What does a post-modern rock & roll band sound like and how does it get put together? The gents in speedfossil (yes, it’s all one word and lower case), are a good example of an answer to that question. This band is not a group of boys who all grew up together in the same neighborhood or a bunch of guys who went to the same college and formed a rock band. It’s a group of men who, somehow, found each other later in life to come together and play what has been described by Boston’s own Noise magazine as “highly catchy” and “infectious” original rock and roll. Some say it started with the release of their 2014 debut, Light of Day, but the truth is, it goes back a little further…
Songwriter and head fossil, Garret Vandermolen, had consigned all of his musical instruments to the expensive dust collector category after he walked away from the music business in the economic chaos of 2001. With his personal life imploding after the dissolution of his various musical adventures, including an appearance at Boston’s famed Rock and Roll rumble with his early 90’s group, the Vouts, it looked like his musical performing and song writing days were over. In 2010, when some friends in his new career (the wine business!) found out about his past, they persuaded him to pick up an instrument again and jam at an undisclosed wine shop after hours. Garret quickly realized that the songwriting and playing part of his personality that he had suppressed for almost 10 years were firmly imbedded in his blood.
He started playing bass on blues and soul covers at informal jam sessions with a group called The Importers. One of the people who ended up participating in these jam sessions, Greg McCleary, approached Garret about something a little more satisfying and challenging: writing original songs and making some recordings. Greg was no stranger to the music business either. As founder and co-owner of the successful audio post production studio, Heart Punch, he had also produced many albums and spent time as a keyboardist in both Animal Talk and Garr Lange and the Big Rig, among others. Garret and Greg became fast friends and a good musical team. In 2011, they started working on what would become Light of Day, and presciently (in some good old fashioned foreshadowing we will get to later!), Greg asked his friend, David Medeiros, to do some one-off guitar work on the album track, “Absent Minded”…
Flash forward to the end of 2014 and Light of Day is about to be released, Garret
recruits his buddy from those original 2010 jam sessions to play lead guitar and they pluck a bass player from the wine industry in Boston. With Greg playing drums, and Garret on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, speedfossil starts playing live shows and gets more and better gigs throughout 2015. One of the bills they are on is with a band called the Bitter Bastids, whose
guitarist and songwriter, Michael Scotti, and drummer, Chris Walsh, both take a liking to what speedfossil is doing. The two bands start playing more shows together, but things are about to change…
In the summer of 2015, the bass player and lead guitarist are no longer able to commit to live performances, and the band grinds to a halt. It seems like the adventures of speedfossil, as a live group, are over and Garret and Greg would be destined to just make recordings with no group to perform the songs. Despondent, but not ready to pack it all up again, Garret gives his friend Michael Scotti from the Bitter Bastids a call and asks him if he knows of any bass players that might be interested in playing with speedfossil. “As a matter of fact,” Michael says, “I’ve been playing bass for 20 years and I love your songs, I’d like to give it a shot”. Michael jams with Garret and Greg. It’s an uncannily natural fit and sounds great, but what about that lead guitar slot? Remember David Medeiros?
David, one of Boston’s top guitarists for the past 25 years, and a music producer in his own right (he produced Miss Fortune’s critically acclaimed debut in 2000), was pretty busy. Not only was he already performing on guitar and composing music, as well as a stint playing guitar in the orchestra for Ocean State Theater’s production of Rent, he also had a cadre of private students that he was teaching. Greg decides to give him a call based on how well speedfossil was sounding as a 3-piece with Michael on bass. David comes to a speedfossil gig, likes what he hears, and decides to join forces with the live group. Speedfossil starts playing again as a 4-piece in November 2015 and releases a holiday single, “Everything” b/w “Jingle Bells”. It gets radio airplay in the Boston and New England market. The band then gets featured on the cover of New England’s Metronome magazine in April 2016. Things are looking up. End of story? Not quite yet…Remember Chris Walsh?
Greg had a live sound in his head, a sound that had him playing keyboards (like on the recordings) and someone else playing drums. Taking a move from the now known speedfossil play book, Greg asks Chris if he wants to join up with his Bitter Bastid band mate and speedfossil bass player, Michael, and become the new drummer for speedfossil. Chris, who before joining up with Michael in the Bastids, had also walked away from music years ago to start a career and raise a family, says, “yes!”. The final piece of the speedfossil puzzle gets put into place.
And now, here we are in 2016, speedfossil is about to release a new single, “Land Of Blind” b/w “L.O.L.” from their forthcoming 2017 LP, You’re So Next!, which will have all 5 members of the live band playing on the recordings. It’s an ambitious record, and an even better live show with a band of, as Metronome says, “highly credentialed players delivering cleverly crafted tunes with the precision of a plastic surgeon while remaining true to the sentiment and energy rock & roll was intended to incite”. Post modern rock & roll, indeed!