Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fawn Spots : Interview

Fawn Spots are an English band who formed in York a few years ago.  The group are a three piece featuring two guitarists and a drummer.  Throughout some line up changes Fawn Spots have released three EPs on Tie Dye Records, Louder Than War (Southern) and Bad Paintings.  The four song EPs are a warts and all snap shot of what Fawn Spots were achieving at that particular time.  These recordings succinctly capture how their sound has evolved over the last two years, and this new split shows Fawn Spots tightening the screws for their most polished work to date. 

Out next month is Fawn Spots' new split record with Cumstain called 'Wedding Dress', released as an LP on Bad Paintings in the UK and a cassette through Burger Records in America.  These four new songs offer up the raw, ballistic approach you'd expect from Dischord and SST bands mixed with the melodic finesse of early Buzzcocks. "Tailor Made" sets the pace for Fawn Spots' side of the record with its savage take on 80s college rock sounds played out by charged, fuzzy guitars and pummeling beats.  It's this mode of complete frenzy that fittingly describes Fawn Spots style, aptly shown on next track "Watered Down".  Highlight for me is "National Anthem" and you can find out more about the track in the band's own words below as I got a chance to catch up with Fawn Spots before their US tour...

Fawn Spots! You have a new line up – let’s get a run down of who you are and what you all do…

OG: Hi I’m Ollie and I play the guitar.
JM: I’m Jonathan. I play guitar and sing. Sean plays drums.

Have any of you been in or are currently in any other bands?
OG: Have I? Yeah I been in a few bands before, I also sometimes play solo. Sean is in a band called Beware Wolf.
JM: I don’t do anything else.

What was the first type of music that made an impression on you?

OG: Well I think the very first time music had a profound effect on me was when I heard Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. I was in the car on the way home from school and it made me cry. I still really like the song and I would say its pretty fundamental in some of things I do.

JM: The first ‘proper’ record I got was Rage Against the Machine – some older guys on my school bus persuaded me to buy it. After getting over Korn pretty quickly I spent a couple of years obsessed with Smashing Pumpkins so I guess that’s where music started for me.

When did you have that ‘ I can do that moment’ and start playing?

OG: having been brought up surrounded by musical instruments it’s just something I think I have had all my life. In terms of this though, I had that moment when Jon asked me to play,

JM: When I started working full time. I’ve played a bit for a few years, but when I started working I  really needed to do something else.

Did you have a goal in mind when you started Fawn Spots of what you wanted to get out of playing in a band?

JM: I can’t say I had a definite goal, there was no 5 year plan or anything, but I wanted to see how far I could get trying to play shows in good places and maybe eventually release a record. There’s lots of short term goals that change all the time – shows and places we want to play and sounds we want to get - but it’s all toward the same end.
Burger Records are doing a cassette version of your new split release with Cumstain 'Wedding Dress' – how did this all come about?

JM: Mike (who I run Bad Paintings with) and I have been massive fans of Burger Records releases for ages. I checked out Cumstain’s record with the Crass style front cover when we played there last year – it’s amazing and they were a natural choice to ask if they wanted to do a split. When we were sorting out our show at Burger this year we dropped them the record and they were in to doing a cassette.

“National Anthem” really stands out on your side of the record, can you tell me a bit about the song?

JM: I don’t think we really know how we want to sound, so I like including tracks on records that don’t directly fit – they’re a break to a record and when we play live. National Anthem was derived from some other little riff I had, and really came to life when we got both guitars working on it – we play most of the same parts all the way through but hopefully the two or three different tones in there hold it together. It was fun to record, we got to mess about with samples and stuff like that – I think this is the only song on the record where there’s other samples on it.

‘Wedding Dress’ is also coming out on Bad Paintings in Europe – Jon, as part of the label I was wondering how you’re finding releasing records in the UK? 

JM: The first couple of 7”s we put out were The Babies and Xiu Xiu so we actually sold more records overseas initially. It was great to put something out by JOEY FOURR (Joe from Tubelord) at the end of last year– he’s one of my favourite UK artists at the moment. It’s been a steep learning curve but we’ve learnt lots and every time we release something we do a little better. There’s a great network of small labels releasing stuff in the UK now, and Tye Die Tapes from Sheffield are a constant source of support and inspiration. We are rubbish at our accounts.

You’re from York where ‘Wrong Side Of The River’ is based and am I right in saying you guys are involved in this collective?  Can you tell us a bit about it?

JM: WSOTR started, and hopefully ended, as a collective project that aimed at being inclusive and open. It was in this unused basement of an art gallery. It was all ages, BYOB and always cheap to get into. We managed to put on some great bands from all over the place, including my favourites Sex Hands and The Babies. People seemed to like the setup and vibe so it was busy even if it was a band people hadn’t really heard off. Unfortunately it’s dead now – we were totally squeezed by the building owners who thought they could turn it into a money making thing, as well as a council who aren’t really pro anything creative and all ages that’s actually interesting. Our last show was with Iceage and it was crazy – Elias fell over the monitor and all sorts of stuff happened.

You’re about to go over to the states and do some shows with Cum Stain – any particular places/shows you’re really looking forward to?

OG: I cant wait to play the Smell -  thats the one I have heard the most about, however I have never been to LA before so I am just really looking forward to being there to be honest.

JM: Burger probably. Lots of beer and records and stuff. Although I’m really excited to check out places in LA I’ve not seen before and  see friends I met last year. There’s a guitar shop called Truetone in Santa Monica that has the best guitar I’ve ever played in it, and Amoeba has an insane collection of records.

Do you prefer playing or recording?

OG: Definitely playing; especially when its a good show, it just puts me on a high. Recording can be fun and it’s really useful for really honing the performance and sound but I get more satisfaction from a crowd than laying down a good recording

JM: I like both. I think they’re designed to go together, and I like each for different reasons. It’s fun to play to get out there and thrash about, but recording means you focus on your sound and your tone. I love writing with a view to playing live, but the end of writing seems like recording if that makes any sense at all.

What else can we expect from Fawn Spots this year?

OG: Hopefully a lot more shows, touring and ideally a full album am I right?
JM: You’re not wrong!

"I'm full of dust and guitars" - Syd Barrett, if you were sliced in half what would be inside?

OG: Probably a huge tapeworm.
JM: The shredded tatters of my dignity.
JM & OG: Sean's full of shit.

'Wedding Dress' is out February 18th on 12" pink vinyl in the UK, cassette in the US and as a download

Fawn Spots Tumblr
Cumstain Tumblr

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