Charles Bronson was already taken, Chuck Norris was too cliché and Clint Eastwood “talks to chairs.” That’s how the guys arrived at the band name Fredward, coined after the actor Fred Ward, back in 2010. The punk rock four-piece has been writing loud, searing songs and playing shows ever since, but it wasn’t until this month that the group finally had “something to show for it,” says drummer Mike Fish.
Over the past half-decade, brothers Beau (vocals/guitar) and Artie (bass) Dobney, Ham Jenkins (guitar) and Fish have all gone through their individual battles, they say, which is why the release of You’re Only Here Because You Have to Be (available at fredward.bandcamp.com) feels especially rewarding. “No matter how bad my personal life was, which at times was very low, Fredward was always there,” Jenkins says. “I could talk to these guys [and] that’s always been the case, from the beginning till today.” The album is a culmination of songs written over the band’s lifespan, propelled by Beau Dobney’s powerful, acid-tongued lyricism and equally intense vocal delivery. “It was kind of pulled from where I was at in my life,” Dobney says. “It was the way I was feeling, and I just kind of ran with it.”
The 12-song debut LP is a collection of provocative and gritty pop-punk, recorded mostly at Vegas View Recording Studios with the help of Dave Holdredge. “Going into the recording, we all shared experiences where we were like, you record and you fight and then it comes out and it doesn’t sound anything like you wanted, and you spend all your time apologizing as you hand it to people,” Jenkins says. “Dave was the first person that was like, ‘That’s not gonna happen.’ He believed in Fredward probably more than Fredward believed in Fredward.”
From the aggressive opening line of “Right Fix,” which is also where the album gets its name, to the darting drums and thick guitar licks on the piss and vinegar-fueled “Currency” and the sobering track “Giver,” You’re Only Here plays like a concise, fiery debut.