February in Chicago is notoriously gray and bleak, creating a longing for vibrance and color. In 2015, however, best friends Tara Shedor and Sam Larson gave the city just that when they started their band Peach Fuzz.
“The plan was to make tongue in cheek, fun and provocative rock n’ roll,” the band said.”We soon asked Tara’s longtime friend Cameron Cowles to be the drummer. We played as a three piece through the summer and eventually picked up Kelli Maestro on keys (Tara always wanted a keyboard player) and Kyle Fitzgerald on lead guitar after he kept coming to our shows begging to play with us… which was pretty funny. Sam eventually left the band to pursue more solo-type stuff after recording our first album that was released in November of 2016. We got miss Annie Burns to replace her and have been rocking out with the 5 of us ever since!”
Peach Fuzz says that these lineup changes fell in alignment with their overall artistic development.
“ In the beginning Sam and Tara wrote all the songs together. After Sam began focusing more on solo stuff, however, Tara took more lead on songwriting which can be heard in songs such as ‘Tulips’ and ‘With Gin’ on the first album,” the band said. “Our latest EP that we released just recently on 4/20 includes not only a song, ‘Peach Boiz’, written by Kyle and Tara on one late liquor fueled night… but also more psychedelic and moody song called ‘Orchard’ written by Tara and Annie, as well as two tracks, ‘Disco Ball’ and ‘Laundry’, that were written by Cam and Tara pre-peach era all the way back in the summer of 2014. Our sound has gone from three-piece, gritty rock n roll to a much more filled-out, dynamic psychedelic five-piece.”
Though the music of Peach Fuzz contains a strong amount of sonic variation, a commonality among their work is that each song contains a nostalgic, dreamlike element that allows listeners to relish in groove. The ethereal charm of “Peach Boiz” makes the track the perfect accompaniment to a sunny day, yet it is simultaneously juxtaposed by the high degree of emotional realism presented within the lyrics-a contrast that makes the track undeniably classifiable as a skilled musical work. “Orchard” is peppered with a delectable amount of surrealism, all while its rhythmic nature makes it irresistibly catchy. “Disco Ball” offers a masterful hybrid between charm and tenacity; the track remains upbeat and jaunty all while maintaining a razor-sharp edge. “Laundry” successfully integrates humor into rock and roll, opening with a phone call to the mother of a Michaela Sierra (“really, that’s what you chose to name your daughter?”) concerning her behavior that has been “a little indecent lately.”
According to the band, the sonically redolent nature of their work is partly due to influences of late ‘60s and early ‘70s rock.
“Some bands such as the Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, and T.Rex come to mind. I’d love if we were an equally powerful, female-fronted version of any of those bands,” Shedor said. “We’re also all really inspired by the psych scene coming from the West Coast right now. Ty Segall, White Fence, Mr Elevator and the Brain Hotel… and the Mystic Braves and the Creation Factory.”
A delightfully common occurrence among Chicago-based bands is that they often list each other’s work among their artistic admirations and influences, highlighting the sense of community that thrives within the city’s music scene. Peach Fuzz is no exception.
“Local bands such as Slushy, Today’s Hits, the Rubs, the Voluptuals, Divino Nino…. also get our motors running.”
Shedor stated that the vibrancy of Chicago’s creative community is one of her favorite aspects about it.
“One of my most favorite things is that there are so many great bands and so many shows going on just in Logan Square alone. In the summertime I can just ride my bike around and hit up 2 or 3 shows just in one night even,” she said.
The largely DIY nature of the scene lends itself to overflow with life and creativity, something that Shedor says is perfect for Peach Fuzz.
“We like to do things ourselves, like make our own tshirts, tapes, music videos, etc. I feel like the handmade nature of our stuff really fits with the genuine, gritty vibe we’re going for,” she said.
This genuine nature is something the band works to transmit into their live performances as well.
“….When you go see us live, you can expect our shows to be extremely dynamic. Our songs all sound different from one another, and we have no problems appearing unprofessional by stopping to talk to the audience between songs or by allowing for weird jams and jokes,” Shedor said.
Moreover, the same element of unboundedness is used within their creative process when developing new material.
“Mostly Kyle just bothers me enough until I finally write a new song. Or I’ll just get an idea one day or me and Annie will sit in my basement long enough jamming until we find something we like” Shedor said. “A lot of times it’ll start with a metaphor or a quirky idea like a pile of laundry and what it represents.. or how beach boys kind of sounds like peach boys… and it’ll just evolve into a whole song.”
This summer, Peach Fuzz plans to keep delivering their notoriously dynamic live performances-specifically, on a beach.
“It might have to be super DIY and out of someone’s truck though because those beach permits are really expensive and the folks at the Oak St beach boat restaurant never get back. If someone wanted to help us put together something on the beach we’d be eternally grateful,” the band said. “We also wanna do a short tour towards the end of summer and keep putting our feelers out for the record label who wants to release our next album.”
No matter what their future endeavors may be, it is undeniably certain that the elements of whimsy and charm that permeate Peach Fuzz’s work will continue to cement their status as a distinguished and dynamic musical entity.
After all, according to the band, rock is nothing if not enthralling.
“Rock n’ roll is something that should never be taken too seriously. It’s about having fun and sharing that with an audience.”
All images courtesy of Peach Fuzz, photographed by Olivia Post.