Mention Chicago group The Fold in certain circles, and the band might be known for its ties to hometown ’90s punk group Showoff (Fold frontman Dan Castady was the drummer), or recognized for its underground efforts on indie label Tooth And Nail from earlier this decade. Yet it’s The Fold’s latest move no one could have seen coming, and stands to gain the outfit the most recognition in circles both underground and mainstream.
Appearing: February 6th at Reggies’s in Chicago.
Towards the end of 2009, the group recorded and released a self-deprecating slam on the auto-tuned, neon-clad acts of today, borrowing the tune of and changing the words to Miley Cyrus’ hit “Party In The U.S.A.” Going by the title “Every Band In The U.S.A.,” the novelty track takes aim at acts like All Time Low and clothing outfitters Glamour Kills (which, despite the track’s insistence otherwise, actually sponsors The Fold). Within three days of hitting You Tube, the song’s video (shamelessly low-budget, produced with nothing more than an iPhone and iMovie), racked up a staggering 100,000 views. As 2009 closed out, the clip more than doubled, surpassing 200,000 hits on the popular, streaming-video site. It’s the kind of viral sensation every act dreams of and many meticulously plan for. For The Fold, however, the very idea of “Every Band In The U.S.A.” was initially laughed off.
“We were on the worst tour of our professional lives,” Castady recalls of a recent run of autumn dates, “and it was really hard to even talk about the band, to be honest, at that point, because we were just not connecting, [and] the tour was booked terribly. And in the middle of it all, our merch girl says, ‘You guys should do a Miley Cyrus cover — that would really liven things up.’ And we said, ‘That’s the worst idea in the world. That’s what every band in the U.S.A. does. They all get up there and try to capitalize on what’s going on right now.’ And so, we kind of laughed it off, and then about 10 minutes later, our drummer Mark [Rhoades] said, ‘Well wait, maybe there’s something here. Maybe if we did the cover, we could rewrite the song, and it could be about every band in the U.S.A.’”
“A couple days later, just actually while we were still on that tour, I just kind of opened up my notes, and started writing it all down,” the frontman continues, “and we laughed about it, but we didn’t know anyone else would think it was funny.”
Not only did people find it funny, but noteworthy, too. Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz even affirmed as much on Twitter, admitting, “We all got nailed a bit.”
“We just kind of felt like we were amidst a sea of bands that were kind of all fighting for the same scraps,” Castady remembers of the band’s days on Tooth And Nail, “and there was a few bands, Anberlin one of them, Underoath, another one, who, kind of, set the model, and it just kind of felt like all the other bands had to try to be just like them, or, kind of just . . . spin their wheels. And, so we just got to a place where we had an open dialogue with the label, and we said, y’know, ‘We love the guys who did our last record with you, we know what they’re going to charge us, and, it would make the most sense for us to kind of try our hand at this independently,’ and they were cool with letting us go, which was kind of a neat thing to discover. So, we went in about this time last year, and made this record Dear Future, Come Get Me. And the subject matter, and the title of the record, really is very much about what we were going through, this independent spirit of, we don’t know what the future holds, but, we’re not going to be afraid of it. If anything we want to say, bring it on, we’re ready for change, and we’re ready to see what we can do on our own.”
If there’s any downside to the Miley-mania, it’s that the novelty track runs the risk of diverting attention from one of the best local albums of 2009. Yet Castady remains unworried.
“I’ve seen the record increase 1,000 percent in sales,” he says of Dear Future’s popularity since “Every Band,” “so kids, they hear the song and they connect to the song first. Maybe 90 percent of the people who’ve bought our record probably heard that song first, and that’s why they bought it. But they are buying it, and I see that every day when I get the orders. I fill the orders myself, so, whatever it is that’s getting them in the door, we just want to make sure that it becomes a real fan, and that we cultivate and make sure they know that we really care, and appreciate them, and we autograph every CD and write them a little special note. So, hopefully it’ll be real and it’ll last.”
The Fold’s quest to become a less anonymous band will undoubtedly benefit from the personal connections — unless things really take off and they somehow reach Miley Cyrus levels.
“We’ve really had better fan interactions this past week,” he says, “[better] than we had even before the song. So, if that’s the case, then I would say the song is a huge success.”
After so many years chasing a dream that was really someone else’s model, Castady and co. now have the enviable option of defining success for themselves and appreciating it that much more.
“I’ve always had a very,” he pauses, “ever since I really was in a touring band, I’ve kind of felt like this could all end tonight. And for the first time, this past week — maybe since my old band signed our first major-label contract — this last week, I’ve kind of felt this really is in our hands, and this is something that can last, and I’ve imagined myself further down the road growing this even more. ‘Cause, I just feel like the industry’s changed so much since I’ve been in it; it’s really hard to believe that you’re still going to be able to do this, tomorrow or a year from now. But this song really encourages me, and our album picking up steam, and kids are really connecting to it, and I think because we’re doing it independently, I’m starting to really believe that this is in our hands, and we can actually influence the integrity of our careers.”
Only the future will tell.
– Jaime de’Medici
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