Fontenelle - Band of the Week

The Nightlife Company Blake Higginbotham 376 views

Simply picking up an instrument and jamming out with your friends can lead to better songwriting than you might think.  Embracing this improvisational writing style has been key for Fontenelle, a 4-piece instrumental rock band out of Omaha.

“The writing process is weird.  We’re kind of a f------ jam band,” guitarist Tristan Costanzo said. 

Inspiration for Fontenelle’s music is drawn from long jam sessions.  Alex Vang, bassist, said a jam session can pop up out of nowhere.  Once a chord progression or bass line is layed down, everyone builds and evolves their part off one another. 

Fontenelle records all of their practice sessions.  From there, band members individually listen to the recording and takes notes on how to structure the song.  After this process, the track is sequenced.  Without recording, crafting a 20 or 30-minute jam-out into one song seems nearly unachievable.

“It’s almost impossible to recreate or replicate what was just improved for maybe 15 minutes to a half hour, or even longer,” said drummer Blake Amato.  We may play something a certain way when we jam it, and you might be able to remember a riff or kind of how you did it, but it just isn’t the same.  We can’t not record now.  It’s critical in a sense because it’s been such a big part of the writing process,” Amato said.

The band’s sound can be compared to artists such as Explosions in the Sky, with delicate guitar riffs that often build into driving multi-rhythmic patterns.  A wide variety of pedals and effects are used to create an organic, spacey tone full of delay and ambience.

A very full, deep sound comes to mind when listening to the different layers of the band.  There is driving bass, and the transitions feel so smooth. You can’t tell if you just listened to two groovy jams or one of the band’s 6-track live sets. 

Catch Fontenelle and other great live music on January 31st at O’Leaver’s Pub, located on 1322 S Saddle Creek Rd in Omaha.   Music starts at 9:30 p.m. and will feature Low Long Signal and headlining act Lightning Bug in addition to Fontenelle.  There is a $5 cover, and the show is for ages 21 and up.  Fontenelle is expected to play second around 10 p.m.

Formerly a three-piece, Fontenelle bolstered their sound when they added Costanzo to the lineup in November. The band features Costanzo and Zach Kurmel on electric guitar, while Alex Vang and Blake Amato round out the lineup on bass guitar and drums, respectively. 

Oddly enough, the band’s two guitarists are life-long bass players.  Kurmel and Costanzo have each spent years writing on the electric guitar, but haven’t dabbled too much in playing electric in bands. 

“This is the first time I’ve played guitar in a band since high school,” Costanzo said.  “I had been playing bass in bands for the last eight or nine years, so it’s kind of second nature to me.”

Fontenelle features an array of different backgrounds and musical influences.  Each member has experience stemming from prior musical endeavors, including the styles of rap/hip-hop, pop/punk, indie, and metal.  Bands that members of Fontenelle have participated in include Bear Stories, Tha Baristaz, Take Me To Vegas, Corcid and Get Down! 

There is a definite chemistry within the unit, as each of the members grew up playing together while attending the same high school.  The band’s name is actually linked to growing up and practicing around Fontenelle Boulevard in the Benson area of Omaha.

            Fontenelle had written 5 tracks before adding Costanzo.  Since then, they’ve been in full writing mode, and have a 12 song full-length album in the process of being recorded at Make Believe Studios.  The record will be released in the summer of 2015, with a CD release show to follow. 

“We’ve all been in bands where we’ve done EPs as the first thing we do, but for this one we were like, F--- it, let’s go all out, said Kurmel.  We’re doing a full-length in the studio, so we’re excited, you know.”

  “It’s just a certain milestone, and sometimes a full length helps give you a little bit of notoriety,” said Kurmel.  “From that point we can release EP’s, and with the way we write music, we already have another EP.  We can literally put out music every couple of months and stay constant.  That’s what we’re going to try to do.” 

There are already concrete ideas in place for six new tracks after the full length album.  For now, the band’s main goal is to get their record out.  They’d like to tour down the road, but taking it one step at a time is the current focus. 

“I’m excited to see where it can take us,” Kurmel said.  “We all love making music and are all on the same page.  We’re trying to work as hard as we can because we want to do this for a real career.  Even if it’s not successful, we still consider ourselves musicians because we put in the dedication.  Even if we don’t reap the benefits, we still get benefits because it’s f------ fun,” Kurmel said.

Fontenelle is stoked for their show coming up this Saturday, which will be their first with Costanzo, and only third overall. 

While Kurmel says the first two shows were important to get the band started, this upcoming gig will be an accurate showcase of what they want to do.

            “If you went to our other shows and enjoyed it, this is going to be on a totally different level,” Kurmel said. 

            Check out the soundcloud link below for a live practice demo, and be sure to “Like” them on Facebook.