American rock band A Fragile Tomorrow just released their newest album It’s Better That Way. The band was born in New York and is currently spaced between Montgomery NY, Savannah GA, Charleston SC, and Nashville TN. Members are founders Sean Kelly, Brendan Kelly, and Shaun Rhoades, as well as new additions Josh Kean (Electric Century -Mikey Way of My Chemical Romance, Sub Pop/Kill Rock Stars indie legend Danielle Howle) and Peter Holsapple (dB’s, R.E.M., Hootie, and the Blowfish, Continental Drifters).
A Fragile Tomorrow recently talked to ai love via email about the history of the band, the musicality, and what was it like making their newest album. The album features a diverse range of genres from art rock to hip-hop, which the band talked down below. A Fragile Tomorrow also talked about one of the tracks, “Lost in Art”, in more detail down below. While reading, make sure to check out the album! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Hey, thanks for taking your time with me! First of all, please introduce yourself! How did A Fragile Tomorrow come to be?
Thanks for the opportunity to chat! I’m Sean Kelly, co-songwriter and lead singer of A Fragile Tomorrow. We started in our basement in New York in 2003, when I was 11 going on 12 years old. We made our first record (which sounded terrible) two years later and have been going ever since. We’ve evolved a lot since we were children, obviously, but the core has been the same since 2006. The band is myself, my brother Brendan on guitar and co-writing, Shaun Rhoades on bass, and Josh Kean on drums who has been with us since 2017.
What artists and/or musical genres inspire your music?
We pull from a lot of different places, I’d say. R.E.M. is my favorite band, and we also love Wilco, Crowded House, A Tribe Called Quest, Roxy Music, Fairport Convention, Led Zeppelin, The Who, David Bowie, and all kinds of stuff.
How has being a band with a diverse range of creative talent? Has it been like working with legends like Peter Holsapple and Josh Kean?
We’re incredibly lucky to have Josh in the band. He just moved to Nashville to do more session work and I have every expectation that he’ll be popping up everywhere in the next few months. He’s just the most creative and versatile drummer I’ve ever played with. Peter is a longtime friend of ours and also my childhood hero, so getting to work with him on this record was a total thrill. He’s just one of the best people I know. Kind and generous with his time and talent, and he makes every band he plays with sound better.
By working with so many great talents in the band, booth, and stage, what is the greatest piece of advice you received?
The interesting thing is that honestly, for all the bands we’ve toured with and all the places we’ve played over the years, we’ve always sort of made an effort not to ask for advice from people. Certainly, some friends of ours who really championed us have offered us guidance over the years, though. I think one of the most life-altering things we were ever told was by Malcolm Burn, who we made a record with about 15 years ago. He was someone I looked up to a lot as a producer for all of these incredible records he was involved with.
And we brought a song in one day, which had a lot of busy parts happening. He was the first person to show us the importance of space and simplicity, especially in the rhythm section. It changed a lot for us in terms of how we approached things.
Let’s talk about your latest release It’s Better That Way. Was there a single theme or perhaps many themes the band wanted to highlight in this album?
Politics is always at the center of what I write about, especially over the last 6 or 8 years, so that’s very present on the new album. I also wrote a lot about my disillusionment with the music industry, which was completely cathartic. And there’s a song called “Sandy” that was written generally about being a parent and losing a parent but through the lens of a tribute to the great Sandy Denny. I do think that all of the songs are political in their own way because I really come from the mindset of writing with a very unfiltered perspective no matter what the song is about.
There is a blend of different genres with psychedelia, indie rock, pop, British folk, and hip-hop. What is it like crafting songs with these different genres/ And, why these genres?
We don’t pay a lot of attention to genre anymore, and I think that really has helped us! We do reference artists and albums that we love, but I think we kind of threw away the notion that we had to limit ourselves to one specific kind of reference point. We just write what comes naturally, and it ends up sounding like us. This is why I think a folk-influenced thing like “Sandy” fits so well next to something a bit more amorphous like “Superball” and even the Clash-Esque “Look Out!”
What was it like going into the studio and working with Alan Silverman?
Alan mastered the album, and it was a total pleasure! He was very patient and kind with our many references and sonic touchpoints. He did a brilliant job with this record!
Let’s talk about the lead track, “Lost in Art”. It is an art-rock track, right? What inspired the band to write this track?
I’d say so, yeah! I was trying to do a Neil Finn thing, really. I wrote that song solo, and it was intended initially for a solo album that didn’t end up happening but it worked so well as a band song. It’s about my feelings about the music business, essentially. I’m really proud of that song! It came together very organically, despite it taking a few years to really sculpt.
What do you want listeners to listen for in your music?
I would hope that they’ll hear some complexity in the music that makes them listen again, and try to come away with a different experience each time. That’s what the best music does, for me. Brendan and I especially are record nerds, and we had a recording studio for a while, so we really are passionate about making records. It’s the experience of a top-to-bottom listen that we love so much, so I hope people hear in this record that we’re just guys making art for art’s sake and nothing more.
Any future plans?
We’d love to tour this record at some point! Geographically it’s tough for us at the moment, plus the pandemic has really upended a lot in regard to touring. But the plan is to get out and play some shows when we can figure it out! Beyond that, I think we may take a breather and do some other things before we make another record, but we all love this band. It’s our home, really.
Make sure to check out A Fragile Tomorrow at the following;