Colin Harman of Duncan Fellows talks tour, new music

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The five-piece ensemble Duncan Fellows recently released its five-song EP, Eyelids Shut, and is touring to promote it. Formed in Austin, Texas, in an overcrowded six-bedroom house on Duncan Lane, the group started making waves while the members were still going in college. Its first EP,  Twelve Years Older, garnered attention for its fun upbeat tunes — yet remained grounded in enough melancholia to keep listeners hooked. The band continues to march to the beat of its own drum, while still making catchy and fun music. 

With music that has been affectionately self-described as “Cheesy Gordita Crunch Pop,” the fellows in Duncan Fellows continue to make music of the food genre. According to Colin Harman, lead singer and guitarist of Duncan Fellows, the band draws from a bevy of influences — including  the Beatles, Daniel Johnsten and looks toward the work ethic of Metallica. The group is made up of friends who have all at times lived with each other, with Duncan Fellows being the only band any of them have been in. 

The band’s latest EP, recorded in Chicago, was the first time the members had traveled to record — this time to work with the music producer Brian Deck, who’s helped out with some of Modest Mouse’s early work, along with that of Iron & Wine.  “Prior to going to Chicago I would’ve thought it wouldn’t really influence our music,” Harman recalled. “Austin had an impact. The album before the last we did was recorded somewhere with no air conditioning in the middle of summer. We literally recorded songs in our underwear (because) it was so hot. You can feel that on the album, energetic, fast paced. The bands we listen to in Austin, ones we are inspired by, are all fast.”

On the album, the unexpected song which remains Harman’s favorite is “Sleeper,” as it is one that was an unanticipated joy. “It came together at the very end, we added to it at the very end of the recording process. (I) remember recording that one more than others,” Harman remembered. He explained that he enjoys the song because it is a “nice change of pace,” as the arrangement is mixed up — as he only supplied background vocals, he was able to take a backseat vocally. And all the while, the song puts the rest of the band’s skills on full display.  

Relating back to the recording process, because of the more traditional approach Eyelids Shut takes, Harman explained that the EP tends to sound more introspective. Perhaps this also has to do with their normal creative process. Harman defined Duncan Fellows as tending to be inspired by local bands — members often times going to friends’ shows in Austin to be influenced by those around them. In doing this, they pick and choose what they like best, and incorporate it into their work. They are, as Harman said, simply “friends making music together.” This enjoyment and the sheer amount of fun the band has while playing together translates into recordings. The members record as much as they can in “one room,” adding as little as possible in post-production to give their music a live sound that always feels energetic. 

Duncan Fellows’ current tour is their first not as a support act. Being a co-headliner with Sun Seeker, the two bands take turns opening for each other. The band is also working on a full-length album it plans to record after it comes back from tour. It hopes to do so with a continued effort to capture the energy of a live show, and with the promise to add “a little dose of psychedelia,”  as Harman said.

As far as what Duncan Fellows would like to do in the future, Harman said the group hopes to “record more albums, but also capture the energy of playing with your best friends.” Keeping to their mantra of being a group of friends just having fun playing music together.

Zoë Cramer covers music. Contact her at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article misspelled Colin Harman’s name.