Considered by many a pioneering force behind the Seattle Sound, the Young Fresh Fellows formed in the early '80s and bridged punk and pop with a flippant, accessible style years before grunge ever became synonymous with Seattle. They toured with the Replacements and were produced by Butch Vig, who had a hand in making some of that era's most defining releases (among them Nirvana's Nevermind and the Smashing Pumpkins' Gish). Recording through the '80s and '90s, Fellows mainstays Jim Sangster, Kurt Bloch, Tad Hutchinson, and frontman Scott McCaughey established a loyal following, cranking out a canon of releases. Their raucous live appearances grew sporadic over the years as McCaughey became caught up in other projects, namely touring with R.E.M. and performing with guitarist Peter Buck as Minus 5. But on July 7, 2009, YFF released I Think This Is, their first studio release in nearly a decade.
"We always wanted to do another record, we just seemed to never have the time; we'd be in other bands, a couple of our guys are really busy with families and kids, and it's that much harder to schedule things," McCaughey explains. "But it wasn't like we broke up or anythingwe'd usually play a couple shows a year. Last year was the first year in 25 years we haven't played a show, although it just happened that way because I was just gone all the time."
Despite the eight-year layoff, they put I Think This Is together surprisingly fast. Of course it helped that their longtime friend and supporter, British rock legend Robyn Hitchcock, produced the entire album. "We got together for five days to do the Fellows record," recalls McCaughey, speaking from his home in Portland. "Most of the music, particularly the stuff we did with Robyn, we really knocked that out quickly. It was really fast." With Girl Trouble. Photo courtesy Arnold Palmer. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT
Fri., Feb. 19, 9:30 p.m., 2010