There are only two contemporary rock acts we genuinely fan-girl over—both hailing and fully encompassing each coast individually. The first is New York outfit DAMEHT, and the second is Cali’s Fatal Jamz—a Los Angeles-based glam act, led by Marion Belle, which we’ve closely followed since first discovering their criminally underrated single, “Rookie.” An alumnus of previous bands The Drugs and later Bowery Beasts, Belle has gradually developed a cult-like following over the years—fans who adore him for reviving an era when ultra-sexy, androgynous frontmen dominated mainstream radio.
After three years of recording in a skid row penthouse, Fatal Jamz now has a full-length album ready and slated for release in 2016 via Lolipop Records—described as the first taste of Belle’s Lead Singer Trilogy, as we hear him “open up the gates on a sunlit inferno where today’s starlets and ravishing poor boys play for glory.” The project’s opening track, “Jean Paul Gaultier,” provided a teaser of the band’s nostalgic pop sound, recalling the best of the ’70s wistful powerhouses, from David Bowie to ABBA.
Today, we’re thrilled to premiere its follow-up, “Coverboy,” ahead of Fatal Jamz’s October 8 release show at Los Angeles’ Bootleg Theater, alongside Cullen Omori and special unannounced guests. Listen, below:
Lyrically, bring me through the track, “Coverboy.”
‘Coverboy’ is the title track because it echoes the essence of the record as a whole—the price of desire, pussy and fame—the sacred and the profane. It’s essentially about a singer haunted by his destiny as a performer, and pays homage to experiences I’ve had on and off stage as a singer in Los Angeles. The first line of the song says, ‘Burning like a flame/like a snowball in the rain.’ You’ve got a lot of heat, and your guns are loaded, but you’re running out of time—that’s where I’m coming from. The story goes from there.
You’ve been working on this album for a long time. What took so long?
In 2013 we came off tour with Sky [Ferreira] and Smith Westerns, and we didn’t have a record deal. We’ve had a lot of critical acclaim from musicians, artists [and] press, but without financial backing it’s hard to record. I knew at the time I wanted to embark on what I call the ‘Lead Singer Trilogy’ and I wanted to work with Nic at The Penthouse until we got it right. And the way we did it was in this obsessive bubble—super isolated—which is probably why it took a while, but also probably why we don’t sound like anything else.
Where did you write this track?
I wrote the chord changes and initial melodies, did a demo of it and brought it to Nic. We worked out the lush 12-string guitar parts and his bass lines. It was becoming gorgeous and I decided to lyrically lay it all bare—the whore I’ve been, the groupies I’ve known and the glory of just making music.
What’s the message of your new album, as a whole?
The album has been a desperate cry to keep my own innocence alive. I hope it does the same for other people.
Why do you think there are so few rock stars in today’s contemporary music?
I know what you’re asking, but the term itself is one of the reasons why there aren’t any, or many, of a certain kind of creature anymore—at least not in guitar music. Richard Hell said a lead singer is a sacred monster and that’s hard as fuck to be.
What provoked your nostalgic look and sound?
The music [and] lyrics represent how I feel today, right now. The production has its own life—its own sheen that’s not mired in the past or present. But I do think I live by a kind of code of romance that’s probably more like, of the chivalric era, King Arthur, because I’d die to capture the true way I feel about someone, or some place, inside of a song that could play forever.
1. Jean Paul Gaultier
3. In My Car
5. Lead Singer
6. Nikki Sixx
7. Pale Pink Rose
10. Touch the Flame