Fleet Foxes

  • Indie folk band formed in 2006 from Seattle Washington. The main members of the group are Robin Pecknold (lead vocals, guitar, songwriting), Skyler Skjelset (vocals, lead guitar, mandolin), Casey Westcott (vocals, keyboards), Christian Wargo (vocals, bass guitar) and Morgan Henderson (upright bass, guitar, percussion, woodwinds, violin, saxophone).
  • Pecknold and Skjelset were friends in high school with a common interest in music, especially Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson and Neil Young. After high school, they decided to form a band. Westcott was an original member, along with Bryn Lumsden on bass and Nicholas Peterson on drums. Their original name was the Pineapples, but they changed it to Fleet Foxes when they discovered that another Seattle-based band was using that name. They chose Fleet Foxes because it was “evocative of some weird English activity like fox hunting.”
  • Their popularity grew locally, and a Seattle producer heard them and helped them record a demo EP in 2006, titled Fleet Foxes. Fifty copies were made and were sold at their concerts. Lumsden departed and was replaced by Craig Curran, who brought harmonies to their vocals. They started to work on an album in 2007, but money was so tight, they recorded much of in the basement of Pechnold’s parent’s house. They put several songs on their Myspace website, and in two months they had over a quarter million streams. By January 2008, they were signed to a recording contract.
  • Curran left the group and was replaced by Wargo, who continued to bring strong harmonies to their vocals. An EP was recorded in early 2008 – Sun Giant. It was intended to be sold only at their concerts, but demand was large, and it was released in April 2008. Critics loved it – Rolling Stone and Billboard praised the harmonies to be similar to those by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The band performed at the South by Southwest Festival in March and at the Sasquatch festival in May, greatly increasing their exposure, particularly to the European press.
  • In May 2008, Peterson was replaced by Josh Tillman on drums (Tillman remained until 2012, and then began a solo career, using his stage name Father John Misty). In June that year, the group’s debut album recorded in 2007, the self titled Fleet Foxes, was released. It was acclaimed by the music media as an instant classic, with six publications selecting it as the best album of 2008. While the singles did not chart in the U.S., White Winter Hymnal reached #4 on the UK Indie chart, and the album went platinum in the UK and gold in the U.S. Mykonos from the Sun Giant EP was released as a single in 2009, peaking at #30 on the Adult Album Alternative chart in the U.S. The venues for their concert tour in Australia, New Zealand and the UK were sellouts, and their success got them a performance on Saturday Night Live in 2009.
  • Hoping to release another album in 2009, the band rehearsed new songs in February that year, but they scrapped most of them, wanting to evolve to songs that were less poppy and more groove-based. By April 2010, they were recording again, with Henderson added to the group on woodwinds and upright bass. A year later, their Helplessness Blues album was released. It again was praised by the critics, with Rolling Stone ranking it #4 on their Best of the Year list, and it was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Folk Album. The album reached #4 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and #2 on the UK Album chart. The title track peaked at #18 on the Hot Singles Sales chart.
  • The band went on hiatus for several years following their tour for Helplessness Blues. In 2016, they began recording, and in May 2017 they performed live again, playing nine songs from their new album Crack-Up, which was released the following month. The single Third of May / Ōdaigahara was released, reaching #26 on the Adult Album Alternative chart. Their next album, Shore, was released in 2020. While credited to the whole band, Pecknold recorded and released it without any contributions by the other members. Instead, guest artists added vocal and instrumental support. It again was critically praised, making the Best of the Year list on over 20 publications, including #17 on Rolling Stone’s list. The album included two singles that charted on the Adult Album Alternative chart, with Can I Believe You peaking at #3.
  • Fleet Foxes is another excellent indie folk band that will never see the pop charts but they still have a large following by lovers of indie music. Listen to their song White Winter Hymnal, and enjoy the cool animation in the video.

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