Middle Class Fashion plays the sort of unhindered pop music you don't find a ton of in St. Louis. It's so buoyant as to be theatrical at times, but it never sounds frivolous. The band's got plenty of pedigree, with Jenn Malzone on vocals and keys, Brad Vaughn on guitar and Brian McClelland on bass. There's also an EP, which you can find online, and an upcoming LP.
Middle Class Fashion plays tonight at Foam with locals Union Electric and Sleep Fleet and Joseph Camerlengo, both from Ohio. The music starts at 8:30 p.m., and you get a free CD preview of the upcoming MCF full-length. We talked to McClelland about where this band fits among its members other projects, the status of the new album and some of the best pop bands in St. Louis. He also shared a new track "Vacation" off the upcoming LP. Listen below.
"Vacation" by Middle Class Fashion
A to Z: Casual fans may have a little trouble keeping track of the various projects of people involved in Middle Class Fashion. Care to run through everyone's current band resume?
Brian McClelland: Sure, I hope you have a couple minutes! MCF is Jenn Malzone on piano and vocals, with Brad Vaughn on drums and myself on bass. Brad and I both sing harmonies and the occasional lead. Jenn is the main songwriter, with some contributions from Brad and myself.
Jenn's main band for a while now has been Paper Dolls which also features Brad Vaughn--who had fronted the now-on-indefinite-hiatus indie outfit A Bit Shifty several years before joining Paper Dolls in 2009--on bass. Jenn joined Tight Pants Syndrome in 2009. Jenn and Brad formed MCF in 2010 as a piano/drums duo to explore the poppier side of what they were already doing so well in Paper Dolls.
I played bass in Hotel Faux Pas in the mid-to-late '90s before starting my own thing with the now defunct Maxtone Four in 2002, and eventually joined TPS in 2005 and MCF in summer 2010. I also have a long gestating project called Whoa Thunder, whose debut full-length I'm currently mixing with Matt Meyer (Ded Bugs, The Finns).
Whew! Still awake?
In what way is Tight Pants Syndrome a different outlet for you than Middle Class Fashion?
For Jenn and Brad, I think it allows them to mine the poppier side of what they've been doing so well in Paper Dolls.
For me, MCF allows me to take a backseat and enjoy playing bass for a while--something that hasn't interested me for ages. It helps that Jenn's voice and songs are amazing.
Union Electric isn't the first band I imagine sharing a bill with MCF -- how'd the two bands coordinate this show?
Another branch in Brad's musical family tree--Union Electric's Melinda "Malice" Cooper was Brad's partner in A Bit Shifty.
What can you tell us about the full-length? Does it have a title? Where was it recorded? How is it different from the EP?
So far it's just titled LP, as its predecessor was just EP. As opposed to the EP, which was completely self-recorded by Brad and myself, and a bit more lo-fi--the drums were recorded/mixed live down to single mono track, for example--for the LP we recorded piano and drums live at the Lemp Brewery with Jimmy Gunn, who Jenn rents her rehearsal space from, at his studio which is literally maybe five steps down the hall. I took it over from there, recording bass, vocals, and overdubs at various semi-quiet spots between my place in Maplewood and Jenn's in Tower Grove South. This is a nice broad portrait of what the band is doing right now--as opposed to the EP, which was always meant as more of an introductory demo. That's also why, after the EP sold out, instead of ordering more copies, we decided to just post those songs for free download on facebook.
What is your opinion of the current pop music scene in St. Louis? Who (besides your bands) is worth checking out right now?
There don't seem to be very many straight-up pop bands around just lately, but the few that we do have are pretty fantastic. I think I would split my vote between The Blind Eyes, who are really on a roll right now with their sweet new record, and Jenn's fave StL pop band, Bunnygrunt, who we all adore.
"My Attack" by Middle Class Fashion