Swedish pop pixies Those Dancing Days, a band we first blogged about back in the pre coalition utopia that was 2007, return with a free download ahead of their follow up to 2008’s debut ‘In Our Space Hero Suites‘.The new album ‘Daydreams And Nightmares‘ is to be released on 7th March 2011. The album was recorded over the past spring, summer, and autumn with producer Patrik Berger ( best known for his recent work with Robyn) in Stockholm. Our 2008 interview with them can be accessed here.
Sounds like ? Swedish pop pixies discovering Motwon
Normally my heart sinks faster than Dawn French ensconced in a leaky pedalo when I hear one of pops elder statesmen tip a new upcoming band for greatness. Morrissey for example has such a woeful track record for predicting “the next big thing” that one imagines he’d have trouble tipping his own hat. Who can forget his misguided patronage of, and gushing praise for, the lamentable yet incredibly accurately named Ordinary Boys? To be fair its not just singers whose judgment is questionable, take Jonathan Ross’s new best mate, former Creation label boss Alan McGee and his ludicrous assertions that Oasis are the greatest band that ever drew breath, James Allan is the messiah, and his current hobbyhorse, The Grants, are apparently the greatest scouse band to emerge from Liverpool since The Beatles. Unfortunately such over the top hyperbole can actually hinder a bands progress and credibility (Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong anybody?) and is normally viewed with deep suspicion by the music buying public.
So when news reached me that a band called Fanfarlo had gained David Bowie’s approval I didn’t get my hopes up, I mean the mans got taste, but he also he did live in a basement in West Berlin with Iggy Pop BY CHOICE and also considered Tin Machine a really good idea. However a quick listen to Fanfarlo via myspace did leave me suitably impressed, this was quickly followed by a fantastic performance on Manchester’s Channel M recently that only confirmed what a fine band they are, and I have to admit, Mr Bowies got it 100% right!
Fanfarlo’s recently released debut album “Reservoir” is an album of such quality you’d swear the band were seasoned veterans and comparisons to the likes of the legendary Talking Heads are not, actually, that far off the mark. The album is without doubt a lush, soaring melodic tour de force and has provided my ears with unadulterated aural bliss since its release, it soothes yet excites, is streaked with melancholy, yet is uplifting, and it’s definitely in “top albums of the year” territory. In between supporting Snow Patrol and jetting off to SXSW we had a quick chat to the band, who must be one of the busiest around!
VP: What’s the bands back-story, how did you all come together?
FANFARLO: A sort of mass exodus from the cultural void to the locus of much that is good i.e. London.
VP: The bands name is a reference to Charles Baudelaire’s short story “La Fanfarlo”, are you all fans? What are you all most likely to be caught reading on the tour bus?
FANFARLO: None of us are huge fans. It’s a pretty little story and the title spoke to Simon at the time. We are all big anthropologists so we tend to read philosophy, history or travel books. Our guitarist reads Heat or Nuts magazine which adds some light relief.
VP: Yourdebut album has recently been released- where can people get hold of it?
FANFARLO: Internet, shows or the Music and Video Exchange.
VP: What’s it been like playing massive arenas supporting Snow Patrol, Exciting? Daunting? Has the crowd reaction been positive?
FANFARLO: The rigmarole surrounding the big shows makes the arena shows very exciting. Stepping onto a stage in front of twelve thousand people has no rival, being enveloped by the sound onstage is something you can only get at an intimate gig. Crowd reaction is favourable anywhere we go.
VP: You’re playing at SXSW again this year? What do you make of it out there?
FANFARLO: Austin is incredible. Think of Camden Town, London transplanted to the middle of Austin, Texas with less crackheads, goths and gross food.
FANFARLO: We come across interesting characters in the books we read. Sometimes one of them inspires us. Wilkins was a strange one. I guess the subject matter was laying dormant and Harold was a sort of catalyst. A lot of our songs are about random interesting characters.
VP: You’ve gigged tirelessly over the last few years, what’s the most depraved tale of rock n roll excess that you feel able to share?
FANFARLO: There have been a lot of very interesting scenarios due to excess. All of them in Europe where home was a distant memory. Rape was attempted on our drummer by a dwarf in Sweden. That sounds like a lie but is so very true.
VP: I know the year is still in its infancy, but have you heard any albums released thus far what have made you swoon with joy, and conversely any that have made you want to stuff socks in your ears?
FANFARLO: (Amos Justin) I personally am into the the new records by BLUT AUS NORD and WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM. Great Black Metal, none of which originates from Norway.
VP: How do you keep healthy on tour , or is it a losing battle, awash with fast food, alcoholic beverages and irregular bath nights ?
FANFARLO: I think we eat quite well compared to a lot of bands we know. Most of us are vegetarians which dictate the quality in a lot of cases. Catering at the big gigs is gourmet. We are being spoiled.
“Lunettes Noires Pour Nuits Blanches” By Rock City Sixteen”
Havana Guns are no more!! But despair not as they have re-emerged with a new name and a sound that’s darker in tone to material released under their former appellative. Rock City Sixteen’s debut single may sound slightly more stripped down, with vocals not quite as upfront, and hooks maybe not quite as obvious, but yet again Zoë, Philippe, Linda and the gang come up with another edgy pop classic. “Lunettes Noires Pour Nuits Blanches” has the cool of the Raveonettes, the swagger of the Mary Chain, and the throbbing bass lines of New Order. It’s a hypnotic, pounding slice of pop noir, that as ever, makes you want to don a leather jacket, black shades and tear along the freeway, into the night, whilst at the same time receiving a spot of illicit felatio …Ahem! … The flip side “Antarctica” is another incredibly good track which has Zoë’s cool crystal cut vocals underpinned by a driving, relentless guitar riff that the Mary Chain would be justifiably proud of. The singles stark black and white art work is, as with previous releases under the Havana Guns moniker, stylish, cinematic, and cooler than Marlon Brando in an ice cream parlour in Antarctica discussing the weather with Martin Scorsese in a snow storm, it apltly reflects a band who posses the sort of natural bŏn tŏn other bands can only dream of.
This lot, have always been as cool as f**k, yes, they may have changed their name, but not their attitude, and they continue to produce classy, sexy, stylish pop, of the sort that really should see them, at least in any civilised society, feted as the saviours of popular culture. Alas in the UK folk seem to find the 21st centuries answer to Larry Grayson, Graham Norton , “subversive,” Mr Neatbeards “Deal Or no Deal” a “white knuckle ride “ and derive furtive cheap thrills from Katy Perry’s schlock about kissing girls. Lets be honest here, Ms Perry’s drivel is about as shocking and erotic as Nicholas Parsons attempting a centre parting… on a Sunday…in Shropshire. All is not lost however, as Rock City Sixteen offer us all a shot at redemption and provide us with hope, and hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies…
…..So stop watching “X Factor” and buy something real !
“Lunettes Noires Pour Nuits Blanches”/ Antarctica ” By Rock City Sixteen is released on Monday 8th September by Cigarette Music.
Age eh?, it just kind of creeps up on you in its stocking feet, one minute your pogoing along to the Clash, then suddenly the stylus scratches and rips across the vinyl, the dance floor clears, the lights go up, and you realise everyone appears to be at lot younger than you as you catch a glimpse of amused pity in their eyes “Wooooooosh” “What was that? “That was your youth mate…..” Oh Bugger! And slowly the realisation dawns on you, like Bruce Willis, you have a moment of horrible clarity as the full horror is revealed – You’ve just morphed into “embarrassing dad,” yet as Bruce discovered in “the Sixth Sense” the clues were there all along, you just failed to see them. The final nail in your credibility coffin comes on the unfortunate occasion you go shopping for clothes and you find that comfort rather than style, is now the overriding factor. When you step into the confines of a high street store, you start to get the impression it’s more likely you’ll be served a Pina Colada then find a nice comfy pair of brogues. The shops themselves seem to be choc full of gear that the likes of cheeky monkey faced hydrophobe Nick Heyward, lantern-jawed fop Tony Hadley, or council estate soul meister Martin “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be a poor mans Bryan Ferry” Fry, might have worn when they were in their pomp. I’ve done all that 80’s stripey top nonsense and to be honest if I wanted to look like a French onion salesman, I’d buy a beret move to Paris and wax my tache. So which shops actually cater for you now? Top Man is just plain intimidating, with it’s high energy dance music, flashing lights and it also apparently employs acrobats with ADHD instead of shop assistants. It’s rather disconcerting trying to buy a pair of smart new beige underpants with chocolate brown piping when a young lass comes cart wheeling over ala Darryl Hannah in Blade Runner and asks; “ U alright mate, what can I do ya for, these pants here are wicked, my fella wears ’em but not for long, know wot I mean , innit! hahaaha” After that exchange a hasty retreat is beaten to Burtons Menswear . The staff are the polar opposite of Top Man; in fact it initially appears to be a veritable Marie Celeste, had the staff died of boredom? I almost needed to purchase an additional pair of under crackers when one of the mannequins boomed in a deep monotone “Would you like some help, siiiiirrrrrrrrr” Turns out it was a rather pallid waxy looking sales assistant, (imagine a less animated version of Lurch from the Addams family crossed with Brian Moloko and your in the right ball park) Finally upon settling for a jumper from George, a pair of slacks from Greenwoods and a nice pair of slip-ons from Clark’s you feel utterly crushed and make your way home . The question is, how do you recover from such a dispiriting experience? It’s obvious, you interview a band that are so young and fresh faced you feel like an extra from the “Night of The Living Dead”
Poppy and the Jezebels are from Birmingham , but don’t let that put you off, it’s not all Benny, Miss Diane and the Crossroads Motel in Brum these days. These lasses are indeed spring chickens and I wondered how their parents feel about them stepping into the insidious world of rock n roll, a place where wild men like Phillip Schofield lurk in the shadows waiting to corrupt people with their wholesome ideals. One of their dads did say that drugs can be a big problem, as you never know if the girls will share them or not.…(He was of course joking). Indeed the old maxim if your good enough your old enough must be applied, and the band undoubtedly have great talent. They exude a sort of sullen teenage cool, as if they’ve just bunked off detention and sod the consequences and whilst their lyrics sometimes relate to “traumas from teensville” their world view is actually expressed with great eloquence and maturity. Musically they create a sound that deftly walks the line between edgy pop and danceable Indie, an intoxicating concoction that includes the pop rationale of say, The Shop Assistants, mixed with the belligerent experimentation of The Raincoats . There’s also a suggestion of what might have been if the Sugababes had signed to Rough Trade in the early “Overload” days when it looked like they might actually be good.
The press seem to love Poppy And The Jezebels “Clever, Intriguing, Funny and devastatingly cool “ said The Guardian , “the beginnings of a classic indie Pop-Band “ reports the Sunday Telegraph “You’ll be superstars” declare the NME and “Arrrgh young people, beware , beware, run for the hills, barricade your doors, call the police ! !“ scream the Daily Mail. They’ve also attracted the attention of the likes of Phil Jupitus and Marc Reily, whilst The Charlatans apparently love ’em, according to their blog which made me feel a lot less decrepit, until I interviewed them and they started to call me gramps and asked what the war was like and if I could play the spoons…..
VP : Where did you all meet, and where did the name come from?
P&TJ: We all go to the same comprehensive in Birmingham – came together as a foursome at school – but known of each other at primary ! The name comes from our drummer Poppy Twist – her name just sounds good we reckon with an « and the » !
VP: Your new single “UFO ” is to be released soon,for those new to your work what have you previously released?
P&TJ: So far we’ve had a double a-side 7-inch single of Nazi Girls and Painting New York On My Shoes, and a mini-album called ‘Follow me Down’ last year. We think our new stuff is bigger and better than ever, though !
VP: You have your own fanzine “popscene” which documents your adventures, how did that come about ?
P&TJ: We wanted a way for our myspace fans to follow what we did on the road and otherwise, and a sort of fanzine seemed the perfect, fun way to keep people in the know. We wanted it to have the same slightly tongue-in-cheek tone of some American 70’s music mags… and since the start popscene has gone through 3 very lovely aesthetic changes to go with the look of our latest singles/ album !
VP: You’ve gigged with The Wedding Present , The Horrors , The Hot Puppies been on Marc Rilley’s “Brain Surgery” met the likes Of Eddie Argos, Terry Hall, Kelly Osbourne,The Nightingales. What have been your highlights so far ?
P&TJ: Meeting all these bands was fun, but nothing yet has been better for the total surreal-ness of having the brilliant pop songwriter and producer Mike Chapman mixing our newest singles. He’s worked with Blondie, The Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Toni Basil, who we’re all massive fans of ! The people we’ve been working with at Mute have some pretty wonderful histories too… its kind of cool being advised by a guy who once managed Syd Barrett !
VP: And what’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you as a band so far
P&TJ: It probably wasn’t weird to the owners of the club, but being locked up in the attic of a London venue we were playing just for being underage felt totally bizarre. We’d never seen it as a problem before and it felt almost like we were criminals. And politicians wonder why teenagers all hang out on the streets….
VP: Which bands would you say are your heroes?
P&TJ: Amber will always say the Spice Girls… ‘cos they were just everywhere when we were very young kids… Poppy saw the Cramps and Patti Smith live in the past few years so they made a big impression – so, Poison Ivy !!… Poppy and Dom love Nick Cave too… Dom is also very fond of Joni Mitchell and Cat Power… Mollie loves Madonna and Neil Young !!
VP: What’s the music scene like in Birmingham these days?
P&TJ: It’s not that great.. most bands seem to disown the place once they get noticed… and some of the bands that have come through recently do nothing to change peoples perceptions ! Its quite a jealous and backward looking scene .. hopefully we’ll change peoples ideas of what the city CAN produce… but everyone should check out Wolves Did It !
VP: “Nazi Girls” is an interesting song title. What’s the song about ?
P&TJ: It was the first thing we ever wrote… Its about peer group pressure in our school when we were about 13… most of those girls we were writing about have come through all that now… just a fascist phase they were going through !… telling us what we should wear, how we should have our hair, where we should go…
VP: What’s the plan for the rest of 2008 ?
P&TJ: “UFO” will be released on August 4th… we play the Underage Festival on the 8th August… then more gigs, then we release our next single… ‘Rhubarb and Custard’… all on our very own label… Gumball Machine ! Hopefully start work on our first real album by the end of the year…
VP: What five things couldn’t you live without on tour ?
P&TJ: Silly string for Jezebile window sniping at unsuspecting passers by after gigs, especially men in suits, especially in Chelsea !… blankets and duvets – we always wrap up in these for early hours service station snack stops, our i pods… and Damien and Bruce our road crew !!
Am I a Sexist? This question has been bothering me since it was pointed out that I seem to interview more female fronted bands than male. When I was a young lad I had an implausibly huge poster of Debbie Harry on my bedroom wall, so I guess you could draw the conclusion that I was quite fond of attractive blonde ladies. Female friends have pointed out that her attractiveness was the only reason I had a poster on my wall, and that my objectification of Ms Harry was a disgrace and that I should be chemically castrated forthwith. “Cobblers!!” I retorted, I’ve always maintained that if Blondie hadn’t have been a great pop band, I certainly wouldn’t have blu-tacked a poster of Ms Harry (looking rather fine I must admit) on my wall, I justified this by saying that Samantha Fox also made pop records, and I of course didn’t have posters of her on my wall as her music was terminally sh*te, in one fell swoop I felt I had succinctly proved that it’s not just about having a pretty face. So there I was feeling rather smug and about to assume the moral high ground, when I was asked “If say, Thora Hird, had fronted a fantastic pop band, and had the voice of an angel would you have had a poster of her on your bedroom wall ? “ Erm, Well erm” I waffled , “it wouldn’t put me off the music, but I do have to sleep at night” I replied rather weakly , I then contrived to avoid the direct questions that followed but alas I came across as unctuous and as slippery as a byrlcreemed David Cameron greased with engine oil in a barrel of eels and olive oil, I had to concede rather grumpily that, no I wouldn’t have a poster of Thora on my wall, even if she did make the greatest pop records known to man, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t find her rather plain, homely features particularly alluring . So does this make me some sort of deviant sexist? I don’t think so, there’s nowt wrong with finding people attractive is there? It’s as much a part of life as breathing innit? What is attractive is a matter of personal preference anyway isn’t it? Pics of Thora may well drive some people wild with desire and have them indulging in a quick furtive trouser jostle over “Songs Of Praise” but rather like Peggy Mountor Joyce Grenfell she just didn’t make my aesthetic bell go dong . It’s fairly obvious that you can initially be drawn to a band without hearing a note, if they look the part, have a striking image (or even a manifesto?) But if the music craps your not gonna hang around too long to listen are you?
Now my latest interviewees have an attractive blonde lead singer, which is nice, but they also appear to be the real deal and have some cracking good tunes. The singer in question is known simply as Doll , and she looks like she wouldn’t tolerate any monkey business anyway, I’m sure she’d introduce your testicles to your Adams apple in double quick time with a swift kick should you step out of line. She is what I suppose some may term as sassy, but I don’t like that term, its far too American for me, I’ve never heard anybody I know use the word sassy in general conversation…..In America everything’s sassy . “Gee Bud this coffee sure is sassy”“Yo, Thad! My legs sure are feeling super extra sassy today.” “Hey Velma, I have a real sassy lil map of a weird place they call…Europe…you heard of it ? ” Then again I suppose for a nation who routinely say “Yowsa Yowsa” and “Hubba Hubba Hubba” (what does that even mean) sassy is not their worst linguistic crime. Don’t get me wrong, I like America and Americans, I just haven’t a clue what they are on about… and American English has deflowered the English language like a group of superbad sports jock dudes at a cheer leaders summer camp…..I can remember the good olde days when the final episode of a TV series was called , well, “the final episode” now we have “Season Finales!!” The trailers for these are given the sort of reverence that was previously reserved for the Gettysburg Address “Three men, each with dream, each with a date with destiny as they dare to reach for the stars and undertake the ultimate roadtrip, and travel a road which will change them for ever … a treacherous journey of self discovery which is embarked upon in… …an old tin bath …Don’t miss the “Last of the Summer Wine Season (104) Finale.. remember …Sky SuperPlus Digital HD Channel “Shite“is now THE ONLY place you can see “TLOTSW season finale” …but I digress. Doll and The Kicks disco tinted indie rock is gaining them a growing number of admirers, and their name is now being discussed with reverence way beyond their Brighton base. They played Glasto last year and this year have consolidated their burgeoning reputation with a crowd pleasing set at Brighton’s Great Escape festival. Catchy searing guitar riffs, and thundering percussion are all underpinned by Dolls vocals, which can recall anything from a reflective Siouxsie Sioux to Gwen Stefani in a bit of a strop. Throw in a bit of Lena Lovich and Kate Bush add a small splash of Wendy James for “sassiness” (there I’ve said it, happy now?) and you have an intriguing musical cocktail. This band seem to have just the right balance of pop acumen and indie cool to appeal to all tastes and styles and it would appear the buzz that has recently surrounded them is gaining momentum and is transforming from polite appreciation to a healthy roar of approval.
Oh and extra kudos to Oliver who definitely has the biggest hair in pop this side of Leo Sayer. I had a chat with Doll and even got to call her Dolly once (which I think I got away with). I also tried to keep my inner Bernard Manning in check (I think everybody has had a little bit of Bernard inside them at some point …which actually is quite of horrible thought)
VP: Hello Dolly , In traditional fashion, shall we start by asking how you all met and how the band became the fully formed, well oiled beast that it now is?
DOLL : Basically Oliver and I met in class at College, I had made a cd of five of my songs and played them to anyone who would listen trying to entice possible band members. Oli was the first to sign up! Matt was a friend of our old bass players girlfriend (Oli was originally on Guitar when we were a five piece) and joined as replacement to Dan Logan (now playing with the kooks) who dumped us unceremoniously to join Cat the Dog! Chris was introduced to us by another friend and although he was also at the same college as Oli and I we didn’t know him.
VP: How did the name come about?
DOLL: I was a really big fan of The Foo Fighters when I was little in fact it was the first gig I ever attended at The Royal Court in Liverpool when I was 12 or 13 and Doll was the first track on The Colour and The Shape which i used to play repeatedly. Also when i was 7 and asked at school what i wanted to be when i grew up i said Madonna, i think it was because i liked that she only had one name, Doll follows suit. The Kicks is because the boys used to be in a can can troupe called “When the Wind Blows”.
VP: What are your plans for the remainder of 2008?
DOLL: We are in talks with a number of booking agents at the moment so thats the first thing. Plenty more song writing, we are always writing new stuff sometimes we have so many new songs we wonder how we will ever choose 12 for our first album! And just building a bigger fan base, we know that is the most important thing to us at the moment. We may also do a one off single release near to the end of the year.
VP: What have been your highlights as a band thus far?
DOLL: Being told that we were going to play on The BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury was a better day than actually being there because the weather was so atrocious and people at the festival looked like they were just trying their best to be happy! Although it was still obviously amazing and we did meet Peaches Geldof so it wasn’t all bad. (I know it’s hard to tell on written word but that was sarcasm).
The Great Escape a few weeks ago as well. We had an australian band The Boat People and a legendary promoter(who also happens to be a hugely entertaining man) Joel Ransom staying at our house so it all got a bit messy. Plus at our official gig at The Arc there were people queing up to get in and although we were playing first I figured everywhere would be full for the festival. It was a big eye opener when most people left right after we played! 😀
VP: Brighton (a bit like Liverpool , where I’m from) has a reputation for “fancying itself a bit” Would you say this is a bit unfair, and what’s the local scene like at the moment?
DOLL: Ha Ha! I am also a Liverpudlian, born and bred. Does that mean as I have lived in both places I fancy myself a bit? It probably does. I reckon I probably do. I do think though that in any city with fashion focus there are always going to be a lot of pretentious w*nkers who deem themselves too important to talk to anyone who doesn’t spray their jeans on and know the entire back catalogue of Sonic Youth. What they don’t understand is that you can still look like you just stepped off the pages of POP magazine, love sonic youth and not be an absolute c*nt.
VP: You played “The Great Escape” in Brighton recently how did it go? Any other bands make a big splash?
DOLL: Ohhhh i think i already mentioned this a little. Crystals Castles were great live. She dances like a mad person. I heart her. Also Joel recommended Mumford and Sons who i have to say are amazing. I think they are like English hillbiliies with a postgrad.
VP: What sort of music are you all influenced by?
DOLL: Oh dear we could be here a while. Um i have to say everything. Each of us has our background in something different. Olivier – SKA, Matt – Metal and old Rock, Chris – progressive post hardcore (yes that’s right) and me – Girly Grunge. But we collectively LOVE all music made in the eighties. We also unashamedly take influences from a lot of pop music. I’m going to see Girls Aloud on Friday, Biology is a work of genius.
VP: The music bizz is changing, it seems on a weekly basis, and do you think the industry is finding it hard to keep up?
DOLL: Yes definitely. It seems like everyone is panicking and no one in the industry knows what to do. Everyone trying different ways to make it work like private investments and the 360 degree model. No one really makes enough from music sales anymore, it’s all in live shows, product placement, merchandise and other such like. That’s why we are in no hurry to sign a contract with a record label unless it’s the perfect deal for us because these days you kind of don’t need one. What you need is finance and an amazing PR machine and there are certainly other avenues that can provide that.
VP: Tell us a joke?
DOLL : A blonde is overweight so her doctor put her on a diet.
“I want you to eat regularly for two days,” he tells her. “Then skip a day and repeat the procedure for two weeks. The next time I see you, you’ll have lost at least five pounds.”
When the blonde returns, she’s lost nearly four stone. “Why that’s amazing,” the doctor says. “Did you follow my instructions?”
The blonde nods. “I’ll tell you though, I thought I was going to drop dead that third day.”
“From hunger you mean?” Asks the doctor.
“No,” replies the blonde, “from skipping.”