Luke Leighfield @ White Trash, Berlin – 10.10.2011

Yes, we’re aware that Leighfield is not spelt with a “t“… But Germans are so cool – we forgive them.

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Oldie : Foals Interview, November 2007

The past few months have been hectic for Foals : after recording their debut album ‘Antidotes‘ in NYC last summer, they didn’t stop touring, building an enormous fan-base all through Europe … and in the rest of the world. We caught up with frontman Yannis Philippakis before their chaotic concert in Kingston, two weeks before the release of their single ‘Balloons’.
Mathletics and Hummer won’t be on the album – does that mean that you think Foals have got even more better songs – with more potential ?
Yannis Philippakis (vocals, guitar) : I think some of the songs are better. It depends on how you qualify, but there are some songs that are poppier, definitely. There’s like bigger pop songs. I think everything on the album is better. We didn’t want to make an album where, you know – a lot of albums are very much like a collection of songs, which don’t seem to really have a flow or a unified theme. Also, with the proliferation of iTunes, once you’ve released something, people have got it, and if they want to listen to Hummer, they can do it.

So do you feel the album will really represent Foals nowadays, even if some songs have been written a long while ago ?
Yannis : All of the songs are kind of old, to be honest. But it’s the grease of oldness I guess. The firsts songs we wrote were French Open, Balloons and 2 Steps TwiceBalloons and 2 Steps Twice are on but there is much newer material. We’ve already started writing newer stuff.

About Balloons – how did you come up with the saxophone idea on the new version ?
Yannis : It has a lot to so with Dave Sitek. We had a lot of discussions about bringing some more like afro-beat feel and a cross-cultural element, to make something that is culturally not as specific as a lot of western kind of rock bands. There’s quite a lot of brass on a lot of the record – maybe five tracks are brass to various degrees. Which is kind of weird if you’ve seen us live : when you will put on that record, it’s going to be a bit of a shock – hopefully a pleasant one. We didn’t want to make a live-sounding record. We wanted to make a record that was like a studio thing.

Will we ever know what you say in Balloons, that “what the what” thing ?
Yannis : Oh no, probably not. I can’t give it all away. I don’t really say anything, really. I like the suggestions on our forum though.

In less than a year, you’ve been discovered as a band, signed on a label, you’ve been touring a lot – how do you deal with this ?
Yannis : How do we deal with it ? I don’t know … None of this really feels real. In five years or ten years time, when it’s all over, I’ll look back and I’ll be like “Oh, that was quite weird”. When you’re in it is just too … so much stuff. We party a lot as well – that’s a way of dealing with that.

So you think that maybe in five years time you won’t be doing music anymore ?
Yannis : I think we will always be doing music but we might not be doing it as Foals. We don’t want to be the kind of band that is still playing their stuff after sixteen years.

There’s been a lot said about Foals being a band for teenagers, as you did underage concerts, that Underage Festival, and you appeared in Skins, too. Does this annoy you ?
Yannis : Not really, because I think that’s a misconception. To me, there isn’t the thing like being an underage band. I think there are bands that are very specific to that underage market but I think our crowds are far more diversed generally – at least, I like to think so.

Are you going to tour France ?
Yannis : We’re doing four shows in France in February. We’re doing Paris, Rennes, Reims (laughs at his bad pronunciation) … We’re just going to be touring a lot. We’ve only got eight British shows, in March, and then everything is all international. We’ve already booked Spain and Japan, which is more exciting at least for us to get to go somewhere new.

I interviewed young local bands and they mentioned Foals as one of their influences – Foals being pretty new in the business, how do you feel towards this ?
Yannis : It’s pretty weird. That’s cool, though. That’s pretty fast I guess.

Don’t you think it’s a risk for the new scene, being inspired by other new bands without searching influences in other kind of music ? Most of these new bands don’t seem to have the same music background than Foals has.
Yannis : You’re right, but that’s why -at least in my opinion- there aren’t many good rock bands. And the music I find the most interesting is stuff that isn’t rock-based, generally. In almost every respect I find –at least in mainstream kind of like rock music- very repetitive bands repeting what other bands have already done before. It works like fashion cycles.

I’d like to end on what a friend of mine, who is half-Greek, says about Greek music. For her, “Greece” and “Music” are two words that are not compatible. What would you like to say to her, to answer her ? Do you agree ?
Yannis : That can’t be – really ? Why does she say that ?

Apparently there are no worthy musicians in Greece, only bad music, that kind of stuff …
Yannis : Really ? That’s the craziest thing I ever heard ! In terms of pop-music, it’s terrible of course. But it’s because the idea of making commercial pop-music is not something that comes naturally out of the culture. It’s something that has been, basically, forced upon us. So all like modern sounding music from Greece is bad but all the folk music in Greece is incredible.

Would you ever consider collaborate with Greek musicians, then ?
Yannis : Yeah – I mean sometimes we start our set with an old Byzantine song – my dad used to sing it. My dad makes folk instruments in Greece. If your friend is referring to pop-music, then I agree. It’s terrible. But the folk music is incredible. It’s like the best of the dance too as well – like all the traditional Greek line-dancing. I find it kind of interesting. So well, I don’t agree with your friend at all !

For a chance to see Yannis line-dancing on stage, catch Foals on their next tour starting in February. Their debut album Antidotes will be out in March.

CB

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Shout Out Louds : oldie interview (November 2007)

Shout Out Louds

Swedish finest indie band is back with their second opus Our Ill Wills. Freshly landed from America, lead singer & guitarist Adam and keyboardist Bebban answer our questions before their sold-out concert at the Borderline, London.

Everyone knows that a second album is a turning point in a musical career, so how were the reactions towards Our Ill Wills so far ?
Bebban (keyboard, back vocals, accordion) : It hasn’t been much of a turning point, it feels more like a continuation of the last one (Howl Howl Gaff Gaff) I think.
Adam (lead singer & guitar) : What I really like about the album is that it shows we could do different things. I think we’ve got – I wouldn’t say a bigger audience, but that just feels like a … (searches his words for a long time)

Do you mean more “mainstream” ?
Adam : Mmmm, not very … I mean, what I really wanted with this album, was that we could just show a different side, and I think people really appreciate that. I think that’s the reason we do records, to show different sides and new songs.

Your songs sound less pop-ish and more melancholic to me – what were your inspirations ?
Bebban : What happened while we were away on tour, the things that happen when you’re not there, when you’re turning your back, more than what actually happened to us on tour. It’s more about what you leave behind.
Adam : And changes about how that affects you. It was more actually when we went home from touring that we wrote most of the songs.

Do you experience homesickness when you’re on tour, and then and once you’re home – missing being on tour ?
Adam : Yeah, I remember a week before Christmas last year, I really wanted to go back on tour and I was really excited and I guess it’s always like that – it depends on the kind of person you are, but I’m always like that, always want to be somewhere else.
Bebban : It becomes a kind of love/hate relationship. When you’re home for a while then you start playing music, but maybe not so much the travelling.
Adam : No, you don’t miss the travelling and the waiting and the soundchecks and all that. But just meeting the audience which appreciate the work you’re doing. So it’s strange not to be away for a long time – to have a whole week at home! Makes me feel a little bit nervous about it (laughs).

How is the tour going so far ?
Adam : It’s been really good. We just came back from a North-American tour – we haven’t been back in North America for a long while, and it was a good tour ! There was a few things: we had some bus problems, and everyone was feeling kind of tired at the beginning of the tour, but now it feels that we’re not tired, so it’s very up and down.
Bebban : We’re going to have a break for Christmas, and I think it really helps to see the end of a tour, because we can get a bit overwhelmed when you know that you’re going to tour for two years in a row, and there’s your family, and what is going to happen to relationships and friends and cats (laughs) while you’re away. But now that we’re going to have a break over Christmas, I feel we’ll get the energy back. That’s been a good learning experience, I miss touring because on the first album all we did was touring, there was no really other options, so we just didn’t even considered the possibility of not touring.

Being French, I have to ask why you don’t tour France more often !
Bebban : Because Adam doesn’t like cheese ! (laughs)
Adam : No, I don’t like cheese … We’re going to release the album hopefully in March so we’ll do some French dates in March.
Bebban : We want to come but it’s been a bit of a change – we ended our work with Capitol. Because we have so many different smaller labels now … We don’t have one in France (turning to Adam), now.
Adam : No, we don’t have a label in France. But it looks like it’s going to be done at the end of March.

Do you have any idea/contacts for the labels?
Adam : We have a few, but we’re not telling (smiles)

Bebban, you sing more on this album, even a whole song. How did this happen?
Bebban : I think the first thing that happened was that we talked about some more harmony and more back-up singing, because this time we had more time to think through. And I think especially Adam and me like harmonies and double vocals, so we just tried anything we could … Maybe take advantage of the girl’s voice …
Adam : As a contrast of mine. When we’re on tour, it’s easier for her to sing : you practice a lot, it’s the time to get to know your voice.

Was it easy for you to let go that part, being the lead singer?
Bebban : He knows he’s the lead-singer! (laughs) I feel microphone-shy, so I never considered competing with Adam for the lead-singing

Still, can we say there are two singers now?
Adam : No, I mean if Carl does a song and he want to sing it, he just does.

So The Shout Out Louds work as a real democracy?
Adam and Bebban : Yeah !
Bebban : I think it had opened for other changes too. Not necessarily big ones, but to not have everyone in the band standing at their place and do their things, you (turning to Adam) started to play a lot of percussions – Adam drums on our next single, Carl too, and this has opened some kind of gate, just to dare to step out of your own little cage.

So do you think you can extend possibilities in the next material/album?
Bebban : I think we’ve done that on this album, so maybe on the next album we will narrow it down. One step in a direction doesn’t mean that we will continue that way. We might go back to the start.
Adam : We’re still trying out new things. It still feels like a debut band sometimes, and I really like that. We’re still very curious in everything we do. There’s so many things we want to do.

You collaborated with Lykke Li – is there anyone else you’d like to work with ?
Bebban : We’re going to have a very special guest tonight*, it was a dream of mine. (Turning to Adam) I don’t think you want to do a duet with Céline Dion or anything major like that.
Adam : Well (laughs) … We could do a terrific cover. What we talked about before recording Our Ill Wills, was that we could have collaborated with a lot of people, but I think it’s important for us as five people to do … Of course we can work with different people but …
Bebban : We are a kind of tight unit.
Adam : If there are too many people in, I think there’s going to be … (apparently thinking over)

That wouldn’t really be The Shout Out Louds ?
Adam and Bebban : Yeah, somehow.
Bebban : Maybe we don’t need it. And sometimes it’s kind of a cheap trick. They invite somebody else who is doing very well at the moment …
Adam : It’s important that we keep things for ourselves.

Why did you never record a song in Swedish? Is it a choice ?
Adam : Because you just start and do your singing and it’s hard to change sometimes. We grew up with a lot of British bands and we had that dream to travel outside Sweden and do what we’re doing. We might do some Swedish songs in the future, I mean, rather a mix, do both : one verse in Swedish, one verse in English. We haven’t really talked about that – we’ll see !

The Shout Out Louds are currently touring Europe – don’t miss them !
More infos on tourdates on www.myspace.com/theshoutoutlouds

*Later on that day, special guest Spider from The Pogues joined the band and performed Streams of whiskeyonstage with them. CB.

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