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The Big Chill: Fleet Foxes: Too cool for us.


Curtis Cartier muses upon the phenomenon of newly popular indie bands who have no more time for fans.

By Curtis Cartier

Sorry, the Fleet Foxes aren't doing interviews right now." That's the news Teal Garrels at Sub Pop Records delivered last week when I asked for 10 minutes of telephone time from the newly famous indie folk darlings, Fleet Foxes. The band is slated to play the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz on April 16, and we here at Metro Santa Cruz are experts at turning a quick interview into an informative and entertaining feature story for you fine folks, our readers--their fans. Apparently, however, the stresses of instant success from one album are too demanding to scare up a single Fox for some phone time. In fact, Garrels informed, the group isn't talking with "any media, unfortunately." And while I understand we're no Rolling Stone, there was a time when visiting bands, especially ones that weren't around two years ago, would talk with the local media ahead of their shows, if only as a courtesy to their fans.

I can remember being a freshman in college, newly hired to Northern Arizona University's student newspaper The Lumberjack, and chatting with Nick Harmer of Death Cab for Cutie ahead of the crew's sold-out show in Phoenix. Aside from politely fielding my very amateur questions for half an hour longer than I had requested, the bassist told me something like, "We always try and talk with our fans. Even little college papers are a good way for us to do that." I'm thinking about calling Harmer back (Sub Pop was happy to provide his cell phone number back then) and putting him in touch with Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes for a little lesson on professional courtesy.

It isn't just the Foxes who are suddenly unavailable. David Rawlings' machine gave us the cold shoulder in the lead-up to his sold-out show with Gillian Welch at the Rio. And Band of Horses, which is coming to Catalyst April 15, has proven similarly elusive.

"I was told, basically, they aren't doing any press," says regular Metro Santa Cruz contributor Paul Davis. "When I see bands like Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses not doing interviews it seems like it's because of some overdeveloped sense of self-importance. One or two years ago these bands could have been playing house shows."

Davis, who has also been on the other end of the line, having worked as a representative for Bloodshot Records, also points out that "nine times out of 10" it's an indie rock band that's too cool for school. "I never seem to have this problem when it's an Afro-Cuban band or a country band that comes through town," Davis adds. "Indie bands just seem to have the most problems with doing interviews."

So why is it that a genre that commands dedication from its fans on an often obsessive level has the most trouble keeping them in the loop? And further, why is it that one thrust into the spotlight for these groups leads them to purchase and mount a big fat high horse? For Davis and me, as journalists, it's an annoying quirk that makes our jobs more difficult. But for you, our readers, it should be an insult, one that says "Don't ask questions, just keep buying our records."

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