The hooky yet hard-edged, guitar-driven musical style known as power pop didn’t generate spontaneously. There were threads and uprisings—disconnected sounds that later combined into something like a movement—as early as the late ’60s, when some young rock-‘n’-roll fans were already starting to rebel against rock’s increasing pretensions and ponderousness. The impulse that led to power pop was already alive in the network of collectors of obscure ’60s garage-rock singles, and in the creators of the disreputable pop hits classified as “bubblegum”.
Power pop evolved throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, running parallel and sometimes absorbing other trends like glam rock, pub rock, punk, new wave, college rock and neo-psychedelia. But for the core power-pop sound—the one that came closest to breaking through to the mainstream and challenging ’70s rock radio’s preference for grandiosity— Ironically, power pop’s greatest success may have also been the genre’s downfall, commercially and critically. Labels were signing seemingly every clean-cut quartet with a “The” in front of its name, one of the most talked-about bands in Los Angeles was The Knack led by singer/songwriter Doug Fieger. The Knack’s energetic live shows were the West Coast equivalent to Studio 54 in New York—everybody who was anybody stopped by to see The Knack if they were in L.A.—and the band’s 1979 debut album Get The Knack was hyped to the skies, and became an instant bestseller on the strength of its insidiously catchy hit single “My Sharona.” But it all started to go sour for The Knack fairly quickly. Critics would never accept the genre as a whole. There soon was a“Knuke the Knack” campaign complete with T-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers. Some music writers began to criticize the band for what they perceived as arrogance, hype and a misogynist attitude expressed in their songs.
Even for the most boring of curmudgeons, it’s difficult to tire of power pop. The melody, the bright guitars, and big time hooks makes for a music that can turn a shitty day better and a good day into a ripper. So seems to be a bright new band from Portugal… yeah… you read it right! Their name is FUGLY; but there’s nothing unattractive to these young Portuguese lads. I’ve always valued melody over lyrics. Sound has always meant more than words in my personal aesthetics.. and this is what makes FUGLY so fuckin’ amazing! If you’re like me, FUGLY will be an absolute joy to listen to. There are a whole lot of pop hooks.. especially their first single from their recently released album, Millennial Shit , “Take You Home Tonight”… which is absolutely mesmerizing!
If you’re like me, FUGLY will be an absolute joy to listen to. Could’ve been written by The Ramones. posthumously with the song ending with the 1,.2.,3,4 count…
Their bio says it all… “The theme? Millennials. Generation Y, the ones born from the mid 80’s to the end of the 90’s (roughly speaking). They’re the voice for precarious employment, endless internships, political abstinence, animal rights, vegetarianism, laziness, boredom, smartphones, lack of emotion and social skills, early stages of depression and drug dependency, hormonal control and forced capitalism.”
We had a chance to do an interview with Pedro Feio aka.. “Jimmy”….
Rock Bands of L.A.com: What’s the music scene like in Portugal? Briefly… what’s the political environment like?
Jimmy: Portugal is now a very trendy country. Tourism has grown a lot in the last few years and because of that we’ve seen a big boom on music and art festivals around the country, there are hundreds over the summer. So the music scene is growing in all non-commercial genres. There’s been a lot of interest from other countries to invest in Portuguese music, whether its in English or Portuguese! So there are a lot of bands exporting their music… and touring for a few weeks over the Summer.. The political system is a very debatable topic for us independent artists. On one hand you see all the financial growth with the rise of tourism and interest in investments from big foreign companies, but culture is always the last resort. The government doesn’t invest in the arts and when it does its always on the same old guys that have been around since the dictatorship ended, so we have to depend on private companies and institutions to survive. Its a very tough living, but we’ve been having a lot of success in the last years so we’ll keep rockin’ and keep going…
Rock Bands of L.A.com: You have a clear view of millennials .. Is there a real disdain for that generation? Personally, I find them the lost generation….
Jimmy: We are kinda’ lost generation! We have all the tools and information in the world but most of us can’t transform that into something good… Its so strange that for hundreds of years information was only given to the noble people or to the church and still nowadays with YouTube, apps..sites we can’t figure out to do something with these resources. We’re stuck in this limbo of now knowing where to go. .. We keep living in our parent’s homes until we’re 30…We Can’t grow an independent stable life..Jumping from one internship to another internship..relationship to relationship without a purpose or cause. And the system likes that! The guys with all the power love people who are lost…They can just point out a random direction and they’ll follow it blindly…
Rock Bands of L.A.com:In the 80’s the L.A. music scene was full of Power Pop bands..The clubs were resonating with this sound… Take You Home Tonight is a perfect Power Pop song…It would have been a hit then and could be a hit now! I love the video. The wolf in his underwear… and unlike the Ramones you count to four at the end of the song! Is this a love song? Does the wolf symbolize supreme masculinity without morals? Like a scavenger…(I know I sound fuckin’ nuts).
Jimmy :The 80’s music scene was very different here in Portugal than in most countries, but we can say that it was also a crazy time for Rock n’ Roll. Actually, it’s a Bear in his underwear (the mask doesn’t look like a bear in the video, we know, but we tried to find a bear mask and it wasn’t easy considering our budget and time for production). The concept of the video is that the guy on the TV is the bear in the future, lost in his success as a karaoke singer , drowned in alcohol and living under the bridge with nothing less than a television with his hit song on loop, forcing him to be clung on to the past. There is also a Portuguese expression, “fazer figura de urso” (which translates literally “to make a bear figure”. It means “to make a fool of yourself”). We got the idea from that expression, having a guy in a bear mask dancing on the streets full of people, but in this video there are no other people, so this can be a post-apocalyptic setting where he is. It’s totally a love song, about having all those doubts about someone. Then alcohol can make you a bit paranoid about that and make you do stupid things.
Rock Bands of L.A.com:How did FUGLY get together?
Jimmy: We got together in late 2015. I work as a sound tech, do a lot of live shows , from music to theatre, conferences, parties, etc etc. I met Rafa (Bassist) in College in 2010 and I was the sound tech of his band. And suddenly I realised I wanted to jump from the mixing desk to the stage. I had played guitar since I was a kid and had a lot of songs in my pocket so in 2015, I decided to talk to Rafa and show him some of my ideas. He liked them and then we started recording some songs on our own, just making some demos, to show to our friends. When we understood that this could be worth it, we talked with Gil and Tommy (drummer and guitarist) and assembled FUGLY. The name of course means “Fucking Ugly” and it comes from my family name (“Feio” is the Portuguese word for “Ugly” and is a very rare surname). They all wanted the name to be related to me in some way so we stuck to it and it sounded good. We released our first EP “Morning After” in may 2016 and had a pretty good run, with over 40 shows in a Year. Later on, Tommy left and was replaced by Nuno and Gil is not part of the band right now, although he recorded the album and still does some of the live shows. He just has too many bands and can’t focus on one for now.
We at Rock Bands of L.A.com wants to thank Jimmy from FUGLY and Alex Kish