Christmas Fuller Project

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

Christmas Fuller Project

ffw-0813-cfpBands all have their starting point. Some start as cover bands, others to get their artistic vision out there and some to simply make a living. But others, also sometimes begin as nothing more than a joke, like Northwest Arkansas’s Christmas Fuller Project.

The band, which formed in 2005 by high school friends, never intended to make a real statement on the local music scene. Hell, they even started by all playing guitar. But as the members have shown over the years (with some switching to different instruments), the Fayetteville music scene and the group’s new EP “The Green and Lonely,” Christmas Fuller Project is ready to begin being taken seriously, and with one listen to their new record, it’s hard not to.

The band, pianist Tyler Ceola, vocalist and guitarist Brandon George, drummer Cameron Heger and bassist Aaron Hopwood, offer a soft, melodic pop sound similar to that of Death Cab for Cutie, the Decemberists, the Arcade Fire and other artists currently reigning in the indie music genre.

While the EP does offer a solid sound (it’s the group’s first record from an actual studio), it does not range much from the indie scene or offer anything too new, which is not necessarily a down point to “Green and Lonely.”

George’s vocals on an initial listen can be compared directly to Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard, which is a compliment. However, it is the band’s lyrics that sets them apart from the music scene’s indie darlings. Christmas Fuller Project touches on many personal subjects, but they also explore their faith and add in a Christian element that not many indie bands are doing these days.

“Lyrically, in terms of content, we pull a lot from our personal lives, our faiths and our hometown,” Heger said. “We are extremely proud of the songs themselves and feel like we were able to explore new ideas musically and lyrically (on Green and Lonely) that we maybe weren’t capable of exploring a year or two ago, as well as we did here.

“We really feel like “Green and Lonely” is a big step forward for us. It was our first time to record in a studio with professional equipment and I think the sound quality really testifies to that.”

Even though the two-time NAMA nominated band has started to take their music more seriously than they did in their initially launch back in high school, they still have some reservations about where they want the band to go. As for now, they seem pretty content playing to music lovers around Northwest Arkansas.

“We don’t really have any clearly-defined goals,” Heger said. “More than anything, we just want to keep writing and playing music that is interesting to us and that communicates well the things we’re passionate about.”

However, that does not mean the band will take any long breaks from the local scene. Christmas Fuller plans on spending the rest of 2009 playing around Fayetteville and possibly even Oklahoma and Texas. All of the members are committed to being in NWA until next summer, when they will re-evaluate their situation and make the best decisions for the future of the indie-rock band.

“Green and Lonely” might not divert much from other bands in the indie music scene, but it does testify that at least one band in Northwest Arkansas does have the quality and the songwriting abilities to get to the top of the indie rock scene. Who knows? Maybe in a couple of years Arkansas’s very own Christmas Fuller Project will be playing alongside Death Cab and the Decemberists on stages like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA