Since the beginning, The Downtown Fiction has risen with their unique brand of transcendent rock, staking their place in the pop-rock genre. Its second album and Fearless debut, Losers & Kings, is the realization of the band’s boldest dreams, a riveting step in creating an original and exhilarating rock sound. With a roster of new songs that are, by turns, hard-driving, happily defiant and anthemic, the Virginia quartet has produced a breakthrough album that opens a window onto their own and a generation’s scattered dreams, urges and fantasies. The music is as addictive as the lyrical themes are irresistible. Losers & Kings is nothing short of a pop-rock triumph.
The album is firmly rooted in the band’s longstanding ambition to break the mold while simultaneously remaining true to their core sound. “We’re always going to be a rock band at heart,” says vocalist/guitarist Cameron Leahy. “But if there’s one aim I have as a songwriter, it’s always to write something that is genuinely different. This is the first time as a band that we finally felt like we were prepared to take ourselves to some place we’d never been before. It was a little bit scary, but that scary feeling is exactly what I think makes these songs have the energy that they do.”
That energy, a product of the band’s rock focus and sharp-edged lyrics, has defined The Downtown Fiction from its start in 2008. Since then, TDF has played the Bamboozle Road Show, Glamour Kills Tour and Warped Tour, touring internationally with bands including All Time Low, The Ready Set, Mayday Parade, We the Kings and The Summer Set. The band has released three EPs and one full-length, 2011’s Let’s Be Animals. That effort spawned the hit “I Just Wanna Run,” which sold over 350,000 copies and boasts a video that’s racked up more than 5.3 million views. That song’s chugging guitars, hard-hitting drums and catchy harmonies not only made it a perfect fit for placement on Jersey Shore and in the video game Rock Band-it exemplifies the band’s zeal for genuine rock & roll.
The same vibe permeates Losers & Kings, especially the classic-sounding track “Some Place On Earth.” The majestic song begins with a confident marching drum and quickly explodes into a celebration of dynamic rock guitars, pulsating bass and ringing keyboards for good measure. The song tells the story of a young man and woman, each alone, adrift and searching for an elusive peace that finally may come in finding the other. “We’re all on our own search for truth, and none of us is exempt from its highs or lows,” Leahy says. “It’s a song about tolerance and love – the world could always use more of that.”
The rawness and simplicity of that emotion is in tune with the band’s intimate and unvarnished recording of the album. “We wanted this record to sound like a band in a room-that was really our aim,” Leahy says. “Right now, it’s sort of the second coming of the ’80s, where there’s so much synthesized music. It challenges people playing instruments to find a way to get that physicality into their music, the way that dance music delivers that thumping bass.”
The Downtown Fiction found a kindred adventurous spirit in producer Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, Young The Giant). Working with de la Garza in his North Hollywood studio, the band recorded Losers & Kings in just 30 days. After amassing more than 50 demos, the group whittled down its list and spent the summer of 2013 extensively rehearsing. “Having so much time to practice the new songs was new for us,” Leahy observes. “It paid off. By the time we got into the studio, we were ready to go.”
The members rented a Los Angeles house together and spent studio off-time surfing, skateboarding and shooting a “TDFtv” web series. Besides cementing the band’s chemistry, the camaraderie permeated the artistic process. “I grew up on The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and the Beatles,” Leahy says. “We’re not comparing ourselves to them by any means, but there’s something to admire about how united they were making albums, being at the top of their game, not merely as songwriters but as players, too. It’s really special having a group of guys who can do that. All of us had the same vision. We pushed ourselves to deliver the very best for everyone who hears this album.”
The band values the way their music inspires listeners – whether that involves a budding musician picking up a guitar or a lonely person finding solace and thrills in a song. With Losers & Kings, the band never has been more passionate about its music, or more excited about where it’s headed. “If there’s one thing we chased in making the album, it was sincerity,” Leahy says. “With every song, honesty is what we wanted. We wanted it to sound like we would die for our music, and that’s really what we would do. We want people to hear that we’re willing to stand on the edge and let ourselves go for the sake of good music.”