Local band celebrates new year at local venue

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2018 was breakout for Jamie Fontaine & the Level

Stephanie Ortiz, Times Herald Correspondent

Jamie Fontaine, right, and his bandmates, Joseph Weise (bass) and Colby Peters (drums) play during part of the Saving Abel concert in Gillett in September. (Photo by Sara Rahmer)

Jamie Fontaine & the Level rang in the new year with their community in an intimate setting, rocking the Midway Bar in Lena on Monday night, along with Dead Cedar.

2018 was a busy, innovative year for Fontaine’s band, which has been performing, recording and sharing stages with popular, national rock bands like Saving Abel, Saliva, Rick Monroe and Michael Alexander & Big Whiskey.

“Getting advice from some professionals, making those relationships, seeing them flourish … these people that you talk to have No. 1 hits on the radio. So for them to take time out of their day, for them to talk to me about my project is pretty humbling, because they obviously see something in me that my record company sees,” Fontaine said. “They support me in my endeavors, in my music and how I was able to learn from them.”

Another feat this year included the worldwide release of their debut, self-titled album after just signing with Oconto Falls’ Stryker Records in 2017. The band has also released its first music video for “Stanley.”

The album is sort of an homage to ’90s rock and fuses the attitude of Alice in Chains with Nirvana’s simple yet catchy hooks. Lead singer Fontaine admitted he grew up listening to that music, and much of the band’s first album is a collection of songs Fontaine wrote in his youth while listening to those angst-filled rockers.

“The songs, a lot of them I have written throughout time,” Fontaine said, adding that he wrote one song when he was 12 years old. “The direction is just where the song takes me as I make it. I just listen to the riffs I am making. Sometimes, I’ll even come up with a song name first, and come up with the tune based around that, but that’s more rare.”

He is already working hard on the band’s second album, hinting the sound might drift away from grunge and more toward the blues, and is focusing on the energy and flow of their live performances.

“We’re trying to hone our craft in an entertainment fashion and create a show that can be repeated and just kind of have a set way of doing things, just a bit more professional,” he said. He hopes to put together “a particular set list and segways, a couple of, well, just banter between songs. From the beginning to the end of show, a nice two-hour set.”

Fontaine is looking forward to playing Madison’s Bratfest this summer and plans for the band to put on an exciting show.

“I think there is a lot more feeling in our live performances compared to the recordings. It is very in your face. We move around a lot. But this Bratfest in particular, I would like to impress,” Fontaine said.