What is your initial thought when you think of the sprawling megatropolis of Los Angeles and Southern California?
One might think of the surf culture of Venice beach; The Doors playing The Whiskey A Go Go; Iggy Pop getting arrested by the LAPD along Sunset Strip (in a puke stained mini skirt) during the implosion of The Stooges, and all manner of musical poets, down the ages, making tripped out, sunshine daydreams on wax about bikini-clad babes and hot rods.
Such an environment has also been partially responsible for sculpting one Davis Fetter, and the unique place he is currently carving for himself in the musical landscape.
Hailing from the Inland Empire region of Southern California, Fetter heard Chuck Berry at the tender age of twelve, picked up a guitar, and hasn’t stopped since. He spent his formative years in dark, sweaty indie rock clubs in the desert, and as part of the rock outfit Venus Infers, toured with a number of artists including Blondie, The B52s and former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy.
Murphy took the gang under his wing, and said he would like to produce some of Davis’s oeuvre. “He mentioned something about producing a record for me, but our styles are completely different,” Davis tells Live4ever. “If he can get me Twilight money, then I’ll write a song with him!”
When things went quiet on the band front, Fetter decided to carry on solo. He says, ‘Venus Infers wanted to slow things down, I like to move things along very quickly’. So he has.
The image that he cuts in videos, live performances, and on his single art, is certainly interesting – looking like he has walked straight out of a late 50s/early 60s time warp, with a quiff that would have most icebergs quivering in their boots, and the kind of swagger not really seen since before James Dean totalled his Porsche way back in 1955.
“When I started releasing music as a solo artist, I started writing songs influenced by the earliest forms of rock & roll,” Davis continues on his main influences. “So late 50s stuff. Slowly but surely I’m catching up.”
“At the moment, the songs I’m writing sound very 60s,” Fetter states, which is quite refreshing these days, especially as a fair number of bands on both sides of the pond are still taking their musical and visual cues primarily from the 70s.
Fetter’s voice is a strong, capable, versatile instrument which can often be heard cutting a clean, sensitive path across songs decorated with melodic bluesy guitars, roughed up with a scuff of reverb and often sprinkled with snatches of sweet tremolo which sound like the stars twinkling above distant city lights on a warm, romantic evening.
Sometimes set against gentle, discreet bass and, on one or two songs, sturdy, but sympathetic drum patterns, at other times his vocals can be witnessed making a confident, though by no means arrogant, dash over furrows of rocky guitars and pounding percussion on tracks such as ‘Born‘ and ‘Euphoria‘.
It seems to be raining on prom night in a number of Fetter’s songs – though this is by no means a prerequisite to describing his music as wet. With tunes that are as lovelorn as they are catchy, sentiments most readily witnessed on ‘Is It Over Now?‘ and ‘Death of A Lullaby‘ display a croon that almost seems to achingly melt about the edge of the chorus lines, giving a sense that the sentiment is straight from the heart – sounding a little like John Lennon during his most heartbroken moments, or Richard Ashcroft at points on The Verve‘s (break up) anthem ‘History‘.
Going solo, and not having the backing and support of a band, must be quite an intimidating experience, especially with regard to bearing ones soul, both on stage and record, though Fetter says: “All of my ‘solo’ songs would have been Venus Infers songs had the band wanted to keep the momentum going. I’m not one to sit on my hands, so I released more music as Davis Fetter. I’ve never written songs in the style of ‘singer/songwriters’ so they will always have a full band sound. I perform with a full band.”
Interestingly, the videos of Fetter playing live, without his backing band, are particularly impressive, providing sole presidence for his voice and guitar playing and a further, intimate platform from which to appreciate the passion, zest and love he has for his art; little vignettes in which the honest, raw, emotion in his lyrics really shine through.
It is almost guaranteed that the rocky, forthright single ‘Born‘, which was officially released at the start of this year, will wrap itself around your head like a pre-H.R Giger monster from a 50s B-movie and not let go. A song that begins with thick slabs of fluctuating three-chord heavy guitar, which rhythmically underpins the tune and is joined by rolling back up bass and anthemic crescendos of further axe work.
‘Euphoria‘ is a filmic anthem with an energy similar to Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘ Born to Run‘; a song that takes you on a journey, evoking that feeling when you’re in love with someone, and just want them to be with you all the time, experiencing every moment, and knowing that they’ll make it that extra bit special.
Fetter is aiming to tour the UK as soon as time and tide allow – so get your ears and wallets at the ready, worthy music lovers, and seriously consider his music as an addition to soundtrack those impending summer nights.