Formed in 2020, Fool of Stars started out as a high school dream pop band. The current line up, Olive Ward (guitar/vocals), Max White (drums), and Jacob Smith (organ), came together to enter Bring the Noise in 2022. Following a warm reception from friends and strangers, they decided to record their debut album, set to be released in early December. Critic Te Ārohi caught up with Olive and Max to talk about the band and their upcoming album, The Everything Under Your Feet.
Olive and Max are both multi-instrumentalists: besides the guitar and vocals, Olive is also a talented violinist, and Max also plays the keys outside of the drums. Last year they made it to the Bring the Noise finals, standing out from the other Ōtepoti bands with their ‘80s indie synth rock sound. But translating the sound in their head onto stage can be a challenge, they tell Critic. “We recorded a lot of layers of guitar. About fifteen was the most on one track,” Olives says. “It is hard to do that live – for obvious reasons.”
Fool of Stars steers away from the Dunedin Sound as they try to be their own thing. “It takes influences from shoegaze as well as dream pop, but it’s not as abrasive,” Olive says. She cites The Cure and The War on Drugs as major influences on the album. Max shares: “Production-wise, The Smashing Pumpkins and Cocteau Twins was what we were going for.” Olive adds: “People always tell me that we sound like Mazzy Star because they are a dream pop band with a female vocalist. They always just compare you to that.”
Despite the comparisons, Fool of Stars manage to separate themselves from other bands with the fine details of production. “We try not to make the songs sound crowded,” says Olive. “It’s important for me to scale things back, but I consider it a maximalist album.” Olive wrote the earliest track on the album at the end of 2019. They started recording in November 2022 and finished in May of this year.
The album consists of eight songs and spans 42 minutes. The eerie organs and many layered guitars create a glistening atmosphere that took some time to perfect, going through the mixing and mastering process twice to get it exactly right. Fool of Stars are releasing the album independently. Being their first release, it’s been a learning process for the band. “It was mainly through word of mouth, trying to figure it out,” Olive says of the experience. “I feel like I know more now than I did before and I would be better at doing this kind of thing again.”
Fool of Stars will be playing a single release gig before releasing their debut album in December. You can follow them on Instagram @fool.of.stars for updates on their upcoming gig and their debut album, The Everything Under Your Feet.