No Time to Sit Pretty

Being dubbed an indie orchestra didn’t quite suit Hooded Fang, a band in pursuit of a constantly shifting sound. The Toronto sextet dropped the superfluous instrumentation, trading it in for surf punk but keeping the catchiness. Why the change? Well, simply put, it’s just more fun.

“There’s nothing like good rock ‘n’ roll. It’s fun to see shows where people get sweaty and aren’t just standing around listening,” said singer, guitarist and songwriter Daniel Lee. “It’s more involved, a more primal vibe.”

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It’s a practice that takes all the delicacy out of their music, and the resulting force shoots adrenaline into their guitar-driven hooks and two-part singing.

“You just kind of play your ass off,” said Lee. “There’s no time to sit and think about what you’re doing.”

One reason for the move to faster, more surf-inspired playing was to disprove any assumption that Hooded Fang were a vanilla, one-trick-pony band, hurriedly nestling under that blanket term “indie.”

Last year’s Album earned the band a Polaris Prize nod, making the longlist for the annual award. But Hooded Fang were itching to mix things up, even with the success of the LP.

“The Polaris thing was really cool, but the main thing we wanted to do is not get pigeonholed as one of those orchestral indie pop bands,” said Lee.

Being a sometimes seven-person group with a habit for instrument-switching, the band was well on their way to establishing themselves as just that. Their debut landed at something of a cross-section between The Strokes at their tamest and an Arcade Fire arrangement, featuring tunes with a pop sheen that managed to get hipster heads bobbing.

But for this summer’s Tosta Mista, Lee made sure things stayed rough around the edges.

“We did the record really quickly. A lot of it was done in my bedroom… A lot of the guitar stuff is just played randomly; I couldn’t even repeat it because I don’t even remember what I did,” he laughed. “You just record it and don’t look back.”

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It’s quite a change from the previous LP, where careful compositions were put under a magnifying glass, thickened with rich instrumentation and guest musicians.

“The other album took a long time, trying to make all these different parts work together and have all this call-and-response going on,” said Lee. “For this one all that went out the window. I enjoy writing like this, writing really fast and spontaneously.”

That sense of upbeat spontaneity definitely shows on their new songs, and the energy is welcomed onstage.

“It’s more exciting to play live,” said Lee. “Some of our side projects are punk bands and more garagey, scrappy stuff, and a lot of the music we’re into and like to see live is more loud and energetic. So it’s a nice change to be able to do that with Hooded Fang.”

Those projects fall under the band’s own Dap Records, a label they were able to start building on the momentum of Hooded Fang.

Lee does the producing for all his music, which has the benefit of creative control—a benefit that he’s tried to balance against his tendency to obsess over barely audible minutia.

But the band’s in a good place now, feeling tighter and freer than ever.

“It’s funny when you have a band, you have to define your sound, right? We’ve done a couple different things and I think now we can do whatever we want,” Lee said.

Originally published by The Link Newspaper