In our local music cover story a few months back, 75orLess Records founder Mark MacDougall called the Feng Shui Police a band to watch in 2016. He also called them “A trio of Brown University too-young-to-care weirdos.” Given such ringing endorsements from Mark, plus that fact that their new EP Coffee With the Feng Shui Police dropped recently, I figured who better to kick off this column for 2016. I’m very happy to report that they didn’t disappoint: These dudes are total weirdos.
Fittingly, I met the Feng Shui Police for coffee at L’Artisan Cafe in Wayland Square where, upon meeting them, I was presented with a hardbound copy of Ultra in the West: The Normandy Campaign of 1944-45, a book written by a former British code-cracker.
“It’s a campaign that’s dear to Evan and me,” said Dash Elhauge, the band’s lead singer and guitar player. “It’s one of our favorite WWII campaigns.”
I didn’t get the impression that either of them had read the book, but drummer Evan Harris added very matter of factly, “It’s important to know about.”
This was already my favorite interview ever.
Before the actual interview began we ordered coffee. I had a latte. The band split a cappuccino, and while we talked they passed it back and forth like across the table like a paper football.
“I think it’s one of the better cappuccinos the Feng Shui Police have experienced,” commented bass player Hariz Johnson.
A fitting lead into my first serious line of questioning: Why is coffee so important to the band? Between the title of the album, interstitial dialogue between songs and frequent references within their lyrics, the band seems to have coffee on the brain.
“We’re very serious about coffee,” Dash tells me. How serious? Keurig serious. The group agrees that the Breakfast Blend is up there as the flavor to beat, though they had their fair share of Caramel Vanilla Cream while recording the EP because Dash’s mom likes it and they recorded in her basement.
For two weeks they pretty much just woke up, went straight to the bottom of whatever Keurig cups they could get their hands on and pounded out the five track oddity that is Coffee With The… From a production standpoint it’s rough around the edges, but polish would only take away from its smartass charm.
“We spent a lot of time trying to get the sound right where we wanted,” said Dash. “It’s still in the basement, but we really tried to get the parts perfect.”
That sound is decidedly on the poppier side of lo-fi punk (you know, songs about girls.) Thematically, this is in line with their previous work. Songs like “Happy” and “The Other Guy” fit in well with the rest of the FSP catalogue, which includes the Ween-like “Shit, Man,” or the five second micro-song “Texting My Ex-Girlfriend,” which might just rank up there with Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” as the greatest piece of short prose ever composed.
“It’s boring if a song doesn’t have an element that seems a little out there,” Evan points out. None of their material is lacking in the “out there” department.
By this point, the boys had finished their cappuccino and the conversation began to take weird(er) turns. I disappointed Hariz when he asked what kind of beer I liked and I told him that because of Celiac disease I haven’t had a real, good beer in almost six years. Tensions became palpable when Star Wars came up, with expectations at wildly different levels depending on which bandmate you asked. When Hariz suggested that even the original trilogy wasn’t that good, Dash and Evan responded in shocked silence and my headline attempted to write itself: “Have the Feng Shui Police Gone Too Far?”
Looking ahead to the new year, Dash offered that he’d like to see the band further solidify their sound. Listening to Coffee With The… and their first record, Thank You, already shows an evolution towards a more consistent, specific kind of noise and weirdness.
“We need to be more political,” said Hariz, suggesting that the band needed to be more controversial. “I think we need to make a statement. Should we pick a fight with the Chinese government?”
Dash agreed. “Why not? What have they ever done for us?”
“I feel like we should support the Chinese government,” said Evan, confirming the old adage that it’s always the quiet ones. “Wouldn’t that be more controversial?”
Have the Feng Shui Police gone too far?