Letting the songs speak for themselves

July 06, 2008|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun reporter

It's easy for a new band to get a little buzz going. Building that buzz into a career in music is the hard part.

Since coming together in 2002, Baltimore-based rock band Fools and Horses has become a fixture in the region's music scene. And they've had some success on the national stage, too. Last year, their song "The Therapy" was voted onto a forthcoming artist compilation CD distributed by Starbucks called Off the Clock. Another song was featured on an episode of MTV's reality show Real World. Three members of the band will appear on the TV elimination dating show You Rock, Let's Roll this month.

Last month, they played the emerging artist stage at Summerfest, the world's largest music festival, in Wisconsin. Now, they're wrapping up production on their third studio album, I Am the Ghost. It has 13 tracks and comes out Sept. 13. But lead singer and front man Matt Hutchison isn't superstitious. Quite the opposite, actually.

IN HIS OWN WORDS : I love 13. I don't know why. Maybe it's because it's such an unlucky number. But when I work out at the gym, I do 13 reps. That's my set. I think it's worked for me so far. I haven't achieved the muscle mass I've intended, so maybe I need to bump it up, though. We don't think of superstition too much. It might work for us.

NEAR RAINOUT AT SUMMERFEST: As soon as we started loading up on stage, a swell of rain came down and almost shut down the festival. The crowd dispersed and we were like 'Great, we're going to have a really crappy set.' But about five minutes before we went on, the rain cleared up, so we set up. It was slow going to start with, but by the end of it, we had a really sizable crowd. They were very responsive.

YOU ROCK, LET'S ROLL : We couldn't see the girl. Her name was Candy, so I thought she was going to be some band groupie type - blond. We get there and the only thing we could see were her high heels - about five inches long. I was really terrified of her. I played the consummate front man trying to show up the other guys, and I did well.

The audience got to pick, after the first series of questions, who they wanted to [eliminate]. And because my girlfriend was in the audience, she had everybody suggest me. So like 60 percent of the vote was for me to get off. So I had to plead with Candy to please let me stay. She ended up kicking Tim off, my brother, which made me feel happy, because for the longest time we were trying to figure out who has the most game. I finally won that.

COMPILING THE ALBUM : When you throw it on iTunes, people can download whatever they want. So rather than take something out that people might really like, you might as well throw it all on there. So I'm hoping it's a good risk. We couldn't decide which to take off because we love them all so much. So we'll have 13. It's our biggest record to date. The last one had 12 songs.

IT'S A SINGLES MARKET : It's a good thing in this market for us, considering that we don't have a sound or brand. If you're thinking of selling just songs, the songs sell themselves. Fools and Horses can be a rock band. Fools and Horses can be a slow pop band or a slow, dark, melancholy band, depending on the listener. I welcome that, because it places more emphasis on songs instead of brands and sounds, which I've always felt was our strong point. A song is its own entity.

ON A LABEL DEAL : Eventually we'd like to get to the point where somebody would believe in the band enough to front some money to pay for CDs and some support. We're fully ready to do it ourselves, but there's the catch-22 where the lay person still thinks you need to be signed to be worth anything. And for a label to sign you, you have to be worth something. It's ignorant. But it's still that romanticized idea that you're not worth anything in the music business unless you're signed.

People are used to being sold on music. Ultimately, we want somebody to believe in the music and help us make money. We're not looking to make millions of dollars, because the million-dollar record deal is dead. We just need to be able to pay our bills and play our music. If I can give my girlfriend a rent check every month and pay my cell phone bill, I'll be happy.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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