The first thing you realise when listening to Fossil Collective is that this is a band that do things differently. Beautiful melodic music, with rich glorious harmonies and meticulous attention to detail, it is as much an aural statement as it is a pleasure to listen to. Layer upon layer of harmony mixed with delicate uplifting sounds may well remind you of other artists, be it Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel or Midlake but this music is no mere imitation. Whilst Fossil Collective's songs tip their cap to these classic musicians, scratch the surface and you discover something more contemporary, yet equally as rewarding.
It seems impossible that something so sonically complete could appear as if from nowhere, but Fossil Collective, the Yorkshire two-piece have been perfecting their craft and working towards this moment for years. Consisting of multi-instrumentalists David Fendick and Jonny Hooker, both were local musicians from the Leeds music scene, whose paths had crossed at various points in different bands. 'What separated Jonny from the other people I'd met was his total commitment to music' begins Dave. 'Whereas other people we were around were in bands for somewhat clichéd reasons, our focus was the music and the songs and for that reason we gravitated towards each other'. After a successful album with Leeds band Vib Gyor, the duo decided to strip everything back and start again.
Jonny reminisces "We felt we had to fold our cards and be honest to ourselves. We were listening to the kind of music we grew up with. (Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor) We decided there and then to try and capture the essence of that traditional songcraft, to strip everything back to the song, lyrics and melody'' Dave steps in "It was actually very liberating to be able to do that".
Armed with 3 roughly prepared demos, the duo found themselves looking for a recording studio. 'We had no money at all, but our friends had a modest little studio in a crypt just outside of the city' says Dave. 'It was a totally surreal place to go to as it was in the middle of nowhere. We had to stop recording at various points during the day as the main church was directly above the crypt. Whenever there was a mass or a wedding for example we had to be quiet - like little church mice scurrying about downstairs.’ However, a week of intense recording paid off, and they re-surfaced with 3 songs that would become their self released 'Honey Slides' EP.
Jonny explains. 'Before we had even decided on the name Fossil Collective we realised that we wanted this project to be a continual running order of like-minded local artists. We worked on the principle that if we surrounded ourselves with an evolving stream of people we admired then our music would never become stale. Keeping away from the constraints of a 'typical' band dynamic would keep it open and interesting for us. If we wanted a harpist we'd go and find one, If we wanted a cellist we'd go and find one and so on.'
Knowing they were on to something special they wanted something visual to reflect this. Enlisting the help of Leeds animator Ashley Dean (Broken Pixel) was the next logical step. ‘Ash is a good friend and a like-minded independent local artist. We played him On & On and asked him to interpret the song.’ The result was the stop/start animated video of a courtship between a wolf and a stag that went viral on youtube, getting over 250,000 hits in 2 weeks.
Once they put their heads above water, things started happening very quickly. Their 3rd gig was at Shepherds Bush Empire, supporting Benjamin Francis Leftwich. "It was great because other artists were contacting us, saying how much they liked our music and inviting us to tour" remembers Jonny. "It was sudden, but we were lucky to have great network of friends to come play with us and help interpret the songs live … after all, who is going to turn down the chance to play Shepherds bush Empire!" The band did a full tour with Ben and then another UK support with soul singer Ren Harvieu.
On 11th June 2012 Fossil Collectives Debut EP 'Let It Go' was released. Lead track was 'Single of the Week' on iTunes USA, opening the doors to a lot of new fans. It received plays and support from Mark Riley, Radcliffe and Maconie, Chris Hawkins and Steve Lamacq at 6 Music. It also won the 6 music rebel playlist. Radio 2 support came from Bob Harris, Mark Radcliffe and an extremely supportive Dermot O'Leary who invited them in for a chat and to perform on his Saturday Radio2 show. 'Let it Go' also made the XFM playlist, the Q playlist & the NME 'A' list. A 10 date headline tour coincided with this, selling out in Manchester & London in a matter of days.
The band built on this success by releasing the 'On & On' EP on 22nd October. Receiving the same support from radio, they were also invited in to record an infamous Daytrotter Session. Press support came from Sunday Times, Time Out, The Fly, The Independent & NME. It was at this point that The Civil Wars starting tweeting about how much they were enjoying the music. A few friendly emails later and Fossil Collective were supporting them at the key gigs of their UK tour. (Camden Roundhouse, Manchester Apollo, Glasgow 02 Academy) 'We feel privileged to play anywhere though' says Dave - be it our last sell out London show to a couple of hundred people, or a few thousand people at Camden Roundhouse. What is important is that we always stay true to ourselves and the music.'
The future is shaping up nicely for Fossil Collective. After a winter spent locked away recording their debut album, the band will come out of hibernation in March with their first gig across the pond, playing the 35 Denton Festival in Texas, The Savannah Stopover and SXSW.
With an extensive twenty-one date UK album tour recently announced for April, a full US tour in the pipeline for May as well as the European festival season, it’s looking to be a very productive 2013 for the band. "We look back to just over a year ago" says Dave "When it was just the two of us sitting in Jonny's house with a couple of acoustic guitars working on those first ideas - it's incredible how much we have achieved in such a short amount of time - especially since we haven't even released our debut album yet"
At least one thing is certain - in another 12 months, many, many more people will have fallen for the intense song writing of Fossil Collective. Music like this cannot be kept a secret for long.