Although the arrival of the Brood II 17-year cicadas has been heralded for a hundred…
- Posted on Aug 29th 2011 11:03AM by Theo Spielberg
So how was your last tour?
Oh man, don't use that word tour around me. I just got back from one and I'm so, so happy to be home. We just did a festival tour of Europe, of basically four countries. That was about a month long and pretty exhausting. We did Glastonbury and some key festivals in the industry. We are going to start our US tour in September which will bring us to New York and back. Then we'll be doing a bigger tour of Europe in October and November, which as of last week now includes, crazily enough, an opening spot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers for like two weeks. One of our manager's old buddies best friends, one of our old buddies from the LA music community is their lead guitar player so I think that was a lot of help.
Does Fool's Gold exist as more of a collective or as more of a band proper?
We are a closed-door five-member band now. We don't add or subtract people anymore. We toured on our first album for about two years. It came out September '09 and we've been on tour kind of non-stop. It just started informally; we were having jam sessions, for lack of a better phrase. We would just invite whoever wanted to play with us. L.A. is full of artists, musicians, creative types. We would invite basically anybody to join in onstage or at the rehearsals. It was pretty open and just an informal outlet for various needs and inclinations.
Somehow we pulled an album together, which essentially was just a snapshot of what we were up to at that time. So we did a record and the we started touring like crazy. It was never decided who was going to be on tour every time. It was kind of open, which can be exciting and colorful, but also leads to a lot of logistical struggles.
So people were just jumping in and out of the van at any given time?
For the first year it was like, "Oh, you're in the van?" We'll look at band photos from a show a year ago and I'll be like, "Oh, I didn't even remember he was in the band. That's crazy." We'd be like eight dudes traveling, or seven, or nine, or six.
The second year of touring was a little more formalized. We had like six or seven of the same guys. After that all passed over we were left with five guys who wanted to commit their lives to this band and tour and do everything that a band does. We wanted to make a new record and we wanted that record to reflect that band.
It sounds like a survival of the fittest type thing.
It was kind of like the survival of the most patient.
With less people in the band, have your influences been whittled down and focused?
I will say that the impetus for the band as a whole was to allow any influence we had -- from Adam and the Ants to Toureg desert blues -- to come in and not be judged. With this record, we still maintain that policy and we brought even more influences. You'll hear more western pop signifiers in the music. I will say that having five people definitely allowed us to articulate and hone in on more detail than we were able to before. With all those people, the types of songs were kind of like jams more or less -- somewhat open-ended, barely reigned-in songs.
This time we set out to make an album, an album full of songs. There are still definitely parts where it opens up and it jams. The live show is kind of where we really open up the songs and they really evolve over time on the stage. With this record I'd say articulation is the key word to describe how we've evolved. I think we're able to filter our influences even better than we have before. Two years of playing on stage hopefully helps you evolve and mutate into something a little more focused.
It takes on its own life. Part of the fun of this band is to see what we do with the songs. At this point after playing the first album for two years the songs sound different. In two years who knows what it'll sound like. It might sound like circus music in two years.
Your new album, especially 'The Dive,' sounds like it's been instilled with a heavier Smiths influence. Was there a conscious decision to move back towards western music?
It's funny -- being in the van for so many hours you kind of just go through all your music. It's just more stuff that we love. In the late '80s, early '90s, K-ROQ was really well known for playing New Wave music and they were big champions of the Smiths. Growing up in L.A., I feel like Los Angeles was probably one of the biggest cities for the Smiths and the Cure fans in the United States. Definitely Morrissey has part of his core audience in Southern California. We've been listening to that music since we were kids; it's comfort music. We put it on in the van and we sing along to tons of Cure albums and Smiths albums. I think traveling and performing so much, you get drawn back and forth to different things. If you really listen to Johnny Marr's guitar playing you kind of can even hear some vague Afro-pop, even though I'm not sure he'd ever say that or he's ever spoken about that. It's not completely far off and it was somewhat conscious in the sense that we were both listening to it so much and were just like, "What if? What if?"
What went into your decision to start singing in English?
I hate to use the word "journey" but it's been a kind of arc. Something basically started when I started singing in the band and when the Hebrew stuff started happening it taught me how to sing more or less, taught me how to be confident in my own skin and be able to project my voice; re-contextualize what it means to sing. That's what Hebrew did for me. Prior to that, I had been singing in English my whole life. It was my first language. Until Fool's Gold. I didn't really have an idea of how I wanted to sing and I wasn't that confident. After belting out in a foreign language for a couple years I felt the need to apply some of that to my native tongue finally and give the same feeling I gave with Hebrew to my own language, for lots of different reasons: One, just to see if I could do it, but also if we're trying to articulate our songs, honestly writing in English is key for me because my grasp of Hebrew is not necessarily very advanced. It just made sense on many different levels to sing in English. Also, being on tour I wrote a lot of lyrics in English, because that's what I speak. Who knows -- maybe for the next record I'll be like "I dunno, I think I really want to learn Portuguese" [laughs]. It felt like English served the songs better. It's more intimate. I wanted to connect more, although it's really amazing to watch people sing along in a language they don't know. There's something really accepting and special about that, too.