WTF: Warren Thomas Fenzi Q&A
Hailing from Prescott, Arizona, singer-songwriter Warren Thomas Fenzi has found a home in Minneapolis’ music scene after living on the East and West Coasts. He is a member of Lucid VanGaurd and 26 BATS!, both of which are a part of the Kremblems music collective here in the Twin Cities. He released his own debut album, “WTF,” in August of 2017. I sat down with him to talk about his experience as a musician, the Grand Canyon, and misleading acronyms.
What brings you here to Minnesota?
I moved here in 2015 to live with my first roommate [Karl Remus] from college… We only lived together for about a semester, but I would spend summers out here just playing music and getting to know the area.
Which is your favorite instrument to play?
If you had to pick.
Yeah, yeah. I think it depends on the day, you know? Some days I’ll really be inspired by the drums, but other days I’m just super into tweaking my synth. I’m a little bit of an obsessive personality, so I feel like I need to meet my quota of like practicing each instrument every day.
So with your album, “WTF,” did you do all of it yourself or did you have help?
There’s quite a bit of help on there, too. For four or five [tracks] I laid down guitar, drums, bass, keys, and vocals. But there’s a lot of stuff on there that has guitar and bass and key parts and background vocals from the people in my collective that I work with, yeah.
Speaking of the collective, Kremblems, how did you become a part of that?
My friend Karl started that. He really started it, I think, to create a community of musicians. I don’t think he started it with the idea that we’re going to have all these bands made up of the same people. I think he just started it to create a kind of musical community, you know? Lucid VanGuard is his group, and I played drums and percussion in that. And so, when I first moved out here, that was like the only group that was really going on. And then Bailey Cogan started her own group, which is now 26 BATS!, and I played drums in that, and then I started my group. So it kind of spawned out of Lucid VanGaurd… I guess it’s kind of a record label, but it’s also just a community of people that love each other and play music together.
What do you love the most about the music scene in the Twin Cities?
The accessibility. I was living in California before I moved out here.. but when I made the move I don’t think I knew that much about the music scene. But I think the really cool thing is that it’s a “small bubble” comparatively to these other places. The diversity and the concentration of quality stuff is super surprising, to be honest. I grew up in California and I’ve spent time in New York, so I had this coastal mentality… I didn’t even think about what is in the middle... I guess it’s just a really surprising artistic place. I would say that yeah, the accessibility and I think the community here is really set on wanting to make just good music, you know what I mean? It doesn’t feel as cutthroat or as corporate as places like LA. I remember moving here from California and I was like, “Everyone’s so humble here!” You know? I think that’s why a lot of people from here like to represent Minnesota because the music scene’s fucking dope.
“WTF” has some interesting album artwork: a chair with a pillow that has “WTF” on it in front of a beautiful landscape. Why did you choose this? Where was the picture taken?
So that’s the Grand Canyon. Growing up in Arizona, a lot of these songs were written quite a while ago. They kind of just all came together, but my friends had an idea, they were like, “We should make the album cover this pillow,” that I have in my room, on my bed. My Aunt Pat actually sewed this for me when I was five years old.
I just realized those are your initials, not the texting acronym of today.
Yeah, that used to be the name of the band. But I changed it to just my full name because I think it was a little bit too confusing for people… like “why would you name the band that?” That was before texting was ever a thing, so it wasn’t funny until I got older. So what we did is we took a road trip out to Colorado, Arizona, and California and we’re taking pictures of this pillow in all these different places that have meaning for me. I had always envisioned it being at the Grand Canyon, so that is actually at the Grand Canyon; it’s not photoshopped.
How do you get over a case of writer’s block?
I guess right now I have enough music where it’s not an issue. Like, I’m going to come out with this EP December 4, and it’s a three-part EP. And I have a whole other record I’m currently recording right now that will come out after that. So right now I feel like I’m in a good place where I can focus on those songs. When I am writing a lot, I’d say it comes every which way. Some of my favorite songs I’ve written actually on the drums, where I’m just like, playing a groove, and then I sing the melody to it, and then I go figure out chords to play under the melody on guitar. I try not to force it, though. I think that’s very soul-sucking… People probably aren’t going to like it very much. People can tell if it’s real.
What can listeners expect from you in the future?
We’re going to go back out on tour in February. With the EP, again, it’s definitely a departure from what you’ve heard [on “WTF”]. The first song is very in-your-face rock-heavy, and the second song is more atmospheric… it fades out into this string arrangement that I worked on. The name of the record is “Viven,” which means “they live” in Spanish. It’s one single composition, but it’s three songs. They flow very much into each other. I’m really excited for that.