Essays, Interviews, Observations, Pop Culture, Stories, and other Dodginess

Hey it’s The Fontaines

Posted on January 6, 2015

Siblings Hank and Charlotte Fontaine are behind the L.A. new-wop pop group The Fontaines. They have a new EP coming out and have begun a month-long residency at the Silverlake Lounge on Sunset Boulevard. In the newest addition to our interview series The Dodgy talks to Charlotte and finds out the truth behind the band’s name, who would play them in a movie, what’s the after-show drink of choice and what they do when not performing (A little bit of riffin’, lovin’, and netflixin’).

the-fontaines-image

The Fontaines

How long have you been a band?

We played our first show the night before I graduated from high school, in 2013.

So you’re siblings. Were you guys in different bands before?

Hank dabbled in more country-style bands before joining The Fontaines.  I was still in school, but my mom would drive me to open jazz mics on the weekends. I was the only performer at those whose mother would come along and get in trouble for trying to photograph the performer on stage.

What’s the origin of the band name?

 I came up with The Fontaines after watching “The Godfather” for the first time.  Johnny Fontaine. What a stud. (In the film it’s actually spelled “Fontane” but screw it, the band’s spelling is cooler). 

When is the release of your debut EP?

 March, 2015! (Not sure if I like the sound of “2015” yet…) We’re slowly crawling into YouTube with new music videos for each single up until then though.

Have you toured outside Los Angeles?

We’ve played in San Francisco before, but we’re really looking forward to touring soon. We’ve got the residency at the Silverlake Lounge, so we’re excited to have a permanent place in LA for now!

Who else makes up the band?

 Members of local bands, Quote Unquote and Street Joy. A punk rock group and an indie band. Quite the eclectic bunch…with thoroughly memorable hairstyles, if you ask me.

What do you guys do for fun when not performing?

 A little bit of riffin’, lovin’, and netflixin’. I’m also guilty of crossing onto the “weird side” of YouTube (we’ve all been there). Did you know someone got addicted to drinking paint??

I see you like The Cars. Did you like their most recent album?”

 I’m just getting into The Cars myself (per Hank’s word), so I’m mostly sticking to their late 70’s and mid 80’s albums. “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Drive” are my favorites.

Have you picked up any celebrity fans? Which celebrities do you think would enjoy your music?

I know I’m a few years late to the party, but I just began listening to Vampire Weekend. So I hope Ezra Koenig would dig our sound. And Cameron Crowe. Based on his film soundtracks,I think he has great taste in music, so I would hope he would like us! That “if you could have a dinner party with three famous people, dead or alive…” question comes to mind with answering this…

What did you think of the film “God Help The Girl” if you saw it?

 I haven’t seen it! I’m not a huge movie person… The highlight of my day was ordering “Happy Days” on Amazon earlier.

Are you both single or married? Do you get relationship offers at shows?

We’re both currently single, and contrary to popular belief at live shows, we’re a brother-sister duo, not a married couple!

Who would play the two of you in a film?

 Hank says Joaquin Phoenix but in more realistic stature terms Josh Hutcherson. I’m not sure, but I would request Danny DeVito to be my stunt double, since he’s height appropriate.

After show drink of choice?

 A tall glass of milk.

What can people expect during the Silverlake residency?

 We are really, really excited about our residency. We’re gonna be bringing out new songs, old songs, other people’s songs. We’re looking forward to having a great time, and we hope the audiences do too!

Check out The Fontaines at thatfontainesound.com.

The Young Martens – An Excerpt

Posted on December 21, 2014

An excerpt from The Young Martens – love, sex, loss and vigilantism of a secret Midwest fraternity.

 

“That’s a lot of beer, Irish.”

“Yea Dylan, it’s a lot of beer. It’s a lot of beer.”

I’ve been in the basement of our “frat” home several times since I joined the group a week ago. I never knew there was a hidden storage area. Behind an old bar, actually, which was fitting since there were about 3 dozen cases of beer back there.

“Yea it is, yea it certainly is,” said Pence, our leader, if you can call him that. No one had any real titles in this home, and we technically weren’t a frat. If anything we were an anti-frat. In a way we were like a large band.

The Young Martens. They, or we, got the name because the Pence and the first three guys happened to wear the British footwear. It was what I was wearing in the courtyard when Pence first spotted me and said, “nice boots.”

“We’re drinking some beers and listening to some music tonight,” he said that day. “You should stop by.”

A liquor store just off the campus and popular with college students burned to the ground just a few days before I was welcomed into the Martens. It looks to me now that this beer belonged to that liquor store.

“Did you guys burn that place down?”

“Not a nice man, the owner,” Pence said. “He’s abusive. Sexually assaulted one of our friends. In the store. And some other shit.”

“Well at least you got some of the beer out first,” I said. “Are you gonna sell it to some of the frats?”

“And have it led to them committing to more date rapes? Nah. We are selling it though. Not your concern now. And we are keeping some.”

Pence. The Robin Hood leader of The Young Martens.

We went back upstairs – Pence to his girlfriend and his room, and myself to Todd’s room. A room he rarely left because he was dying of cancer. His nurse – the one his parents paid for – wasn’t there. But Barbie was. All six feet of her. Barbie was black, athletic, a really good member of the volleyball team and she like punk rock. Oh yea there were girls in the Martens. Many of them current girlfriends of some of the guys, or friends, or friends of friends. Girls who didn’t like the frats. Girls who liked to get high, girls who didn’t.

The first time I met Barbie she grinded and humped me at a punk concert on campus by some local band. A bunch of the Martens went, and we were in the front row. Barbie got behind me, wrapped her long arms around my waist, locking my arms at my sides. Then she grinded her crotch against my ass, and I liked it.

Nothing happened after that. We didn’t even talk about it. And here she was, in Todd’s room, where most of the girls could be found in the house. They all loved Todd. We all loved him. And he loved us. It was quite the battle, I was told, to get him to convince his parents to let him stay in the house rather than at home. He wanted to die here.

“Irish – did I tell you how much I love you, and Pence? Especially Pence.”

I don’t know if it was the drugs he was on, or maybe he had a few beers, because he could do that when he was up for it. Or maybe and most likely it was just him being him.

“Yea you did Todd.”

“Pence is Jesus to me,” Todd said. “He’s amazing. And he makes all of us amazing.”

I looked up at the wall. There was what looked like a picture of R.E.M. from their early days playing in this very room. The early days of the house.

“Liffey, I’ve never felt so happier and loved then I’ve felt here. I’m glad you’re here.”

Later a bunch of us went to hang out on the porch. We wheeled Todd out there too. Some of the frat guys from a few houses down walked by. One of muttered “faggots” in our direction, if you could believe that.

“I didn’t hear you,” said Sanchay, a junior engineering student and the best pool player in the house. “I am a faggot. And Indian. You’re worst fucking nightmare.”

“And I’m not gay,” I yelled back to the group, who continued walking on, wearing their bad clothes. “But I would kiss this guy on the mouth (pointing to Sanchay).

“Would you really?” Sanchay said to me.

Just then the campus police, along with a city police detective – Det. Laura we’d all soon know her by, pulled up to the house.

They were looking for Pence.

Two Assholes and a Growler

Posted on November 19, 2014

One weekend earlier this month Aidan and I picked up a growler of Space IPA at Half Acre Brewery on Chicago’s north side. We decided on an experiment. With no advanced calls or texts, bring the growler unannounced to the places of friends or acquaintances and share it with the first one(s) who are home and willing.  And why in God’s name wouldn’t they be? It’s a growler of Space IPA for fuck’s sake.

First stop (we had a car): Somewhere in Rogers Park where our mutual friend Ray lived. We couldn’t find parking. It was unseasonably frigid night, so walking far was out of the question. While driving around looking for a spot we spotted Ray, his girlfriend, and a few other people walking home from a nearby theater where we later learned they were in a play. Aidan was in the passenger seat, he rolled down the window, yelled out to Ray that we had the growler but there was no parking.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Ray said.

We drove off. To Wicker Park and the three-flat where Coach House Cindy lived. Cindy was a mutual friend of us who used to live in a coach house in the same neighborhood and threw some of Chicago’s best parties in the early 2000s. She wasn’t home. We found a note near her door that someone had written, “I’m out – so get fucked.”

Next stop: Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski’s Bucktown apartment. Clive’s door was slightly ajar so we walked in. A Jesus Lizard album was playing on Clive’s turntable but there was no Clive. “Clive is at Quencher’s,” said another mutual friend, Depressed Johnny, who was lying on Clive’s bed.

Depressed Johnny seemed to depressed to share the growler with, so we left.

Next stop: Sasha’s place in Ukrainian Village. Sasha was a sometimes bandmate of Aidan and mine’s in UK Grief. I had a short fling with her. She was home. She answered the door. She said:

“You two assholes can go but leave the beer.”

We left with the beer.

Aidan bought pot from a guy a few blocks away. He needed more pot anyway so we made our way there. When we got to his door Aidan told me the guy “has ball cancer” and was an extra in the classroom scenes in “Dead Poets Society.”

Ball cancer guy answered the door in one of those ways where he stuck only his head out and hid his apparently nude body behind the door.

“Aidan, what the fuck man, I’ve got company,” Ball Cancer guy said. “Don’t you fucking call first?”

Aidan flicked his cigarette at Ball Cancer guy’s face and we left.

Next stop: The Boys Town apartment of Johnny Goodjeans.

Also known as Gay Johnny as not to confuse him with Depressed Johnny, we knew him because he worked with Aidan and used to live in my neighborhood. We once got drunk together at the Bucktown Arts Fest. Incredibly handsome, Gay Johnny was. He also loved listening to movie scores, and that’s what was playing when he answered the door.

“Sure,” he said, when we told him about the growler. “Let’s drink.”

“Yea but we ain’t listening to some pouty shit like the Pan’s Labyrinth soundtrack” Aidan said.

Instead Johnny put on a record by Fig Dish, a 90s Chicago band, and brought out three pint glasses. We opened the growler and poured.

“One of the first times I heard these guys it was maybe my first time in a bar and it was around Christmas,” Johnny said. “They did a version of “Little Drummer Boy” that I’ll never forget. I also lost my virginity that night.”

“Just drink the fucking beer,” Aidan said.

And we did.

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