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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, June 16, 2024

WEEKENDER: Talking with Fease ahead of Spring Fling

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The band Fease is pictured.

After winning Tufts University Social Collective’s Battle of the Bands, the Tufts student band Fease will be opening Spring Fling on April 29. Other live Fease performances can be heard Thursday at the Burren at 7 p.m. and at the Cantab Lounge on May 2 as the opener for Mega Mango. The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Jack Goldberg; lead guitarist Ben Schmelkin; bassist Jack Wish; vocalist and keyboard player Jojo Martin; drummer Jake Rubenstein; vocalist Sophie Rubin; vocalist Mari Shoop; trumpet player Zack Burpee; alto saxophonist Jonah Fox; and tenor saxophonist Andrew Kerpel.

The Daily recently sat down with band members Goldberg, Martin, Rubenstein and Kerpel to talk all things Fease ahead of Spring Fling.

Fease was born in the fall of 2021 when Goldberg, then a first-year, organized a few jam sessions for him and his friends to make music together.

“I really wanted to be in a band,” Goldberg, a sophomore, said. “At the beginning of freshman year, I was pretty friendly with Jojo, who was friends with Jake, [and] Andrew and I are from the same hometown. … So one night, I just went around and texted everyone. I was like, ‘Alright, I’d love to just jam with everyone. It’s nothing serious, but let’s all learn the songs.’ … Everyone was just really excited and really enthusiastic.”

After booking their first show at the end of the fall 2021 semester, these jam sessions among friends quickly turned into band rehearsals as they built their repertoire.

“That show really solidified us as a group as a unit more so than [as] a jam session because we were able to show off all this work that we put into these 15 songs,” Goldberg said.

As Fease became a reality and gained traction, the core intention of the group still centered around a bunch of friends having fun.

“At the end of the day, we’re a bunch of schmucks,” Goldberg said. “We’re just a bunch of guys making music, having fun.”

“It kind of feels like one inside joke that went too far,” Rubenstein, a sophomore, added.

The playfulness inherent to the band helps create an environment of mutual respect among members, marking another key aspect of how the band functions.

“I think one of the things that’s consistent across the board is how much we care about each other and how kind we are,” Kerpel, a sophomore, said. “I think that’s a huge driving force of why we function so well as a band. It’s because we also function really well as people.”

This environment of respect also benefits the band’s music.

“We’re not scared to give each other feedback in rehearsal,” Goldberg said. “We’re not scared to just say what’s on our mind, because we know it’s this really safe space and this awesome collaborative space that we’ve created for each other.”

While the band emphasized that each member has their own voice, Goldberg, who is studying mechanical engineering, is clearly respected by the others as a leader.

“I also don’t want to undermine that Jack Goldberg is the … mind of Fease,” Martin, a sophomore, said. “None of this would’ve happened without him. That’s just a huge testament to who he is as a person, that he’s juggling one of the hardest degrees at this school … and the amount of hours that he puts in [to Fease] is pretty disproportionate.”

But from a music standpoint, what actually is Fease? What kind of music can be expected from them at Spring Fling? While the group had trouble pinning themselves to one genre, naming funk, rock, jazz, R&B and pop as inspirations, the main musical feature of the band is improvisation.

“I think [Fease] is really characterized by improvisation,” Rubenstein said. “We all love to improv and we like to communicate to each other through our solos and try to one up each other, and it's kind of like friendly competition there. … So it’s very, very spontaneous. … Sometimes we use a pop song with a set structure to just open it up and make it 15 minutes long and just do a lot of solos.”

The spirit of improvisation constitutes another important part of Fease’s identity.

“We take a lot of that [idea of improvisation] into performing and into rehearsals,” Martin said. “Very [often] that improvisational flow works its way into more than just the music and [into] the way we roll.”

But improvisation does not undermine cohesion in a song.

“I think it’s a big testament to the rapport we’ve developed as a group, where we’re comfortable and familiar with each other’s playing styles to the point where we can predict where other people are going and land at the same point,” Kerpel said. “I’m consistently amazed at how well we seem to roll together. We’re on the same page, even when experimenting.”

Spring Fling marks a special milestone for Fease, as they have had ambitions to play at the festival, at first jokingly, since 2022.

“It started with Spring Fling last year. … Dayglow canceled and they announced it, and we were all like, ‘Get Fease up there, we’re there, we’re ready,’” Martin recalled, chuckling.

“Flash forward about a year and TUSC announces that the prize for Battle of the Bands is to play Spring Fling,” Goldberg said. “And so we really wanted to capitalize on that.”

In preparation for Spring Fling 2023, the group has been working on a setlist of covers and originals, with the ratio between the two “TBD.”

“We’re in a weird place because we feel really confident with our originals. We’ve been putting in the work and we have them more fleshed out than ever,” Rubenstein said. “I think this is a good opportunity to really show that … we can do covers and have a good time, but we’re our own band. It’s really important to have your own sound and your own artistic vision. But at the end of the day, [Spring Fling is] a big party. The people want to see what they want to see. … If they can’t sing along to it, it might be difficult. So we want to set a balance between those two.”

In addition to Spring Fling, with an upcoming EP and being an opening act for Mega Mango, Fease has big plans on the horizon.

“We really do believe that each song we’re putting out [on the EP] has a pretty different feel and sound to it, which is something that we wanted to do,” Goldberg said. “It’s not done yet, but I think we’re on track to put out some pretty good stuff.”

While born as a joke and a way to have fun among friends, Fease has now evolved into a real band with streamable music that shares the stage alongside the likes of Flo Rida, Cheat Codes and Mega Mango. Yet the heart of Fease remains firmly in human connection and having a good time.

“If at the end of the day we look back in 15, 20 years, and we’re like, ‘This is just a really fun thing we did, and this is how we got close to all these people,’ that's all it needs to be for me,” Rubenstein concluded.