Fire in the Hamptons crank out pop-coated ear candy with electronic dance music filling.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
By now, Zack Arnett is a familiar face around Monterey: The Fire in the Hamptons frontman has performed several sellout shows in the area throughout the years – usually on the same bill with local faves Forrest Day – with the now-disbanded hip-hop outfit Ostrich Head.
While churning out hip-hop anthems, the former emcee spent a lot of his downtime experimenting with other genres and expanding his musical knowledge. After Ostrich Head called it quits a couple years back, Arnett already had an arsenal of ideas, and an affinity for MGMT, leading to what became Fire in the Hamptons. (He explains the meaning behind the name as “the beauty in destroying beauty.”)
“A lot of things colliding at once resulted in the group,” Arnett says. “My music has evolved as my life has evolved.”
Arnett’s still telling stories, only now he’s doing it with a backdrop that he feels ignites more ingenuity in him. The end product is a trifecta of New Order synth gloom, brightly crafted hooks and his contagious rendering of late-night party sounds with a moral edge.
“Humanimal” conveys its theme – losing one’s self through a redundant lifestyle in a constant state of party – through synths running parallel to Arnett’s engaging falsetto vocals.
“The song is an exploration of this specific mind-set some people have in Los Angeles,” Arnett explains. “Sometimes there’s a constant state of excess going on around you.”
The ominous pounding drum and hi-hat combo that kicks off “Stargazer” teases Tears for Fears’ “Shout” before laser beams blast it into a ballroom blitz of polyrhythmic layers. Though there’s a cacophony of elements at play – piano, bass, percussion, and synth effects – the composition is simple and accessible.
“Humanimal” and “Stargazer” make up two of 13 dance-centric tracks on FITH’s recently released debut F.I.T.H., which Arnett co-produced with Bert Selen. Since the album dropped, the pair had a falling out and Selen is no longer in the picture. But Arnett hasn’t been fazed; he’s just had to adapt and become more self-reliant. He translated the mostly-electronic music into something a band could perform live and found a good bunch of musicians. After Arnett enlisted drummer Aaron Bilyeu, guitarist Ian Dowd and synth/pianist Emvy Venti – who will all be on hand Saturday night at Planet Gemini – he says everything else seemed to fall into place.
“I’m happy with the way [the live show] came out but it was a fucking hard process to get it right,” he says. “I guess the universe collided on that front too.”
Arnett, who works in music licensing, has been able to use his day job to benefit FITH: The tune “Blackout” appeared on a recent episode of Jersey Shore and next month, “Humanimal” is set to be featured on Gossip Girl. As universes are colliding, stars are also aligning.
FIRE IN THE HAMPTONS with special guest DJ Bad DJ perform at 10:30pm Saturday, Nov. 17, at Planet Gemini, 2110 N. Fremont St., Monterey. $10. 373-1449. www.planetgemini.com.