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Fight Like Apes

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This article originally appears on Subba Cultcha.

Sequestered to the rafters of the Kentish Town Forum, the Ting Tings soundcheck reverberating down the narrow corridors, a door is suddenly sprung open to reveal Pockets and Maykay of Irish great new hopes Fight Like Apes squeezed onto a couch designed to let you know if your neighbour showered this morning. 2008 has been an astronomical year for the Dubliners that has seen them take their pop-culture obsessed dirty synthpop and rise from nowhere to SXSW buzz band status, Glastonbury performances and BBC play list staples.

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The week ahead – Ben Folds and The View from Tom Jones’ dressing room

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So in another 16 minutes I will be another numerical measurement older and there will be the usual due consideration and celebratory drinks imbibed. Yet these are far from happy times, fortunately i have a plethora of goodness coming up to keep me distracted and with sweet melodies in my ears.

Over the next week or so there will be exciting interviews with the likes of veteran ivory tinkler Ben Folds, a conversation with Scottish noiseniks The View, a pre Ting Tings support slot interrogation with Fight Like Apes, a little laisse faire with french scenesters Nelson and a good old chin wag with Of Montreal.

There will also be record reviews for Rose Kemp, o’death, Windy & Carl and Steve Gullicks fantastic Tenebrous Lair. Incidentally Steve’s been playing guitar for Soulsavers who frankly had the best record I heard last year!

On top of all this though is the clearly surreal possibility of a chat with Welsh lothario Tom Jones… apparently back with a new seriousness. All knickers to be thrown should be forwarded to…….


Written by Jonathan

October 8, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Johnny Foreigner – Full interview transcript

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Johnny Foreigner interview conducted at madame Jojo’s for Who’s Jack?

Hey, so the first thing I wanted to ask you about was your dynamic as a 3 piece and the way that works for you and how it came about. Were you influenced by any of the epic three pieces of history like Hendrix or Nirvana etc?

Alexei: It wasn’t really a reference to any other bands, it was more just convenience, it was just the minimum amount of people that you can make a big noise with and it’s easy for arguments and shit like that, you know, having an odd number, so that’s cool.

Do you find it’s a fairly easy democracy within the band or do you have huge arguments and then everything’s ok?

(Laughter) Junior: Oh I think when we were more worried about money., well, we still are, but when we were more stressed about money we used to have a few arguments, but never serious.

So how do you guys get on with the phenomenon of touring? How has this tour been so far?

A: Well this tour has been amazing . This tour has been great because we’ve had stage divers and…I went crowd surfing to my own band which was the most emo thing I’ve ever done ever! It’s been a pretty  good buzz the whole way through.

Do you find that people are really getting into the stuff off the album or are people really into stuff off the EPs which they’ve known longer?

J: Album
Kelly: I don’t know because things like ‘Sofacore’ always gets a really good reaction.
A: Yeah I guess , but I also think there’s that thing, like if I like a band and they play a song that’s a little more obscure or not as well know it means more.

That’s true, because you put out that collection of demos, ‘I Like You Mostly At Never’, do you still slip some of those more obscure songs into the set?

K: Well some of that stuff actually made it to the album and EP so there is stuff off there.
A: It’s weird, because that was like a collection of every song we had ever written to that point, which was just sitting on our computers not doing anything so we just wanted to put that put there.

Cool, and was the intention just to draw a line under that, to document everything up to that point and then start fresh?

K: Probably.
A: Well there’s about 3 different versions of that cd with different track listings on it, so it was just a collection of songs that we were like, “these are the songs we’ve recorded that we aren’t embarrassed by”, and so we just made it so that as many people as possible could hear it. It’s not like, well we’re not really making money now, but it’s not like there was anything to hold us back from giving them away free to people.

Ok, so has that changed , as in when you look at some bands, bigger bands like Radiohead who are giving away their music for whatever people are willing to pay for it. Is that something you agree with or you feel like as artists just starting out , “this is something I created so it has to have a worth on it”?

A: I think, everyone steals music off the internet and everyone loves music, there’s nothing you can do about it. I’d rather people downloaded our songs than didn’t hear of us you know what I mean? I think like, I mean personally if I like something enough then I will go out and buy it or you go to the show , buy a shirt or something but that way the money goes back into the band, that’s how they succeed. I think that 10 or 15 years ago teenagers would tape stuff off the radio and you’d have your compilation tapes. ..

J: …and Minidiscs!

A: Now it’s just like you download 70 million bands and the ones that stick in your head are the ones that pass the test as it were. I mean it’s a nice level playing field. Obviously if you spoke to our record label you’d  get a completely different answer!


But it’s hard to see how it affects us really. I mean there are people at the front of the show singing every single word.

K: And that’s what we want so…

Cool. So you feel like it benefits you?

All: Yeah, completely.

Ok, so do you set list shows or do you just feel the energy?

J: Well we will tonight I think.
A: Yeah if there’s a few more people there we can’t really be as amateurish. But like this tour we have three songs that we open with and then we see where we go. We like people to shout songs at us and then argue with them as to how much they want us to play them.

What are the three openers?

A: Oh like a new song and then ‘Hennings Favourite’ and then ‘Salt, Pepa and Spindarella’.
J: Opening with a new song though.

How is that working? How’s that feel kicking off with  a new song, has there been a good song?

J: Amazing yea.
A: Yea, it’s been brilliant. I mean we’ve had the same set pretty much since we signed the deal so now we can change it up it’s really fun.

In terms of new material, obviously you’re feeding it into the set but how far along are you? Do you have enough to be thinking about new releases when you get off touring?

A: Yea we were talking about this today actually. We might re-record one of the songs of the album, In a completely new style, and then put it together with some new songs and have it as a bridge between the two albums. The plan at the moment is to go in in February to start on the next one. We’ve written about half of it already and it’s been going very well.

…and subject wise is there anything new that you’re exploring with the new material?

A: Yeah, weirdly I was thinking about this the other day. Like when we started all our songs were just about Birmingham and getting fucked around Birmingham and living in Birmingham or whatever, and now it’s about getting fucked and destroyed all over the world. So there will probably be a lot more references to airport lounges and our tour bus.

Cool, and do you find a tangible difference between Birmingham and the rest of the world, when you’re getting fucked?

A: Well I’d rather be fucked in a strange place…
Pregnant pause.
K: Did you really just say that?
Obscene laughter.
J: Oh god I have to put that on the Myspace.

Ahem, sooo. Where’s the favourite, ‘strangest’ place you’ve been so far?

J: Japan.
K: Tokyo, probably, Tokyo was amazing.
A: Yea, we played a mini festival out there.
J: Reading as well, playing Reading was awesome.

Was that the fulfilment of childhood dreams? Did you go to Reading as punters growing up?

J: Yea, definitely.
A: Yea, but before the band. It’s weird the last couple of years I’ve really wanted to go but because we’ve been doing gigs or  just can’t afford it I haven’t been able to go. Because it’s like if you have a spare couple of hundred quid or whatever  then it goes into sorting guitars out not festival tickets. So the fact that we got to play there. It felt like quite a moral victory.

Cool, In terms of playing in Tokyo how did the Japanese audiences take to you , there’s this kind of opinion that they are a very intense audience?

A: We were told that, god it sounds a little bit racist. But our tour manager told us that the audience likes a signal that it’s ok to let go , so  if they see you letting go then that’s when they go off.

Well it’s the same in other places as well. I’ve been to gigs in Scandinavia where the crowd is almost still, just really intensely watching the band when they play. Then as soon as they finish the song they go nuts.

A: Cool…well I think we kind of cheated as we came on to ‘Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe’ by Whale, so everyone was in the best mood from the off and then everyone just went nuts right from the start. It was very cool. Also the door staff had to crouch down between the monitors to stop people spilling into the stage so it kind of felt like being in the Beatles.

Nice. So in terms of playing London how do you find that? It seems like the great divider, some bands love it and some bands hate it.

J: I don’t really like it. I mean we’ve played some shows at the Camden barfly, they were good shows.
K: Yeah, the Camden Crawl was really cool too.
J: Yeah that was a great show. It’s just that some shows you get the folded arms types.
A: I can see why it happens though. I mean London’s just like any other major city just more so. You could probably go out every single night in London and  see a band that you really like. So I wouldn’t say spoiled but I think that you build up a tolerance to it, so we could take our show to some small town in the middle of crapsville and the whole place will go mental because we’re the first band to pass through there in two years.
K: Although saying that I think to say that the crowd don’t get into it is a really apathetic statement, if you look at a band like Dananananaykroyd they take on the audience and make them do ridiculous things to get them in the mood, you know what I mean?
J: Yeah, but even they …like in Brighton they got everyone to do this hugging thing and afterwards they were just standing there again like gormless people even when they’d just been running around hugging each other.
A: I think with London though I’m going to say that a lot of people make up their mind about the show before they even go, though that’s probably a gross generalisation, but you do get the feeling that people will go to the show  and they’ve already decided that it will be the best show ever or that the band is shit and so…and what actually happens at the show is pretty much irrelevant unless someone gets naked or dies.
But having said that I mean the first Camden Crawl show that we played was amazing.

So in terms of tour mates, other than who you have on this tour is there anyone that you want to tour with in the future?

J: Calories, I definitely want to tour with Calories. They’re from Birmingham and the guys used to be in Distophia and are now one of our favourite bands so  it would be nice to take them, well take them on tour basically and see where they go from there.
A: Yeah, because there are a few local bands that are just as good as us that are a little further down the ladder for whatever crappy reason and we’ve had so many bands, not take pity on us but be really kind to us and taken us out with them and built us up and it’s made such a difference to us and now we’re in a position to reciprocate that.
K: Absolutely, yeah it’s quite a nice little change to be able to pull bands up and help us like we were helped.
A: Yea, so there’s Copy Haho, Fight Like Apes, Tubelord, William who we have got tonight are fucking incredible. So yea…
J: …I’d be happy to just tour with Dananananaykroyd forever you know.
All: Definitely.

So would you ever do like a Fantomas superband?

All: Oh absolutely.
J: Johnnynonnyakaroyd!

OK, so a final couple of questions. In terms of the hometown show when you go back to Birmingham, how are you finding the reaction, are people really getting behind you as you get bigger or is there that thing where like you’ve almost become too cool for school?

J: Ah well it’s Birmingham isn’t it.
A: Yea so you get a lot “Wankers! What are you doing, you ponce, going to London, with your band.”
J: But we’ve started to get a lot of the students coming to gigs, so actually a lot of our biggest fans in Birmingham will be students from London. We had the wicked  show with los Campesinos at Academy 2 though  and that was like, well that might have been the only thing going on. (Laughs)…and we’ve got one in a small venue so it’s going to be good. But we purposely play the small venues  to get the vibe.

Cool, because you played with them (Los Campesinos) in the States didn’t you? Is that somewhere that you see yourselves really devoting the chunk of time that it takes to crack it. Is that something that interests you?

A: We’ve already done the pre-nups, “Do you promise to come over and tour your album for…”

…the next 7 years?

A: Yea that’s totally what it’s like.

Ok, so finally whilst you’re abusing your rider is there anything that you don’t have or maybe can’t command yet on your rider that you’d like?

A: That girl from last night!
Riotous Laughter
J: We ask for sandwhich materials right, and what we get is pitta bread and homous, now I’m not being funny but that’s not a sandwich! Meat, cheese, butter, baguettes and it’s all cheap that’s what I don’t get, it’s not like we’re asking for Tescos finest.
K: I want black olives, sliced black olives!
J: We’ve yet to get what we want on the rider but even when we do get it there’s usually some industry cunt who comes in and eats it all.
A: It’s usually the people who works for someone who works for someone who works for someone who works for someone who works at our label, it’s just like, “Oh Johnny Foreigner’s in town!” And you’re thinking I’ve got no food in my fridge at home, I’m going to make just enough money from the tour to get a weeks shopping, but it’s ok because I’ll get off stage and there’s this amazing platter of meats, and you get there and there’s some fat  pointy shoed cunt going “phwoar this is delicious”, and it’s like so what do you do?
J: I mean I’ve even asked people to leave some beer for me after one show and they didn’t.
A: Yea, it’s like help yourself just don’t touch my gin and I come back and there’s like…
K:…half a bottle left.
J: We went mental though.
K: Aww god we sound so precious don’t we, “Don’t touch my shit!”
A: Everyone there was from a record company not directly attached to our band.
J: Parma ham though, buffalo mozarella, it weren’t no joke, and we got nothing.
A: We took a photo of it was so good.

Join a band…eat mozarella.

K: Seriously I was so impressed though it was so good. It was like “look mum…” It was such a nice platter.
A: then you get some places though, like the last time we were in London we played at Proud Gallery and they wouldn’t even give us a rider. They were “sorry we’re not really a venue,” and we were like, “no it’s just the way that you’ve sold tickets based on our band and everyone’s coming to see our band play here.”
J: Tonight we’ve got loads of beer and loads of vodka, better bring it in here though or all the industry types will get it.
K: Form a human shield around it. Shall we empty it and fill it up with water and spit? Be like, “you want some, sure here you go, help yourself.” Aww god, that’s so gross, I’m sorry.
A: We’ve been wringing out our tshirts into cups after shows.
K: No lex has, wringing it out into a cup and, where was it, after Derby, you gave it to someone, some girl.
A: Apple juice?

So you Like to maintain an intimate relationship with your fans.

All: Oh Yeah. We like to share everything on tour.