After hearing Fickle's music — stirring Rock with a fiery, soft-Metal essence — I imagine they'll appear wearing mostly black, with at least one skull T-shirt. OK, I'm being stereotypical, but I do secretly bet myself there'll be a silver-spiked belt wrapped around someone's waist, and I expect tats and piercings, the usual Hard Rock band dead giveaways.
But actually, except for vocalist Brian Martin's shaved head and bassist Dennis Dezarn's tamely tattooed wrists, the four are rather clean cut. On skin and clothes, not one punk star. Not one spider.
Martin, the tall singer, wears a cheery blue shirt that reads, "honorable man." He chuckles, admitting he stole it from one of the other guys. Martin has a balanced presence and a dry sense of humor. Hard to believe that Fickle's intense vocals come out of this smiling guy. With a voice resembling Maynard James Keenan of Tool, minus the evil angst, Martin belts out words in a deliberate, emotive tone.
Starting with piano at 6, Martin says with a smirk that he picked up guitar when he realized he couldn't haul a piano to college.
At the University of Kentucky, he started writing songs. In 2002, Martin and his roommate, guitarist Ian McGee, started Fickle.
McGee crosses and uncrosses his black Chucks. His parents were musicians, and he got the guitar bug at 16. He chuckles: "We were those guys at parties. You know, the ones who always sat in the back and played music." McGee also played in Hathaway with bassist Dezarn, but both abandoned Hathaway for Fickle.
Blonde, light-featured Chris Mueller (drums) lived nearby. Mueller, a passionate soul with a business eye, bought a drum kit in high school. Self-taught, Mueller joined the successful '90s Ska band, OB1. Then he hit skins for Stonewater, hooking up to record with Ric Hordinski.
Along with opening for Seether at a sold-out Bogart's, Fickle has played The Midwest Entertainment Industry Conference and The Second Annual Homegrown Music Festival. They've rocked local clubs and esteemed venues in Pennsylvania, New York and beyond.
In 2005, the band located Northern Kentucky investors, creating their own record label, Orchard Records. The Natural Order of Things, their 2007 debut full-length album, will be released on their indie label May 25. Recorded locally, the CD was mastered at Mastermind Productions in Minneapolis.
The song "Elemeno" holds a punchy, electric, tough sound similar to Brand New, but Fickle pulls off robust Rock without sounding overly angry. The expressive vocals create a positive force rather than gloom. Less madness and more revved-up workout. The lyrics are personal, but the music's overall quality also maintains the separateness present in any guitar-driven, muscle-sharp songs.
Martin says that listeners are often surprised, because outside of the band, the four tend to joke around and cut it up. He explains, "Nobody knows us as being serious. It's an outlet that I never had, and once I found it, it just kept coming out."
Dezarn adds, "No matter who writes the shell of the song, we go into it together, and what comes out is what comes out."
They've been busy as hell. Mueller booked nearly 20 out-of-town summer dates and more are coming. Very recently, Fickle signed with Tinderbox Music, a deal that has launched a national promotional radio campaign. Soon, they'll sign with a publicist for tour support.
Mueller says, "We've had to hustle; it helps that we have a label and a publicist that promote the shows. We work really hard at knowing our music and being tight. In order to be taken seriously, you have to enter the business side."
"We're a little older," Martin says. "We have more experience. I want to get out and get back, get a stamp from the world of music. And, it's also a good reason for me to get together with three of my best friends."
FICKLE (myspace.com/fickle) hosts a CD release party at The Mad Hatter Friday.