Take Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, condense it down to four people, strip the folk from the sound, and you get Little Fevers. Formerly under the moniker Field Trip, the group was forced to change their name when another indie-rock band came out of the woodwork as they began their album-release campaign. All of the CDs had already gone to press at that point, so the album title and the band name were interchanged.
While the name change was deliberate, the transition in sound was a bit more organic and took many years to come to fruition. After the Velvet Lapelles, many members from that project left, leaving behind a sense of change. Four members — Lucy Michelle, Eamonn McLain, Geoff Freeman, and Ashley Boman — forged on as a quartet, even though Boman had moved to New York before they even began writing new material.
Michelle, McLain, and Freeman traded in their ukulele, banjo, and cello, and replaced them with electric guitar, electric bass, synth, and anything that would shift the sound to a different feel.
“It’s like our instruments were what was holding us back,” McLain shares. “We were trying to be a rock band as Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, but we just didn’t have the right instruments.”
As Little Fevers, the writing grew into a much more collaborative effort from all of the members. With only three members in the writing room, the band dynamic changed. People became much more direct in what they wanted, vetoing and bringing new ideas to the table came much more easily.
“It was very democratic before, and that wasn’t always the best — there was no leader,” Michelle says of her former project, which won City Page's Picked to Click contest in 2008. “I wanted to make everyone happy, and in that no one was happy. Now that there are fewer members, we delegate responsibilities, plus we’re older. The Velvet Lapelles was Eamonn’s first band, and even Geoff picked up the drums for that group. We did a lot of growing up in that time.”
In the spring of 2014, when Lucy was pregnant with her son, the four made the trek out to New York to record seven songs at Matt Boynton's Vacation Island studio — yet they felt something was lacking in the studio energy.
“The recordings turned out great,” McLain remembers. “But it was a weird time, because Lucy was so pregnant. Everybody got sick on the way out there, and Matt had a fever basically the whole time — a little fever, if you will.”
They sat on the recordings before making a decision with what to do with the seven songs, allowing the songs to marinate via live performances. Turns out they connected with audiences, so earlier this year, the group went back to the studio, this time with Neil Weir at Blackberry Way to record three more tracks.
Even in their year away from the studio, Little Fevers found their sound had developed even more during the hiatus, with one exception.
“When we were at Neil’s, I realized my voice was different — it was not as full," Michelle says. "I was like, ‘I want my pregnant voice back, Neil! I’m not gonna get pregnant again just to make this sound better.’ In the end, we figured it out.”
The three songs got interspersed with the original seven, blending in easily with tracks that are brilliant, fresh, and simple. Field Trip is sharp and fascinating, an album that has elements of surf rock and made from unashamedly joyful, arrow-straight delicious pop songs.
Little Fevers' first single, "Apple Tree," pushes and pulls Michelle's voice into both a deliriously fun relic of the naive past and an indicator of the blissfully mature future — it's simply free of bullshit and full of simple enjoyment.
Older and wiser, Little Fevers find comfort in not seeking validation in outside sources. Their new sound is "something we finally found. After eight years of being a band, we’ve honed in on what we wanted to do," Michelle says. The band quotes a lot of Wayne’s World as they reintroduce themselves to old and new fans.
“Last night we were quoting the movie," McLain laughs. "We fear change. Our old fans are entitled to their opinions, but we’re making music for us.”
To which Freeman adds, “We like what we’re doing. The fact that we like it as much as we do will carry other people to where we’re at.”
Little Fevers album-release show for Field Trip
With: Bones & Beeker, Matt Latterell.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15.
Where: Turf Club
Tickets: $10-$12; more info here.