Local sound rocks Laughing Lizard


They were loud and raw, as the fuzz box guitar and bone rattling bass leaked out onto King Street. It was the rock n roll of Fistful of Fifties, a Fairfax-based rock band with influences from the 90s rock groups and regulars on the play list at the Laughing Lizard.

In the land of cobblestone streets, gas light lamps, and George Dined Here signs hanging on every corner, The Laughing Lizard is the only venue in Old Town for hard rock bands, and Fistful of Fifties seems to have found their niche for locals on a monthly basis.

Theyre one of our favorite bands, they create a great vibe for us, said Lizard bartender Kelsey Mishkin.

The secret to Fistful of Fifties is their rough around the edges attitude and appearance, which exudes a very laid back feeling. The band consists of Joe Achtzener on bass, Matt Matis on vocals and guitar, David Saylor on lead guitar and Josh Pearson on drums. Theyre all from communities dotting Northern Virginia and frequent the bar scene in the City of Fairfax and Herndon as well.

Their first show was at Laughing Lizard on Nov. 3, 2004, and now they are regular features on the band list. At their last show on Saturday, June 3, they found out 15 minutes before show time the warm up band didnt show; but it was no big deal, they threw all their cards on the table and played their whole repertoire of cover songs and originals.

Were pretty laid back, said Achtzener.

So laid back in fact, that one of their hit songs, Killing Me, about a friend stealing one of the band members girlfriends, doesnt conjure up ill feelings. It actually happened to lead singer Matt Matis and he still talks to the other guy. We worked past it, Matis said. Its one of their favorite songs even.

Recording contract
Another favorite is Affluenza, a song about materialism and the temporary good feeling you get from buying stuff. That feeling wears off though, and the ups and downs of the song reflect that feeling. It changes feel from verse to chorus, said Saylor. Those two songs were played on DC 101 radio station, and the band is using that to catapult them into a recording contract.

Were in the process of trying to contact labels, Achtzener said. If another local band called Jimmys Chicken Shack can rise from the garage band status to recording contract, so can Fistful of Fifties, they think.

They got pretty big, Achtzener said. Fistful of Fifties also plays cover songs from The Police, Nirvana and Better than Ezra.

Band manager Sara LaRochelle from Herndon, is helping in that department. Im creating their press kits, she said. In addition to being the band manager, she admitted with a smile that shes dating Achtzener.

Fistful of Fifties has one CD produced and is working on their second. They plan to throw a CD release party this summer as well. For now though, theyre looking forward to the next show, which is at the Celebrate Fairfax Festival, June 8-10.