Denver Punk Band Fragile City Is Here to Tell You That Aliens Do Exist | Westword

Fragile City Is Here to Tell You That Aliens Do Exist

Bring your tin-foil hats to the punk band's EP-release show at EastFax Tap this weekend.
Don't be fooled by the gruesome display of hostility, Fragile City loves alien.
Don't be fooled by the gruesome display of hostility, Fragile City loves alien. Courtesy Drew Templeton
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If a UFO crash-landed at a Fragile City show, the otherworldly inhabitants would be a little disturbed, if not downright outraged, by the Denver punk band’s performance and on-stage antics — specifically the public display of blow-up aliens.

“If an alien would show up to our show, they’d probably think it was a sacrifice by these puny, carbon-based life forms with their underdeveloped technology,” says drummer Chad Howard. “They’d probably see it as an act of war.”

Ryan Hatfield, the band's bassist and vocalist, laughs. “There would probably be a lot of people running away, but I’d be into it,” he says.

“Yeah, like, ‘Take me with you,’” Howard responds.

“I’d walk up to them and hand them a beer,” adds guitarist Jon Clemons, noting that the Fragile City mascot, a tiny stuffed Martian named Kevin that lives at the merch booth, is evidence of the trio’s affinity for aliens.

Fragile City’s official fan club is even called the Lonely Alien Crew. “We started calling our fans Lonely Aliens because that’s how we felt all the time growing up,” Hatfield explains.

As the group says on its website: “We are all hitchhiking aliens in this giant, ever-expanding universe."

The three bandmates haven’t been abducted yet, but Howard and Clemons say they've spotted some potential rides over the years. “I’ve seen things I can’t explain,” Clemons shares. “I grew up on a farm in northeastern Colorado, so yeah, out there, it gets pitch black at night. You see some things that are like, ‘Whoa, okay, that was definitely...something.’”

Outside of Durango, where Howard is originally from, there’s even more mysterious madness. “I grew up in the Four Corners, close to the reservation, so I’ve seen some things, man, whether it’s skinwalkers or reservation monsters or aliens, who knows, but I’ve seen some stuff," he says.

Neither of them divulges any more specifics, but it’s enough to evoke the famous X-Files tagline: “The truth is out there.”

Hatfield hasn’t been so lucky, but as a big Blink-182 fan, he remembers how the pop-punk powerhouse also spoke to his childhood curiosity about extraterrestrial life. “I have not been abducted, but I’ve been fascinated with aliens since I was a child,” he says. “One of the first songs I ever heard by Blink was ‘Aliens Exist,’ like, ‘Holy shit, that’s me.’”
click to enlarge punk bandmates holding beer
If Martians unexpectedly stumbled into a Fragile City show, the trio would happily offer it a beer.
Courtesy Fragile City
Fragile City channels such inspirations into its own tunes, thematically and musically. “Does Anyone Know an Intergalactic Mechanic?,” the intro that kicks off Fragile City’s new EP, Bus Stop Bruises, released digitally on April 4, is an ode to the band’s alien-like tendencies. The opening soundbite envisions the band making an emergency stop outside of the fictional town of Fragile City after its spaceship craps out.

“That was Jon’s idea,” Howard explains. “It’s super cheesy, but we kind of wanted it that way. We like to keep things funny; keep things stupid. We got a stupid guarantee.”

That means that at some point during the live sets, the trio is prone to getting a little goofy, he adds. Fragile City is hosting an EP-release show on Saturday, April 27, at EastFax Tap. Certain Punishment, the Mostly Don'ts, Cold Glock and Manual Fade are also on the bill. Physical copies of Bus Stop Bruises will be available. Bring your tin-foil hats.

Other than the alien accoutrement, Fragile City’s live show has been described as a “punk-rock rave,” Clemons says.

“We’re trying to embrace that with lasers and a fog machine,” Howard adds.

But the group doesn’t necessarily need all the pomp and circumstance. The eight tracks on Bus Stop Bruises are a mad mix of pop punk, metalcore and hardcore, or “popcore,” as the band calls it.

“It’s a blend of all kinds of hard rock at different points. We’ll put post-hardcore in there. We’ll put metalcore-type beats in there,” Hatfield explains. “We just experiment with everything. Our lab is just much bigger now.”

While Fragile City’s 2022 self-titled debut EP is more traditional three-chord punk, new songs such as “You & What Army” and “Hell’s House” showcase the trio’s heavier side, a result of Clemons and Howard’s affinity for metal.

“What really changed our sound was the fact that Jon is a huge metalhead and that’s primarily my background,” Howard says, adding that Bus Stop Bruises is also more complex than previous material they’ve written.

“We can give ourselves a little bit more of a challenge while keeping it fun and somewhat punk roots,” he continues. “We want to be cool with everyone. We want to be able to keep up with all the crowds.”

Hatfield’s ability to switch between clean and gruff vocals throughout also adds an aggressive edge to Fragile City’s newfound metallic direction. “What we’re doing now, we don’t even really know what to call ourselves as a genre,” Hatfield says.

In that sense, the music can also be classified as alien. But for now, the band is running with the popcore tag, which is proudly displayed on one of the band's T-shirts. The unofficial subgenre has been hung on “a bunch of bands,” Howard says of the Urban Dictionary definition.

“But nobody actually takes the term or embraces it with a smile,” he concludes. “We were like, ‘Well, that should be us. Let’s be those dumb idiots.’ Yeah, we’ll take that.”

Fragile City, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 27, EastFax Tap, 8001 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $10.
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