In the two years since Fangclub released their 2017 self-titled debut, singer Steven King has been through the wringer. Battling with addiction and depression, it all came to a head with an overdose and the harsh feeling of reality – he’s feeling far more optimistic now, however.
“It’s very strange. When I look back, it seems like a different Steven; a different person,” he confesses. “I’m grateful that all that happened. It’s been such an amazing time in the band, right now I have this unstoppable drive for Fangclub, for this new album. I feel super confident; it’s a good place!”
The album in question, ‘Vulture Culture’, is undoubtedly the result of a dark learning experience. It’s Steven, along with drummer Dara Coleman and bassist Kevin Keane, reflecting back upon the journey they’ve been on and setting it alight for all to see while exorcising some of those demons.
“All of the songs are quite thematically violent, that’s what I was going for: brutal honesty and inner violence. You’re your own worst enemy, and you attack yourself so much. The things you say in your own mind to yourself, you wouldn’t say to your worst enemy.”
The album starts not with a raging banger, but an ember-burning six-minute jam. “That was this kind of nice way of juxtaposing – starting on this huge sentimental goodbye because it’s a huge goodbye song,” Steven explains.
“I wrote it from this note I’d written my girlfriend like a year ago,” He says. “When things were quite bad, and that song it goes from sounding quite sombre, and it becomes uplifting and hopeful – it sets up that sentimentality of saying goodbye to the first chapter of Fangclub. And then you smash straight into ‘Vulture Culture’ for the rest of the record.”
Just as Steven says, the titular follow-up track is a true-to-form stomper – no holds barred in digging deep into that part of your brain that just loves a damn good riff. It’s a reminder that Fangclub are a band who have that pure energy – three people, playing instruments, and working through their lives. It’s how Fangclub began, and with such pure beginnings, it’s easy to see how Steven fell into the romance of the industry that’s given him this chance.
“We entered the whole music scene the business very naively,” He admits. “All guns blazing. Just you get in there, you tour your arse off it’s all party, party, party, but that’s not what life is. Life has a funny way of throwing a crossroads at you or having a dead end here and there, and that almost imploded the band because of our naivety.
“We were too naive, caught up in the magic of the music business. I definitely got caught up in it and started to take certain things, and drink too much, to numb whatever anxieties I was having as well.”
Where does that naivety stem from?
“I guess thinking that your life changes. Like, ‘Oh cool, my old life is over, this new one begins, and I’m going to be a rock star in a band’, when that’s not what happens,” he says with a knowing chuckle.
Even though Fangclub were starting the ride of their lives, back home, things were following a different path. Citing “family imploding and falling apart” at the same time they were signing record deals and lining up tours, Steven finding solace in those toxins was never a part of the plan, but it’s laid out their story to this point.
“I just tried to block out [what was happening],” he explains. “We went off on tour for like two years, and by the end of it, I was completely burned out. The band almost finished. But actually what ended up happening was I couldn’t stop writing songs. And my label was pretty cool, they put us in a studio and said see what happens, and ‘Vulture Culture’ happened. I’m pretty fucking grateful that they did that for us.”
With ‘Vulture Culture’ in mind, Steven’s road to recovery found its ignition in the world that had led him there in the first place. With the support of his label, bandmates, family and other like-minded folk – including frontman of recent Upset cover-stars Dinosaur Pile-Up, Matt Bigland – he picked himself up and dusted himself off.
“You need that empathy, that grounded experience. I was getting really worried about the album, and the band, and not knowing what to do so I reached out to Matt. He was so fucking cool with advice. He gave me some really cool words – just telling me what to do and how to keep a level head and to keep straight on.”
It’s this life that Steven’s always dreamed of, which has given him experiences that will stick with him forever, that bleeds throughout ‘Vulture Culture’. Its inward facing violence and unabashed movement away from straight ‘garage-punk’ (“I could just go off and make another hooky garage-punk album, that’s pretty easy to do”) is cementation of Fangclub ready for round two.
“We wanted to keep it as DIY as possible,” Steven enthuses. “And to just record with two of our friends producing. Keeping it grounded and hoping you hear the organic evolution of the band instead of a super-produced major label fucking piece of shit.”
Taken from the July issue of Upset. Fangclub’s album ‘Vulture Culture’ is out 5th July.