When talking about their craft, musicians tend to name other musicians as their influences, whether they're Jeff Buckley, Jeff Beck or DJ Jazzy Jeff. Not so with local five-piece Fermata. Though fans compare the band to lots of other musicians -- Tori Amos and the quirkily misspelled Seattle band Carissa's Wierd, to name a few -- Fermata's members list their main influences as "fairytales, storybooks, novels and life."
This isn't to say that the band doesn't have any musical forbears: Members of the group say they've been shaped by Sheryl Crow, Red Hot Chili Peppers and even Tool. It's just that their own creations don't bear a huge resemblance to their musical sources of inspiration.
Plus, it's a bit hard to imagine what a storybook might sound like until you listen to a track off of one of Fermata's albums. After you do, it all begins to make sense: This is a band that doesn't think of a song as a sound poem or a conversation between different instruments as much as a piece of dramatic literature.
The song "Zura," featured on the band's new album Only Ghosts Remain, seems to summon the dark theatrics of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings rather than the spirit of coffeeshop folk or arena rock. A haunting introduction by the band's string section gives way to a driving vocal melody that wouldn't sound out of place in a Broadway production.
Jon Koschoreck, the band's guitarist, says the track's literary feeling also stems from the fact that it's a story, not just a song.
"It's one of three songs on the album that have a short story written behind it to help further develop the characters and storyline of the song," he says. "We plan on revealing these stories at shows in the coming months after our CD release."An MP3 of "Zura" is available in the related downloads at right. More songs by the band can be found on its MySpace page. Fermata unveils Only Ghosts Remain, and will most likely play a live version of "Zura" at its Friday, January 30 release party at The Frequency.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.