The city of Detroit has a long history of gifting the world with rock and roll strongholds, and to no divergence of the lineage is power trio FUR. FUR, which is composed of Ryan O’Rourke, Zach Pliska, and Michael O’Connor, has been the recipient of well-deserved praise and attention since their formation. Their music has been featured in several television and cinematic works, such as Showtime’s Homeland, FOX’S The Finder, and National Geographic’s Mountain Movers. Their work has even transcended mediums of mass media and has been featured within the video game “Dead Route” as well.
FUR’s music is so artistically distinctive because it has a razor-sharp edge to it, and its cause can’t be entirely discerned, therefore making their work completely alluring to the ear and mind alike. When listening to FUR, one can’t help but feel as if they’re on the brink of a fantastical mission that’s riddled with the most delightful kind of danger; their music has a touch of a dark tone to it that is both intoxicating and electrifying. A perfect representation of these sonic strengths is “Mein,” the band’s latest single from their upcoming 2nd LP, Closing the Loop (which is being released on cassette June 24th). The track is the auditory embodiment of a lightweight bolt; it is striking and powerful explosion of rock and roll.
FUR rocks hard, that’s for sure, but they do so while maintaining a clean and streamlined sound. Rock and roll doesn’t have to sound out of control for it to still be tenacious and magnetic – and the ability to find that sonic balance is where FUR artistically and musically excels by a wide margin.
AMPLIFY. was fortunate enough to interview all three members of FUR about their beginnings, their creative work, as well as what it was like to have their music featured on television shows. Read on, friends.
AMPLIFY: What’s the origin story of FUR?
Ryan O’Rourke: Mike and I started playing music together in 2007—just sort of messing around with acoustic guitars in the basement. We both went to a lot of shows downtown, but neither of us really knew other musicians. So we hit the musician section of Craigslist and, after many misadventures, found Zach. The rest is sort of history: We added members, made records, stopped talking entirely for a few years…then I moved to Arizona and started missing making music with these two. So I emailed them and we began writing music remotely.
It’s been a strange and wonderful adventure.
AMPLIFY: Your music has been featured in a variety of television shows, with two tracks appearing in episodes of Homeland. What were these experiences like?
Zach Pliska: It was exciting to see our music get attention. We made new fans. It enabled us to record in a nice studio and press vinyl. It gave us a peek into a side of the music industry that is actually sustainable. Overall a very encouraging experience and hopefully we’ll get more placements.
AMPLIFY: How would you articulate the band’s artistic growth?
Ryan: We are at our best when we are under the constraints of both money and time. When Zach and Mike flew to Bisbee to make Closing the Loop back in February, we only had four days to work with: two for rehearsing; two for recording. I had done a bit of pre-production work in my home studio, but this time around, I made it a rule to myself that we were going to record everything, including vocals and overdubs, in two days. That’s exactly what we did—eight songs, two days.
Michael O’Connor: We also did some long distance collaborating, but when Ryan was back in Detroit last summer we had a few fruitful sessions that really led to the record. Without those face to face rehearsals to work out potential material it’s hard to say if there would be an album.
AMPLIFY: In your opinion, what’s the most unique aspect of Detroit’s creative community?
Zach: I think there’s a lot of freedom to be creative without the pressure of thinking about commercial success. There isn’t an entertainment industry here, people aren’t moving to Detroit to make it. But the music scene is strong and comparable to Chicago and New York. Detroit seems to be isolated which can be good and bad. It’s a great place to forge your own sound and test it out, but can also be stagnant because there’s not a lot of new influence coming in.
AMPLIFY: If you could make the music festival of your dreams, which artist(s) would headline and why?
Zach: I think some combination of the Lollapalooza lineups from the early 90’s would be incredible. Those are the bands that really influenced from an early age on, particularly Smashing Pumpkins.
Ryan: I do wish that Bowie had been able to perform his last record Black Star in its entirety. What a masterpiece.
AMPLIFY: What moves you to create?
Ryan: I feel like I can be creative in many ways. For a while it was music. Then I started riding motorcycles, opened a little boutique hotel with my partner, and started building and selling custom lighting. These sorts of things kind of took the place of music temporarily, but music always creeps back in.
AMPLIFY: Do you have a favorite memory from any of your live performances?
Ryan: Breaking my wrist at our record release show in 2012. So stupid, but so funny. Very memorable.
AMPLIFY: As a band, what aspect of your creative work are you most proud of?
Ryan: I’m most pleased with the fact that I have a relationship with Mike and Zach after all these years. Making music is great—and I think that the three of us make great music together—but I’m just happy that we reconnected after not speaking for a few years. That’s something that makes me really happy.
AMPLIFY: How have FUR’s creative objectives evolved over time?
Mike: I think on this record we purposely devolved back to a simpler aesthetic. In a sense that is our evolution; finding & rediscovering who we are & what we do best. We all have a tendency to think big musically but we seem to have transcended that & returned to the band we recognize. It’s been a pleasure.
AMPLIFY: Lastly, what’s coming up next for FUR?
Zach: We are planning to do some touring and maybe begin to work on another record. We’ll see what type of rock n’ roll debauchery we get ourselves into over the next few months after we release our record.
To learn more about FUR and listen to some tunes, click here to visit their website.
All images provided by FUR, photographed by Puspa Lohmeyer