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Howling Fantods: “There Might Be Literally No Ambition.”

August 10, 2016


Text by Tim Mulhern. Images by Bonnie Saporetti.

The members of Howling Fantods are gathered around a table in bassist Joe Paone’s South Philly home. It is a quintessential Sunday morning scene: coffee is brewing and Paone’s cat sits curled on the staircase nearby.

In recent years, the band has grown accustomed to a quieter lifestyle, both as musicians and people.

Guitarist and vocalist Doug Wright has been at the center of Howling Fantods, performing with a rotating cast of musicians since the band’s inception. Most recently, Paone and drummer Lance Crow joined to form what Wright says is the eighth iteration of Howling Fantods.

“What I love about this band is it’s the only band I’ve ever been in where there’s no ambition that drowns out the music,” Paone says.

“There might be literally no ambition,” Wright says.

What Howling Fantods might lack in ambition, they make up for in pure enthusiasm for playing music. The musicians are more focused on enjoying their time together rather than making a name for themselves in the Philadelphia scene.

“For me, and I think Joe too, we spent a lot of our youth touring around and doing that kind of stuff,” Crow says. “In this band, it’s like, we know what that’s about. Do we really want to get involved with that?”

Although the members are not as active with Howling Fantods as they were with projects in the past, they admire the younger acts that give Philadelphia its reputation as a destination city for music. Paone says house-show staple Mumblr is the best band in Philly “bar none,” while Crow is partial to Lithuania, the collaborative project of Dr. Dog’s Eric Slick and DRGN King’s Dom Angelella.

The members agree that their age puts them in an interesting place in the youthful DIY scene in Philadelphia. Wright says the band is “totally removed” but still grateful to contribute to the thriving music community.

“My friends don’t live in houses where they have punk shows in the basement,” Wright says. “My friends are all 35.”

The band faced a major loss in February of 2014, when the South Philly practice space used by them and other Philly-based acts, like JJL, burnt down. Most of the group’s gear, including Crow’s prized drum set, was lost in the fire.

Though Paone calls the dilapidated space a “death trap,” the band shares fond memories of their time spent practicing there.

“We were like, the greatest rock band in the world when we were up in that little room,” Wright says.

After the fire, Peter Santa Maria of Philly-based punk band Jukebox Zeros offered the band gear and a place to practice, providing the push the members needed to continue making music together.

“I’ve known Joe at least 16 years,” Santa Maria says. “I played in a band [The Thirteen] with Lance for a couple years. These people are our friends. We’ve known them for years and we just wanted to help them out.”

The fire allowed Wright to refocus the subject matter of the band’s most recent effort, Forever. Wright, Paone and Crow did not let the tragedy interfere with the experiences they share playing music together.

“That might be the joy about being in a rock band,” Wright says. “It’s so over the top that you get swept up in it,”

For now, Howling Fantods will continue to practice when they can and play shows when they are offered.

“It’s a good feeling to create,” Paone says. “Knowing these guys gives me so much energy. It’s really awesome.”

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