Fresh Flesh is the latest local band to feature the guitar and vocal work of Memphis polymath, Alicja Trout, best known for being one half of the now legendary Lost Sounds as well as other notable bands including Black Sunday, Mouserocket, River City Tanlines, and her solo work as Alicja-Pop. Adding to this list, Fresh Flesh debuted live last November, capping off a year that, for Trout, included several Sweet Knives shows (the post-Jay Reatard so far live-only reemergence of the core Lost Sounds lineup to play Trout's 1999 – 2005 contributions to that band) and some live activity by way of the River City Tanlines and Alicja-Pop. Unlike these endeavors, however, Fresh Flesh was formed by other musicians and had been practicing and recording under various incarnations by the time Trout was approached about providing vocals and guitar to the songs the band had already written. Formed around the songwriting core of drummer Luke Stubblefield (former member of $7 Sox and Angel Sluts as well as cousin to Lucero's bassist, John Stubblefield) and guitarist Noel Clark, Fresh Flesh originally featured Fat Sandwich Records proprietor Daniel Drinkard on bass, a position now assumed by Eric Fortenbery (also of Hosoi Bros). Also in an earlier lineup when the band was laying down demos was Josh McLane, now known for his work on the Memphis comedy scene and his "Don't Be Afraid of the Comedy" series of events.
Live, with Trout on additional guitar and handling all of the vocals, Fresh Flesh's lean but dynamic noise-pop is akin to an updated take on '90s luminaries like Velocity Girl, That Dog, and especially the Breeders. It's an instantly memorable and perfectly unflashy formula that all four members seem comfortable presenting as if the band has far more live gigs behind it than it actually does. Aside from the November 2015 live debut mentioned above, Fresh Flesh played its second show at the Hi-Tone on the 23rd of last month. Fresh Flesh will make its third live appearance as a part of a February 13th three-band lineup including openers JJ Freeze (featuring Jeremy Freeze, Jeff Hulett, and Lost Sounds' John Garland) and headliners Manatees. I sat down with both Alicja Trout and Noel Clark to find out more about the recent past, present, and future of Fresh Flesh.
— Andrew Earles
Memphis Flyer: Besides Alicja's long and colorful resume, what bands and backgrounds make up the other members of Fresh Flesh, and how did the current lineup come together?
Noel Clark: Luke played in a punk band called $7 Sox. Eric right now plays with Hosoi Bros. I guess I didn't really play with anyone locally. I moved around and played with a couple of bands in and after college but nothing anyone would have heard of. I went to college in Jackson, Tennessee, then moved to Memphis in 2008. Daniel Drinkard was my roommate for a while, and he played bass in the band before moving down to Birmingham and opening his record store. This is the first band I've been in in which I was responsible for the songwriting, so at first I just sat down and wrote the guitar parts. Then Daniel and I got together with Josh McLane, who does a lot of comedy and plays with a two-person band called the HEELS, and we recorded some of the songs. That gave Alicja something to listen to, and the fact that she was interested in contributing to it ... well, that sort of resulted in a dream team of people coming together in the current lineup. Luke's an amazing drummer, and Eric's a great bassist, so it was an ideal situation.
Alicja Trout: Luke approached me last year about singing on some of the recordings they'd already laid down. Noel and Luke had been playing together for a while with Daniel Drinkard on bass, but he moved away, and they got Eric in the band. I liked what I heard, and we started practicing, and I added vocals to the recordings. The lyrics had already been written, but I tailored some of them to fit my point of view a little better. There are nine or 10 songs recorded at this point, and these are all just about finished, aside from some correcting of the vocal tracks.
Are there plans for the recordings?
Trout: Not officially, but we'd like to shop them around and see if anyone would be interested in releasing them as seven inches. They'd make a good three seven-inch EPs...three songs per record.
Clark: We'd like to add to anything that's left over and put together enough for a full-length at some point later this year.
Alicja, any other musical plans at the moment?
Trout: Fresh Flesh is where I've dedicated most of my musical energy as of late, but soon there will be a full-length LP of my solo recordings as Alicja-Pop released by the Certified PR label.
Beyond the show on the 13th, are there any Fresh Flesh live plans in place for the rest of the year?
Clark: We're going to keep booking live shows locally. Right now, and depending on what everyone in the band can do, there are some short weekend trips we want to do over the summer, maybe after we get some more songs down.
Fresh Flesh, Manateees, and JJ Freeze, Saturday February 13th at Murphy's. 10 p.m. $5