By Gina Tron
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After fronting the Fort Collins-based indie-rock band the Jimi Austin for three and a half years, Chris Anderson was at a bit of a crossroads. Drummer Shane Zweygardt and guitarist Ian Haygood were pushing for more of a progressive dance-rock sound, while Anderson wanted to explore mellower songwriting. Before Anderson's three-month stint in Africa with his fiancée, who was in the Peace Corps, the guys in the Jimi Austin decided to disband on a high note, with three EPs and a full-length under their belts.
When Anderson got back home in January, he was itching to start a new group with tunes he'd written over the past few years, as well as "Mon Ami," a song he wrote in Africa that references the streets of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. In February, he formed an all-star band made up of some of the Fort's finest, including Stella Luce and Slow Crash violist and singer Alana Rolfe, original Tickle Me Pink drummer Adam Pitner and Arliss Nancy bassist Dayton Hicks. By late May, Fierce Bad Rabbit (the moniker was inspired by the Beatrix Potter children's book) had completed an outstanding eight-song, self-titled debut. We spoke with Anderson about how the band formed.
Westword: How did you all decide on which direction to go with the band?
Chris Anderson: Well, it wasn't like we ever really chose a direction. Alana came in around the second or third rehearsal on the viola — I think that really gave us an edge. I think we were sort of like, "Okay, we got the songs together." The first two songs we really got done were "Honey" and "Looking for Shore," and we had those rehearsed out a little bit. Alana played in a band called Slow Crash for years, and Jimi Austin always played shows with them. Alana and I had talked about playing for three and a half years. But I think maybe we had in mind that we were mainly going to be doing an acoustic and a viola. I called her up, and I was like, "I got this drummer and bass player." She kind of knew both of them already, and we all just got together.
So there wasn't a discussion about direction; I think we all want to make music that is very palpable for lots of different demographics, and I think that's what we're really pleased about. We got something that is not trying to be too clever; it is what it is. It's just some good songs with some good music in it. We haven't really discussed any kind of style we want to chase after. The funny thing is that when I met Dayton, I told him I kind of wanted to put together a country band. He's played a lot of country; he plays with Arliss Nancy. He said, "That's right up my alley." He showed up, and I'm playing the stuff, and I looked over and said, "This isn't really country — I just sort of said that." He said, "No, it's not, but I like it." So I guess that would have been the ill-direction of what we were trying to do. But there are definitely a lot of influences going across the board with all four of us.