Fatherless Bring Brotherly Love to Hardcore
Chicago’s Fatherless are a hardcore unit of kindred souls. Amongst the metallic force they lay, appears a bond as tight (and pissed) as their punk-infused propulsion. Four dudes drinking beer and rocking shit.
“We’ve all known each other for a long time,” the band explains. “We met in the same apartment complex, were we asked each other if we wanted to hang out and get drunk; and I guess we just kept doing that for ten years.”
Each member of the quartet carries his respective weight nicely. The group’s self-titled debut (out on cassette via Crystal Palace Recordings) is a nuanced brick of pain. The songs are quick and lean, showcasing extension by unity. The name Fatherless is apt: four individuals morphing as one. “Dad Tax” opens the record up: a quick jaunt into the mind of its creator. The perfect introduction for a band with a sense of irony.
“Zach made the band name up in way to not have to explain the name of the band,” the group muses. “And because we’ve had a lot of dads, but no fathers. ‘Dad Tax’ is actually a funny metaphor. When Sean [Nyary]’s dad would take him and his siblings grocery shopping, he would let them each get a treat on the way out, which was sort of a reward for them not burning the store down while he bought them shit for dinner. On the car ride back, he would always take a piece of each of whatever candy they had and say ‘Dad tax!’ Sean ended up using that as a fun little metaphor for a song written about taxation being theft and the oppressive foot of capitalism.”
Fatherless has an old school vibe to them. They’re a group with strong feelings about their surroundings. Their songs all have an intimacy and grounded nature which is environmentally driven: a physical and capturing leanness, arriving at themes and ideas with precision.
“Most of our songs are about police brutality, class warfare, capitalism, killing fascists, being fucking insane, smoking weed, being a bike messenger, getting drunk, and supporting each other,” the band laughs. “Living in Chicago, you end up having a lot of what you hate shoved in your face, and I'm sure that has rubbed off on us.”
Songs like “Burning Weed” and “Pulling Teeth” capture the band shifting angles to create atmosphere in all the right places. Sections grind into desert-like layers. You get a sense of movement, an idea of place. Contrasted against quicker, faster songs, even more of the band’s personality shines through. There’s a strong sense of identity here. Fatherless isn’t really concerned for labels or any particular ethos, unless it involves the tasty suds.
"Since the band started we've never really tried to focus on being ‘punk,’” they explain. “We get together, crack some beers, jam some tunes, and this is what came of it. What we have to say is important, and this is the way we’re delivering it. We're just having a good time writing music about bad shit. With that said if punk ethos is being drunk, then yes, it’s very important.”
Their self-titled debut is out on cassette, and that’s a great thing, because Fatherless is a band that exudes tactality. Like analog tape, they’re crusty and scratchy, a sound warm and immediate. There’s also the practicality of releasing albums on cassette, something not lost to the group. A lot of underground bands who tour tend to take this route. It is a true return to underground form.
“We have always been big fans of vinyl and cassettes,” the group explains. “Something about the way they sound and the way they feel in your hands add something awesome to the whole experience. They are also quick and easy to produce. For the most recently release, our friends in another band called Baba Yaga started a tape distribution company called Crystal Palace Recordings, and approached us to see if we wanted to work together to release the songs.
“For us, putting the songs out on a tape was the easiest and most cost-effective way. We also thought that they would be great to have in order to trade with other bands while on tour. Sean is always buying the tapes from bands we tour/play with. They are affordable on a bike courier wage, and it’s a quick way for touring bands to get a few bucks to eat. Plus, we get to add to our collection. We definitely wanted to release these songs on tape in order to get our work out there in a way that we love.”
Fatherless’ songs are angular, yet airy, with a chill breeze and brotherly-like connection. They were birthed in the places where realness happens: the spaces where dreamers find that extra force of life and art. The DIY underground is forever, and so vital in this day and age.
“We are constantly surrounded by creative people and are very lucky for it,” the band says. “Supporting your DIY community is extremely important. There are people working their asses off to survive and still devoting so much time and effort into running these spaces, galleries and events to create and support each other. We are so thankful for every person that has helped us out along the way. Fucking support each other, man!”