Andrew Yonda and Clare Fehsenfeld, who together comprise the Buffali, will be playing their first Madison gig in some time on Thursday at the High Noon Saloon. They are headlining a fundraiser for the Foundation of Retaining Creative Energy (FoRCE), and organization that strives to foster creative development in the city and to provide health insurance to people who would otherwise have a hard time finding affordable coverage.
The Buffali are debuting a full backing band, a handful of new songs and, they say, a newer sound. Years ago, the group played a few small shows with my own band and, smitten by their quirky brand of folk-pop, I've been following their progress ever since. Recently, I spoke with them about their current activities, future plans and how their sound has evolved over time.
"We like to say we've been holed up in our secret basement bunker songwriting in preparation for our next album," says Fehsenfeld. "We've written and recorded about twenty demos, adding drums, electric guitars and more keys to the mix."
"I'd say the new music is part of a progression for us," adds Yonda. "We started out folky, and our album Kerfuffle No. 10 was still sort of folky and acoustic but poppy. With our new material, the term 'folk' wouldn't really apply. We've been really working on songwriting as a craft, and going deeper into our songs than we did in days of old. We've been preparing at a level that we didn't do for Kerfuffle, which feels really right."
Yonda has also written and performed the soundtrack for the Chad Vader series of short movies, produced by his brother, Aaron Yonda, and Matt Sloan of Blame Society Productions. The first season of Vader (for which I gripped on the finale) will be shown in its entirety at the FoRCE fundraiser, the first public screening of its kind. They are currently working on a series of ten comedy shorts for Super Deluxe, the online video network operated by TBS. Already available for viewing are videos from their new series Morning Radio Mysteries and DVD Party. In addition to the screening, the fundraiser will also feature a Star Wars-themed improv comedy set by the Monkey Business Institute, and a performance by local robotic thrash-punks Droids Attack.
As for the Buffali, they're planning a small regional tour for the near future, but their top priority is getting the new album recorded. "I think we're the same at the core," Fehsenfeld muses. "We have an acoustic vibe and really focus on lyrics and harmonies, but the new sound just has more energy! Which is so great for us. It's really vitalizing. Is that a word? It brings a new vitality to the Buffali."
It's hoped that vitality will spill over into FoRCE, the organization they're working to support, and toward a more stable and supportive environment for Madison artists.