You can keep your pagan Norwegian forests, peyote-covered Nevada deserts and tear-stained break-up notes. We’ve seen the new source of musical inspiration, and it can be found at the bottom of a pint glass in south east London.
At least, that’s what Fuzzy Nautilus’ origins would have you believe. “Through Gumtree ads I found Scott,” founding member and frontman Samuele Matteucci tells us. “We met for a drink and ended up hitting it off straight away. We got hammered!”
Italian-born Matteucci and Scott James, respectively keys/lead vocals and drums in proggy upstarts Fuzzy Nautilus, don’t buy into the grand mythology of a ‘band’s beginnings’. They, and the three other members of the Nautilus team – Tom Cundall (guitars), John Keates (bass) and Martin Pozo (guitars) – share an interest in going to the pub (or “band meetings”), listening to King Crimson and general irreverence. James recalls Pozo’s initial thoughts on being introduced to the band: “When I listened to the demo, I was expecting to come and meet you and you’ll all be all serious and muso-like, but actually you’re a bunch of idiots like me: it’s perfect!”
Their frivolously penned name – “I just thought it sounded funny and different,” laughs Matteucci – and penchant for pints belies the intensity and academic strangeness found in their music. Their debut EP Antenna is a racy, spacey romp through Beatles-esque psychedelia and funk-outs. When they played at the enormously eclectic Balham Resonance Festival last year, Matteucci ’s vocals found a Mike Patton-like versatility as the band expanded the instrumental sections of songs like I Lost My Keys Somewhere Along the Milky Way into sauntering, interstellar jams.
While Fuzzy Nautilus may be their main concern, Matteucci and James also play in Resonance founder Mike Morton’s band, The Gift, which they joined just ahead of last year’s release, Land Of Shadows.
“If The Gift is like our best friend then Fuzzy is like our baby, something we created, so it has a different and deeper meaning for us,” says Matteucci. “When we joined The Gift, the music was already written. Musically, Fuzzy and The Gift are very different projects. The Gift’s songs are deep and meaningful; we have a song where the lyrics were inspired by someone’s shopping list that I found on the floor at Tesco…”
As a band who admit they released an EP just so they’d “have something to sell at gigs”, they’re clearly not without a sense of humour. But the next step of releasing their debut full-length is a more sobering thought, as James admits. “We are going to knuckle down and start working on the first album. All the songs are written – we just have some adjustments to make, but this can all be worked out pretty easily. And then possibly start looking for a label. A good support tour would be nice and then, who knows?”
The stakes may be high for Fuzzy Nautilus, but James can’t help laughing it off: “World domination! No, that’s probably not going to happen. It would be nice though…”
Tom Cundall (guitars), Scott James (drums, vocals), John Keates (bass), Samuele Matteucci (vocals, keyboards), Martin Pozo (guitars)
Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles bounding through distant astral landscapes
The Antenna EP is out now from Bandcamp