Throwback Thursday: Fleet Foxes Interview from 2008 | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, January 16th, 2022  

Throwback Thursday: Fleet Foxes Interview from 2008

Ragged Wooden Ships

Jul 03, 2014 Photography by Sean Pecknold Fleet Foxes
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For Throwback Thursdays we are posting classic interviews from the Under the Radar print archives to our website. Under the Radar used to keep its print articles exclusive to the print magazine and so there are a lot of older articles that aren’t to be found on our website. For this Throwback Thursday we revisit our 2008 article on Fleet Foxes, our first interview with the band. In fact, this was the Seattle band’s first interview for a nationally distributed print magazine. At the time of the interview they had only recently signed to Sub Pop and were some six months away from releasing their debut album, which was then to be titled Ragged Wood but was eventually simply self-titled. Fleet Foxes’ rise to critical acclaim and prominence was fast and by the end of 2008 frontman Robin Pecknold appeared on our Best of 2008 cover with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and The Dodos’ Meric Long. Read on as Pecknold discusses the origins of the band and their debut album.

“I’m really comfortable having this record be the first thing people hear,” says Robin Pecknold, vocalist and primary songwriter for Seattle’s Fleet Foxes. For such a young group of musicians, these guys carry with them a surprisingly “old” sound. Much like kindred spirits in Midlake, Grizzly Bear, or My Morning Jacket, the Foxes are nimbly navigating territory where the ‘70s and ‘00s meet. Their forthcoming debut, Ragged Wood is an engaging mixture of unconventional arrangements and Crosby, Stills, and Nash-style harmonies, with Pecknold taking on the vocal roles himself.

“What was important to me with this record was that it [would be] pop music without pop structure,” clarifies Pecknold. “There are a couple of choruses on the record, but that’s really it. I wanted it to be pop instrumentation, but with very few choruses and very few traditional structures and, except for the solo songs, [hardly any] lead vocals on the record. A lot of it is just harmonies.”

Fleet Foxes countered their formative nature by joining forces with an impressively venerable label and signed to Sub Pop Records (“They seem to do well by their bands,” quips Pecknold in reference to their new home). They will enter the studio to record a preview EP for release early in the year, with Ragged Wood to follow in the spring. Considering their evolution to this point, it’s anyone’s guess where further development may take them.

“I had been playing folk-type music for a really long time, just by myself,” says Pecknold. “When we decided to do a band, I thought [we should] do a ‘bandy-band’ with electric guitars and stuff and have it be more of a project. My perspective on that has since changed completely. I love playing with these guys so much that I don’t want it to be a project, I want it to be whatever we come up with. The record ended up being more ruminative, not like a rock thing which is how it started.”

Pecknold and his matesguitarist Skylar Skjelset, bassist Craig Curran, keyboardist Casey Wescott, and Nicholas Peterson on drumshave found themselves with an enviable proclivity toward prolificacy. Although the current lineup of the band has been together for only a year or so, Fleet Foxes have already discarded more material than some bands can pound out in a decade. Pecknold has a keen eye on the future (“I definitely want to tour as much as possible this year, so my biggest fear would be not having enough time to write or record the next record,” he says), but their past suggests a continued furious pace.

“It wasn’t until we started trying to get some songs together to play some shows, which we hadn’t done [to that point],” explains Pecknold. “From there, we threw out everything we had done, tossed it out the window, and started over. We started working on new stuff with the new lineup, and every six months or so we’d have an album’s worth of songs that we discarded. Once we finally got around to recording this first record, almost all the songs were brand new.”



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