The current crop of new guitar acts in Liverpool is as varied and tight-knit as ever, and the sheer number of shows each week that are populated by homegrown acts backs this up. A supportive atmosphere is one that benefits everyone, a sense of mutual encouragement that results in great outpourings of creativity. One of the more distinctive voices to recently emerge from this effervescent pool is FUSS, a band who, over the past year or so, have seemed both slightly elusive and yet ever-present on every good bill around. Mates David Baddeley (Vocals, Guitar), Tony Dixon (Vocals, Guitar), Karl Byrne (Bass), Cormac Gould (Synths) and Bobby Reardon (Drums) are responsible for FUSS’ signature space-folk sound, and the quartet are in a relaxed mood when we catch up with them at Greendays Café on Lark Lane. It soon becomes evident, not long into our chat, that they’re not short on ambition either. After all, who wants to stay in a bubble forever?
“People are liking [us] and things are happening. Hopefully, next year we can play bigger gigs and people around the country will start hearing us, not just in Liverpool,” says David of the band’s justifiably lofty ambitions. “We want to play all around the world. I want band music to become popular in this country again and us to be a part of that. I think it could happen, definitely. We just want to keep making groovy tunes and see where it takes us. If it takes us really far, then that’s what we want. That’s what I’m looking for, to be honest, to go to the top. I think it does deserve to, because I think the music that’s on top now isn’t any good.”
FUSS are hardly the first guitar band to declare their assault on the pyramid that seems to tower above them – in fact, it was once expected that bands of their ilk would spout statements like this on a regular basis. What marks these comments out more is the fact that you rarely hear grandstanding like this from up-and-coming bands anymore, and we kind of miss it. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to know how these South Liverpool lads got to where they are.
“I met Tony at a party about a year ago and after that we spent pretty much every day together,” says David. “I asked him if he wanted to make a band and it just kind of grew from there. We started off with a different drummer, but once Bobby got involved that was it, the sound was defined.”
That sound – a kind of nostalgic, dreamy gloop of shoegaze and folk – is in the ‘psych’ ballpark, at least if you count Spectrals and The Growlers as such. As for what the band are consciously or sub-consciously groping for, that’s a little more difficult to pin down. “You can’t really do what’s already been done, but you can kind of re-create a vibe and a sound that’s of a certain era,” David continues. “People have given us quite a few labels, like dream pop, synth pop, psych. I don’t think we necessarily fit into any of them, but when everything is put together it can come off a bit psychedelic. I think that some of the sonic qualities of that genre are definitely there.”
“All the songs are written acoustically and if you strip them back they’re all basically just folk songs,” states Tony. “Last week me and Dave were both playing in different rooms and we each came up with a part of a song that fitted with the other. So we put them together and it formed a really nice tune.”
They’re reticent to get bogged down splitting genres, instead finding it much easier and more comfortable talking about their processes. As usual, David takes the lead on the topic: “We usually write realism. One of the songs we wrote recently is just about the realities of life and being skint. But it’s put in a way that sounds nice and not too heavy.” Interjecting, Cormac picks up on this thread: “Nothing is too overly thought out. We just do what we do and stuff happens. There are no rules. Everyone can contribute what they want and the tunes just come out of that. If it sounds good, it sounds good.”
Their appreciation of what sounds good has been spot on so far, with each of their singles being accompanied by a quite distinctive video – stand-alone pieces where the visual aspect becomes as important as the music. “Each one is tailored to fit the vibe of the song,” David, who makes the videos, tells us. “I think each single feels like a document of where we’re at,” adds Cormac. “You can hear a bit of progress in between each one. Right now we haven’t got the money or the set of tunes to make a full album. So we’re kind of just cataloguing.”
“It’s like a proper reflection as well,” adds Tony, picking up a couple of threads. “Just being able to listen back to them and hear them properly for the first time. When people hear us live it isn’t exactly what we hear ourselves.” “Yeah, live it sounds massive,” adds David – and we agree. The recorded tracks don’t do justice to the heaving beasts that come to life when FUSS play live. It seems as though the band are as surprised about this as us. “The first time we realised it was when we played Leaf and it just sounded huge. We weren’t expecting it because we practise in our house, so it’s usually pretty quiet and restrained. But then on stage there was just this big wall of sound. So it’s good to be able to go back and pull the songs apart. To just hear them in a new way.”
The ambition, then, seems under wraps for the time being as the four band members work out the intricacies of what they’ve created. They’re not going to be deserting their fellow sloggers on the gig circuit any time soon. “The local scene is fucking boss!” exclaims Karl. “We’re mates with loads of the different bands and there’s a proper sense of community there. Like, we love going to gigs and playing gigs because we get to see all our mates. Everyone just wants to support each other and enjoy each other’s music.”
“The main thing for the band right now is just to make sure we’re always making really good tunes and that they each have their own little thing going on,” David confirms. “That’s the most important thing and if that’s right then everything else will hopefully follow. We’re not trying to fool anyone with anything else or trying to make people like us for any other reason.”
“We’ll only make music that we’re sure is fucking good,” adds Tony.
So, that’s what all the fuss is about.