Mon, 17 Mar 2014 10:05:32
"It's something we really enjoyed making," Fanfarlo's Simon Balthazar says of Let's Go Extinct. "A lot of love went into it. Whatever it is, it's quite honest and straightforward with us in terms of how it came out. We had a lot of fun with it. I think you can hear that in the record."
It comes through loud and clear. Let's Go Extinct tempers invigorating instrumentation with thought-provoking lyricism, yielding an enduring sound that won't face extinction anytime soon. The UK outfit perfects its patented approach here with a collection that's as expansive and endearing as it is ethereal and enigmatic. Going Extinct never sounded so good...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Simon Balthazar of Fanfarlo talks Let's Go Extinct and so much more.
What ties Let's Go Extinct together?
Obviously, not everyone is making albums these days. We really love the art of making a full-length album. There are two different things that tie it together. For us, it was the product of a time and place. It was written quite quickly. When we were recording it, we were really creating a world for ourselves. We went to a few different places in Wales first to do arrangement. We went to a residential studio where we stayed for a couple of weeks and did some basic recording with our co-producer David Wench to make sure the basic sounds were really good. David has a great ear, and we knew he would get our references to seventies and eighties pop and disco as well as Spaghetti Western, kraut rock, and all of the different things we're throwing into the mix. The place we went to in order to write and where we went to do some additional recording was this house in Wales that had been sitting empty for twenty years. It was just a construction site because a friend of ours had bought it but hadn't moved into it yet. We built a temporary studio there and holed up. It was still quite cold and rainy in the Welsh countryside when we were doing this last year. We didn't really leave the house for ten days—quite literally. We were inside. We would sleep when we were tired and eat when we were hungry. We'd cook big family meals together, stay up, and record through the night. We'd stay the by the fire and let our whims lead us. That really ties it together for us as an experience and sense of communion creatively. There are ideas that tie it together as well. They're all centered around the story of humanity in a playful way. We think of it as a concept album and not in an overblown way. There are philosophical elements to it and ways of looking at what it is to be a person and what the self is. It's quite a strange human construct in a way. Even if people don't think about it in those terms, it's something they struggle with. It's the fundamental human conflict. On this album, we look at that and how we got here through human evolution, how the mind developed, and all of the weird byproducts of how it works that have to deal with how we communicate and live with one another.
What are some of those ideas?
Well, there's the idea that life originally came from space such as an asteroid or something. We play with big ideas. At the end of the day, it's pop music, and it's fun. We like that juxtaposition.
Is it important for you to paint pictures and tell stories with the songs?
I don't think of it personally as a visual record. Spending so much time with it, music is incredibly immersive to me. I think that's true for anybody who spends a lot of time with music. The process of making it is as well. It's almost as if your head is inside the music anyway. I don't necessarily feel any need to add imagery to it. To me, it's quite a vivid language anyway. I'm always happy to just sit down and listen to music.
What's the story behind the title track? What does it mean to you?
That's one of the ideas we were playing with. It's the notion that extinction is part of life. In the same way that death is a natural part of life, extinction is a very natural part of it in our species' existence. It's worth thinking and talking about where humanity is at now where we are really putting ourselves at risk and we might not be around for that much longer. We're lucky to be around for as long as we have. It's quite interesting to think about what's going to happen not in fifty or one-hundred years but in a million years when there's not going to people on earth. This is something that pops up in science fiction. The earth is going to be here, but we're not going to be here. We're only a very small part of that. Human stories of the end of humanity tend to be very apocalyptic. It's like, "If humans go, that's the end of the universe because we are the point of the world". But we're not! Life goes on. It's really interesting to think maybe humanity will evolve into something else or perhaps we'll experience other types of life on earth. It's quite a fun thing to think about.
You manage to say something deep within the framework of a catchy rock song.
That's the idea [Laughs]. It's obviously a playful title. It's slightly ridiculous. There's almost a contradiction in the title like, "Let's go extinct!" Being enthusiastic about extinction is a slightly strange attitude. That's what I mean by being playful. We're enthusiastic about something people typically aren't enthusiastic about.
What inspires you outside of music?
I read a lot, but I'm a slow reader. I love interacting with ideas inside of books. I probably spend more time listening to music and watching films. I watch a lot of movies. I have a big interest in cinema. That's certainly inspiring. When I sit down to write a song, things I've been thinking about pop into it.
If Let's Go Extinct were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's hard to say. It's almost teetering on being overloaded. Maybe it'd be something from Alejandro Jodorowsky or Sergei Parajanov.
Fanfarlo - A Distance
What's your favorite Fanfarlo song?