Debut album FIRST FITS is released on 08 November 2019
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REVIEWS: MOJO / UNCUT / WIRE
ALBUM LAUNCH EVENT: 08/11/19
- Zic Zerp Galerie, Rotterdam, Netherlands
The fortuitous beginnings of FITTED stem from the planning
of the 2017 DRILL Festival in Los Angeles, a multi-city festival series curated
by English post-punk legends Wire.
Wire co-founder Graham Lewis admits that the frustrations and logistical difficulties of curating such an event from great distance are substantial. “So, one inevitably asks oneself, ’What do I want to do?’” Lewis says. “An answer came easily to mind! I asked (fellow Wire member) Matthew Simms if he’d like to play with Mike Watt, and he replied in the affirmative.” Lewis contacted the latter through Facebook about doing something for DRILL Los Angeles, receiving a positive reply in a matter of minutes. Lewis suggested that Watt choose a drummer “groovy as fuck, with the ability to learn fast.”
Watt says, "I was asked to be part and also to provide drummer so I picked Bob Lee - thinking of Jaki Liebezeit but also thinking of Bob Lee, final drummerman of my black gang and how he could pickup so quick on stuff.”
“Mike and I have played together quite a few times since we met in the early 1990s,” Lee explains, “and I had just done some fill-in gigs with mike and his organ trio the Secondmen, while their drummer recovered from a broken wrist. We had kind of re-discovered our chemistry, and he knew I was both a quick study, and experienced at coming into situations cold, and getting music to happen. He also knew I was a big Wire fan that would take it seriously."
As the band FITTED was spawned, guitarist Matthew Simms had been in Wire six years. Mike Watt had met vocalist Lewis in LA in 1987 when Wire were touring with the Ideal Copy. Bob Lee met Lewis and Simms for the first time when he picked them up for FITTED's one and only practice. The three-hour session was the result of Lewis and Simms’ touring schedule with Wire; the only time they could get together was just hours before the actual show, after trading a few ideas via email.
“We did have some email correspondence prior to the show, a few songs tossed about as ideas for cover songs,” Lee continues. “When we showed up to our one practice, we decided not to do any of the covers. Instead we wrote a couple songs right there in the room, came up with arrangements on the spot. We even had lyrics that Graham had written earlier that day, based on a random street conversation. We determined this would be our set. A couple of those covers were re-drafted into entirely new forms that bear some slight resemblance to the thing we thought we were doing.”
“Three hours to cook a thirty-minute set,” Lewis says. “Practice was quiet and intense, soundcheck much louder and the performance as FULL ON as we could muster.”
“The gig itself really blew my mind,” Watt recalls. “I didn't want that to be just a gig memory. So quick I asked Bob Lee to come down to Casa Hanzo in my Pedro town and record some of what we developed for that gig. I was thinking of the readymade stuff Mr. Duchamp created (assembled?) and questioning the whole idea of what ends up coming out of the speakers - how important is that process of getting it there? The gig amazed me with the creativeness and imagination of Graham and Matt's expression and I wanted to provide them with a foundation/launchpad/springboard I thought me and Bob Lee could set them up with via the five recordings of drums/bass only we gave them. The sixth tune is actually Graham singing over the first jam we did at that prac for the festival gig, but I think makes great sense to be included cuz it's all about getting one from two of two.”
“Since we couldn't be in a room physically, Mike and I recorded long, long rhythm tracks for all of the hypnotic grooves we had come up with, and told Graham and Matthew to have at it,” Lee says. “Chop it, screw it, mix-master it into something else. And this, they did with gusto."
“I got the lucky job of pulling it all together and mixing the record,” Simms explains. "It was truly an honor and a pleasure. I received a great deal of encouragement from my fellow FITTERS to keep pushing and to sail on. Something that also influenced my process was that I was keen to honor some words of advice Watt offered me before we hit at the Echoplex: ‘turn up the treble.’”
As for what it all means, Watt says, “My take on ‘theme’ of the first FITTED album: the idea of fitting something to something. fitting my old-days memories of inspiration with current moment.” Lewis adds, “Matthew and I had an open field with Mike and Bob's stems to springboard from. Our guiding conceit was for the material to sound as 'live' as possible, subsequently, much is recorded in one-take in an attempt to catch the moment."
The results of these collaborations will make perfect sense to fans of their respective projects. As Lee explains, “Graham and Mike knew each other for years. Mike's band the Minutemen were outspoken Wire fans. I was big into the Minutemen, and their championship of Wire is part of what made me curious to hear early Wire in the late 80s, ten years after those records had been made.” Watt adds, “I really dig what all three fellow FITTED members did to me to bring out what I did. The whole sitch was very exciting to me and I still feel that when I hear this and the rest of the tunes. love these cats.”
The band’s debut album, First Firsts, is due out on ORG Music this Friday, November 8th. Simms says, “The instant positive response from ORG Music upon hearing the record was a good sign that they would be a good choice to release it - I was pleased to see it in a home that houses, not only many of Watt's records but Sun Ra, Sonic Youth and Roland Hanna - seems to FIT.”
As for the future of FITTED, Lewis says that we can expect more to come. “We're planning the next recording. And investigating the playing of some shows! Who knows, we might even have a second practice!”
FITTED MEMBER BOB LEE
FITTED MEMBER EDVARD GRAHAM LEWIS
FITTED MEMBER MATTHEW SIMMS
FITTED MEMBER MIKE WATT
IAN FINTAK - 33 & WEST (ex. USA & CANADA)
USA: Chris Estey - XO Publicity
UK: Kate Price - Stereo Sanctity