Better Together

They have other projects, but all five members of Fiancé agree that ‘this feels right’

The first time I saw Fiancé play I was dressed in an unflattering Batman onesie. It was Halloween of 2015 and the venue wasn’t a bar, festival, or any place with a stage. It was in the kitchen in a house in Newark. With their backs to the kitchen’s marble island, they began checking their instruments as merry revelers packed the room, almost smothering the performers. Everyone was dressed up and for a moment, I was confident that Jimmy Hendrix had walked through the crowd. It was, after all, the night of the dead.

After a few guitar strokes, bass plucks, and drum blasts, a voice came over the mic.

“We’re Fiancé. This is a cover,” said frontman Andrew Fusca.

Then they played The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden.” I remember the way the crowd sang and laughed along with the band. Monsters, zombies, superheroes, knights, and princesses were all hopping and dancing along to the tune. When that song ended, Fiancé went on to play a full set from their first EP, aptly titled EP-1 (2014). They finished by surprising their audience with a cover of “Monster Mash,” generating enough electricity in the room to raise Frankenstein’s monster.

Five years later, Fiancé has evolved, and it’s unlikely they’ll be playing in Newark kitchens any time soon. They boast a well-constructed playlist and a large following. They’ve performed at Firefly Music Festival in Dover; they’ve played in England, New York, Philadelphia, and many venues in Wilmington, including a heavily attended show at The Queen.

From 2014 to 2016, the band seemed to be on fire. Then, they decided to take a breather. All five members are involved with one or more bands other than Fiancé. Guitarist and vocalist Fusca works on his solo project, REW, and released a self-titled album online in 2017 with a follow-up cassette tape of the same album (with a few additional tracks) in 2019.  Fusca also helps produce music for other local artists. Bassist Tyler Yoder recorded a solo project that gained steam in 2016 called Milieu Lust. Drummer Brian “Octie” Bruce heads the Wilmington-based group Gozer. On keys, Sam Nobles is perhaps most famous for his past work with Mean Lady as well as playing countless jazz sets around the state with Bruce Anthony. Guitarist Jeff Marvel works on his own music and contributes to Fusca’s production process. It’s safe to say that each member had a large enough plate to stay busy for a while—without Fiancé. 

Then, in 2018, the band put out a four-track EP, Feverdream, and started playing local shows again. Now, the five members are preparing to release a new single this month and a full-length album that will hit the web later this year.

I sat down with four of the members at Trolley Tap House one night last month to discuss their music. Here’s how it went:

O&A: How did Fiancé come to be?
Yoder: Andrew, Jeff and I have been in many bands together in the past. We started together when we were 13 or 14, whatever age you are when you’re in eighth grade, and it just all came together when we got a little older.

O&A: So three of you have been together forever; how did Octie and Sam get involved?
Yoder: Andrew and I were working at Cafe Olé in Newark below Frolic on Main Street, being the worst possible baristas ever. I think we played a show there, but it’s slipping my memory if that’s when we met Octie or not. Anyway, Octie just showed up to one of our earlier shows and was like, “Yo, let me drum for your band.”

Marvel: We were using a drum machine before Octie joined.

Just then, Fusca gets up, clears some space, and attempts a cartwheel in the middle of the empty bar.

“Anyone want a beer?” he asks while getting back to a standing position. We all raise our hands in unison, and he dashes to the bar.

Yoder: Sorry about him.

Marvel: That’s our guy.

O&A: So then you two, with Fusca and Octie, are Fiancé. What about Sam? How did he join the group?
Yoder: I moved to San Fran for a while in 2016. That’s when Sam joined the band and played bass for a while. The whole time I was out west, I was trying to find the local scene out there and figure out how to get involved with some musicians, but it was tough. Also, Andrew has this way of being really persuasive in the way he sends me tracks that he has been working on, and when I heard Sam playing on the tracks, I got excited to get back east and contribute.

O&A: What was it like when he (Yoder) was in California?
Marvel: We were all kind of like confused as to if we were still a band or not. That was around 2016. So, we just continued to try and make music and when Tyler came back later in the year, it was like “Welcome home!” and we got right back to creating music together.

Fusca joins the table again with a round of drinks.

Fusca: What’d I miss?

Yoder: Just me living in California for a bit.

Fusca: Yeah, that was weird when that happened.

O&A: Do you feel like it was a hiatus? It seemed like everyone in Delaware knew your name for a while, and then you guys were gone. Poof! What happened?
Fusca: No. We continued to make music, sometimes as a solo project, but still.

Yoder: Yeah, we were always still a band.

Marvel: When we get together and drink a few beers…

Fusca: A few beers is an understatement. Tell the people the truth.

Marvel: Yeah, when we get together and play music together, recording consumes us. We don’t have to play shows to still be making music.

Yoder: Knowing that people are still listening is incredible. And I’m sure we will play shows with the new album coming out, but just having the music made is excellent.

Fusca: To be honest, shows were never our big concern. Even after playing overseas and Firefly, I realized performing live wasn’t my main goal and I think everyone else realized that too.

Marvel: We’re all introverts and we go through periods of not playing shows, but I’m sure we will have a few shows when we release the new album.

The band practices. “We don’t have to play shows to still be making music,” says Marvel. Photo Nichole Fusca

Sam Nobles walks into the bar and joins the table.

Fusca: There’s our sweet angel.

Yoder: He really is, isn’t he?

Marvel: Just look at him. So sweet.

Nobles: Hey, fellas. I’m going to grab a beer, who wants one?

Again the group raises hands in unison and this time Nobles strides to the bar.

O&A: What about the new album? It will be the first album since 2016, save the EP in 2018. What’s different this time around?
Yoder: I think our sound used to be like dream pop, is that safe to say?

He looks to his right at Fusca, as if to confirm the accusation.

Fusca: Yeah, I get that.

Yoder: This album is a lot darker; it’s heavier. Raw would be a good word, almost.

Marvel: I agree with that. We’ve been listening to a lot of metal lately.

O&A: Did the recording process change?
Fusca: Kind of. The whole album was recorded in Jeff’s basement. No sound-treated room. No studio. It’s gritty in comparison to our older stuff. Darker, for sure.

O&A: Did the writing process change as well?
Yoder: Yeah, it did. We have a lot of music saved up from the years and sometimes we will just sit and play. Andrew will pull out a track from three or four years ago and we’ll give it another listen. It wasn’t so much starting from scratch, but creating what we already started.

Marvel: When we hear it later, a track I mean, it may have a different meaning than what it meant when we first recorded it. We might take that track and add to it or clean it. When it’s done, we know it’s done. I’m really happy with the tracks that we chose for this album.

Sam Nobles joins the table again and hands out the round of beers.

OA: Does that go for all of you? Happy with the track choices?
Nobles: I’m happy with them. Andrew put in a lot of work; we all did. I get excited when he sends me over something in the final stages. It’s good to hear what the final product sounds like.

Yoder: The 10 tracks on the album are all great and they’re all kind of related. It all works well together.

Fusca: Yeah. I think it works.

O&A: So, there’s a single coming out this month, right?
Fusca: Yeah, I don’t have an exact date yet, but it will be out in February for sure.

O&A: And the album?
Fusca: We’re aiming to have it out around spring. Again, I don’t have an exact date, but it’s coming.

Marvel: And we will start reaching out and playing shows soon enough.

Yoder: At least a few shows right after the album drops.

O&A: Where is Octie tonight?
Fusca: He’s working with another one of the bands that he plays in, working in his new drumsticks made of precious metals and bones.

The four of them laugh heartily.

O&A: Since each of you is involved with another project or multiple projects, what keeps you coming back to Fiancé?
Marvel: This is just fun. It feels right.

Fusca: We all like making music and hanging out, when we do both, it just works.

Yoder: Other projects are great, but Fiancé feels like home.

Nobles: Andrew has a way with mastering music, it’s something that can’t be taught and it’s really awesome to watch and be around that. All of these guys have something that feels good to be around.

He blushes.

Fusca:  Aw, thanks, man.

O&A: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
They exchange looks and even crack a few jokes about what they’d like to add.

After a few moments of silence, Marvel says, “What we have is good. I don’t think it will ever end.”

The others nod in agreement.

Fiancé is set to release a single from their upcoming album Gory this month, with the full album coming to streaming services in the spring. For more information on upcoming shows, visit Facebook.com/fianceDE or follow the band on Spotify.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.