All of Fishdoctor‘s promo stuff paints them as sheepish gentlemen. Immediately upon arriving at the pop group’s South Williamsburg home, it’s apparent that promo stuff is an accurate mirror. Half a dozen tea options lay thoughtfully spread next to a kettle. Their melodic, easy pop music and inherent charm roll out a welcome mat. Then, just like that, you’re home.
Vocalist/keys man Jared Lindbloom earnestly describes the tea varieties. As we situate a landline rings. It’s bassist Alex Shifrin when vocalist/guitarist Michael Romano answers.
“You didn’t really fucking throw away that jacket, did you?” Shifrin asks on speakerphone. He saw Romano’s picture text earlier. It showed boxes of Shifrin’s things including a Very Important Jacket sitting by the trash. Shifrin recently moved out, the guys explain, but was taking his sweet time collecting his belongings, so they staged an “Alex Purge of 2013.”
“I told you by noon today that your jackets would be out,” Romano says, his eyes smiling.
The band acts like brothers, pulling pranks, poking fun. It illuminates an innocuous, sweet quality reflected in their work.
“I’m sorry man,” Romano continues. “It’s time to make room for new jackets.”
Jackets tend to be a recurring theme and fittingly, the title of an upcoming track. While recording upstate, the guys explain, they underestimated how cold the nights could grow. In order to survive, they bundled each evening in jackets in lieu of traditional blankets.
Once everyone gets a mug, there’s a break in the animated conversation.
“We’ll descend into The Fish Tank,” Lindbloom says with a smirk. And we do, down stairs to a roomy basement and guitarist Michael “Nico” Panico’s bedroom, AKA their home studio.
Perched on a tiny army of mismatched chairs, we dive into it. I ask if the band name has anything to do with popular Asian foot treatment Doctor Fish.
“Whoa!” Romano says. “I wish.”
I pressed for its origin story.
“We were trying to skirt that one,” Auxiliary dude Rocco Romanelli laughs.
“It involves a few different topics,” Lindbloom says. “It involves a fish tank, it involves an Indian woman and it involved Mayor Bloomberg.”
One hell of a night? I asked.
They erupt in laughter, agreeing. (Although, note: Looks like they divulged the real story to Village Voice after our meeting. But, I prefer the mystery.)
Shifrin shows up, but not to collect his box.
“You and your fucking jokes,” Shifrin starts. “Thought I’d have to buy a new jacket.”
“We’d never do that to you, man!” Romanelli laughs. “We love you!”
It’s great, the energy zooming around. Finally the uproarious chuckles simmer to a pause and speakers crank.
Nico plays the new cut, “Jackets,” rather appropriately. It’s much more fully-fleshed than past efforts, swapping the sex wax for airborne lighters. It fills the room with uplifting ‘tude, whirling guitar and immense percussion.
So what’s next for the sextet?
They recently recorded about 10 tracks and now deliberate over which to release next and when. “Some might not make the cut,” Nico says. “We’re going towards what we think is arena sound… We’re gonna wrap it up as an EP… probably do another [EP] in two months… [We hope the first drops] around December.”
“I think something we’re attracted to right now is making larger sounds,” Nico starts. “The first effort we did was very small in sound, with tight, riffy stuff. We… wanna do stuff that’s bigger.”
“Especially with the power of six guys,” Lindbloom adds. “We have the power to do that.”
And all that jacket talk?
“I guess we know what our new merch needs to be now,” Romanelli offers.
Hey, it is fall.
Fishdoctor plays Piano’s November 30.