Interview: Fanfarlo — "I just like putting things together that don't belong…"
Mon, 15 Mar 2010 09:38:07
Fanfarlo sound like a dream…
However, it's not necessarily the kind of dream that you might instantly imagine. In fact, it's something far more intriguing, entrancing and, at times, epic. On Reservoir, the English rockers paint a somber and unforgettable portrait of urban decay, emotional disarray and a lonesome dude waiting for a UFO. With poetic lyrics and a hypnotic melodic delivery, Fanfarlo are indicative of true alternative and where Indie rock should be going. Take a dip in this Reservoir…
Fanfarlo mainman Simon Balthazar spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for this exclusive interview about Reservoir, Tarkovsky's work, inspiration from Deliverance and staring at the sky waiting for a sign…
If Reservoir were a movie what would it be?
Maybe Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky…I'm not sure if you're familiar with it. Tarkovsky's a Russian filmmaker that was primarily active in the '70s and '80s. He did the original Solaris; that was remade with George Clooney. However, that's definitely not Tarkovsky's best film. He was an incredibly artful filmmaker who did remarkable cinematography and told interesting stories in unconventional ways. He had an amazing eye. If I'm going to make a parallel, Reservoir tells stories in a dreamlike manner. Dream, reality and fiction blur seamlessly. It uses a lot of water imagery and visuals of things submerged in water—which is where the record got its name from. I really like Tarkovsky's art. Things that you read and watch always have an influence on what you create yourself.
Is that ethereal sensibility something that you set out to create?
Yeah, I'm always drawn to art where things aren't entirely clear. You're left to work out whether it's metaphorical or in codes for yourself. I like the idea of not quite understanding everything [Laughs]. You get to be a part of it then and make up your own story. As a songwriter, that's what I go for.
Listeners can take their own meaning from every song, and that's really the beauty of music.
For sure! That's not to say that there can't be amazingly powerful music that's very direct and clear in terms of what the artist is saying, but that's not necessarily what I try to do, ever.
"Luna" stands out. What's the story behind that track?
"Luna" and "Comets" have to do with a sense of things falling apart and urban decay. I was envisioning a near future, almost apocalyptic version of life. I was going through a patch of thinking a lot about the real dark side of modern life. In the words of Jonathan Richman, "I love modern life," but there's definitely a real dark side to it." I actually wrote "Luna" after I'd had a pretty vicious mugging, so I'm not sure if that had an influence on it as well.
Water imagery is very classical…
I've had this longstanding fascination with the whole idea of manmade lakes. There are some really interesting stories about villages being drowned out. There are countless stories about big government projects where a valley with a village has to give way for the project of building a lake in the name of "the greater good." The idea of a flooded city is an old idea with Atlantis and whatnot, but I find it especially intriguing when it's something that people choose to do as opposed to a natural disaster. There's something very interesting and sinister about it. One of the most interesting things I find about Deliverance is the fact that these guys are going on this trip in a bit of land that's about to be flooded. The whole idea of that is mind-boggling to me. It's really fascinating. This land is going to experience an almost Godly intervention—except it's a human intervention in nature. They're going to completely transform the landscape. The idea is that they're going to cover up their tracks as well because they've killed someone and they're going to leave the body there. They think it's not going to be found because a lake is about to be built.
You can also take a lot of childhood connotations from "Reservoir." A lot of kids swim in them during summertime.
Oh yeah! I grew up by a reservoir—maybe it wasn't one of the spectacular kind that we've talked about, but there were a couple of lakes near where I lived and I spent a lot of time at them. One of them had an electrical dam, and we spent a lot of time there every summer.
What was the idea behind the cover art?
The photo was taken by a friend of a friend of ours. She's a photographer in Iceland. She's Yonsi from Sigur Ros's sister too. We thought it was just a really beautiful image. We have several idea for what that image could mean, but we all feel it captures the mood of the album. There's something otherworldly about it, and we like that. There are a lot of layers to it. It's shot with old Victoria camera equipment, but there's still something very modern about it. There are these little mysteries built into it with the basket one girl has and the mask the other girl is wearing.
So who's the Harold T. Wilkins you mention on the title for "Harold T. Wilkins, or How to Wait for a Very Long Time"?
Harold T. Wilkins was a writer. I was writing that song, and it's about a loner who's obsessed with contacting spaceships and waiting to be taken away. At the same time, I was reading this book by Harold T. Wilkins and it was some trashy old paperback pseudo-historical account. It's written in a very odd way, trying to put together all of this "historical evidence" about flying saucers visiting earth. I wouldn't say it's funny, but there's something very odd about it. I like the idea of using his name and almost pretending that he was this person in my song. However, it's not meant to be biographical. It's not meant to be about him. I just like putting things together that don't belong.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…