If, after listening to The Fontaines’ debut EP, you find yourself at a loss for how to describe them, don’t worry. The brother-sister duo (Charlotte, 21, sings; Hank, 26, plays guitar) don’t want to make music that’s easy to pin down.
“We call it New-Wop,” Hank says, adding that the he really wants his music to be “swoon-worthy,” to have that indescribable sense of a song taking over your heart, a feeling he’s gotten listening to Miles Davis...and Beach House. For Charlotte, it was hearing The Drifters in grade school that made her realize what kind of sound she wanted to play with in her own music.
Hank moved to Los Angeles in 2008; partially for his health, but also, he adds, because he “wanted to live in a culturally important city where I could be in warm weather and still go out and hear rock n' roll at night.” Charlotte, who always knew she wanted to sing (perhaps because she shares a birthday with Frank Sinatra), followed suit after she graduated high school, determined to follow her brother into the music business. Charlotte found herself inspired as she watched him “play every dive bar and small social gathering in town.” Hank says of the early years, “She and I both knew that getting up on stage to perform always beats sitting around and then regretting it afterward.” It simply made sense that they join forces.
By 2015, The Fontaines were playing wherever and whenever they could. “We try to make our shows as unpredictable and spontaneous as possible; we’re constantly pushing ourselves to step it up.” They also began to write compulsively - Hank estimates they’ve written over 300 songs in two years. “Dusty Springfield,” which is set to be the group’s fourth single, was written the night before it was recorded. “We actually already had a different song with the name ‘Dusty Springfield’,” Hank explained. “We didn't like it, but we still wanted to record a song inspired by her. The other guys in the band were shocked when we showed up to record a new song with the same title.” The Fontaines’ self-produced new songs were recorded in downtown L.A. and mixed by Matt Linesch (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes).
The Fontaines EP recently reached #187 on the CMJ college radio charts, #14 on the KKBB specialty radio charts, and #48 on the FMQB specialty radio charts. In addition, "Paul Newman" was recently debuted as "Today's Top Tune" on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. The band made their CMJ debut in 2015 and will be appearing at this year's Canadian Music Week and other international festivals.
The Fontaines will release their second EP, "ii," in 2016.