When we spoke to Fierce Bad Rabbit frontman Chris Anderson last year, he said the band was on "N" on an "A-Z" journey. In less than twelve months, that progress has sped along rapidly. Since releasing its new album The Maestro and the Elephant this past December, the band has gained some great momentum, from getting a nod from NPR as one of the top acts to look for at South by Southwest to inking a deal with Round Hill Music, for placement in film and television.
All this progress has come as Anderson has picked up and moved from Fort Collins to Boston. For his part, Anderson insists the change in scenery hasn't derailed the forward progress of the group. In advance of Fierce Bad Rabbit's show this coming Wednesday at the hi-dive, we spoke with Anderson about the eventful past year, as well as the outfit's promising plans moving forward.
Westword: What are some of the major changes or accomplishments the band has seen in the past year?
Chris Anderson: We released the record in December, and that was really fun, although there was a little bit of a setback right when we got back from our holiday break -- all of our stuff had gotten stolen, all of our gear. We shared a rehearsal space in Fort Collins, and from Thanksgiving to Christmas, we didn't have any shows and weren't at the practice space that much. We came back two days before our release show, and all of our stuff was stolen. That was kind of a drag. We had insurance, so that covered some of it ... It doesn't cover everything. We got back on our feet fairly quickly. We had quite a few shows near the release of the record. We just went forward from there.
But the past year has also seen some national recognition for your new work, right?
We did South by Southwest, and one of our songs from The Maestro got listed in the NPR top 100 bands to check out in Austin. That was really cool press. I feel like NPR is really instrumental in the success of a lot of these bands like the Lumineers. That was great, and we played four shows out there in two days and then came home.
We did a fair amount of touring this summer, and the record's been doing fairly well. We ended up getting a licensing deal out of New York with a company called Round Hill Music. That just happened about two months ago. We're hoping that they'll be able to get the music in some good films or commercials. That was exciting to get that attention.
And you're no longer based in Colorado, right?
I moved to Boston. My wife got a job out here, and we've been just kind of getting some ideas to write again. We're going to try to get a new EP out in the spring. I don't know why we keep doing the same thing, but we do an EP and then an album, and an EP and then an album. You release it and put all of that work in and say, "Let's start writing some more." So we've been passing a lot of stuff back and forth via email. That's the way this project is going to start, in terms of writing, just because we're not able to jam every week.
Has the move been challenging, with you in Boston and the rest of the band in Fort Collins?
It hasn't actually been that bad. I've been flying back and forth for a lot of the shows, and they came out here for a little East Coast tour. Logistically, we're making it work. It is a little bit more of a challenge, but I think the fact that we've been a band long enough helps. I mean, it would be really hard to do something like this at the beginning of a band, but we've been playing for almost five years now, so we're able to get by.
That's been fun. I'm enjoying Boston a lot. We're probably going to wrap up the year in October. August is going to be a really [important] month for us. We're going to try to get back to writing and come up with some plans for 2014, as far as where we're going to record and who we're going to work with. Every time you get involved with a project, it's, "What are we after?"
I feel like The Maestro was the last remnants of anything I'd written in the past ten years. I've been writing forever, and the album had stuff that I'd written six, seven, eight years ago, and we adapted it into this band. At this point, we could really come up with whatever we want to come up with now.
That's kind of an exciting thing because every time we do an album, I feel like it gets more organic, as far as coming together with different parts. There's a lot of that on The Maestro, and there's a lot of co-writing in Nashville that I had done. That was a cool experience. But this next project is going to be very much focused on components of parts. It's approaching all instrumentation in pieces outside of themselves and then putting them together.
When you talk about songwriting and those challenges, do you think the distance will affect your process?
When we first started, it was stuff I had written, and I was always writing at home. We were only getting together twice a month to work on stuff. Then things progressed, and suddenly, we were getting together every week. Lately, we've been so busy. That's the whole thing when you play five shows or three shows all close together; you rehearse, and you're like, "I don't want to unload the van and set up our PA and everything." You're kind of skipping a lot of practices anyway. If anything, this move has kind of focused us and forced us to be more productive with our time when we are together. I think that's beneficial.
As far as the songwriting goes, it's always been easier for us to focus on little pieces. There is a magic that happens sometimes when you're jamming and you record it; but that's never been the way we've worked. It's always been on a one-on-one basis. Everyone sits on it, and we come together.
The Maestro was pretty much all written in the studio; there were four or five songs we didn't know what were going to sound like. The producer said, "Do this here, do this here." You learn how to play it. That, to me, is the way this band writes the best: piecing things together and focusing on the individual parts. It's running through things, running through things and trying to figure out where we're all at.
Has the scene in Boston affected your own songwriting?
To be honest, I haven't had time. I've been back and forth. When I've been in Boston, I've just been getting settled. I've literally been going back to Colorado every two weeks. It's kind of like I just moved away from home, and I'm still playing shows. I'm sure it will influence me in the way that it influences anyone. But nothing has jumped out to me here, like I'm in Seattle in the '90s. I'm digging the East Coast, but I'm from Colorado, and still really like it. This is just a new place to live. But Colorado is a three-hour flight away.
Last year, you added Dovekins drummer Max Barcelow to the roster. How has that worked out?
Amazing. I can't imagine the band without him. We all clicked so well. He also brings in a whole skill set of songwriting and singing and personality. I feel like The Maestro was the tip of the iceberg of what we can do.
Do you think all of this national exposure has affected the band's mentality?
That's what we're after, is to make this a working professional gig for all of us. It's a shame that Churchill broke up, because they were doing so well. They were doing that style of touring, being able to be in that level of success. That's something that we've been working towards.
We've all been playing the same clubs in Fort Collins and Denver for a long time. You start to want to get more exposure and create better demand. That's something that does take a song that catches with a lot of people. We believe in our art, but you always want to make it better. That's the key word.
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