With their soulful melodies, tight guitar jams and obvious chemistry, Regina’s Fur Eel give the deceiving impression of a band that have many miles and jams behind them. It’s hard to believe then, that the foursome came together just eleven months ago, and in that short time have written and recorded their debut album, Elephant Summer.
“We just clicked instantly,” says vocalist and lead guitarist Justin Sheppard. “There’s no ego involved, just a common passion for the music.” Fur Eel, which got its name after Sheppard noticed how ubiquitous the phrase “for real” has become, had a simple beginning when Sheppard began hanging out and writing songs with Thomas St. Onge, another accomplished guitar player. Bass player Travis Reshaur came into the picture when Sheppard sold him an amplifier, and drummer James Belle completed the quartet.
Self-described as a funk, rock and soul experience, Fur Eel marries the smooth stylings of Maroon 5 with chunky bass and perky keys, a combination that begs a sweaty dance floor at every performance. Sheppard’s idol Prince clearly influences the sexy vocal delivery that climbs up and down the scale, and curls around every lyric, which are as meaty as the melodies.
Sheppard’s soul searching in recent years has led to some of the group’s most popular songs like “Sting” and “Don’t Try.” Women and relationships naturally factor into the 22-year-old’s writing, but the material wanders to the philosophical as well with “Meritocracy.” With both Sheppard and St. Onge behind the pen, Sheppard says the eight-song record has the charm and diversity of a Beatles album. “It wasn’t just Lennon. With all the Beatles contributing, it made for a more interesting listen.”
All in their early ‘20s, Fur Eel doesn’t want for experience. Each musician has performed in various Regina projects and has cut their chops on stage, and it’s Fur Eel’s live show that make people believers. To say it’s high energy doesn’t do it justice. More like each member has an invisible IV hooked up to a vat of Red Bull backstage. Tracks played live from Elephant Summer are complemented with the bevy of new songs that will form the group’s next album, as well as juicy covers from Prince and Queen.
Fur Eel have become a local favourite in Regina, and with a Prairie tour planned to promote Elephant Summer, it’s only a matter of time before their fresh vibe catches on. For real.