Watch out!–The Ferocious Few are ready to fight the good fight. The Bay Area blues rock duo are reclaiming public spaces, defying the law in hope of creating community. From Oakland’s Art Walk to 16th & Mission, they’ve literally taken to the streets, feverishly playing anywhere, everywhere, and all the time. Their efforts are paying off. Their debut LP, Juices was released this April to much positive acclaim. They play at Maggie McGarry’s on July 25th. SF Station spoke with vocalist Francisco Fernandez in a phone interview.
Francisco Fernandez (FF): Every single day for the last five years I think I’ve woken up and thought, “Where’s the Ferocious Few in the minds of the people around me?” I’ve been trying to really ingrain it as just as relevant as any major headliners, because I would like to be a major headliner at some point.
SFC: So when did you go from passive to ferocious in terms of taking this music thing seriously?
FF: I started playing guitar when I was twenty here in Berkeley. I would go to protests and stuff, and I was very inspired by all these groups of people together for a good cause that I didn’t even know existed. I think that empowering myself was the best way to retaliate.
SFC: Originally there was always a political undertone, or peoples’ voice in blues and rock—was that a reason you took on that style of music?
FF: Really good blues and rock used to be the thing you listened to. Now it’s all these genres of rock and blues that are really cheesed out, too many niches. It feels like the musicians are playing for themselves instead of the audience.
SFC: How do you try and avoid that?
FF: The way I choose songs is I play them on the street, and whichever ones people responded to more I keep playing. I always look for the reactions songs get, and I put more energy into those ones.
SFC: Now are you talking about a reaction from San Francisco’s “Rat Lady?”
FF: [laughs] Not the Rat Lady. The Rat Lady is kind of scary. Maybe she should be institutionalized in a mental health institution. I’m looking for applause and acceptance. I think people vibe well with more in-your-face music. It’s an intense experience to live in a city, all these sounds, noises, and things going on. Places that were long time San Francisco turning into white-washed neighborhood. I’m reacting to what I see and turning it into an art form, rather than something negative.
SFC: Can you give an example?
FF: Outside Lands pops in Golden Gate, and well, we’re a local band and we want to play as much as anyone else, so we played outside of it. We were stopped by the cops because we didn’t have the proper permits, but I think most people who were going to see music were San Francisco musicians, so it makes sense that we would play there too. If there is an event or festival, I think we are just as relevant as a local band so I can put myself where I want to be.
SFC: That sounds like impromptu theater. You take on a public space, and change the dynamic.
FF: I feel like music is about my experience and where I come from. To build communities you have to share things like that. When I’m traveling I want to take something with me to express who I am to the people that I am going to visit their space, instead of the old tradition of tourism that you’d go and take pictures—you’re taking.
SFC: What communities are you reaching out to?
FF: I grew up in a theater called El Teatro Campensino, which is a Chicano theater that is based a lot in riling up people. They started their theater in the fields rallying workers together for a common cause, which was a farm workers’ movement of unionizing farm workers and making living conditions better.
They used theater, and I’m using music. I haven’t picked a cause yet. I feel like I’m still in what I call navy seal training. I’m training myself to be a stronger individual and force musically everyday.
SFC: What is a battle you’ve won?
FF: We set up the Oakland Art Walk about a year and a half ago, and we didn’t know how we were going to be met. Every time we’ve played since the beginning, there has been a circle of people, up two hundred people that just surround around us in a circle. They take out into the street, and even pour into the lanes of Telegraph Avenue.
SFC: What is a battle you lost?
FF: We started getting run off by this one cop on a bike. Every single day he’d start pulling up even faster. We’d get an hour in, but then it was five minutes. You need an amplified sound permit. Basically, you can’t practice your first amendment and play some rocking music on the street. Now I don’t think my guitar is any louder than a siren.
This article was originally published at SF Station.