"We Are the Fairy God Muthas" by Fairy God Muthas
Rock and Roll is alive and well in Charleston folks, and it has recently taken the form of a two-man band called the Fairy God Muthas. Doug Walters (former Fortnighter) and Ballard Lesemann (former City Paper, and current Metronome music scene writer) are having fun making music, and you can see it for yourself right here in this video made by Doug's girlfriend Jenna:
Doug, you seem constantly inspired, cranking out new tunes and challenging yourself stylistically. Where does it all come from?
When I hear or see something that I really connect to it instantly inspires me. Not to redo it or copy it, but to write something original using that inspiration as like a muse. It could be a song or a movie or a book or a person or a conversation or a feeling or nature or anything. Like I heard the new Stones song the other morning and before the singing even started I had been moved to pick up the guitar. Just Keith's tone and the simplicity of the riff got the wheels turning. To me, that's what life is all about - expressing yourself completely, and being inspired to create which in turn inspires another to create. So finding the inspiration is crucial - but there's a lot of it out there, so it's not that hard.
It's much more natural for me to create my own thing than it is to learn or play other people's music. I love the process too. Trying to come up with the perfect parts and fitting them all together. When they occasionally do, it's the best feeling in the world. And there are so many different colors and moods to choose from. And I love it all, so depending what moves me and what mood I'm in, there are a lot of different ways to get the point across. Sometimes it's like a heavy thing, but then sometimes a softer approach is a better fit. And to be honest, any writer who says they don't steal is lying. So admittedly, a lot of stuff comes from having learned the fine art of borrowing heavily. But I suck enough to get away with it most times.
Ballard, what's it like to review albums and concerts, and then release albums and play concerts yourself?
It's should be as simple as changing hats or flipping a switch, but ring from music journalist/reviewer mode to musician mode is kind of a tricky thing. I started playing roc music years and years before I began writing about rock music for newspapers and magazines, so I naturally came at reviews from a musician's perspective. My first stabs at professional music writing came in 1996 when I was invited to chip in as a contributor to Flagpole Magazine in Athens, Ga. I learned on the job, and I'm still learning!
Since I've been through so many various experiences with unsigned and signed bands — from touring and rehearsing to recording and releasing albums — I think I can relate more closely to the anxiety, eagerness, and vulnerability many musicians feel when they perform and and release studio recordings. It can be a little scary to put yourself and your music out there on stage and on disc. People might not get it; they might react negatively, or with indifference. I tend to keep that in mind when I write concert reviews and album reviews, and when I have to honestly criticize, I try to do so in a substantive and productive manner. It's easy for music writers to be , dismissive, snarky and mean-spirited. It's more difficult to be honest and constructively critical.
What are the Fairy God Muthas aspirations?
Ballard: I'd love to help Doug explore all of his wild rock tendencies, from the riffy/heavy side of things to the more melodic, classic pop side of things. If we can continue to perform, write, record, and release music with a sense of independence and swagger for as long as we like, I think that's success.
Doug: The dreamer in me would aspire for us to travel the world and play all the time and make enough money to build the perfect studio to keep making better records to keep traveling the world and play all the time. But the realist in me aspires for us to keep playing good gigs wherever will have us and to come out with a solid album every year. And for us to keep evolving as a band and as individuals and as friends.