Just say Fertita, for now 

Dean Fertita doesn't have a name yet. But that's OK with him -- for now. No, the Ferndale musician isn't having an identity crisis, he and his bandmates are just taking their time renaming the band that shares its moniker with its frontman.

"Anything we liked was gone and anything we thought we liked that wasn't taken sounded ridiculous after two days," says Fertita. "We played one show under "the Turnstiles" -- lifted right off the back of a Neil Young record -- then we found out there was some ska band by that name, of course -- then I saw that Billy Joel record."

On the eve of the band's release party for its debut single, it's clear, though, that what's important -- the songwriting -- is rock solid. Anyone who has caught Dean Fertita live will attest to the hung-loose catchiness of the band's vocal harmonies, chiming guitars and seductive song constructions. From the diverse personalities that comprise Dean Fertita -- including singers and guitarists Fertita and Dominic Romano, bassist Kevin Peyok and drummer Jim Edmonds -- comes a hand-clapping, hookier-than-a-tackle box take on classic FM pop. For a band that formally came together less than a year ago, the outfit has gelled through a common addiction to building the better pop song.

"We know how each other works now. We understand the personalities playing the parts and now we're all coming up with our own ideas, and we're bringing that to the recordings. I think I could use all the help I can get."

Especially lately, Detroit, as counterintuitive as it may seem to some, has been fertile ground for that genre tagged alternately indie-pop or pop-rock, but which has its roots in classic '60s and '70s punk, and rock sounds from the Kinks to the Beatles to the Jam and Badfinger and their '90s antecedents too numerous to enumerate. For Fertita, the proliferation of bands is encouraging and inspiring:

"It just represents to me people who take a lot of care with songwriting -- if not with lyrics, then arrangements or instrumentation. And the bands that are really good at it do it with as much energy as a punk band. You get that feeling from it.

"I think solo artists should be slapped," he jokes. "Bands are so much cooler. The aesthetic of a band is better. Unless you're Bob Dylan," he pauses. "But you're not gonna be."

The members of Dean Fertita have been busy learning how to be a band -- live: "Rocking people is really the most important thing. I think any one of us could front a band; Dominic and Kevin do. Not a whole lot of bands do that around here."

In the studio: "We're going back to the studio in New Jersey to touch up the recordings we have and we're going to go around to flea markets and find some obscure instruments just to give the song something extra."

And in the songwriting process: "Lately, a lot of times I'll go to noisy places where I can't even think straight and just start writing," says Fertita. The band seems to be leaping up the learning curve, too. It helps that three members share a house where, says Fertita, he and Romano can be found singing along with "Anything with good harmonies. Dominic is such a great singer. He really knows his voice as an instrument and I learned singing Replacements songs just because it was fun. I want him to teach me."

So, while Dean Fertita seems busy wrestling the band for-now-named-after-him away from himself, the rest of us can enjoy singing along. Chris Handyside is a freelance writer for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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