The Fatty Acids weird, winding road

By Joey Grihalva

When I moved back to Milwaukee in late 2013, the most talked about local band was The Fatty Acids. The psych-rocking four-piece — at that time a sextet — were fresh off the release of Boléro, their third full-length and one of the best Wisconsin albums in recent memory.

Almost a year later, my girlfriend and I went to the Polish Falcon ballroom for Canopies’ Maximize Your Faith record release show. We didn’t know the identity of the opening act and when we arrived they were in the middle of their set.

My girl quickly turned to me and exclaimed, “Who are these guys? This is like some California electro-surf-psych rock, I love it!” Convinced the band was from the West Coast, we shared an “Aha!” moment when we learned it was in fact The Fatty Acids.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing The Fatty Acids (aka “the Fatties”) a handful of times, including a Summerfest gig opening for “Weird Al” Yankovic. I’ve also gotten to know frontman Josh Evert, a big-hearted guy who is also the founder of the Arte Para Todos benefit festival and plays drums in another beloved local band Jaill.

Back in November I sat down with Evert — who turns 29 this Sunday — to discuss the Fatties weird, winding road, and their new album, Dogs of Entertainment.

Small-town freaks

Josh Evert grew up in Lodi, a town of 3,000 people about 20 miles north of Madison. He has an older brother who he credits for providing all of his musical inspiration, from Smash Mouth to the Presidents of the United States. The first cassette tape Evert owned was the Free Willy soundtrack. He was obsessed with the Michael Jackson song, “Will You Be There.”

Josh Evert and Matt Pappas at Arte Para Todos 2016. (Photo: Kelly Anderson)

Evert’s parents exposed him to the piano at a young age with lessons. He was also infatuated with the drums as a child.

“Whenever I was at someone’s house and they had a drum set I was just on it immediately. I’m sure so many parents wanted to kill me,” Evert admits.  

In early middle school, Evert made beats on a 90’s Yamaha synthesizer while a friend “rapped” over them, one of his first projects. He played trombone in the school marching band while moonlighting as a drummer with in different bands with friends. While in high school Evert often traveled to Madison to play and/or attend shows.

One of Evert’s bands played a gig at their high school and Cole Quamme — who grew up in a nearby town — was there and introduced himself. Quamme and Evert would go on to found The Fatty Acids with Derek De Vinney as students at UW-Milwaukee.   

College freaks

“I felt really lost and confused when I first moved to Milwaukee,” says Evert. “I spent a majority of my time writing in my dorm room. I would say 70-80% of Stop Berries, Berries and Berries, Berries (the Fatties debut album) came from song ideas I wrote freshman year. I was responding to emotions.”

Evert had messed around with various digital workstations up to that point. But he credits having Garageband on his college laptop the built-in music editing software on Apple computers with his foray into songwriting. At one point Evert was creating two to three demos a day.

Derek De Vinney is a Madison native who had been playing in a successful Christian rock band when he met Evert. De Vinney was itching to get out of that scene. He moved into a punk house near the UWM campus called “Mint Mint Chocopocalypse.” The Fatty Acids played some of their first shows in that basement, along with original guitarist Joel Van Haren.

The Fatty Acids on the UWM campus circa 2009.

The Fatty Acids started to pick up steam when De Vinney and Evert moved in together. They became friends with fellow UWM student Brady Murphy, who plays bass in the Midnight Reruns. They also befriended members of Sat. Nite Duets then called Two Kids Get New Books who were students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). The Fatties played with them at the MIAD Union and invited them to play their basement.

One fateful night, Evert and his comrades ventured off campus, catching a string of city buses to the Borg Ward in Walker’s Point a defunct DIY all-ages space. That night they saw LA noise band Health and NYC (by way of Mequon) rap rocker Juiceboxxx.

“That was my introduction to people doing some really cool shit. I wasn’t even super interested in the music Juiceboxxx was making, but the audience interaction was wild. The entire space was filled with kids who just started moshing and going absolutely nuts.”

Music freaks

The Fatty Acids debut album Stop Berries, Berries and Berries, Berries was recorded over winter break 2008. The album garnered enough positive reviews and fans that when they decided to make another, they turned to crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

While recording their second album Leftover Monsterface Van Haren went to Washington D.C. for an internship and guitarist Matt Pappas joined the fray. Upon Van Haren’s return they had two guitarists. Myles Coyne and Kurt Raether were also with the Fatties at one point, playing guitar, trumpet, keyboards and additional percussion.  

Drums may be Evert’s original obsession and what he plays in Jaill but for the Fatties he sings and plays keys. Over the years his equipment has evolved.

“Cole studied abroad for a while and we weren’t down with bringing in a new drummer. We thought it would be a cool experiment performing and playing the beats, so I programmed them into Garageband. We went through a six-month period playing shows to these funky circus beats.”

“From there I tried to keep the electronic element, so that’s when the sampler came in. Now when I run everything through Ableton the options are endless for sounds and effects. I’ve gotten more knowledgeable with automating effects so I can do live reverb and stuff like that, which is really important to me at this point.”

The Fatty Acids circa 2011.

Boléro was recorded throughout 2012 and would go on to become a touchstone Milwaukee album. I asked Evert if they had a sense of how special it was when they were creating it.

“I don’t know. We were definitely confident enough to throw $2,000 at mastering it. We got it mastered by Emily Lazar, who is one of the only female mastering engineers I’ve heard of and one of the best in the world.”

The connection with Grammy nominated Lazar — who has mastered records for Vampire Weekend, Foo Fighters, and The Killers — was made through Jaill’s Vincent Kircher, who wrote one of his label reps at Sub Pop.

This led to a connection in the United Kingdom. Tris Taylor of Pink Lizard Music stumbled upon the Fatties while perusing Lazar’s company’s blog. Since then Taylor has been a proponent of the Fatties’ music, even putting out a few digital releases. He also helped get their music played on Steve Lamacq’s BBC Radio 6 show.

“What a bunch of f*cking freaks!”

The Boléro release show in 2013 has the unique distinction of being a Lower Level Pabst Theater show, a considerable feat for a local band. Pictures of the event portray a wacky affair, with members of the Fatties wearing green bodysuits, live projections, a strip tease and a huge inflatable Aaron Rodgers.

Evert admits that his penchant for weirdness was somewhat inspired by the band that the Fatties are most often compared to — The Flaming Lips. Evert first saw them in Madison when he was still a college student.

“It felt like the audience was fiending for something. And they knew exactly what it was and provided it. They’re super theatrical. There were giant hands that shot lasers out of them.”

In 2015, the Fatties launched an aggressive social media campaign to open for “Weird Al” Yankovic at Summerfest. They were unsuccessful, but as a consolation they got to open for none other than The Flaming Lips.

For this performance the Fatties brought back all of their past members plus singer Treccy Marquardt-Thomas, saxophonist Jay Anderson, and dancer/drummer Christopher Deangelo Gilbert. The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne hung out in their dressing room and watched the Fatties set from the side. When the Lips took the stage he exclaimed, “Who were those guys? What a bunch of fucking freaks!”

The Fatty Acids at Summerfest 2015. (Photo: Pink Lizard Music)

The next year, the Fatties realized their dream of opening for “Weird Al” at Summerfest, though they didn’t get any face time with their hero. They were joined onstage again by Marquardt-Thomas, Anderson, and Gilbert. Both Marquardt-Thomas and Anderson appear on the new Fatties album — Dogs of Entertainment.

Recording Dogs was more of a challenge than previous Fatties records, as Evert and De Vinney no longer live together. Each member also has their own busy schedule. Pappas now plays lead guitar in the Platinum Boys, who are often on the road. Quamme is a videographer with the advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt.

Additionally, De Vinney and Evert have both released solo projects since Boléro. De Vinney put out a four-track project as Lingerer using various nontraditional instruments and is working on a full-length. Meanwhile, Evert is creating music using sounds he finds in nature.

‘Dogs of Entertainment’ cover art by Rachel Sanders.

In 2015, Evert ventured into the Nebraskan wilderness for an artist-in-residence program at Homestead National Monument through the National Park Service to create Not Uninhabited. In 2016, he did a residency with Chicago-based artist-run nonprofit ACRE on land in Steuben, Wisconsin, where he created Uncle Sam’s Club for the Agoraphobic.

This summer, Evert will travel to Alaska for a residence at Denali National Park and Preserve. These days, he keeps himself busy organizing the third annual Arte Para Todos festival, which advocates and raises funds for arts in education. Evert says he isn’t too concerned with the future of The Fatty Acids.

“I try not to think about it. Just try to take it little by little. We’re happy we’re putting something new out because it’s been a while.”

No matter where the Fatties road leads, the band remains admired for their eccentric performances, excellent records, zany/heartfelt music videos, and goofy/sweet personalities.

“It’s always kind of surprising and amazing, because you don’t know if anyone’s going to show up. But people keep showing up.”

The Fatty Acids at Summerfest 2016. (Photo: Dan Peters)

[ IN CONCERT ]

The Fatty Acids will appear today from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the radio and in studio at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s weekly program ‘414 Live.’ The event is free, all-ages and open to the public.

The Fatties will also play two record release shows with a stage design by Kristina Rolander and live visuals by Wes Tank.

All-ages, Friday, February 24, at Anodyne Coffee Roasters in Walker’s Point with Aloha Juice, Phat Nerdz, and Zed Kenzo. 

21+, Friday, March 3, at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn with Rockbirds from Rockford, Paper Holland, and Dogs in Ecstacy.

[FULL TRANSCRIPT]

In November 2016, Josh Evert dropped by my place in Walker’s Point. During our conversation we each enjoyed a bottle of Lakefront Brewery’s My Turn Series “Josh,” an imperial black IPA.

WiG
You were saying one of the first albums you bought when you moved to Milwaukee was by Maritime?

EVERT
Yeah. And I honestly think I was introduced through 88Nine. I had listened to The Promise Ring a little bit in high school. I had wood/water and I really liked that album.

WiG
The Promise Ring was one of the bigger bands from Milwaukee at the time?

Josh Evert (Photo: Joey Grihalva)

EVERT
They were big enough to find ears in the small town that I grew up in, so they must have been pretty big.

WiG
And you’re from Lodi, Wisconsin?

EVERT
Yeah, it’s like 20 miles north of Madison.

WiG
Born and raised?

EVERT
Yeah. I was there for 18 years, spent a lot of my high school days in Madison hanging out, going to shows, was in a couple different bands.

WiG
Were your parents from that part of the state?

EVERT
My parents…my mom’s dad lived in Lake Forest. My dad was a Milwaukee guy growing up. Right before they had me they were living in Hawaii. I missed Hawaii by a couple years.

WiG
So you may have been conceived in Hawaii?

EVERT
No one knows, but I’m just going to say “Yes.”

WiG
What were they doing in Hawaii?

EVERT
My dad flew for Hawaiian Air.

WiG
Oh, he’s a pilot?

EVERT
Yeah. Retired pilot. He worked for United Airlines for 30 odd years.

WiG
Do you know how to fly?

EVERT
No, but I’ve been in a tiny airplane with him before. It was wild.

WiG
What did your mom do?

EVERT
Stay at home mom.

WiG
Brothers and sisters?

EVERT
Big brother, 8 years older. He was definitely all of my musical inspiration.

WiG
What was he listening to?

EVERT
He had an eclectic taste. Some of my first tapes were handed down from him. Offspring, Smash Mouth, Presidents of the United States of America, Arrested Development. The first tape I ever had was the Free Willy soundtrack.

WiG
Michael Jackson had a big song on that, right?

EVERT
I was totally obsessed with that Michael Jackson song. 100% obsessed.

WiG
Was your brother playing in any bands?

EVERT
He was playing in academic bands. He never played in rock bands that I know of. He played piano and then he played the tenor sax.

WiG
And what did you first play?

The Fatty Acids (Photo: Lucian McAfee)

EVERT
I started on piano.

WiG
Lessons or just in school?

EVERT
Lessons, parents got me into that. I have always been obsessed with drums, so whenever I was at someone’s house and their older siblings had a drum set I was just on it immediately. I’m sure so many parents wanted to kill me.

WiG
Self taught with the drums?

EVERT
Pretty much. With the help of band teachers along the way.

WiG
So you did percussion in school?

EVERT
I actually played trombone in middle and high school marching band. I did do some side percussion stuff. Trombone is a cool instrument, I like the tone a lot. The trumpet’s a little bit sharp sometimes. Trombone is just a smoother type of brass.

WiG
Have you ever seen Trombone Shorty live?

EVERT
I’ve seen him on Conan and it was awesome.

WiG
He played Summerfest two years ago and it was fucking awesome. Such a great show. It was one of those shows that I just went to because I had a press pass and was already there and it was a fantastic surprise.

EVERT
It’s so cool when that works out. I used to work at the UWM Post and we got three press passes and we would just bike down to Summerfest every day and take pictures of whatever we wanted in front of the crowd, in that little photographer space. Saw The Roots up front,  Public Enemy, it was awesome.

WiG
So you were saying you did play some shows with rock bands in high school?

EVERT
Yeah.

WiG
Were you playing drums?

EVERT
Yeah, my first couple of rock bands I was playing drums. I didn’t really have any confidence in songwriting or really felt the need to get into songwriting until I was 20 I think, freshman and sophomore year of college.

WiG
So you moved to Milwaukee for college?

EVERT
Yeah.

WiG
Is that where you met Derek De Vinney?

EVERT
Yep.

Derek De Vinney at Summerfest 2016. (Photo: Dan Peters)

WiG
Did you and Derek found the Fatties?

EVERT
It was me, Derek and Cole. Cole and I actually grew up in small towns that were like maybe 10 miles away from each other. And so I played a show at our high school one time and Cole showed up and introduced himself. Derek and Joel and I met through UWM.

WiG
Where’s Derek from?

olEVERT
Madison.

WiG
What year did you start the Fatties?

EVERT
It must have been like ‘08.

WiG
Was that an intentional thing? Did you want to start songwriting?

EVERT
I felt really lost and confused when I first moved to Milwaukee. And I spent a majority of my time writing in my dorm room. I would say 70-80% of Stop Berries, Berries and Berries, Berries came from song ideas that I wrote freshmen year. So it was kind of like responding to emotions that year. I was feeling pretty alone. It wasn’t something I consciously decided I was going to do, it just kind of happened.

I had messed with some DAW’s before, digital audio workstations, like Cool Edit Pro and Cakewalk and ACID, but when I bought my laptop to come be a student it came with Garageband and that kind of changed everything. Especially the ease of having the microphone on the computer. And I was just making like two or three demos a day. So I think technology was a big part of it too.

WiG
And what were you listening to at the time? What were you being influenced by when you got to college? Because I know for me that first year of college really opened my ears up.

EVERT
Totally. That year was definitely a rap renaissance for me. That was the year I discovered De La Soul, Binary Star, and there was also this constant stream of new music coming at you. Even in the dorms we got MTVu, which actually still played a pretty steady stream of music videos at the time. So whenever you were bored you’d just hit that and find out about The Klaxons, Tapes ‘n Tapes, bunch of cool indie shit.

WiG
Were you following any music blogs? I remember between about 2007 and 2010 was the prime hip-hop blog period.

EVERT
No, I never really became a subscribed reader of any arts and entertainment blogs. The closest I got was probably The AV Club. The stuff I listen to is mainly influenced by friends.

WiG
Word of mouth?

EVERT
Yeah.

Josh Evert (Photo: Sam O’Neill)

WiG
And were you going to see any local shows at the time?

EVERT
Yeah. Some of the first shows I saw…we took a bus to Borg Ward, this was when I was a sophomore, which seemed like an impossible distance when you’re still trying to learn the city and hoping on a chain of two or three buses. I can’t remember what the hell that route was, but we went to Borg Ward and we saw Health with Juiceboxxx and that was the craziest shit.

That was my introduction to people doing some really cool shit. I wasn’t even super interested in the music Juiceboxxx was making, but the audience interaction was wild. The entire space was filled with kids who just started moshing and going absolutely nuts.

WiG
The spectacle of Juiceboxxx tends to exceed the musical output, but then again, I feel like the music is catching up. I’ve enjoyed his last two records for sure. So Borg Ward was one of your first venues? That makes sense since it was all ages and you weren’t 21 yet.

EVERT
Miramar was big too for all ages. I got to see Minus the Bear and a couple other awesome shows there. And then Mad Planet was huge too. I don’t know if they still do all ages stuff, but we used to come from my hometown and catch all ages shows at Mad Planet. My friends and I were obsessed with this band Blood Brothers. I never got into hardcore or screamo, but they were doing what I would call some hardcore shit, but in such an interesting way and with such pop knowledge that they were irresistible.

WiG
Were they local?

EVERT
No, I want to say they were from the East Coast. But yeah, those were my first musical experiences.

WiG
It’s interesting that Mad Planet used to do all ages shows.

EVERT
It might have been an early show, but I know they did it.

WiG
Was Turner Hall doing all ages shows when you were in college?

EVERT
I can’t remember. I went to the Pabst, I saw Cursive there. I used to be obsessed with Saddle Creek. I saw Bright Eyes a couple times.

 

WiG
So the genesis of the Fatties sounds like you played music in a few high school bands, then you met some dudes in college who played music, you had some Garageband demos, and then you built off that?

EVERT
Yeah, it felt very natural. Derek had been playing in a Christian band that was pretty successful.

WiG
Based in Madison?

EVERT
Yeah. They were making mad money and on the cusp of being signed to a somewhat major label. He was hungry to get out of that Christian music scene. Cole had been playing in a band in high school and he wanted to expand on that.

WiG
And Joel was the original lead guitarist?

EVERT
Yeah. The first few times we ever got together it was Cole and Derek and I in Derek’s old basement. He used to live in this punk venue/house called “Mint Mint Chocopocalypse.” We would go over to his house and there’d be a punk show going on, maybe Midwest Beat would be playing, Dios Mio, something cool would be happening there. And we started jamming in that basement.

Then Derek and I moved in together and that’s kind of when we felt like we really started making up some ground. Couldn’t really find any venue shows so we started having shows in our basement. Our buddy Brady Murphy was doing the same thing, he plays in the Midnight Reruns.  He’s the bass player. We would do show exchange shows in his basement.

WiG
The Reruns are about as old as you guys, right? You’re contemporaries?

EVERT
Yeah. And we became friends with Sat. Nite Duets, who at the time were called “Two Kids Get New Books” and they were all MIAD kids and so we went down to the MIAD Union and played with them one time. They would come play our basement. I remember having such trouble getting in at any venue. It felt like you had to have some sort of connection or hook up.

WiG
Were you 21 at the time?

EVERT
No. I think we all had fakes though. We could’ve faked it.

WiG
Just didn’t have the connects?

Gig poster from 2016.

EVERT
Yeah. Even to get in at Stonefly was like a big ordeal. The first time we got to play Stonefly was like really serious.

WiG
Had you put out the first record by then?

EVERT
I think so, I can’t remember.

WiG
Stonefly used to book some solid national acts.

EVERT
Yeah, I think we were mostly playing basement shows and then we decided we were going to record an album to try and pick things up a little.

WiG
Was that process pretty DIY?

EVERT
Yeah, we kind of locked ourselves in the house that we were all living in and just recorded it during that luxury of winter break.

WiG
What was the record in between Stop Berries and Boléro ?

EVERT
Leftover Monsterface. Berries was ‘09, Leftover Monsterface was 2011, and Boléro was 2013.

WiG
For the second record, was it a similar recording and writing process?

Matt Pappas at Summerfest 2016. (Photo: Dan Peters)

EVERT
It was always collaborative. I’ve never like made a demo and asked them to do exactly what was on that. I think that’s bullshit. And I’ve been in bands where that is asked of me and I hated that. Plus, the dudes I’m playing with are going to come up with more interesting stuff, just be able to lend a different set of ears to the songs, which is huge.

I would say when Matt entered, because Joel went to D.C. to do an internship, at that point it definitely became a little bit more of, “Hey, I recorded this, I’m going to play it for you and let’s do like eight takes and see what happens.” It was more improv that way I guess.

WiG
When did Matt join the band?

EVERT
That was when we were recording Leftover Monsterface. And then when Joel came back for a while we were doing two guitarists.

WiG
Wasn’t Myles (Coyne) in the band at some point?

EVERT
Yeah. That was sometime after Boléro. He had come up with some acoustic guitar parts and was playing those live for us and it just escalated from there. But yeah, we also had our friend Kurt (Raether) in the band for a couple of years. I met him working at the UWM Post. He came on to do some trumpet parts and eventually he was doing keyboards and percussion stuff.

 

WiG
So when you were starting out did you have a similar set-up to what you have now with the keys and computer?

EVERT
My setup has only gotten more complex. I definitely just started out with that keyboard and went between two sounds on the keyboard. Cole studied abroad for a while and we weren’t down with bringing in a new drummer. We thought it would be a cool experiment performing and playing the beats, so I programmed them into Garageband. We went through like a six-month period playing shows to these funky circus beats.

Then from there I kind of tried to keep the electronic element, so that’s when the sampler came in. Now when I run everything through Ableton the options are just endless for sounds and effects, I feel like I can do anything I want. It’s hard to go back from there. I’ve gotten more knowledgeable with automating effects so I can do live reverb and stuff like that, which is really important to me at this point.

WiG
That autotune you were doing last night was really cool and kind of funny, and I feel like the Fatties have that playful element. You’re always entertaining, whether it’s the banter or sarcasm.

EVERT
Thanks. Yeah we’re some goofy dudes, always trying to keep it light.

WiG
When I moved back to town at the end of 2013 you guys had a reputation as being this well-known Milwaukee band, I’d go so far as to use the word “stalwart.” But when Kristina and I got together and started going to shows we hadn’t seen you until that Polish Falcon show for the Canopies release show (in Fall 2014).

We weren’t aware that you were on the bill, we just went because I knew it was Canopies release show and Bread Mothers were doing visuals. And I remember when we got there and you guys were playing, Kristina was like, “Who are these guys? This is like some California synth-surf-psych rock, I love it!” She was convinced you guys were a West Coast band. But then we found out it was the Fatty Acids and we were like, “Damn, why have we not seen them until now!?”

To this day that’s one of my favorite local shows and still the only one I’ve seen at Polish Falcon. To me, when I think of the Fatties, I think of that show. After the fact I saw pictures of the Boléro release show at the Pabst. That must’ve been a crazy time.

EVERT
Kurt who did almost all of our music videos, or the first four ones, he had this idea that we would film the band wearing green screen suites and then project that image but then fill in everything on the green screen suites. So yeah…it was really interesting. But also we wanted to have it be as strange as possible.

We had our friend Adam dancing, and he was slowly stripping, which we didn’t ask for at all. But he took the artistic liberty to shed one piece of clothing for each song, strip style. And then we had a couple of chairs onstage so people could just hang out. It was a lot of fun.

“Boléro” release show at the Pabst Theater, 2013. (Photo: Pink Lizard Music)

WiG
Where do you think that impulse comes from? To be as weird as possible and not take yourselves so seriously…

EVERT
I don’t know. The most obvious comparison we get is The Flaming Lips and I will say that the first time I saw them it felt like the audience was fiending for something and they knew exactly what it was and provided it. And it was the first time I felt a live show can be so much more. They’re super theatrical. There were giant hands that shot lasers out of them.

WiG
Where was that at?

EVERT
They have this festival in Madison that was sponsored by Jack (Daniels) and it was called…something Island. I want to say Urban Island, but that’s a Milwaukee thing. Oh, it was Southern Comfort and it was free. It was slightly ill-attended. We just walked up and got front row for The Flaming Lips.

WiG
Were you in college or high school?

EVERT
I had come back during college on a weekend. It was great. So I think that was a big influence. I think we just tend to get bored and we don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over. If we can make it a little bit theatrical then we do.

WiG
And that comes across in your videos, especially the latest one (“Little Brother Syndrome”).

EVERT
Yeah, that was a really intense undertaking. My buddy Ryan put hundreds of hours of post-production into that. It took forever, it should have been out like a year or two ago. But we were really happy with the results.

WiG
Boléro is such a touchstone album for the last 10-20 years of Milwaukee music. I feel like it’s one of the best records from Milwaukee of any era. Did you have a sense when you were making it that I was going to be really special?

EVERT
I don’t know, we were definitely confident enough to throw $2,000 at mastering it. We got it mastered by Emily Lazar, who is one of the only female mastering engineers I’ve ever heard of and one of the best in the world. She does work for Vampire Weekend and lots of hot shit indie bands. If it sounds amazing she was probably on it.

So I’d been playing with Jaill at that point and I asked Vinnie to give me some recommendations for a mastering engineer and he wrote to a dude at Sub Pop. That guy gave us a list and I just started writing people and sending them the music. This one particular guy at The Lodge got back to me and was overly excited about it. No one else really seemed to care. And he actually gave us a pretty huge discount. I explained our situation and how we had never been on a label.  So the budget we had was really busting our asses playing shows. I think we ended up getting like a 50% discount.

“Boléro” album art.

WiG
And you toured for that album too, right?

EVERT
Did we tour? Hmm…our most extensive tour was going out to the West Coast. And I can’t remember if that was before or after Boléro. We’ve tried to do a tour every year. The West Coast is a little rough for the Fatties. It’s been rough for Jaill too.

WiG
Tell me about how you got involved in Jaill.

EVERT
They had just gotten off a European tour after Traps was released and the drummer Austin had quit. Andy who was playing bass moved to drums. John who was on guitar moved to bass. They came back from that and Andy had quit and they were looking for a drummer. Vinnie had approached me maybe six months prior about doing some backup vocals. I was kind of stressing out about work and having too much stuff on my plate at the time. But when I heard they needed a drummer, I hit him up again. I used to play drums with this band Night Moves in Minneapolis and they had just kicked me out. So I was looking to play drums.

WiG
How did you make that work? Did you live in Minneapolis at some point?

EVERT
No, it didn’t really work, that’s why I got kicked out. But I was dedicated. I would leave Friday after work, get to Minneapolis in time for a quick practice and sometimes play a show on Friday night. Sometimes it would just be chill on Saturday and then practice and then the show.

WiG
Are they still a band?

EVERT
Yeah. They’re on Domino Records. They’re doing pretty well I think.

WiG
How did that happen?

EVERT
Another random UWM connection. John Pelant the lead singer and I had an acting class together and ended up doing a dialogue together for one of our projects.

WiG
Are there any other projects you’ve been in?

EVERT
Not since high school, no.

WiG
How long have you been in Jaill?

EVERT
It’s gotta be like 3 years now.

WiG
Traps was one of the first local records I bought, but I feel like it was before I moved back, so maybe earlier than 2013. So Jaill was definitely one of my first Milwaukee bands, not counting the Rusty Ps or Black Elephant.

EVERT
Black Elephant?

WiG
They were like the underground hip hop group in Milwaukee in the early-mid 2000s.  I just interviewed A.P.R.I.M.E. from AUTOMatic and he actually got his start after going to a Black Elephant show and meeting their manager. But yeah, let’s talk about the new record now. Boléro happened and then at what point did you start writing these new songs? It feels like a-long-time-coming sort of album…

EVERT
We started writing again when Kurt quit the band and we needed to restructure everything. That was maybe 2014. Our writing style is sometimes Derek will send me a demo and I’ll start writing stuff over it. Sometimes I’ll send Derek stuff. Sometimes it’s just stuff that we’re jamming on. I think it’s a pretty healthy mix of everyone contributing. But some of this stuff was kind of White Album-y in that Matt would come over and listen to a song a few times and then record something weird over it. Then we’d sit on it for a couple of months and maybe add something else. It wasn’t maybe as focused as our previous recordings.

The Fatty Acids (Photo: Lucian McAfee)

WiG
Still with the home studio?

EVERT
Yeah, but it’s the first time we’ve had a space outside of the basement. The past couple years we’ve been at this warehouse. We did a little bit of recording there as well. But a lot of it was still at our house.

WiG
And you have some guest musicians as well right? I heard some sax…

EVERT
Yep. We got Jay Anderson on it. We got Treccy Marquardt-Thomas doing some vocals on it. Getting outside collaborators to mix it up a little bit has been important to us.

WiG
It’s coming out on the same label that the Canopies record was on, right? What is it called?

EVERT
Forged Artifacts. They’re releasing the tape. Gloss is doing the vinyl. And then our buddy in England who does Pink Lizard music…

WiG
I saw that you’ve been getting some love in England. How did that come about?

EVERT
That was super random. Emily Lazar was telling me about The Lodge’s blog where they talk about each new project they are mastering and have an example of the music. This dude Tris (Taylor) was specifically looking for female mastering engineers, came across Emily Lazar, then came across our music. Freak accident.

WiG
And he dug it?

EVERT
Yeah and then shortly after that he was hitting us up on Twitter and Facebook. At first just to be like, “Hey, I like this band, you should too.” Then eventually started forming this creative group where he’s doing all sorts of stuff. He’s an artist himself too, so he’s running on all cylinders. He’s got a branch for sound tracking. He’s got a branch for licensing. He’s got Pink Lizard music, which is just strictly releasing albums. So it’s a many pronged thing that he’s doing.

WiG
What’s his name again?

EVERT
Tris Taylor. He works with a PR company too and they were able to get us on BBC 6 with Steve Lamacq, which apparently is a pretty big deal.

WiG
Oh yeah. When I lived in Edinburgh I used to listen to BBC 6 a lot, specifically Stephen Merchant had a show.

EVERT
Comedy show?

WiG
No it was a music show actually. It was him and a girl and a guy and they’d play music and talk about it and joke a little bit, but it was really good. So what is he doing for the new record?

EVERT
He is definitely doing a digital release and just trying to push it in whatever way he can. It’s cool to have someone stoked about it.

WiG
How about a show in the UK?

EVERT
I mean collectively that’s kind of our goal. Not necessarily the UK. I’d love to do some shows in Mexico, maybe in Canada. It just seems so unrealistic and I know bands that have gotten their butts kicked trying to do it.

WiG
I feel like the Fatties brand would work in Mexico if you tap into the right resources.

EVERT
I want to at least visit or try and live in Mexico City at some point in the near future.  I would be so down to tour down there.

WiG
Let’s talk about that a little bit. Last year you were a bit nomadic in that you were living and traveling in Central America and South America during the planning of Arte Para Todos. When did you catch that bug to travel and do that sort of stuff? Had you been doing that or were you in Milwaukee pretty steady for a while?

EVERT
I’ve done it twice now where I just kind of take off by myself. The first time was right after we released Leftover Monsterface. I just took off for England and hung out with a friend and hit Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. This time I just took off to Panama, Columbia, then made my way down to Bolivia. I love traveling alone for very selfish reasons. You can basically do whatever you want at all times, it’s kind of amazing for that reason. But it’s also a very productive time for me,  writing-wise and reading.

Josh Evert in South America.

WiG
Did you feel like you needed that sort of escape at the times when you left town?

EVERT
For sure.

WiG
Were you feeling bored? Like you were in a rut?

EVERT
All of that definitely. And I was also just finally getting out of my house that I’d been in for 8 years, the house that the Fatties formed in. It was just like, “This is definitely a new chapter.” All of my Milwaukee experiences have been based around this location.  The timing really felt right to go have an adventure. Also I’m able to work remotely, so I could live down there for like a few bucks a day and just kind of do my thing.

WiG
What precipitated the end of that house where you guys all formed?

EVERT
At the end it was just me and my buddy Kelly. We had been dealing with a slumlord for forever. For me, I just totally needed a change of pace. Almost all of my time in Milwaukee had taken place in Riverwest and being involved in the Riverwest scene. It was just time to move on from that.

WiG
And how are you finding Walker’s Point so far?

EVERT
I love it so much, I really love it. I just hope, and I know this is completely hypocritical to say cuz I just moved down here, but I hope the neighborhood isn’t getting super trendy. You know with Hamburger Mary’s and they’re opening a Fuel Cafe, it seems like it might be the next Riverwest in some ways.

WiG
And you have some solo projects. There was the one where you were out in the woods and you incorporated nature sounds. Was there a second one too?

EVERT
Yeah. I did a residency for ACRE artist cooperative. It’s a group that’s based out of Chicago. They rent or share this gigantic chunk of land out in Steuben, Wisconsin. They give residencies to artists from all over the world and it’s a really amazing program that one of my friends hipped me to. I don’t know if I would have ever heard of it. I don’t know how other people hear about these sorts of things.

Josh Evert’s ‘Not Uninhabited’ cover art.

But I went out there, did a 10-day residency and recorded in this makeshift garage/music studio. I really love that kind of opportunity. It’s the only time I ever feel fully devoted to the art I’m trying to make. It’s just kind of a really unique experience not having to deal with anything or any everyday issues and just fully focus. I always try to set a goal. Like the past two that I’ve done I wanted to have an EP of material from that time. It’s hard cuz I’m really good at starting projects but I struggle finishing them. So it’s cool to have this set amount of time and say, “This is what I’m doing.”

WiG
This might be a dumb question, but is that the goal with the Fatties? Where it gets to a point where you can commit all of your time and it becomes your day job?

EVERT
I’m not really sure. We’re kind of on different pages life-wise.

WiG
Some people are in different bands.

EVERT
Yeah. Derek is working on a full-length solo album. Matt’s doing a lot of Platinum Boys stuff.

WiG
Cole does videography stuff, right?

EVERT
Yeah he’s a video editor with Cramer-Krasselt. It’s a pretty serious job. Yeah, I’m not really sure. I try not to think about it. Just try to take it little by little. We’re happy we’re putting something new out because it’s been a while. Perhaps a tour in 2017  and see where it goes.

WiG
I mean you still have a pretty solid following in Milwaukee.

EVERT
It’s always kind of surprising and amazing because you don’t know if anyone’s going to show up, but people keep showing up.

Josh Evert and Cole Quamme at Arte Para Todos 2016. (Photo: Kelly Anderson)