It's noon on Saturday, and four of the five members of the Madison rock band Fortune and Glory are sitting around a table at a local pub, having drinks. When they're not chiding each other, they're busy telling me why they've found a haven in the punk-pop music they make.
"I've been in and out of bands for 10 years," says guitarist Andy Bechdolt, 27. "I started off playing hardcore punk, and then I was in emo bands. And then I just got tired of it all. I just wanted to play something fast and melodic."
Fortune and Glory is the antithesis of indie rock. The group's fast melodies leave no time for overthinking their songs. Their high-energy stage antics are emotional and immediate, not reflective and intellectual.
"I hate pretentious music," says guitarist Matt Schroeder, 26.
Bechdolt and Schroeder share duties as Fortune and Glory's chief songwriters. "Usually Andy and I will have an idea that we've worked on at home," says Schroeder. "We have really different approaches to songwriting. Andy's approach is more simple."
"I just want to play fast all the time," says Bechdolt. "I'm a 'less is more' kind of guy."
"And I'm a little bit more of a riffer, a little bit more complex," says Schroeder."
Not that anything Fortune and Glory ever does is too complex. The song "Old Thompson" is a rush of electric guitar adrenaline that clocks in under two minutes and celebrates friendship and good times.
"So turn up the stereo louder/get ready for another round," the band chants in unison. "It doesn't matter what you do/we're beside you through and through/we refuse to live our lives on standby."
Fortune and Glory's live performances reflect the music's acute energy. Onstage, Bechdolt says he's thinking more about showmanship than instrumentation.
"When I go to see a live band, I want to watch them, so I would rather have them play half the right notes and see them jump around and have fun," he says. "As a performer, I would rather play half the songs right and make it look cool."
It's an attitude Schroeder mocks affectionately, imitating Bechdolt: "I'm so punk rock - I'm going to screw up so much!"
Fortune and Glory has been trying to carve out a niche in the all-ages scene, a demographic the band says responds well to them.
They've been working with local all-ages promoter Tom Klein, playing venues he books, including the Annex and the Loft. When the band book shows independently, they mostly play at the Frequency.
The lineup includes Cade Gentry on bass. "He's the band's father figure," says Schroeder.
"We call him Mr. Bits," adds Bechdolt. "It went from All Business Cade to Mr. ABC to Mr. Alphabet to Mr. Bits."
Being responsible, Gentry holds the title to the band's van, which they use to play shows in places like La Crosse and Kenosha.
The band's drummer is Dominic Trainor, 24. Singer Dave Newburg, 25, is Fortune and Glory's newest addition. The band released an EP in 2009. A full-length album is due out this spring.
"With our new songs, the words are more integrated with the music," says Trainor. "We used to just write fast songs and then sprinkle the words over it, but our stuff is getting more mid-tempo now. Our songwriting process has really improved."
"There used to not be much room for bass fills, so I would just follow along with the melody," Gentry says. "But lately we've been writing songs with more space in them, so I get into it a lot more."
"We're actually all friends," says Trainor. "It's cool - besides being a band, we like to hang out and do stuff together."