GREEN Buttressed by the Keith-Moon attack of drummer Mike Karl, swirling atmospherics from keyboardist Chris Burton, the merciless drive of bassist Shaun Berringer, and dual-guitar dance of Corey Jenkins and John Rosenberg II, Akron-based Fancy Legs is, in a word, a rock-n-roll juggernaut.
And the rock-n-roll world at large these days could use a lot more of the sweaty mojo the band traffics in.
"I don’t think I’ll ever be accused of being a self-indulgent songwriter," Jenkins said as he sat in a booth at a Hot Head Burritos recently, with his 7-year-old son, Sam, at his side. "I just like short, catchy stuff."
Pausing to consider his statement, Jenkins breaks into a disarming laugh.
"So I hope other people like that, too."
The 2003 Green High School graduate and current Lakemore resident’s gentle and unassuming personality is equal parts charming and unnerving after listening to a few selections from Fancy Legs self-titled debut release, where songs like the Replacements-nod "You Took Me" and the positively incendiary "The Twirl" put Jenkins’ gruff, powerful, but decidedly un-pretty vocal delivery on full display.
"We’ve written some different kinds of things, but we’re just a straight-ahead rock-n-roll band," Jenkins said. "John and I have talked about, ‘what are we going to do if we’re ever asked to play acoustic?’ I did do an ‘acoustic’ show once and brought my Strat."
Fancy Legs released the new album April 20 at The Rialto Theatre in Akron, with spirited performances by Jeri Sapronetti, from the band Time Cat; Youngstown two-piece, The Super Babes; Yo Chachi, and DJ Lane Meyer spinning vinyl between sets.
The release show was also a musical family reunion of sorts for former Time Cat member, Jenkins, who has also played in the bands 20GOTO10 and Ballroom Boxer.
The new album includes guest performances from Ohio rock legends, Chris Butler (The Waitresses/Tin Huey), who plays guitar on the track "Important Things," Harvey Gold (Tin Huey) who lends keyboards to "Slow Saturday." Both Butler and Gold also performed at the release show, with Fancy Legs itself working up a Tin Huey number for its set.
"We had known about Tin Huey for years," Jenkins said. "They are musical heroes of mine and we became friends a couple years ago. They were kind enough to agree to (perform on the album) and add their own color to it. But there were also plenty of fan-boy moments."
Reformation and recording
Originally formed in 2015, the first lineup of Fancy Legs fell victim to somewhat typical band burnout, including one member who "decided to join the army at 30," Jenkins said.
Jenkins briefly rejoined Time Cat before Fancy Legs’ current line-up solidified in 2018 to "reset and retool" its old set and writing new material, with a cross-section of both making up the new album.
Described by the band as a blend of rock and roll, new wave and power pop, Fancy Legs new album was recorded in August and December 2018 at Sta-Level Recording Studio in Akron by Jeff Koval, former guitarist for late 90s-early 2000s regional favorites, The Fifth Wheel, and was mastered by Adam Boose at Cauliflower Audio Mastering in Cleveland.
"Jeff had recently built his studio when he reached out to Jeri and me to do something," Jenkins said of Fancy Legs decision to record at Sta-Level. "Mike and I went in and we liked it. Jeff is confident; he knows his stuff and has a nice collection of both modern and vintage gear."
With musical influences as far flung as Jenkins’ Cars, Rolling Stones and Small Faces-filled record collection; Rosenberg’s metal leanings; and Berringer’s early devotion to artists such as Elliot Smith, Koval and the band manage to give the album just enough commercial sheen without polishing off too much of the rock-n-roll sludge – a wire that is not easily walked by any band.
The younger Jenkins even appears on the album, singing back-up on album opener, "Blacklight Porchlight." Although, according to Sam, his vocals could have been a little louder in the mix.
Farther on down the road
Beyond the release show, Jenkins said Fancy Legs plans to take opportunities "as they come." It’s a healthy outlook for a group in its mid-30s that has, in one form or another, pretty much seen it all.
"I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16, so you know there are going to be ups and downs," Jenkins said. "I’ve played South-By-Southwest and then played Annabelle’s in Akron at 2 a.m. to…no one. But you have to be prepared for that – there ain’t no waiting around to be a millionaire. You have to take the good with the bad. You have to know you’ll have your South-By-Southwest moments when you’re playing to three people in a restaurant in Boardman."