Four instruments, two dynamic voices, and a record of relentless touring have earned virtuosic, funky indie rock duo the StereoFidelics their reputation as a superb, high-energy live act.
Melissa McGinley – Drums, Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals, Electric Violin
Chris Padgett – Vocals, Electric Guitar, Foot-operated synth-bass
Imagine you’re back in time enjoying the groove and virtuosity of a 70’s art-rock band, then hurled decades forward, colliding with the energy and intensity of today’s indie rock scene. There’s unexpectedly powerful jazzy female vocals intertwined with a strong, satin-smooth male voice. Thumping synth basslines and popping, funky drumbeats drive the skillfully intricate guitar playing and explosions of electric violin string-shredding. Reflecting their influences of past and present (including Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, the Talking Heads, Arcade Fire, and the White Stripes), the StereoFidelics avoid performing with loops, computers, and digital effects in favor of the more organic approach of using Moog Taurus pedals, scat vocal solos, and multi-instrumentalism. You see, the fast-fingered guitar player (Chris Padgett) keeps the basslines pounding through a one-octave floor keyboard, the tiny female vocalist (Melissa McGinley) is also the drummer; he sings too, and she plays violin. They perform with a natural passion and synchronicity that not only dispels any association with the herky-jerky one-man-band cliché, but post-performance, leaves their audience sympathetically exhausted and dripping with sweat.
Known for booking their own tours, designing album covers, screen printing tour t-shirts, and even making some of their onstage clothing, the StereoFidelics are a do-all whirlwind of creative energy. Relentless touring of the US and calling their van home for much of the time (performing around 200 shows per year) has gained the StereoFidelics a dedicated following around the country. Their recent studio release, You Are Having a Wonderful Time, receives solid airplay from college and community radio stations coast-to-coast. The StereoFidelics have performed at clubs and festivals with Love Tractor, Future Man, Donna the Buffalo, Enter the Haggis, Rubblebucket,, That 1 Guy, and Jackyl among others.
“Talented duo keeps things surprising…Despite obvious similarities to The White Stripes, The Stereofidelics mine a more funky, soulful vein, with Padgett’s snaky guitar lines and array of effects in sharp contrast to Jack White’s garage tendencies. McGinley sings better than Meg, too, and there are plenty of other sounds rounding out the mix.”
–popmatters.com, David Maine
“Ok, a hot girl drummer is a good start, and it turns out she sings with a sometimes jazzy/ sometimes bluesy style with power that belies her small frame. If that was the extent of the impression then I would probably still be scrambling quickly to find some other band to write about, but luckily there was more to be found. In addition, Padgett is a pretty quick guitar player with a nice smooth voice, which made for a great guy-girl vocal combo. As the first song went on, I listened closely and started grooving with the bass line…then I looked onstage and re-noticed the lack of a bass player…and looked down at Padgett’s feet, where all I could see were foot-like blurs. This guy is able to play some killer guitar, all the while his feet are tapping some funky bass licks on a set of organ pedals. As soon as I picked up my jaw from the floor, they were doing a musical segue between songs and our heavenly lady drummer had picked up her violin, which she played with a well-practiced skill, while holding the beat with her feet. At that point I had to go to the bar to grab some more fuel for my blown mind.”
–yourpopfilter.com, Lynz Floren
“A white girl that sings with the powerful and seasoned voice of a black jazz-soul singer; a guy who plays electric guitar and a foot-operated synth bass as an extension of his own body; a passionate young woman; a young man who shows his soul when he sings rock, blues and funk with eyes shut and a girl who plays drums with rocker raw power or jazz finesse depending on the mood of the tune.
This might sound like a five-member band just doing their job, but surprisingly only two people are capable of creating this unique and complex sound. Their names are Melissa McGinley and Chris Padgett. Their band is called TheStereofidelics, they are from Asheville, N.C., and the people who saw their show last Saturday were completely overwhelmed by their virtuosity.”
–Daily Nebraskan, Gabriel Medina-Arenas
“Although the music created by the Asheville, N.C., band the StereoFidelics is impressive in and of itself—with a retro-rock vibe, tight rhythms and sinuous vocals—more impressive is the fact that this sound is created by just two people. Performing on seven instruments between the two of them, Chris Padgett and Melissa McGinley create the rich sound of at least a five-piece band.”
–Flagstaff LIVE, Hot Picks
“…this indie retro-rock duet has only improved since their first great release, Only Sleeping (2008). Members Chris Padgett (Electric/Acoustic Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals) and Melissa McGinley (Drums, Violin, Vocals) have refined their sound to the point so you could never tell that they aren’t at least a five-piece ensemble. It’s not just studio magic, either—their live shows (which are amazing, by the way) sound exactly the same, and their albums greatly capture that frantic energy that the two have during their live shows, in which they constantly switch instruments in inventive ways. It’s difficult to ascribe an exact sound to the pair (but then again, what good groups make it easy?); they blend elements of folk, indie, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues into a mix that sounds so familiar, yet different than any other group…”
–the Woove, WUVT
“Two people, five instruments, and the girl plays drums…..what’s not to like? This Asheville, NC duo makes catchy rock featuring boy-girl vocals with occasional fuzzy guitars, and electric violin. Sometimes delving into jam band territory, they never get far before the vocals creep in to bring it back home. This is easy-to-listen-to, radio-friendly stuff.”
–WYCE Music Journal, Rebecca Ruth