Plugged In: Fort Lean
By Mike Duffy
Fort Lean have only been a real band for a little less than a year, but the Brooklyn-based indie rockers have a lot of musical chops between them.
While the guys still hold day jobs to make ends meet, Fort Lean has designs on being one of the next big-time arena-filling bands.
With just a self-titled four-song EP and two other singles – “Sunsick” and “The Precinct” – currently out, the band is making its mark on the buzzworthy circuit.
“It’s been constantly surprising that people like it,” said guitarist Zach Fried. “And that’s not to say that we didn’t expect people to like it, but I think when you’re starting out, you don’t have any preconceived notions about what the response is going to be. So when things go well, every time something new happens, you’re like, ‘Whoa! That’s awesome!’”
“To be a young band, especially in this day and age when there are so many other bands and it’s so oversaturated, to break through in any way is lucky.”
Already, mainstream media outlets have given Fort Lean gushing reviews.
The New York Times said Fort Lean is a “big band playing small rooms,” and while the band has tempered such platitudes, there is a benefit in following such a blueprint.
“I don’t know if we want to be that kind of band, so much as we want to go as far as we possibly can,” Fried told the New York Press. “We’re all really focused on working in a very purposeful way. I think that looking to the example of the big bands, like U2 and Springsteen, those are people who have chartered a course to the top. It’s an example we’re trying to follow.
“We’re not afraid of that kind of success. I think that some bands start without a lot of previous experience and the whole idea of things working is kind of daunting, but like I said, we’ve all done this in different capacities in the past.
A big aid to the band’s early success has been its opening single, a catchy send-up about crappy service-industry jobs titled “Beach Holiday.”
The video depicts the band working out of a sweaty deli, with Mitchell’s bleached-blonde curls sticking out forlornly from underneath a cheap chef’s toque.
The guys have made every effort to put those droll employment options behind them.
Over the past year, consistent gigging in and around the NYC scene built enough interest to get reviews from Spin, the New York Times and Billboard — all of which scored the band an executive-laden record release party in late February.
Then, it was on to Austin’s South by Southwest music festival in March 2012.
Playing random shows along the way, Fort Lean was tasked with bringing their dreamy pop-rock to the masses, those that aren’t as plugged into their home base.
“It’s extra nice if someone in Shreveport [La.] knows the words to the songs,” said Fried. “Even if it’s only like five people there. That’s still something.”
Mitchell was quick to quip with a sarcastic tone, “Even if it’s two girls tripping and waving ribbons sticks in front of the stage, it’s awesome.”
Whatever the case, Fort Lean eventually made it to Austin for the annual southern showcase to play a slew of venues with fellow Brooklynites Suckers.
Fort Lean then enjoyed another two months out on the road with an April-May tour with We Were Promised Jetpacks.
Fried believes the touring will only help Fort Lean when they get back in the studio to record the new tunes they’ve been working on.
“We’re hard at work getting material together for the LP,” he said. “We’re far along in the writing process, so we’re basically just trying to work hard and get that stuff out. We’re playing it live now, and the response has been good so far.
“It’s also fun to develop the songs live, because we’ve had a lot of luck working them out by playing them together over a few months, and then when it’s time to record, it’s easy because we know what we’re trying to do.”
Stay tuned, because there could be big things coming from Fort Lean.
The guys obviously know what they’re trying to do.