FET.NAT: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Theatrical, shambling, percussive post-punk.
File next to: James Chance & the Contortions, NoMeansNo, The Ex, Last Ex
Playing: WL17 Night 2, Saturday Feb. 18 @ The Garrison. Get tickets here!

FET.NAT is the most energetic and original post-punk group playing today. With virtuosic saxophone, a frontman that engages, entertains, and confounds, and halting drums and guitar hinting at everything from industrial to hip-hop to hard rock, there’s a reason that the Québecois band is loved by anyone who catches them live. In one of their first English-language interviews ever, Kazoo! Fest’s Mike Deane talked to guitarist Pierre-Luc Clément about FET.NAT’s beginnings, approach to music, and lack of plans for the future.

How would you describe FET.NAT to someone who has never heard it? 

In a live context, I would say theatrical, absurd and high intensity. In recordings we try to always have a comical element somehow, either in the delivery of the lyrics, the themes, the dislocated melodies and rhythms. I guess we realized that we don’t really use chords or melodies — we work more in a percussive way for every instrument.

FET.NAT has elements of jazz, punk, art-rock, post-rock, hard rock, and even performance art — how did all of this come together? Does each member contribute a different genre to the band?

Yes, JFNO, our frontman, has done a lot of work as a mascot for different events in his life, so he’s naturally inclined towards entertainment more than anything, which is something we really enjoy. It allows us to go away from the obvious ways of making music. Every member has a very different musical background, but I guess it is more about our personalities and how we interact with each other. I think that’s part of the fun we have playing in FET.NAT.

How did FET.NAT start? Was there an idea for what you wanted to accomplish with the band, or did it develop organically?

It pretty much developed organically. Olivier [Fairfield] and I worked on some material in 2011 and did not have precise intentions. It was pretty loose stuff based on the idea of two guys trying to play their instruments as if they were really bad at it, but in a controlled way. The rest just happened.

How does living in Gatineau/Hull affect the band? Is there a music scene there? Is it an advantage or disadvantage for the band?

I think we are influenced by our surroundings. Hull is a very contradictory place to live. There is a lot of poverty but also a lot of high-scale people. I guess that’s like anywhere else, but Hull has a strange feel, I think. It’s a boring city, but there’s a scene — very small but very inspiring.

What is E-tron Records and how is it connected to FET.NAT, and what does it mean to the Hull/Gatineau Music Scene?

E-tron is an initiative of Philippe Charbonneau [Scattered Clouds] and Olivier Fairfield [FET.NAT, Last Ex]. The idea behind E-tron was to create a diffusion platform to incite people living in Hull to stay and keep creating. It’s becoming a collective more than a record label, I think. We even thought of changing the name to E-tron Recreational. But we are lazy.

In my experience, anyone who sees FET.NAT falls in love with the band — the energy, unique sound, and sheer musical prowess draws in people no matter what their tastes. Do you consider yourselves a live band first and a recorded band second? How does the live show differ from your records? 

We don’t really consider ourselves to be anything. We mostly like to get together and play. I think all of us prefer performing; maybe that’s what people feel when they see us. None of us really like to rehearse or be in a studio for a long time. Whenever we do though, there’s some good coming out of it.

What’s in FET.NAT’s recorded future? 

We have another short EP coming out in the spring. We are just finishing it at the moment. I guess we never really want to do what we have already done in the past on an aesthetic level, so we try to push in new directions. We’ll see if it’s going to be any good. We’ll let you judge us.

Are there touring goals for the band? European tours?

We are going to east-coast Canada for the first time in May. That should be nice. We’d love to go to the U.S. soon, but we’ll see about that. We have options for France maybe, all in the air at this point. We are fully DIY so it’s tough to book tours on your own, plus we are pretty fucking lazy.

Don’t be a fool and miss FET.NAT at the Garrison this Saturday when they play our Gladeye/Kazoo! Fest co-presentation for Wavelength 17!

— Interview by Mike Deane