Fort Lean is not a literal place. Itor rather they are a rock band and one not so easily described. To quote a great deal of their previous press, they are classic rock-inflected, hyper-chill Brooklyn indie-poppers and slack-rockers, as well as an east-coast band with a west-coast vibe. In addition to all of that, Fort Lean is a gifted (if difficult to pin down) band that just released a banger of a debut album called Quiet Day. Guitarist Zach Fried took the time to answer some questions about themselves and their first full-length record “Quiet Day.”
Lola Who: So firstly, where and what is Fort Lean, beyond a place you can go? Why cant I find it on Google Maps? Is there gold there?
Zach Fried: Fort Lean is a place you can go, and it’s also the idea of the band. It can exist solely in your mind, or it can be evoked by experiences in real places. Fort Lean is something like summer camp, but the girl you like doesn’t necessarily like you back. It’s fun, but it’s not exactly perfect. And there is definitely some gold, but you also might get stung by a bee.
Lola Who: How is the album release for “Quiet Day” going so far? How was the release party? How was the release after-party? Is everyone okay?
Zach Fried: So far so good, it feels great to finally have the album out there in the world for people to hear! The release party was really very fun and special. Lots of our closest friends and lots of people who have supported the band since the beginning showed up. We played pretty late, so the crowd was really drunk and rowdy, lots of people losing their shit. It was great, a very nice beginning to this new chapter for us. The after-party was in our practice space, where we unloaded all the gear and complained about how we always have to unload gear after shows. Very very glamorous.
Lola Who: Based on the raucous lead single Might’ve Misheard youre debut album Quiet Day does not appear to be the peaceful, anti-climactic affair that the name suggests. Why is your album title a lie?
Zach: We just like to keep people on their toes. There are some peaceful moments, but in general, I find that lots of wild things can happen on an otherwise quiet day. The record explores that idea. There are mundane moments in life, but they’re often interrupted and punctuated by things that are memorable.
Lola Who: As I understand it, your EP that was released last July, New Hobbies, is made up of songs that did’nt make it onto Quiet Day released at the beginning of October? How does Quiet Day compare to New Hobbies sonically and thematically?
Zach: The “New Hobbies” EP features two songs from the record (“New Hobbies” and “Cut To The Chase”) as well as two other songs (“Buddy Boy” and “Easily”) that were actually mostly written and arranged after the album was done. So in many ways those two songs are a continuation of the ideas we were exploring when we were making the record, and just spreading out a bit more in terms of what our sound is. “Buddy Boy” in particular was interesting in that it was the first song that our drummer Sam wrote and sang as a Fort Lean song. So it just helps broaden the spectrum of what we do. I think “New Hobbies” is like eating one slice of cake, and “Quiet Day” is the whole cake.
Lola Who: Has the classification of album compared to “EP” shaped how Quiet Day was constructed? Did you try to make a grander statement here?
Zach: I don’t know if we tried to make a grander statement, but when you’re presenting ten songs there are just more points of triangulation to help people understand exactly what it is that we do. We’re definitely not a band where every song sounds exactly the same, and this is our first full-length record, so it was a really exciting opportunity to reach a bit further stylistically and try some things we had never tried before. Songs like “In The Hospital” and “Quiet Day” were particularly interesting to work on because a lot of the elements of those songs were created in the studio in a fairly improvisational and spur of the moment fashion. That’s something we’d never really done before, and I think that’s an approach that’s more likely to happen when you’re presenting a larger collection of songs in the context of an album.
Lola Who: Were there any non-musical influences you could name? Any particular writers, painters, episodes of Seinfeld that affected your work?
Zach: I think the place that we were in where we did a lot of the tracking had a big impact on the sound of the record. It’s a studio in Woodstock, New York, called Dreamland, and it’s a very magical place. It’s a big old church, the gear is incredible, and it’s a very peaceful place. There’s lots of room for everyone to spread out and work on ideas on their own, and then we’d all come back into the control room once we had an idea that seemed good. So that context definitely had a positive impact on our approach to writing and the overall sound of the record.
Lola Who: What were your major musical influences for Quiet Day? Was there anything different you were listening to that you drew from?
Zach: We’re all listening to music constantly, but a few of the things we were listening to collectively while we were working on this record are Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot,” Tame Impala’s “Lonerism,” and Deerhunter’s “Monomania.” Along with Wilson Pickett, the Pixies, Fleetwood Mac, and Air. Lots of different flavors impacted our approach to making it, but none in a totally self-conscious way.
Lola Who: As a Brooklyn band, is there anything you want to say to all the naysayers out there who claim that the once tough and gritty borough is now nothing more than a dainty brunch-topia?
Zach: There are definitely elements of truth to the brunch-topia thing; brunch is by far the worst meal and everyone should just go buy eggs at the grocery store and make them at home! But I think the truth is that New York is a constantly changing place, and we all moved here after the writing was already on the wall in terms of the direction we were heading. It might be crazier now than it was ten years ago when we started spending time here, but none of us are from the city originally, so it’s hard to feel extremely protective of older institutions. I get bummed out when places I love close and when the rent on our apartments inevitably gets higher, but if I have to move to another neighborhood to make it work then that’s what’ll happen. Sam lives in Queens, so at this point we’re more of a general NYC band anyhow…