For more than a decade, Steven Look’s voice could be heard bolstering beyond-their-years indie rock projects The Meteah Strike and, later, Fable & The World Flat. Following a two-release 2013 from Fable, the frontman’s ever-present bandmate Matthew Gorski moved to Los Angeles last year and subsequently saw the long-tenured project suspended in indefinite hiatus. Now lacking the creative input of someone he’d played with for half his life, Look seeks to forge a new creative path for himself.
Oddly enough, breaking new personal ground finds him revisiting his past preferences, and trading in the sleek vocals and meticulous production of past projects for a self-described “lo-fi” and “nasty” outlet. Before King Eye & The Squirts plays its inaugural show under the moniker, the bandleader talked about the state of Fable & The World Flat and why he felt the need to go back to basics with his latest endeavor.
Milwaukee Record: In 2013, Fable & The World Flat had two albums out. That had to be a busy year.
Steven Look: Yeah, for sure. We spent 2012 in the studio every week and in 2013, we released both albums Matt [Gorski] knew that he was moving, so we got that stuff out before he moved to L.A. We’re still in touch and he’s doing some private work for a licensing company. I flew out there and finished an album a couple months ago. We’re still in touch, but I’m just getting back to what I was doing back when I was 18 or 19 years old, just having fun.
MR: But the band is still alive, though, right? Like, it’s on the back burner, but something you can access when you want to and work on from a distance or when you two can get together.
SL: Exactly. I would say that it’s still a project. We’ve been working together since we were 14 years old. There’s no bad blood or anything. He just took the steps that he needed to. It’s definitely on hiatus, and I don’t know if it will ever be a live band ever again, but we’ll always be shooting tracks back and forth.
MR: Around the end of Matt’s time here, the live show didn’t really seem like Fable anymore either. It seemed like the half brother of Fresh Cut Collective.
SL: We weren’t even really planning on having it be a live band, it was just that we were both playing in Fresh Cut. They sort of work with different artists all the time, and when we had the albums, they got behind that. That just kind of ran its natural course. It was a fun chapter, but to consider bringing Fable back as a live band, and getting a new drummer seemed like too daunting of a task. It’s probably just better left where it was as a live show. We’re not going to top that. It’s definitely better to leave that were it was and keep it as a recording project on the side.
MR: So you’re back to basics now, with solo stuff.
SL: Yep. Back to basics. I dusted off the guitar and have been writing a lot of new material. It should be out pretty soon. Matt’s mixing and mastering it.
MR: What’s it like? Are you playing every instrument on it?
SL: On the recording, yeah. It’s kind of just lo-fi stuff I recorded on cassettes. Right now, I have another batch of material and have a small backing band to play on it.
MR: In a way, it must be a little discouraging to restart. Then again, you can do absolutely anything. There are no rules or constraints of what you should sound like because that’s what your last band did. You can re-invent yourself.
SL: It’s extremely liberating. I feel like I’ve been doing it for a good decade solid: doing one thing, then turning around, and doing another, then turning around and doing another. I really feel like it’s come full circle. The kind of music I’m doing is more like something I would’ve done just after high school. I’m simplifying it with a basic band—guitar, bass, drums—for starters. It’s not so much a re-invention as I’m just going back to the beginning. I was plenty comfortable where I started out.
MR: I guess we should get into what that sounds like. You say you want to get back to what you played after high school, but where does that land?
SL: In terms of comparing it to anything I’d ever done in the past, that’s impossible because everything I’ve ever done has been with Matt Gorski, so his touch was always on everything. The vocals were always done very rigorously and the rhythm was always perfected. This time it’s just a bunch of one-takes. The stuff I recorded is with a ’60s drum box, a guitar, some theremin, and the vocals are yelling and growling with a little more nastiness. The music itself has a really weird lounge feel to it. I guess what I mean when I’m going back to where I was all those years ago, my true passions had been jazz and punk. I somehow wanted to combine those two, and I settled on a sort of ’50s lounge, rockabilly sort of sound. Right now it’s pretty gonzo and weird, but I think it’ll segue into a more palatable, familiar ’50s rock sound.
The Steven Look-fronted project King Eye & The Squirts plays Thursday, April 16 at Club Garibaldi with Ghost Wolves and Liar’s Trial. The show begins at 9 p.m.