The Fame Riot Is Taking Over the West Coast Club Scene
I watched the video for The Fame Riot’s new single “Heart Stray” before attending their show at Webster Hall this past December so I thought I had an idea of what to expect.
I was wrong, but that is through no fault of the Fame Riot or their psychedelic music video. I have simply been to too many New York City concerts where the crowds are ordinarily beautiful, well dressed and dull.
This concert was anything but dull. Seattle-based brothers Liz Scarlet and Shazam, the duo that make up the Fame Riot, like to affectionately call their fan base “freaks” and that is exactly who turned up at that show. Decked out in everything wild and weird, uncontrollably filled with energy and love for the two brothers who took the stage.
Of all the concerts I have been to in this city, this one was the most, dare I say it, fun. But that is exactly what is most important to know about the Fame Riot. These are guys who love having fun.
How has touring been so far for you? What’s been your favorite show?
Liz Scarlet: New York was absolutely on fire, so lit. Back in September was our first time playing in New York and it wasn’t as exuberant or glamorous as this time but we made amazing connections with people in fashion and in photography and the art world. This time we played Webster Hall and it was the most exciting thing ever. It was so big and all the freaks came out and they were excited and just full of joyous positive energy!
Tell us about “Heart Stray.” Why do you think so many people have connected to this single?
LS: “Heart Stray” was the first song that we signed to a label and it was the first single we released independently too. It was the hooks and melody and the catchy bubbly riffs I think that got people’s attention. People like to be entertained. It was the one song we had that had all of that but it also captures an energy that is really a culmination of who we are as musicians and artists. It’s positive but it also expresses a longing to achieve more and succeed higher. It was a great combination of everything we love. It was a great introduction of who we can be. There’s more coming down the road.
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You guys have a pretty unique sense of style. What would you call it? What inspires your wardrobe?
Shazam: It’s a combination of a lot of different things. Glam obviously, that’s just catching the eye, but what we like to wear are things that are positive and make you go, “Wow, what is that?” when you see it coming down the street. We like to call it Dust Funk. You can get however weird you want with Dust Funk. We love vintage clothing. Dust comes from that. It’s been around for a while but it’s still funky as fuck. It’s just fun, there’s a lot to look at.
How is it working with your brother? Do you guys keep it chill or are there fights?
LS: We used to beat the shit out each other but we got it out of our system when we hit the age of bone breakage. It’s very cohesive now and we are less likely to get physical but that’s because we understand each other spiritually and mentally now. When you face problems together you overcome them together and a certain bracket of our problems no longer exists because of that.
How did you guys get your start? When did you know this was what you wanted to do?
LS: Sometimes I wonder if we are a little too far ahead of the curve in the way we perceive style and art. We were so young when we got started and saw that there was this type of music that wasn’t being created yet. It was 2011 and we didn’t see this kind of sound anywhere. It’s popular now but there was nothing back then. A lot of 80s bands were futuristic for their time but there was definitely a blank page where we were. It wasn’t edgy enough for our desire. We wanted to mesh timeless music with this clubby/Star Wars-style sound. There is so much more to express and we wanted to do that. But our first idea was we wanted to have fun.
I watched the video for “Heart Stray” and I have to ask, is that what all of your concerts are really like?
LS: Most of our hometown concerts are like that. Last year we did our first national tour, which we had never done before, and a lot of shows had people who didn’t know what to expect. Where we reside in Washington State though a lot of shows will go down like that. Everyone who has seen that video is a freak (we call our fans freaks) who has been converted to our mentality through that. We called up our fans and we were like this is what we want to do, we want to show your roll in what we do. It’s not the Fame Riot without the freaks. They give us our reason for being.
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Any crazy stories from your tour so far?
LS: We might have gone overboard on one show. It was in Redmond and we played a brewery and I got up on the light rig and I was swinging upside down from the light rig and the sound man was very unhappy about this. He abandoned his post and started cussing me out and I just projected that energy back on him because of the performance and it was dramatic because it was the last song of the set. We made up afterward though but during the performance there was some negative energy.
Shazam: My favorite thing are always the sudden, weird things that happen like if someone falls over, just unplanned action is wonderful.
LS: One more story! We played north of Tacoma and it was a sold out show and it was on Halloween and everyone was drunk. There were so many people pushing toward the front and we played this song and Shazam took the microphone and went out in the crowd but somehow the crowd managed to unplug both of our microphones and the whole system shut off. It was so joyous and happy though that everyone just laughed and we got it back on track.
Plans for the future?
LS: We just approved some master recordings. We have a handful of new songs that we just approved which is always exciting. Knowing that it’s gearing up for a release later this year is insane. We’ve been talking about an EP surrounding “Heart Stray”. In about a week we are heading to the studio to record another single and hopefully another single after that. We are also going to keep touring; we just got our passports! Also stay tuned for new videos…
LS: Be yourself, stop caring about what other people think, be free, break the pattern, check us out on social media, and listen to “Heart Stray”.