The Fauntleroys may reflect the design, feel and sound of a strictly extracurricular rock 'n' roll activity. But get them in the same city, in the same basement studio and, eventually, the same performance stage, and you have the making of a champion band.
"Everyone has their own careers and bands that they're involved in and music that they're doing," says veteran Texas songsmith Alejandro Escovedo, who along with three longtime pals — New York guitarist Ivan Julian, self-described Chicago "raconteur" Nicholas Tremulis and drummer Linda Pitmon — make up The Fauntleroys. "But when we're together, we really do have the feel of a band. There is just something about it. It's easy for us to play together having known the music that we've known for so many years. We all have the same aesthetic somewhat."
The four came together in New York with the idea of writing and recording songs with the kind of post-punk pop energy that resounded around the city during the late '70s. While Escovedo's punk fascination initially began on the West Coast with the San Francisco rock troupe The Nuns, he became acquainted with Julian while living in New York in 1978. Already a pop survivor from his 1960s tenure with The Foundations, Julian had become a member of The Voidoids band led by punk entrepreneur and Lexington native Richard Hell. But the catalyst for The Fauntleroys was Tremulis, whose Chicago bands have meshed multiple accents of rock, soul and pop.
"We've talked a long time about doing this but we never really had any time," Escovedo says of the formation of The Fauntleroys. "So Nick kind of pulled us all together and set up a period where we all were free."
The New York meeting ground for the four members was a Lower East Side coffee shop called The Pink Pony and, more specifically, the recording studio located beneath it. The members would write lyrics in The Pink Pony then quickly adjourn downstairs to record what they came up with. What resulted was a six-song, 23-minute EP disc aptly titled Below the Pink Pony.
"We would go downstairs to work on a track and then Nick and I would go upstairs and write the lyrics out then go back down and sing them and get everyone to do things," he says. "It was a really great experience and a lot of fun. I love working with fresh ideas like that and taking chances. It was really cool."
Escovedo (who plays bass as a Fauntleroy), Tremulus and Julian each sing lead on two songs. Pitmon, last seen in Lexington with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey and husband Steve Wynn in The Baseball Project, added back-up harmonies to each song.
"Linda is amazing, man," Escovedo says. "What a great drummer and what a great spirit to have in the studio. She's very, very involved in the moment ... just a great musician to play with.
"I think what we came up with is a very New York sounding record. That's largely due to Ivan's guitar work and the way he writes. It's a style that I've always loved. I've always felt like a part of the New York scene. I guess I really was a part of it because The Nuns were so close to all of the New York bands. We were really more New York than California."
The Fauntleroys' fall tour will be brief and brisk — 10 cities in 11 days. After that, the members will resume work on their separate careers. But Escovedo said the prospect of returning to The Fauntleroys down the road is favorable.
"There is no reason not to come back to this and make a record that involves more songs with more of an album-like feel and more touring. I'm hoping so, anyway. I mean, it's just a great band."