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Fever Dolls will play The Stone Church in Brattleboro on Saturday night.

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BRATTLEBORO — A band with Vermont roots will be bringing its danceable rock to The Stone Church this week.

Songwriter Evan Allis and singer Renn Mulloy met at Middlebury College, where they started a band called Iron Eyes Cody. Some years later, they formed Fever Dolls in Burlington.

"We decided that we wanted to start a new band that was like a little bit more like the music that we loved that was a little bit more unique to us than our peers," Allis said. He said he and Mulloy share a love for "kitschy things," "guilty pleasure music" and "a lot of pop music." 

Fever Dolls, combining all these things into its own, high-energy sound, will play at The Stone Church, 210 Main St., at 8 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 7:30. Tickets, between $15 and $20, are available at stonechurchvt.com.

"We really felt like, in touring around with our previous indie rock band, that we were encountering a lot of the same types of bands, and there was a lot of real serious, similarly confessional type of songwriting," Allis said. "We just wanted to form a group that was a little bit lighter, that was a little broader in terms of being confessional, but also, communal and hopeful, if you will. So we decided to start this band."

Allis, of Burlington, and Mulloy, of Brooklyn, N.Y., develop their songs in private, then collaborate with friends to "try and create this great big sound," Allis said.

"Kind of like the defining experience of the live show is, it feels very communal," he said. "There are a lot of like, anthemic group vocals going on. It's real high energy and it just kind of like feels like you're at a party with your friends."

He called The Stone Church one of his and Mulloy's favorite venues as music fans, though this will be the first time they perform there. Opening that night will be Big Destiny and Erin Cassels-Brown.

Allis recently took time from Fever Dolls' northeast tour to talk about songwriting inspiration, the name "Fever Dolls" and how Mulloy helped him find the group's sound.

VNM: What inspires your songwriting?

EA: I've never been as natural as a lot of other people in terms of feeling like a confessional songwriter, feeling like my songs needed to be autobiographical.

I love movies and short stories. And a lot of times I think I approach songs by trying to write about characters that are either people in my life or people that I imagined and dream up. And in that way, there's kind of a separation there that feels more comfortable for me, and I think ends up you know, coming across in the storytelling in a way that is, is exciting and refreshing and a little bit more cinematic.

I often like to start songs sort of like by trying to describe a scene or trying to paint a picture that way. And then I like introduce these characters or these situations. I write songs about characters and, and events and in situations more than I write about, like my own emotional state or my own processing of my own life, if that makes sense.

VNM: Yeah. It kind of reminds me of the process of, of writing fiction, like prose.

EA: Absolutely.

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VNM: Where did the name of the band come from?

EA: When we started the band, we kind of wanted both a name and a mission statement. At the time, we really loved the movie "Saturday Night Fever." And we're kind of like obsessed with the Bee Gees, and these other disco songs on that soundtrack. And felt like we definitely wanted to evoke that in our sound.

One thing we always come back to is that we feel like there are not enough rock bands that you can dance to. And that the rock bands that are out there that kind of make music that you can dance to, you know, they're really kind of making like electro pop or indie pop, or like, music that utilizes synthesizers and drum machines and might even fall more into the category of dance music than rock music. But we specifically wanted to sort of make groovy danceable music with guitars, bass and drums. We were really inspired by Saturday Night Fever, and then also the band the New York Dolls is my favorite band and one of one of our favorite bands. We love the theatricality of glam rock in the '70s and stuff. We really wanted to sort of explicitly convey that, sort of like a willingness to be experimental and daring with our music, but also with our visuals, and how we dress and how we make music videos, and how we sort of present the whole sensory experience.

So we thought, we can combine the New York Dolls and sort of Saturday Night Fever. That will be like a really great place to start in terms of guiding us toward both what we want to sound like and what we want to look like and convey to the audience.

VNM: Fever Dolls was established at the end of 2018. Can you talk about how your sound has evolved since then?

EA: During the pandemic, I moved to Los Angeles, and we sort of talked about dissolving the band in the form that it had been in. For a while, I was out in LA, writing and recording music with people in LA, and kind of doing it on my own and collaborating with people. It was becoming more of a solo project.

Then, as things started opening up, I started booking more shows and getting ready to kind of re-present the band to the world. More and more, I found myself writing songs with two distinct voices and two distinct harmonies. I realized that even though it, it had seemed like it made sense because of the state of the world, to sort of try this separation, that was really not what I wanted to do. I wanted to try to fight to make music with Renn as much as possible, because I really felt that her taste and sort of her position as like my musical editor was so valuable to what I did.

And as I was booking shows that were initially going to be solo shows, I really tried to rope her into as many of those as possible. And then eventually, I said, “Look, you know, this is the only way that I want to do this, with you.”

Maybe it's just that we worked together for so long, but now my brain has gotten to a point where I only write and hear songs, for the moment right now, with these two voices in them, and with you know, two distinct vocal melodies singing at the same time.

Once we got back together and felt like, you know, all was right with the world and a lot of these questions that I've been struggling with, during the pandemic, about what my identity would be as a solo artist, or what my sound would be as a solo artist, they just completely resolved themselves.

In the context of this duo and with Renn, a lot of these questions about: What should we sound like? Or: Is that too out there? They seem less important and there's much more clarity about what this band is supposed to be and what it's not supposed to be, and what risks we're supposed to take and things like that.

Definitely something I realized is that I love that communal energy in music. I love the sound of multiple voices singing together. There's something like, really affirming and exciting about that for me, and that's the type of music that I want to make. I want to make music you can sing and dance with, with your friends, and not necessarily you know, the music you cry to.

VNM: But emotion comes through in Renn’s delivery. Her voice reminded me a little of Phoebe Bridgers’.

EA: I mean, you said it. Sometimes I think that it's like, there is a quality that some singers have, where they're almost like actors in terms of that ability to just live the lyrics and when they sing you really feel that emotionality, you really feel the journey and you don't really get bogged down in like, oh, this person has good technique. Renn is one of those people who just really make songs her own. And that's really exciting for me, as a songwriter to sort of finish a song and love it and then watch it kind of take off in all these wonderful and unexpected ways when she interprets it.


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