The five guys who bring Fort Lean to life met a decade ago at Wesleyan University. Jake, Sam, and Zach formed a band on the first day of class and were joined a few years later by Keenan and Will. After graduating, the group’s members relocated to New York to start fresh, playing music in other outfits and holding down jobs. A few years later the quintet reconvened as Fort Lean. Here they have forged an identity and established roles that sidestep the hierarchy of traditional bands. Jake, on bass, is the visionary technician; Zach, on guitar, is the big-picture conceptualizer; Sam is that rare drummer with compositional knack; Keenan, the singer, is the guiding soul of the group; Will, on keys, is the finisher, the closer, the icing. But while these roles do exist, it’s never quite clear who is doing what.
“It’s a warped normalcy,” says Keenan. “There are elements in our music that you might think you’ve heard before but they translate to something different when the parts come together.”
Layers of sound interweave, blending the familiar and unfamiliar. In their words, it’s like a bootleg vacation, the idea of an escape that is compromised or somehow undercut; a kid on holiday with his parents, free but for the hotel walls.
Fort Lean released two early EPs, earning glowing reviews in The New York Times and shows with HAIM, Future Islands, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Now comes Quiet Day, the debut LP, dropping sometime early in the Spring of 2015 on Ooh La La Records.