The Fauves are the only band I’ve ever written fan-mail to. When you consider just how marginally relevant at the time this band was (not to me, oh no), it seems it was less mail-from-a-fan and more a letter of encouragement. The Fauves were an “arty band” (the band name something of a clue) made up of school friends from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula that rode into town on the back of a couple of promising EPs. As artists they were obtuse and uncompromising, a mixture of skewed riffs and bizarre time signatures, musically channelling the spirit of the once powerful Hunters and Collectors before quickly devolving into their own tempered styling.
Far be it from me to tell a band how to go about their business, I felt compelled to at least break that barrier, unaware of how arrogant and disrespectful in hindsight it sounds. Following their dismally received debut album (proudly stated by them as the worst selling album in Polydor history) the letter went something along the lines of “what the hell do you call this?” Usually a debut album is a call to arms, but this was just a prolonged agonising listen under the pretence of exercising your art. I begged them to reconsider their direction, refine their madness, or at least unleash the antagonist/irreverent spirit that in a live setting was something they were famous for — encores where they demolished Frente songs, covered the theme to Gilligan’s Island and attacked each other onstage like rugby players. I received a polite and considered response from head Fauve Andrew Cox agreeing with some of my observations, giving his side of the story, though ultimately happy to take this advice onboard. No doubt they were copping it left and right after their first single on a major label, the jerky jitter of “Thin Body, Thin Body” disappeared into the ether and second single, the melodic but meandering and doomed for radio play “Marble Arse” fell on beyond deaf ears.
The follow-up The Youth Need Discipline was a more even and listenable affair but ultimately not much better. They teased the blinkered masses with songs about dwarves and Roman emperors and made a few more friends this time round, but not enough to invite over for a bbq. The staunch fan as I was kept writing, insisting that the Fauves were like an onion and if you kept peeling back the layers, all will eventually be revealed — just as long as they kept the songs under 4 minutes, no more than 12 per album and easy on the dirge. I wanted to understand what drove a Fauve, so I asked for their favourite recorded moments, as I felt that the audience vs. the band were wanting wholly different things, and this was proven when Andrew wrote back explaining he couldn’t speak for the rest of the band but dutifully obliged, listing a handful of songs that only a mother could love.