Purpose and Passion: FMDown drives ahead with ’90s-style rock on new EP

Ed Hudgins, photos by Andrea Paulseth

FMDown is (left to right) Joe Gunderson (drums), Greg Kernkamp (bass, vocals), Will Wall (vocals, guitar), and Andrew Liss (vocals, keyboard). The band’s new EP, Select All Delete, is set to release April 7.
FMDown is (left to right) Joe Gunderson (drums), Greg Kernkamp (bass, vocals), Will Wall (vocals, guitar), and Andrew Liss (vocals, keyboard). The band’s new EP, Select All Delete, is set to release April 7.

Sometimes, late-night noshing with buddies can lead to big things. Around 2010, it would seem Heckel’s in Lake Hallie was the context for such a dynamic for Will Wall and Andrew Liss. While sharing Heckel’s goodness, the two (who were then karaoke DJs), conceived what would later be known as FMDown. Since their beginning as Formerly the Simian and through a couple of line-up changes, FMDown, composed of Wall (vocals, guitar), Liss (vocals, keyboard), Greg Kernkamp (bass, vocals), and Joe Gunderson (drums), has been purveying their own brand of ’90s-influenced, driving rock throughout the Chippewa Valley. And now they are ready to rock you again with their forthcoming EP, Select All Delete, to be released April 7.

From the beginning, FMDown has aimed to be an alternative. Seeing ’90s rock as a high point in pop music history, Wall and Liss are not content with much of what they hear on the radio these days. Their band name is an indicator of their discontent, according to Liss: “FMDown is basically our way of stating our distaste for what the record companies are slapping on the radio nowadays.” Their sound and approach have always been rooted in purpose and passion, and not only in regard to their weariness with pop radio.

Select All Delete, much like their previous releases, is rife with discontent and a longing for better. The album contains “heartache, a certain ambivalence to the world around us, and a burning sense that we, as a people, are being done wrong,” according to Liss. Wall adds, “The theme for this EP follows a similar path as our last two: aging and heartbreak, trying to make sense of what’s happening to you and around you, and making an attempt at being OK with it, but ultimately questioning yourself and conventional wisdom along the way.”

FMDown’s musical portrayal of all this angst does not pull any punches. Theirs is a very “heart-on-your-sleeve” approach, so says Wall: “We’ve always been a relatively in-your-face type of band. We don’t see the need in backing off the intensity, even with the more ballad-esque types of songs. It’s just kind of our style.” They are explicit in their songwriting and in their driving sound ... nothing hidden, nothing inaccessible. And they want as many people as possible to connect with their straightforward style.

The band will be offering four different occasions for such connection here in the Valley in the coming weeks, including their EP release show at Every Buddy’s Bar in Chippewa Falls on April 7. The cover charge gets the attendee not only entrance to the show but a copy of Select All Delete as well. Will also mentioned the band will have an array of new merchandise available for whatever price the purchaser is willing to pay. Will, Liss, and crew are also scheduled to grace House of Rock on April 8, Revival Records on April 22, and The Mousetrap on May 6. For more information, check out FMDown’s newly redesigned website fm-down.com.

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