Few Oklahoma City bands were more prolific than The Fellowship Students through the ’00s, but only a select few songs ever made it onto recordings. There was their debut EP, “The Youth Want Distortion,” and the full-length “Rainbow Around the Sun” (which was really more the work of guitarist/ vocalist Matthew Alvin Brown and spawned his film of the same name released in 2008), but dozens of other tracks — all of which were mainstays live — went unrecorded.
When bassist Nathan Siler made the move to New York a few years back, the band didn’t break up, but the shows died down, as did their memories of those songs without something there to keep them alive and well.
“As time goes by, I think we all wish we could pop these songs in and listen,” drummer Jacob Becannen said. “We just want to get the songs laid down and be able to hear them.”
Added Siler, “We focused so much on being a live band that we didn’t record much, and now there isn’t really a means to enjoy all that we did.”
The desire to capture more of the versatile power-poppers’ legacy brought Siler back to Oklahoma for a brief time to record a new Fellowship Students album, due for release later this year. It’s made possible a few, rare live appearances around Oklahoma City, including Friday’s gig at VZD’s, but for the group, it doesn’t feel like that long since the last one.
“At this point, when there’s a lull between playing, it doesn’t feel like a lull. It feels like a continuation, like no time has really gone by,” Becannen said. “When we show up at rehearsal, it feels like we had a practice last week. ... But we still love getting back together, and I doubt that ever stops.”
It’s the nature of the Students that has helped them weather the distance. With all of the members capable of creating their own songs, the band has become a vessel to flesh out personal handiwork during times away from each other. That’s the approach they now take into recording, letting a different member take the lead with each passing effort. Although unconventional, the Students’ methodology is the very thing keeping them thriving.
“Sometimes, you get a band full of songwriters, and the product won’t be very cohesive, as opposed to letting one taking the lead on each album and create their vision,” said Becannen. “We really like how this works for us. There isn’t that mishmash of genres; this blends together and is a good representation of that songwriter.”
The upcoming work is under the guidance of Siler, who had these songs under his wing for more than a decade.
“These songs are old, in my opinion, but I still feel really strongly about them,” he said. “We wanted to record them, and I can’t really move on creatively without purging my system of that stuff.”