by Jonathan Dermid – Staff Writer – [email protected]
Jacksonville-based band The Fritz has been blending funk, jazz, and electronic to create a hybrid genre all their own. On Saturday, they will bring this blend to the Asheville Music Hall.
The unique style they have established was present from the beginning, according to lead guitarist and vocalist Jamie Hendrickson. “We were all going to school at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville for jazz and classical music, and we just started playing music together without knowing what it was supposed to sound like, but we knew it was fun. From my end of it, I grew up going to hippie festivals and stuff like that, and I was always into a jazz style of playing, so that’s what I brought into the band.”
The band’s move to Asheville in 2009 was key to the band’s progression in several different ways.
“We decided to move up to Asheville about three and a half years ago, because the mountains are beautiful and we’re from Jacksonville, so this is the country to us. Plus, being up here around Moog and getting hooked up with that equipment was important too, because I like electronic music a lot too, and it doesn’t get any better than the Moog sound. So we just started doing that about a year ago and it’sbecoming the direction we want to go in,” Hendrickson says.
This direction is reflected on their sophomore album. The lead single from this album will debut at the show at the music hall. The band will release this single in conjunction with the show, as well as give it out for free to those who attend.
In response to whether this album was easier or harder to make than their first album, Hendrickson said the sophomore slump many bands face did not affect them.
“It was easier in some ways, because we just didn’t think about it as much. We wanted to make sure each song stood out on its own, but was still thematically linked. We didn’t feel as pressured as we did with the first album because we knew more about the process, and we were traveling a lot at the time and it was kind of a whirlwind. So we basically went to this studio in Florida, played and left, and it ended up working out really well,” Hendrickson said.
Their unique hybrid of styles seems to be more easily heard than described, according to Travis Gamelin from Tampa, Fla.
“I thought it sounded like it could be pretentious when first described, but when I heard it, it seemed like they could actually pull it off really well,” Gamelin said.
Ryan Untalan, employee at west Asheville’s Harvest Records had a similar reaction.
“I don’t really like jam bands that much, but the electronic aspect definitely makes it more appealing to me,” Untalan said. “I think this kind of band fits well in Asheville, too, because the local music scene is so interested in either electronic or jam styles these days.”
The local scene has been very supportive of The Fritz, according to Hendrickson.
“The community up here is great, and one of the reasons we really wanted to come up here. As soon as we were up here, for instance, Yo Momma’s Big Fat Booty Band helped us out and we’ve been friends with those guysever since. Asheville is just great. All the local music and art is so cool to be a part of, and we’re really excited to get to do the single release party here,” Hendrickson said.