It’s 2017. A brand new year. And although recovering from 2016 might take us a while, we’re ready for it. We got all the hangover remedies, including some new music from Michigan-based pop punk babes Rebel Kind. Composed of singer-songwriter Autumn Wetli, Shelley Salant and Amber Fellows, Rebel Kind just released their third full length, Just For Fools, and it’s just the vibe I’m feeling right now. So listen up, and read our chat with the band below. –Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: How did Rebel Kind come together?
AUTUMN WETLI: I started using it as a solo moniker in 2012 and the full band came to fruition in 2013.
AMBER FELLOWS: Autumn began it as a solo project, which I was a big fan of, and eventually Autumn reached out because she heard I wanted to drum in a band (I hadn’t before then). It was very fortunate for me as I was able to learn the drums to music I already loved. Shelley joined at the same time and we had already been in a few bands together for some years.
Has the lineup changed at all on the new album?
AW: Our friend Alex Glendening, who has fully joined the band, played on this record some, and was with us when we recorded it.
AF: We tried to get Alex to join since 2013, so it only took three years of courtship for him to finally be ours. He joined on fully after the original lineup finished the record.
This is your third LP. What’s changed along the way?
AW: The first LP, Laurel Canyon, was just me and Fred Thomas who I recorded with. Our second record was recorded pretty quickly in the span of a couple days to create a cassette tape before we played some shows in Nashville and Lexington in 2014. On this album, we had more time, and access to a lot of different instruments than before.
AF: The third LP is different because we were like “why not?” and tried going a little bigger than our previous tape-demo-to-release style that bands with few funds do well. We didn’t achieve a super high production level or anything like that but were able to invest a lot more time trying something new out. The songs are still brief, still pop, but we’ve drawn out the endings, added a couple two-part songs, and overlayed new sounds on our normal 3-piece set up that wasn’t on previous records like piano and organ.
What was the recording process like?
AF: The recording process happened in two bursts at Key Club in Benton Harbor, MI. We tracked the basic instruments and vocals in a day, and in a second session finished the overdubs. What really stood out to me this time was that we changed some of the song arrangements as we tracked them–songs that we had been playing for a year suddenly evolved while we were in the booths because someone would say “this could have a second part” or “this could end differently” and five minutes later we had come up with a part and tracked it. Perhaps some folks could guess which are the charmander-to-charmeleon songs.
You guys are from Michigan. Does that feed into the vibe of the band?
AW: Motown was definitely the first music I remember listening to when I was little bc of my mom. I feel influence from some of the local pop scene, but not really too much from the rock n roll/punk do Detroit. I feel like we kind of do our thing the way we want bc there is no magnifying glass on the scene here. No one outside of the local community really cares that much.
AF: I have personal influence from Michigan musicians throughout the years and perhaps more than that, just a general influence from coming into consciousness in the Midwest, and how different that probably is from developing political and artistic sensibilities in scenes with a lot of eyes on it like NYC, LA, Nashville etc. Becoming a musician in the Midwest is both difficult (because of limited resources) and freeing, in that you can become whatever strange unencumbered version of yourself because the market isn’t hovering over the scene legitimizing some art forms over others.
Your press release has this great statement that goes, ‘Part of survival in severe times is to just go on and do what you know.’ Can you elaborate on what that means to the band?
AF: Poor artists find a way to exist in the face of being quite disliked in our current society. Our art becomes therapy, community, inexpensive entertainment, and shared resources for friends and ourselves…and because our labor is undervalued and the conventional routes for personal growth have mostly eroded away or become so limited, making music is another rhythm to a day of eating, sleeping, and going to work…something less to do with identity or accumulating power and more with breathing through the grind with some grace and antagonism alike.
What’s next for Rebel Kind?
AW: We have some new songs we may record at some point. I’m Trying to write in a new sound/way. Record release show in hamtramck dec 17 and Ann Arbor jan 7.
AF: Hopefully more recordings, some fun shows, a trip to New York? Hoping for a happy RK crew in 2017 doing cool things.