Dust is the latest concept album by indie garage pop rock band Fertility House. Hailing from Austin, Texas, the band has had a prolific run till now. Fertility House was formed in 2017 by Shaun Snyder (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Dan Magorrian (guitar), Daniel Rezza (drums), and Nick Christian (bass).
Dust is a concept album inspired by frontman Shaun’s former relationship. The album is divided into three acts, with short under half minute tracks with i., ii., and iii. With each of the intro tracks of the album, the merry-go-round morphs into waves and finally a tempest and blast noise.
The first song is Games with a vocal refrain followed by a joyful arrangement. The song contains muted guitars used percussively. It has a Latin music influenced sound. Especially with its walking bouncy bassline forming the skeleton of the verses. Fuzzy guitars later enter in, providing the icing on the cake. The second song Geronimo is a heart felt song. These songs in their style and feel depict the joy of the beginning of a relationship.
The second act begins with Wishing which is another upbeat number after the relationship finally ends. That is followed by Wasting Time. From this, we get a slow number, little sad, different from the upbeat infinitely catchy stuff until now. With Darling, we get back to crazy catchy energy as the narrator grapples with the swan song that is love. The song Search Party includes the acts openers music’s piano and merry-go-round instrumental parts combined with waves much like the beginning of the middle act. Paca Palace is the last song from the second act. It contains a simple drum beat with a percussive guitar line and some neat guitar stab chords. It also has the right garnishings of piano and Hammond organ.
The album concludes with the third act including the songs Dust, the title track, and Hyde Park. These songs are about coming to terms with and accepting the end of the relationship. The title track is a heavy reflective number with some stunning lyrics. Hyde Park is a simple song with just vocals and guitar with our narrator singing that all is gonna be okay ending with the sweet sounds of piano and waves. A holistic end to a sweet cathartic album.
The album and the band’s sound can remind you of a range of artists and styles like those of artitsts like Weezer, Mumford & Sons, or even Buddy Holly for that matter. Dust is an album filled with bright lines with lines such as “Dancing in the Paca palace, we’re in the land of make believe” from Paca Palace. The moods of the songs vary as the story of the relationship moves forward. Lyrically, sentiments and what is felt in a relationship with thoughts rangings from the witty to the sad and happy, are expressed beautifully. We also hear some great experimentation in terms of the eclectic instruments used. Dust is a musical journey that explores the emotions one feels on the track of a relationship. Do not miss this journey.
We speak to Shaun from Fertility House to speak more about Dust.
1. What are your musical influences? Can hear Mumford and Sons and Weezer.
Our musical influences are pretty varied, but you said you can hear a little Weezer which is really funny. I totally agree with that, and we actually have practice a full set to do a Weezer cover band show at some point, so that’s funny. You also mentioned Mumford and Sons which is funny in a different way. This album, while it can apply to relationships in general, was really inspired by a relationship of mine that failed. We used to listen to Wilder Mind when we were together, and we broke up right around the time that Delta came out. I can remember post breaking up a night that we were together talking through some things, and she showed me Delta for the first time. I didn’t purposefully channel Mumford, but if it happened subliminally, that’s amusing. Anyways, to your initial question: we’ve largely been inspired by indie rock from the 2000s-2010s. Death Cab, Born Ruffians, Vampire Weekend. We’re basically an iTunes commercial from like 2009. Maybe 2010.
2. What was the songwriting and compositional journey for Dust?
The songwriting process was usually in two parts. First, it was me writing lyrics to express all the emotions I was having post breakup. Then when bringing in music, I wanted every song to have a somewhat unique style or influenced by different genres while still sounding like Fertility House. This was done to help capture each song in an episodic fashion and to help them all stand out a bit. Some songs we wrote in a really collaborate space and kinda would just write it almost live in the room. There are a few songs that I wrote on my own either because I felt like I needed to do that to process the emotion or due to Covid restrictions that kept us from getting together.
3. Dust is a pretty, heartfelt, and cathartic album about the journey of love. What was the recording and production process of the album like?
The recording process was great. We worked with Charles Godfrey from Scary American in Austin, TX, and the guy really knows what he’s doing. As to the production process, it kinda came in two parts. Before going into the studio, we had full demos of all of these tracks that we had recorded, and I’d gone in and add layers and dynamics for each track. By the time we went into the studio, we had a good idea of what the production was going to be, but we there were still a lot of elements all over of ideas that just came up while recording a track with Charles that got put in. We were pretty open to experimenting and just trying anything.
4. Inifinite catchiness with so many peppy tunes and sentimental ballad. How do you go about creating these tunes?
For the peppier tunes, it will usually start one of two ways. I’ll write a bassline. Usually something pretty simple that makes you wanna move. Nick the bass player will then usually get a hold of my simple idea and put some life to it if that’s how the process starts. The other way is I just write a simple chord progression on a piano or guitar and try to be percussive with it. Treat everything like a drum. For the slower, ballad stuff, just get some sort of ambient atmosphere going. Something that you can just sit in without anything else needed. Keep it simple and elements as deemed necessary but don’t work it.
5. Eclectic instrumentation is what we can hear in Paca Palace and Mockingbird like for example the Hammond organ. Please describe the interesting sonic production and instruments beyond the conventional which we can hear.
We did use a hammond on a lot of tracks. Charles actually had a real hammond with a leslie at his studio. That was awesome. We also used a farfisa which I don’t see much of these days. A lot of the more interesting sounds were made in Ableton. The piano in Wasting Time and iii are a piano sample that I took and just added through an amp simulator with vibrato and reverb. I took a lot of liberties with just over-processing a lot analogue recordings and doing voice impressions for background snippets. Dan plays a saw in search party. That’s a lot of fun, and Nick’s playing an accordion in there too, I believe. Oh! On Wasting Time, while recording Daniel sneezed in the mic, so we layered that in to the second verse with some claps and a piano hit.
6. What is interesting stuff happening in the guitar solo and other production elements of the title track?
I’m not sure what is meant by the interesting noise, but I think I can I know… The solo-y bit is a track I recorded in my bedroom on guitar before ever going to the studio. I add a lot of delay and did a lot of bit reduction to get this really distorted, indistinct sound. Then about halfway through the second verse, you can hear in one channel the solo again, but it’s been put through a kill switch that we were running to make it glitch. We took that same solo and had the notes auto mapped out to a MIDI track. We then sent the midi track from ProTools to a synth set up to make a staticky kinda sound and sent that to the opposite channel as the kill switched guitar.
7. Have you played these songs live before they were recorded? There is some interesting production, I wonder how would it translate live.
We had played some of these live before. Games, Geronimo, and Darling translate really well. We have an alternate version of Dust that we would play live prior to the recording. The last time we played live was actually the first time we’ve played to backing tracks. We played the interludes, Mockingbird and Dust with backing tracks. Everything else we did as a four piece. In the future, I’d be interested in playing with more backing tracks, but we also like the flexibility that we have without them.
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