When The Curls began, the band was trying to capture the sound of indie giants like Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire. But today, the groovy fast and trippy psych rockers forge their own path.
The Chicago-based group’s newest LP, Bounce House, released earlier this month brings a whole new vibe to the five-year-old band. Frontman Mick Fansler likened The Curls’ early sound to the moody Neutral Milk Hotel. Now they’ve gone 180 and only want to concentrate on the groove.
“This guy in Memphis actually said to me in our last tour, ‘y’all sound like you took too much acid because you took too much speed,’ and that’s how we sound,” Fansler says.
Jan Darshall, The Curls’ synth, keys trumpet and saxophone player—and Fansler’s wife—adds, “it’s evolved to sound like this seamless blending of pop sensibilities that still have a psych playfulness to it.”
When Fansler first started The Curls he was not happy with their sound. He said they were trying too hard to sound like “lo-fi psych-folk.” “I’m hoping it’s kind of come up a little way since then,” he laughs. “Now, I’d say, it’s like ‘80s/late ‘70s artsy, funk-pop stuff.”
The Curls “Bad Boi”
Before becoming a quartet, The Curls swelled to a 7-12-piece. While the band fluctuated in size, Fansler set out looking for a trumpet player and inadvertently found his wife. “[Darshall] came in and she was great; I fell in love immediately and the rest is history,” Fansler says.
Their love blossomed while recording The Curls’ debut in 2014. That self-titled album features a slower, more guitar-heavy sound than the groove and synth-centric mix of jazz, pop, art punk and indie rock The Curls play today.
The dramatic style shift was inspired when Fansler realized he was bored and uncomfortable trying to fit the mold of a self-serious indie frontman and wanted to have a good time with his music instead.
“I’d like to see more bands having more fun with music,” Fansler says. “That’s something that we’re trying to accomplish—to get out of this earnest indie singer/songwriter vibe and bring a little bit of fun to the performance and to music in general again.”
The Curls play a few Chicago shows in early July and two out of town ones later in the month. In the meantime, hear Bounce House in its entirety and the rest of the interview with Curls’ frontman Mick Fansler on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.