Talking With Fanfarlo

Justin Finch of Fanfarlo. Image by Jon Klemm.

Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 2/29/12

Orchestral indie rockers Fanfarlo are making a stop at Paradise Rock Club on Monday March 5th in support of their sophomore album, Rooms Filled With Light.

In advance of the show, music editor Lucien Flores shot bassist Justin Finch a few questions. Read what Justin has to say on the band’s influences, the sonic shift in style and more below.

Lucien Flores: Fanfarlo’s sound has been compared to Arcade Fire, Beirut, Talking Heads and others, however, I’ve read that you never started thinking of these bands as influences until people started bringing them up in regards to your music. What do you consider the band’s musical influences?

Justin Finch: I would say that’s true in regards to Talking Heads. The first album was influenced by the early Arcade Fire releases and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. We didn’t know about Beirut at the time. Talking Heads definitely became more of an influence on our new record. Our influences over the last couple of years include ELO, Fleetwood Mac, and other real lush 70s pop like that. Also the stark percussive and vocal elements of Suicide really got in our heads. Modern classical was the point where our individual tastes met.

LF: What can we expect from Rooms Filled With Light? What’s new on this album and what are you most excited about?

JF: These songs are the same pop songs on Reservoir but played with slightly different instruments and more teeth. We decided we liked to rock out and make industrial noises by hitting stuff. You’ll hear that on the record. I think that fey, folky element inside us fell asleep quite a while back.

LF: Simon Balthazar recently commented: “To me the record is really about what a weird and intense experience it is to just be alive and to try to make sense of the modern world with all its bewildering pressures and possibilities”. Could you please elaborate on this?

JF: It’s about the craziness of the world and trying to find your place in it and working out who you are. There are so many choices and different paths. It means it all happens quite naturally without too much conscious thought, but if you stand back and look at it, it’s nuts. Life’s full of weird stuff. We like surrealism, and life’s pretty bloody weird.

LF: How did the process of making Rooms Fill With Light compare to the process of makingReservoir? What were the pressures in making your sophomore album? As Reservoir was self-supported, how much of a relief was it to have a label’s backing this go-round?

JF: I don’t think we felt any pressure when we were writing. All the pressure and concern came after we’d completed it. What’s recorded is what came naturally to us when we collaborated with one another without a backwards thought. Now that the album is to be released and we are to present it in a live setting, we are definitely experiencing some pressure and nerves. The label provides some comfort of course, but we know something of the industry we are involved in and in regards to making a living, getting too comfortable is not much of an option.

LF: I was impressed to learn that nobody in Fanfarlo has any musical schooling, especially considering the diverse set of instruments that the band plays. How do you decide what instruments are best for each song?

JF: Cathy [Lucas] and Leon [Beckenham] had lessons years back for the trumpet and violin, but none of us went to music school or anything like that. We really push ourselves with what we can do. We’re very experimental. For our new album we decided to change what instruments, we wrote the songs on as an experiment. We actively and purposefully stopped using the really folk instruments and running the trumpet and violin through effects and loops. Once we started writing with these things we realized it was awesome and we created Rooms Filled With Light.

LF: Fanfarlo is playing Paradise Rock Club on March 25th and you’ve played Boston a couple times before. How do you like the city and is there anything you like to do/sites you like to see when you’re here?

JF: Our friend Chris McLaughlin owns this studio, 1867, in Boston, which is an amazing old Masonic building. We recommend [it] to any bands that want to record in Boston. We love that place. We were there in December once and it was one of the coldest experiences of our lives. Sadly we’ve never had too much time to see Boston. I saw Fenway, which is beautiful.  I love baseball. Don’t like the Red Sox, though. I’m a White Sox fan.

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