Thursday, May 19, 2011 , Updated 7:57 a.m., May 20, 2011
New band Fiancés emerges from Denton
It features Matthew Gray and Paul Slavens.
DENTON What does a local musician do when he/she creates music that doesn’t seem to fit in with the current band? Find someone else in the local music scene that's a musical complement and create a new band.
Local music legend, radio host, pianist, orchestrator, and improv extraordinaire Paul Slavens and front man Matthew Gray of Denton-based band Matthew and the Arrogant Sea have gotten together to create a whole new sound for the local music scene. The only preview of their music can be heard here.
We talked with the duo about how their fresh musical endeavor came to be, when we should anticipate their first show and debut album, and why exactly two dudes are calling themselves Fiancés.
PegNews: How did this pairing come about?
Matthew Gray: Several months ago we talked about doing a country project together. It took several months for us to get together and it was the farthest thing from country. We just started falling in love with the songs we were doing together, and shortly after that, we decided we were going to make it a project and pursue it; and Fiancées came about.
Paul Slavens: One of the refreshing things about this is that Matthew and I have been able to somehow kind of do stuff. We talk about it and we get together and actually make it happen. We work well together. He just basically said, “I’ve got some songs that aren’t really right for MATAS [Matthew and the Arrogant Sea], but I would just like to record them and do something with them and I think you might be good to orchestrate them.”
So why call yourself Fiancés?
Gray: The whole point of the project was to write records that were similar to something of a theatrical play. Very dramatic with overblown pieces with music equally as dramatic as the content of the songs themselves. The point of the project is something of the story of this character that is terribly obsessed with this woman who is not obsessed with him. He is just down in the dumps; a typical scorned lover approach. We kind of display that through songs versus actually performing it. It has that thematic element – but on a record versus a dramatized play.
Slavens: From what I get out of it, a lot of the songs are really kind of sexy and have to do with lovemaking and sweet tender wooing kind of feelings. You know, for the most part. We wanted to kind of have it geared that way. The songs definitely seem mostly geared towards the ladies. The sentiments and everything are geared towards the ladies.
A fiancé is a very unusual and rare animal because it is a guy who is still single and he has made the leap into the world of monogamous commitment. He is seen as someone who is willing to do it, and has done it, but is still in the world of single men. A fiancé is a very romantic figure.
What kind of sound should we expect?
Gray: It has been really interesting. It is certainly pop music and it does have a lot of elements of darker -- I would daresay something from like the electronic ‘70s. We also have a number that is incredibly dark and jazzy at times. We also have a song that is very Motown. I really can’t categorize the sound on the record. It is very hard to explain, you just need to listen to it.
Slavens: A lot of Matthew’s songs that he is doing for this, they are not complex songs, especially harmonically. A lot of it is just two chords played back and forth. When he writes the lyrics and the melodies and stuff, the songs still go somewhere. It is kind of my wonderful task as the orchestrator to find how those melodies wind through the songs and orchestrate the different parts.
Sound wise, I don’t know. Everything is built up through vocal and acoustic guitar. There is bass marimba all over it, because I bought one at UNT for like 30 bucks. Kind of synthetic drums sounds for some songs. The main instrument that has been played on every track so far is my little Radio Shack Moog synthesizer. It is just so cool. I like the mix of Moog era synth sounds with acoustic sounds, but I don’t mind an electronic beat.
It is all real sweet for the most part. Pretty, you know? I like to have it mostly be pretty sounding with a little bit of beautiful ugliness thrown in somewhere.
What do you think that each of you contribute musically?
Gray: My whole thing was that I wanted to come into a project where I was solely focused for the most part on performing the vocals and trying to give off a sort of a very
venerable vulnerable side of myself. Trying to really just fall into a character that I have written about and focus on my performance and then write the whole story itself. I contribute some guitar, but mostly it is vocals and words. Paul kind of orchestrates, which he is so good at, everything in between. We produce it together.
When should we expect a show or an album?
Slavens: We have been talking about it. Really, we just got started about two months ago, and we got together just to get together and see how it went and it just sort of took off. At this point we’ve got eight tracks pretty much ready. Of the eight most of them are done. Some of them are still in the process of being worked on. We are hoping to finish the writing and most of the recording within the next month or so. And try to get into a studio and have someone mix the thing and plays some shows by late June or early July.