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How Bizarre: Avoiding comparisons with Fleet Foxes

Didn't get the beard memo. It's Friday afternoon and hotter than all hell as Casey Wescott and I talk on the phone. The Fleet Foxes


Didn't get the beard memo. It's Friday afternoon and hotter than all hell as Casey Wescott and I talk on the phone. The Fleet Foxes keyboardist and vocalist is at home in Seattle and it's hot there too. So hot, in fact, that this member of one of the most talked-about bands in the country describes the rare Seattle heat as "lay-around-the-house-in-your-underwear kind of weather."

Other than discussing our heat-induced discomfort, we're talking about a video interview the five-piece band did with former MTV News correspondent John Norris. In the interview, the established music guru admitted his Fleet Foxes fandom, and had no problem touting the band's mastery directly to the faces of its members.

"It's weird and rad when anybody likes your music, but it was definitely one of those moments where you're scratching your head and realizing that people are really getting a chance to hear this. Honestly, when you make a record, you just hope people will see it," Wescott says.
People are definitely seeing, and of course hearing, the band's self-titled record, as well as its EP, Sun Giant, both of which were released in the past six months. Almost immediately, blogs and major publications alike fired off rave reviews of the record, likening the band to legendary folk and pop acts, and these comparisons are often to the chagrin of the band. It's been a crazy (and prosperous) 2008 thus far, and that's probably why during the course of the 27-minute conversation, Wescott says the word "bizarre" a good 20 or so times which is probably as good a summation of the band's accelerated rise to notoriety as one's likely to concoct. And things got even more "bizarre" when they were slated for a string of opening dates for Wilco, including a stop at the Schwab this weekend.

"When you're a kid playing music, you might have certain dreams or expectations and then very quickly all of those are bashed away and you're confronted with your own reality," says the 27-year-old Wescott, who in addition to being a humorously enjoyable conversationalist, is also known as part of the electro pop band Crystal Skulls with Fleet Foxes band mate Christian Wargo.

"You get over having expectations, but when it does happen it's interesting because it takes a whole different shape in your head. It's not a validation thing, but it's bizarre," he says.

The bizarre world of the Fleet Foxes also includes weathering the barrage of aforementioned comparisons to other acts the band has garnered by critics, promoters, and dudes simply trying to describe the Fleet Foxes' sound to other dudes. Their five-part harmonies bring mentions of the Beach Boys. Their acoustic skills as well as their whimsical and folky lyrics give reason for some to slide in Simon and Garfunkel references. Their beards and plaid clothes get others talking about The Band.

"A lot of comparisons do run a bit shallow. I've heard this Beach Boys thing and everybody who's listened to their harmonies knows how different they actually are," Wescott says.

Fleet Foxes, who have only been a band for about two years, don't really sound like any of these classic bands, but are rather a band that has found a home reveling in their own insularly woven simplicity, thanks to songwriting from main vocalist Robin Pecknold.

"There's this thread in the band that seems to transcend complexity or arrangements and I think that's definitely a goal," says Wescott. This statement, in its own right, is somewhat complex, but it makes sense...after some unraveling.

Wilco, Fleet Foxes
6:30pm Saturday, August 23. Les Schwab Amphitheater, 344 Shevlin Hixon Dr. $35. Tickets at Ticket Mill or

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