to know that the record hit its mark.  The male/female vocal dynamic just sort of happened and then we nurtured it to suit what we were doing. Chevonne and I sang together in a cover band a few years back, so we started to harmonize with each other then.  After Chevonnne became Chevonne and The Fuzz, we started to arrange songs with two vocals in mind. Burn Out was the first song we collectively wrote together as a band and was effectively the archetype for what was to come. We’re so glad you guys like it!!
Fire At Will was the product of a Kickstarter campaign, completely fan-funded. As a brand new band, although you’ve had previous experiences in the music industry, how did it feel when the Kickstarter hit its goal for Chevonne and The Fuzz?
Books (guitar):  I think I speak for all of us when I say that it was absolutely a feeling of overwhelming joy and gratitude. Having that many people believe in you and support what you’re doing is truly amazing. That’s what I like most about a campaign like Kickstarter…it’s based solely on the support of others that want to help you succeed.
How was the fan reaction after the EP was released?
Nick (keys):  The reactions that we got from the album were absolutely incredible. Anytime someone would tell me (or everyone else in the band) about what they thought of the album, their reactions were all the same – they couldn’t stop listening to it. Everyone said that the songs were super catchy even from the first listen, and that the music was familiar, and at the same time new and edgy. We were also told that we’ve definitely come up with our own sound, which is always a great thing to hear as a band. All in all, we haven’t really received any negative reaction to the record yet, and that’s pretty cool.
What I love so much about the EP is the use of such sassy, yet personal lyrics that the songs are composed of. Lyrically, which is your favorite song off the EP and why?
Chevonne (vocals):  Ahh!! That’s like having to choose my favorite child! (PS, thank you, you totally hit the nail on the head – my nickname was “Sassy” in high school!) I love Burn Out because Chris wrote the lyrics for it, and I’m just mindblowingly proud of him for merging his more poetic stuff with some really epic, hooky material in the choruses.  He killed it.  In terms of the lyrics I wrote, I’m proud of Heels for the sexy and shady wordplay, Your Guitar because I allowed myself to tell a true story and be vulnerable, and Babysitter for the sheer outrageous silliness of the narrative – but I still can’t pick a favorite!.  I know I have lots more to say as a songwriter and I look forward to growing with the band and stretching my writing muscles, but I’m super pleased with the way these songs came out.  The boys are wonderful editors too; I couldn’t do it without them!
Fire At Will has such a great mix of genres which is a little hard to come across now a days. Ugly Boy is one of my favorites for that very reason; it’s different from everything else. Individually, or collectively, what artists do you think influence the sound of Chevonne and The Fuzz?
Mike (bass):  First off, thank you for understanding and appreciating the diversity of the EP! We live in a playlist generation, so our approach wasn’t to write a traditional-sounding album, but rather to write a bunch of great sounding tunes…that all happen to have ended up on the same album. In terms of influencing the band’s sound as a whole, we’ll pull inspiration from No Doubt, Neon Trees, Foo Fighters and Paramore. All modern bands that have balanced that pop and rock formula in such an amazing way to just make it work. But the beautiful thing about C&TF is that you’ll never find yourself saying, "Oh they’re totally trying to be Paramore right now". I think that’s due to all of our influences individually. Try to explain how a rock/soul/R&B singer, a hardcore singer(at one point), a riff rock guitarist, a metal/hard rock bass player, a classically trained pianist, and a drummer who plays everything write a song like Ugly Boy or Babysitter. I present to you…Chevonne and The Fuzz!
You guys have said that “…more than a band; we’re a rock and roll outlaw family.” Who would you label as who in the family and why?
Mike:  For an “outlaw family” we get along surprisingly well. Starting up front we have Chevonne and Cree (that’s Chris’s nickname). I’d label them both as Mom and Dad. Chevonne is loving, selfless and makes sure everyone is taken care of. She looks after her family like a mama bear…meaning she’ll maul your face you if you mess with us. Cree, total dad. Cool, smart, just knows things that you didn’t know anyone knew. We look up to him for so many reasons and he’s always there to give advice. Unless the Knicks are on. Then he tells us to “talk to your mother”. I’d like to call Books the fun uncle. He’s the one you always look forward to seeing at family BBQs because instead of being too cool like the rest of the adults, he’s outside playing pranks with the kids and tossin a football around. Also his voice impressions have literally made me pee. Coolest uncle ever. Nick and I are the band children. And not children in the sense of maturity or lack there of. We have a lot of things to offer the family, cause we’re coming from a different and new school of thought. We also look up to everyone because they have experiences we can and have learned from. Also, every time I make something with finger paint they always put it on the fridge and Nick gets a gold star for every chore he does (I still have more stars). That being said, we can both be arrogant like kids as well. Nick is arrogant at times because of what he knows, I’m arrogant because I just straight up don’t give a shit about what people think. Teens…
What can we expect next from Chevonne and The Fuzz?
Chris:  We are playing MTK Tavern in Mt Kisco, NY on Nov 30th @ 10pm and then booking more shows in the area for December and 2014. Our new official website is coming out any day now! It will have all sorts of content in addition to merchandise, news, artwork, videos and photos of the band. There is also a music video in the works and we just look forward to playing a ton and supporting ‘Fire At Will’!
Thank you for your time! Anything else you’d like to add?
Chevonne:  We’re also starting a YouTube channel and planning to beef up our presence in social media this season.  We have so many big ideas exploding out of our crazy, overimaginative brains. We’re really excited to begin sharing our individual personalities and interests with our fans. It’s a great time for us. Thank you for letting us share it with you, Lucy Out Loud!!

Review:: Fire At Will | Chevonne and the Fuzz

If you’ve ever read a review of mine for a group that features male and female vocals, then you’ve surely seen the love I have for the sound. The dynamic of multiple vocal styles and ranges mixing together has always been something that draws me in. So, to avoid spending too much time here talking about it, I’ll get a portion of it out of the way now – on Fire At Will, the debut EP from Bergen County, New Jersey’s Chevonne & the Fuzz, the dual-gendered technique is in full effect and grandly delivered. Okay, onward.

Following a run on The Voice, frontwoman Chevonne focused her efforts on acquiring the other members that would eventually become the group. With a rapidly-changing sound that doesn’t let genre definitions hold it back, paired with an energy and attitude that groups would (should) strive to possess, Fire At Will is an all-star performance on a first-timer’s album.

Opening with “Heels,” an outlaw country/rock & roll, motorcycle bar, whiskey chugging anthem, the group wastes no time flexing their muscles. Chevonne’s range is beautiful directly out of the gate, nonchalantly showcasing her vocals and impressive whistling falsetto (It also makes an appearance later on “Babysitter,” though it gets outshined by this one).

Nipping at the heels of “Heels” is “Burn Out,” which takes the sounds of the previous and flips them on their head – the female voice that led in the introductory track is swapped with the equally smooth Chris Ricci’s, the gritty guitar-work is replaced by upbeat pop, and the chorus slows and soars.

The power ballad “Glow” drops the tempo and introduces a nice addition of background keys, courtesy of Nick Potters. A chorus of backing chants adds a contrasting male layer to Chevonne’s heart-filled spotlighted vocals. Much like with “Glow,” “Ugly Boy” displays the lighter, poppier side of Chevonne’s singing. Both tracks deal with getting over old love and moving onto something new, though taking different thematic approaches. The first is a powerful and ambient, while the latter takes the more playful dancehall route.

If Gwen Stefani adopted Ke$ha and the two toured as a mother-daughter duo, “One More Time” would be the result. As ridiculously “out there” as that description may seem, when you listen, it’ll be pretty difficult to not at least partially hear it.

As entertaining as “Your Guitar” is as a song on its own, as a concluding track, I’m not totally sure that it hits the mark, which was a bit of a letdown, especially at the end of an enjoyable release such as Fire At Will. The first and last, we’ll say, fifteen seconds or so, of the song fit well with the role that the song plays as the EP’s finale – a piano introduction, heavy feedback, guitar solos, etc. The rest, however, could have made a much stronger impact earlier on. 

I’m not going to let one minor qualm with the closing song cloud my judgment on the rest of the album, and neither should the listener. As a whole, Fire At Will is unrelentingly fun and hugely ambitious. With all of the styles present here, there is an endless list of artists that we could and should see Chevonne & the Fuzz sharing a stage with in the near future.

Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5
Runtime: +/- 25 Minutes

01. Heels
02. Burn Out
03. Glow
04. One More Time
05. Ugly Boy
06. Babysitter
07. Your Guitar

Chevonne – Vocals
Chris Ricci – Vocals
Mike Sarkissian – Bass, vocals
Chris Bookstaver – Guitar, vocals
Steve Sarkissian – Drums
Nick Potters – Keyboard, percussion, vocals

Written By: Eric Riley