DETROIT PROUD: The Oscillating Fan Club
Their sound is not like anything you’ve heard before – especially not here in Detroit. They blend together, in perfect harmony…a mash-up of ‘70s rock and ‘60s pop, maybe a bit of a psychedelic flair, with goofy lyrics and captivating guitar melodies. Imagine if you took the gritty-bluesy rock from The Black Keys, blended in the resonance of the album Disraeli Gears by Cream (make sure you give “Sympathetic Strings” a listen), and then topped it with a poppy beat similar to The Zombies. To be fair, that only paints a small picture of who The Oscillating Fan Club are – one of Metro Detroit’s most promising up-and-coming bands.
Recently, the band celebrated the release of their newest full-length LP, Oscillations of a Beast (hear the album here!), at the Old Miami here in Detroit. CW50 had the honor of sitting down to hear from each of the members, on what drives them, what’s next and when we can expect it…
Check these fun-loving, music-makers out!
Pierce Reynolds – PR
Ray Thompson – RT
Jon Fairweather – JF
Justin Walsh – JW
Tell us about the band…
PR: The band has been going for nearly 10 years I believe. I was attending MSU for music when I realized they didn’t have a psych rock/dirty bar music major so I left the academy and never looked back.
RT: Pierce and I have been playing “music” since high school. We joined forces with Jon Fairweather and Robin Veresh (as well as a rotating cast of musicians) and would get together to play music in a Ferndale basement. Eventually, we established a few songs and decided to play out at local bars and house parties. We have continued to write new songs and play out to get where we are now: a new line-up and group of songs that I am most proud of.
JB: The band began as a means to express our love for the music we listen to and pay homage to the bands we musicians hold in such high esteem.
JW: I joined the band right before we started recording the album. They had already been around for quite a while. I remember, right when I moved to Ferndale, they were one of the first bands I saw around here and I immediately thought, “I need to join this band!”
Did you always set out to make the type of music you make now?
PR: I think we hoped to encompass a smaller range of influences and fortunately the influences spread. I’m not sure the end game would have included as many world touchstones but I’m glad that it does.
RT: I personally have always tried to write songs akin to the B-52’s. I still do. Yet, I am constantly influenced by more and more each day and I think the result is large array of genres and sounds. As a band, I don’t think we have ever set too many parameters for any given song.
JF: I would like I think we have grown and evolved into more mature musicians with a better handle on our axes as it were. Excuse the pun.
JW: This seems like a logical flow in the Oscillating timeline. It’s always been very melody focused. Now, it’s just louder and more intense.
Tell us a little about the members of the band…
PR: Aside from Justin we are all original members. Ray is a force of nature, having written far more songs than the band has ever been able to complete. Jon is a sage rogue whose wisdom is in the unknown. Justin is a delightful young man with an unbelievable gift of cat shirts. I am a duck, born of duck constituents, who must speak to duck people, people, and ducks alike.
RT: Pierce is the wild card. A wizard of acrobatic guitar feats as well as our database for all things music and theory. He encourages us to take the road less traveled with positivity and excitement. on is the mystery. An enigmatic poet and bass player from the future. He is the mother of the band, a lover, a hand-holder and peacemaker. Justin is the heartbeat. A monster percussionist/musician that breathes life in to all of our songs. He is the energy and glue of OFC. I am the dictator. An over-bearing perfectionist and taskmaster.
JF: We met in the railroad camps of the late ‘90s as day expeditions and transcendental goat warehouses. Ray was a handsome mustached wrangler and famous drink slinger from the old timely foundation. Justin, the latest addition to the OFC, is known throughout for his razor sharp wit and his well-groomed beard. He is also known for his chops, the man has the goods. I, Jon, am a simple family man, I spend most of my defending indigent defendants and listening to polish folk music.
Give someone who doesn’t know anything about your band, a run-down of all things important?
PR: We play seriously goofy rock music with a healthy dose of surf.
RT: An unhealthy slurry of ‘70s post-punk, tropicalia, afro-beat, surf and ‘60s pop a la kinks, zombies, etc.
JF: We are graced with two tremendous guitar players and a remarkable drummer. What we lack in vocal range we make up in heart. We are fans of music so our influences vary greatly. We bring it all together and it mixes well, if I may be so bold.
JW: Speed, surf, harmony, and total humility.
How many albums have you made as a group? Does anyone work on side projects?
PR: We have three full length albums. Ray and I have a wedding/chamber group known as the Fiendish Thingies who play swing versions of Black Sabbath and Misfit songs on Ukulele, Bass, Sax, and Drums. I also have played in a Doom Surf outfit called Devilfish.
RT: Beatles Catting Wildly EP 2007, Feverish Dreams As Told By… LP 2008, George Washington’s Teeth LP 2010, Oscillations Of A Beast LP 2013.
As well as Fiendish Thingies, Justin and I were in a band, “Pigeon” with Tony Vegas of Grande Nationals and Hi-Fi Handgrenades and Leslie Hardy of Murder City Devils.
JW: This is my first album with them; they have a couple more before me. I know there have been many side projects as well. I had a band before I joined OFC with Ray called Pigeon. Pierce had Devilfish (which released a great album) and I currently have Crappy Future as well.
What are your ambitions when it comes to the music?
PR: Travel and experiences are at the fore but a little compensation eventually would be nice.
RT: Sustainability and travel. I would love to play overseas.
JF: My goal is, and has always been, to make the best music possible. Also, to meet my hero Geezer Butler.
JW: Make good music and play great shows.
Tell us about a favorite performance(s)…
PR: Our first ‘big’ performance was opening for Richard Lloyd of Television (the band) at the Magic Stick on a Monday night (read: to our parents). After threatening us during sound check, he later waltzed (literally) on stage with a pipe and a whipped cream dispenser crying “it’s beautiful!” before getting arrested minutes later for punching a women in the mouth.
RT: I miss playing at house parties in Lansing. They were always great fun. Dally in the Alley 2009. DIY fest this year and playing with David Yow of Jesus Lizard fame are all high on my list as well.
What inspires the band members? What motivates you?
PR: Music and art from so many sources as well as the wonderful people in my life keep me on a creative path.
RT: Music and traveling.
JF: I am motivated by food – mainly Middle Eastern these days but also an assortment of cheeses and breads.
JW: What motivates me is just constant improvement. Always looking for a way to get better or faster.
What are the band’s favorite places in Detroit?
PR: I love the Belle Isle Conservatory.
RT: Loui’s Pizza, Goodwells, Smalls, PJ’s Lager House, The Oakland.
JF: The Polish Yacht Club is one of my favorite places. Also Noble Fish.
JW: Old Miami is always a blast I think. It’s just like a venue in a living room.
We’ve heard you just had a record release party for Oscillations of a Beast – what’s band is working on next?
PR: Always working towards new songs/sounds.
RT: New songs. Playing abroad.
JF: We continue to strive for excellence in our personal lives as well as our musical endeavors.
JW: We are in planning stages of a 7″ with a couple new tracks. We want to just go full steam ahead.
Any obstacles the band has gone through?
PR: Many shows, trials and tribulations have helped bring the band to its current formation. I am glad the original Oscillating mobile is no longer in operation.
RT: Typical band stuff. Lineup changes. Fights. Creative differences. Utter contempt for and from all members. I can honestly say that we are the most stable, comfortable, proud, and elated that we have ever been as a band.
JF: We have worked through many troubled times. One tour to New York was interrupted by homeland security as well as Jonathan Richmond’s doppelgänger. Another time, we were mistaken for Civil War re-enactors and were forced to take part in the battle of Chickamauga.
JW: I keep confusing my schedule and getting dates confused. I haven’t been with guys long enough to hit any major struggles.
What does the band like to do in Detroit when not working on music?
PR: A spot of tea and varied record collection keep me grounded/humble/content.
RT: Sleep. Food. Travel.
JF: I read as well as discuss various topics with family and friends. I also walk my dog and talk to my child.
JW: have fun?