Raccoon Fighter have always been confident: quietly so. Which comes as a blatant departure from their music, which is not – quiet that is. It can only be described as a three part, tumultuous rock ‘n’ roll/ blues assault on the senses. Their sound consists of a gritty, cathartic blend of musical bravado and camaraderie that propels you forward. The gravely, enigmatic vocal offerings of Sean Gavigan combine and compete with those of Gabe Wilhelm and his hypnotic and visionary basslines, while Zac Ciancaglini adds a sharpness and drive rhythmically. With three stellar songwriting talents under one roof, the result is a frenetic and infectious powerhouse.
It is a far cry from a couple of years ago, when lead singer and guitarist Sean and close friend Zac began a casual recording project based out of Southern New Jersey. While alternating instruments, songs, arrangements and personnel, they built a project recording studio and started writing and recording songs together. As the number of songs grew, so did the band and as a 7 piece indie-folk-big band they played in and around Philadelphia for a while, making a name for themselves. That band splintered and Sean and Zac relocated to Brooklyn. More songs and writing ensued, a four piece band was tentatively formed and the Terrified EP was recorded, however as Zac recalls, “During the process of recording the Terrified EP our bass player and drummer sort of fell out of the picture so Sean and I said fuck it and began playing as a duo with guitar and drums, switching off between the two instruments.” Then a small, but significant incident occurred; a mutual friend put them in touch with Gabe Wilhelm, who bizarrely enough came from the same small South Jersey town. He had been playing and singing a variety of notable bands around New York city; not least of which was adding bass parts to some of Ryan Adams “Easy Tiger” record. Gabe was in, the songs followed and as fortune usually dictates; it worked, but not only worked, it worked extremely well.
Whether is be the raucous “No Lover”, the metronomic “South Parlourita” or the heraldic and boundless three part harmony acappella at the opening of “The Upbeat”; the consistent and exceptional Raccoon Fighter sound was obvious to all. The musical elements were now in place and people began to take notice, further shows were booked culminating in October 2010 in a tour of Mexico, opening up for Elis Paprika.
Early 2011 meant more writing and recording and then by late summer the 7″ vinyl “Butcherette” b/w “I’m and Animal, You’re an Animal.” was released. Its brazen tale of abortion, lost love and general relationship skullduggery, only served to galvanize the bands dark, frenetic nature. Since the release, Raccoon Fighter have been refining their live sound and playing shows whenever possible, a fact that for them has always be a crucial aspect of the bands continued success. They recorded a second EP, “Liars Feet”, in four manic days, which was subsequently released through independent record label, Mother West, on November 13, 2012.
Off stage, these razor witted, soft spoken guys are quietly understated and refreshingly amiable; a fact that perhaps only amplifies their unbound musical vision. Much of 2012 was spent grafting away in the dignified solitude of their rehearsal space, recording and shaping new material. It is paying dividends; which is no surprise when you take into account the combined musical talent these three Southern New Jersey individuals possess. Their scything music has recently been called an “infectious form of dirty rock ‘n’ roll/ blues” and “nothing else but good, hard rock ‘n roll and all its implications of drugs, sex, and sweat”.
Their new album, ZIL, which WNYC Soundcheck called “a swaggering debut”, was released October 1, 2013 and continues on this raucous path, but has evolved into a more expansive sound. Recorded in Upstate New York and mixed at the renowned Magic Shop in NYC; their dirty, gritty auditory diatribe is still apparent, but is now matched with colorful harmonies and pulsing melodies; Marc Bolan would be licking his lips with envy. Nylon magazine recently tipped ZIL, saying it “should really be the soundtrack to the final season of “Breaking Bad”. Brooklyn Vegan sang its praises, a point FILTER magazine echoed saying it was ‘reminiscent of the Black Lips and Diamond Rugs”. Raccoon Fighters new record will not only set a new bar, it will snap it in two and then set it on fire, just for fun. As the taste makers at Brooklyn Ski Club wrote, “Mark my words, you hear it here first, etc: You will be a fan of this band in the very near future”