Band of the week /// Pale Fires

Pale Fires Official

Eerie, acid psychedelia, vocals piercing your skin and intoxicating melodies – London-based Pale Fires know their art and how to make this special kind of music that sends chills down your spine. They’re slowly taking over British underground scene at the moment, but this is about to change into a massive force soon, so you can never know when and where this music storm will find you. Get to know Pale Fires a bit better and fall under their spell before everybody else does. 

On the band formation

Oli:   The band formed in North London in the summer of 2010. Me and Leo had both recently moved to London and had an idea that we might try to get a group together, we quickly met Jean and the core of the band was formed. We needed a bass player and I invited Harry up to London to join the group. We’d been in bands together in the past and kind of had an unspoken agreement that both of us would call the other one in if they started something.

On do’s and dont’s in music

Oli: There isn’t really any set rules to how we go about writing. Sometimes a track will be born out of the band playing together and improvising, and other times someone might bring more of a half formed composition in. Whichever way it happens, everyone has to be into it and throwing stuff at the canvas or it doesn’t happen.

On the best atmosphere for writing music

Oli: We don’t light candles or burn incense or anything… We just need to be together with plenty of time and no distractions. We have learnt to be patient and trust the creative process and let ideas come, rather than trying to force things. We are lucky in that we have a studio that is kind of our home, where we can work and not be bothered by anyone. We like it there.

On the latest single ‘She’s A Gun’

Oli: It started off as a much longer progressive track, kind of a Krautrock influenced thing that exploded at the end. Then at some point someone suggested trimming it right down, and it ended up as this weird psychotic pop song!

Leo: I’m quite proud with a lot of the lyrics really, it was a different process in that the whole band threw various imagery onto the table. I think I personally have a romantic idea of myself as the Pied Piper ‘singing people nearer…’

On Pale Fires’ live shows

Oli: For us playing live is the most important thing. That has been our ethos since starting the band. Our favourite performers have always been people who take risks live, and make you feel as though they are treading a fine line between brilliance and collapse. I think if you can sustain that feeling for a whole show then it becomes very exciting to watch. Quite often on the underground circuit you can find yourself playing to a half empty room of people who aren’t there to see you, so I think it is important to stand out and hit them hard so they remember you.

Leo: I agree, I think there has to be a distinction between what you do live and what you record. I find it incredibly boring when a band reel off some tunes that you could have stayed at home and listened to off a record, playing live is a great chance to perform something differently.

On music heroes

Oli: There are too many to list here really, and we all listen to different music and are getting into different things all the time. There are a few that we all agree on though… Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Funkadelic, Can, Verve, Band of Gypsies, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, John Martyn, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, MBV…

On the earliest music memory

Oli: There was always music in my house as a kid. My mum plays piano and both her and my dad are really into music and have pretty large record collections. Weirdly I think my earliest memory as a child is listening to music… I remember being in a child seat in the back of my dads car and my mum telling my dad to turn the radio up as she could tell I liked it.

Leo: It’s hard to really remember the first musical memory you have. I do though remember my dad buying me an old half sized semi-acoustic guitar with nylon strings from a second hand store, and really pushing me to write a song with it. I think I’d have barely been ten when I wrote my first song, I also remember the disappointment in realising that all I had done was to re-write the words to ‘house of the rising sun’.

On feelings while listening to music

Leo:  When I listen to music, I like it if I can leave my normal pattern of thought for a while. I guess it’s quite an escapist thing really, but I feel the same way with most creative forms of art. If everything seems a little less serious afterwards, and I’ve been able to put my thoughts on hold even for a brief period of time. I think if our music could have that effect on people then that would be pretty cool.

On the biggest ambition

Leo:   I think our ambitions as a band are pretty realistic to be honest. Personally, I’m happy to be in a band that some people can’t get enough of but that others might hate. I think it’s more interesting that way, a band that really splits the office, I’m really not interested in being played on a club dance floor towards closing time. If it’s possible to carve out a successful career whilst maintaining these values without compromise then I’d be happy with that. In this day and age though, I think there’s probably a lot of ambition in that sentiment.

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