Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar took a break from their UK tour to answer FFS’s questions.
FFS: You formed the band in 2006. How did everyone get involved?
Simon: When I moved over from Sweden I had a couple of demos I had recorded with me (one of them ending up our first single), and started playing shows here and there with people I met in London. The first shows were just us and a backing track, but now we’re up to six people.
Your album is out in a couple of weeks, there is a lot of buzz about you and Reservoir it’s had some great press. Were you expecting a good reaction to it?
We don’t expect to ever be a trendy band, that’s not what we’re trying to do — but we’re proud of the record we’ve made and we think it’s a good record, so I guess we were expecting pretty good reactions. Oddly we don’t seem to have ever had a bad review of anything we’ve done so far.
It’s a truly lovely album, both epic and delicate.What inspired you?
That’s a BIG question. Too many thing to list here probably. We all listen to all sorts of music so that’s a part of the equation, but we also read a lot. We wanted it to have a folky, timeless feel and not rely to much on electric guitars.
What was behind the decision to self-release?
We figured there’s very little a label can do that we can’t do ourselves. You have to give up a lot to sign to a label.
What do you hope people will get from the album?
We hope people will literally live their lives by it and turn it into a sort of holy scripture. [Some comedy gold for you there – Ed]
How does your live sound differ from your recorded sound?
Live, we all play sax. Every song is played as a sax ensemble rendition. Apart from that there are no major differences. [And another bit. Stop it, it’s too much…]
What was the reason that Mark West left the band?
We just didn’t work very well together, so he couldn’t keep playing in the band. We play with a few different people at the moment, so we have yet to see what the differences will be.
How is your UK tour going? Do you find you get a different reaction from the crowd in different parts of the country?
The tour this week has been great, especially in Southampton, surprisingly. We played this tiny tiny venue but it was packed and people were really into it. It was too sweaty to play on stage so we ended up finishing the gig on the floor instead.
You’re playing a good slew of festivals this summer. Do you prefer playing to big crowds or more intimate venues?
The smaller venues are definitely better. We like it intense and intimate.
You’ve been known to cover In The Aeroplane Over The Sea live. Are Neutral Milk Hotel a big influence?
I think NMH are a big part of my love for using trumpet in pop music. They are also an interesting phenomenon as a band… I recommend reading the 33 1/3 book about them.
Do you have much contact now with the Swedish music scene? Are there any bands you can recommend to us that we might not have heard of?
The UK seems to be really well connected to the Swedish scene, so I doubt there’s anything I can recommend that you haven’t heard of already. Swedish indie bands tend to get more exposure over here in fact. I mainly hear of Swedish bands from my British friends.
Have you come across any little-known UK artists in your travels that you really like?
At the moment, I’m pretty excited about my friends’ band Male Bonding here in London.
You’ve been known to discuss politics in interviews, do you think you’ll ever mix music and politics (eg in the form of protest songs, or some Bono-style evangelising)?
Nothing is a-political, everything is a statement in some form. Although I don’t set out to preach to anyone, I think it’s important to be opinionated and speak your mind. All the bad shit going on in the world comes from people not caring or not being bothered to make up their own minds. But I don’t think I would write a protest song, I like subtlety.
After the tour and festivals what’s next for the band? Are you itching to get back into the studio or do you fancy a break?
We love recording more than anything else so there’s definitely some of that coming our way very soon.
Interview: Lynn Roberts