“The day we met, we started playing, and within five minutes, this random stranger came into the house,” drummer Matt Foos recalls. “Not like, knocked on the door, like walked in the house, walked through the kitchen, into the room where we were in the back, and was like, ‘I don’t want to scare you. I just had to come in and tell you guys you sound amazing.’”
That was five years ago, when he responded to a Craigslist ad posted by frontwoman Chelsey Louise and her longtime friend, guitarist Robert Ciuca. They were seeking new band members. The audition had a 35-minute cap, because that’s all the electricity Louise and Ciuca had left on their prepaid power card. It was enough time to realize they had a spark, and soon after, Matt brought his brother, bassist Ben Foos, into the group.
Now, all four of them live together — in a different house in Tempe where the strangers keep out — with six dogs, a cat, four chickens, and a rabbit. So much has changed over the years. They’ve traveled across the country, touring with acts like Highly Suspect and opening for Marcy Playground. Louise has rocked a whole rainbow of hair colors. And Fairy Bones have continuously evolved in sound, style, and business strategy.
“If you didn’t like our last record, you’ll probably like this one,” Louise says. “It’s very, very different, so don’t judge us on the first one. We’re not the same band. Give us a second chance.”
The lead single, “No One Can Suffer Like I Can,” encapsulates this sonic change, as well as the themes of depression and social commentary that fill 0% Fun. Louise comes straight out the gate with the lines, “I’ve never spit a single fucking word that didn’t bite / I don’t want another pill to make me feel alright / Four years of abuse to the system / Can’t win ’cause I can’t listen.”
Louise is candid about the mental health issues that inspired those kinds of lyrics. She recently stopped taking doctor-prescribed anxiety medications like Xanax, because she realized they were addictive and not helping her state of mind. Though she feels more relaxed since taking up yoga and getting off the benzos, weaning herself off them was brutal.
“I had a breakdown on stage,” she says about one episode. “I just had to leave the stage, and it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. I still think about it and how bad I felt at that moment. It was very, very terrifying.”
The vocalist told the world about her struggles in an Instagram post where she announced she’d take a hiatus from social media. That post is one of many profoundly honest things that Louise has shared online, sprinkled between silly pleas to buy Fairy Bones merch and video shoot outtakes. Part of what makes Fairy Bones so compelling is Louise’s willingness to bare it all and to make real connections with listeners who might be going through the same challenges. She’s gone as far as offering to hand-deliver concert tickets and meet up for a night out with anyone feeling stressed or alone.
Louise is back on social media now, and leveraging platforms like Instagram and YouTube is Fairy Bones’ primary marketing plan for getting 0% Fun out there. The band is shifting away from the industry standard “write, release, tour, repeat” routine. To them, it makes more sense to stay home with their animals, save the gas money, and focus on creating great art and building up an audience. They want to let demand drive where they play, rather than trying to fill up a room on a Tuesday night in a random city.
“I don’t want to be starved, tired, and playing with nobody, and hate the music we’re playing because we’re exhausted from it,” Matt says. “I would rather risk not touring and spending all of our time doing the thing we love, making it better, reaching people through the internet.”
Expect to see more video content from Fairy Bones in the coming months. They’re polishing their acting skills and planning to do more skits, like their recent Super Bowl “commercial” and a comedy docuseries they’re filming, which Ciuca describes as “Spinal Tap meets What We Do in the Shadows.”
They have more music videos in the works, too. Louise has a background in musical theater and figure skating, so she choreographed the group’s recent clip for “Killing Me,” full of jazz hands and shimmying. Despite the album’s title, it looks like Fairy Bones and their followers are going to have a lot of fun with the new songs.
Fairy Bones debuts 0% Fun on February 23 with a release show at Crescent Ballroom. Louise is nervous about performing, though she’s relieved to have a few shows already under her belt since the night she had to leave the stage. Mostly, she and her bandmates are equally excited to share their new music with everyone.
It’s the biggest show they’ve ever put together themselves, and the lineup is an interesting local mix. Fairy Bones headlines with disco punk outfit Paper Foxes, groovy dudes Bear Ghost, and the all-female powerhouse Doll Skin. (When Doll Skin is mentioned during the interview, everyone at the table agrees: “They slay.”) It should be a solid night for anyone who enjoys rock.
Could this next phase be the long-awaited tipping point for Fairy Bones? Even before Dramabot came out, critics and local music lovers pegged them as a band to watch. They’ve won awards, including Best Music Video from Phoenix Comicon, and Paste Magazine predicted 2017 to be the band’s “breakout year.” It seems like everyone’s still scratching their heads as to why the group hasn’t yet catapulted to national fame.
With talent, hustle, and willingness to experiment, Fairy Bones could be on the verge of making a bigger splash in 2018. They’re waiting for the rest of the country to see what Phoenix has known for years.
Fairy Bones are scheduled to perform at Crescent Ballroom on Friday, February 23. Tickets to the 16-and-over show are $10 to $12 and are available through Ticketfly.