End of Summer: Fool’s Gold Interview

Music - September 24th, 2011

The end of summer may have officially been announced but Tokyo Weekender likes to think the spirit of the season can continue a little longer.

Weekender’s European correspondent Elsa Triquet caught up with L.A. band Fool’s Gold early this summer at Calvi on the Rocks, one of France’s most eclectic and respected music festivals. Elsa quizzed the band on names, music production and their dream to play in Japan…


Fool’s Gold Interview

Weekender: Some people describe you as an Afrobeat collective, does the term feel right to you?

Lewis: Beat is correct of these two words, I guess maybe we used to be summed up as being ‘a collective’ but passed over the past over years we’ve kind of slim down to more of a kind of band, we were more people before and now we’re less people. It was a natural next step for us, it wasn’t anything like “you’re fired, get out of here”, it was more just like time and travel and circumstances.

Luke: Now people that are left in the band are the people that are the most dedicated to the band so in a way we’ve kind of distilled ourselves from the collective into a band so people who really want to be in the band play the music the most.

“It’s the first time we’ve done two tours with the same line up”

Weekender: So what was exactly for you this collective, what does it mean for you?

Lewis: It was literally a collective in L.A., first two years there was a certain core of people who would come to play with us, but we kind of never knew who it would be, it was an open door, a rotating door, there were some people that would come and play a couple of gigs fanned some other people would come for some other gigs, it was kind of always changing in a way, we never really played two shows in a row with the same line up. I mean even for a long time I feel like we’ve never toured. It’s the first time we’ve done two tours with the same line up.

Luke: Yeah it’s true.

Lewis: Half of last tour we were six people and then we were five for the rest of the tour and we’re five now, so now we’re finally five, this will be our first tour ever only being five people, being a band.

Weekender: Where does your name fool’s gold come from?

Lewis: Well you know… When we started the band, in California the history of the gold rush? This big boom where people moved the western across America to find gold. They found the pyrite, which is the fake gold instead. So we just happened to be hanging out this weekend when we decided to start playing music and songs together, we happened to be in this mining towns in the woods in Northern California and a friend of us has kept talking about finding “fool’s gold” and so it stuck.

Luke: It was very quick and playful decision

Lewis: But both words are great.

Weekender: No other meaning?

Lewis: People can derive their own meanings; I like band names that are open enough so that people can put their own meanings after they hear the music. But I love gold!

Weekender: Same for the title of the last record Leave no Trace?

Both: Exactly.

Lewis: Well Leave no Trace is a song on the record.

Luke: About nuclear energy actually (laugh).

Weekender: You made it about Japan?

Both: Exactly, especially for Japan!

“You know, Fool’s Gold,

it’s like the opposite of pure gold,

like best band ever!”

Luke: You know, it’s a playful name, it’s kind of us poking fun at ourselves a little bit. You know, Fool’s Gold, it’s like the opposite of pure gold, like best band ever! You know… hehe.

Lewis: Fool… The idea of the fool is incredible and it can also be the gold of the fool, which is pretty cool, like the actual fool who has the gold… That’s even better actually!

Weekender: What’s it like being on tour?

Luke: It takes a lot of work, I don’t know, we had to adapt ourselves to it, so I don’t know if it was super convenient but I guess there is more space in the van hehe you know! But I guess it’s more convenient in the sense that everybody who is there is wanting to be there and to be a part of it

Weekender: So how would described yourself? You reacted on the word “beat” but you didn’t say anything about the “afro”.

Lewis: Oh, we definitely were interested and influenced by a lot of African music but never actually Afrobeat music which is a kind of specific genre of African music, which is kind of funny so beat is good, afro is good, pop is good, kind of all in a blender with some other things, it’s a little bit more broad than that and also more detailed than that, but in the median is fine.

Weekender: OK your band is very multicultural, does it help the creative process? Do you want to have the most diverse band in order to touch the most people?

Lewis: Yeah, interesting…

Luke: We want to put as many fruits in the blender as we can. You know we didn’t start out to make a band, it was just like,we all had different projects we wanted do and  needed a place where we can put our crazy ideas into, and that became our band. We bonded over a lot of different kind of music and so this band was an opportunity to use all that, utilize everything every little win, you know? In other bands there was a lot more restrictions and it’s just nice to have a form.

“Not really Western, not really African,

its our own version, its our own type of music…”

Lewis: So whether if it was maybe a Brazilian beat or an African sound or maybe a even sound from the Beach Boys or some sort of ideas we never said no to anything, we allowed anything to come in and we sort of synthesize these different influences and I think we have our own sound now, not really Western, not really African, its our own version, its our own type of music, at least we’re working on building out our own type of music.

Weekender: So you think that diversity is a good thing?

Luke: Yes, you know we come from L.A., which is very colorful place with many different neighborhoods and types of people.

Lewis: And we have diverse interests in the music, we don’t listen to one type of music, I think we ‘re interested in a lot of things in the worlds and I think this a great platform to bring them together.

Weekender: So what motivates you generally? What gives you the energy or inspiration to create?

Luke: Well, I mean listening to music a big part.

“It’s like we store up creative energy being on tour,

and then we come home and we can hone in on these ideas…”

Lewis: Yeah, listening to music and playing music. I feel like when we are on tour, we get very creative, it’s like we store up creative energy being on tour, and then we come home and we can hone in on these ideas and even maybe listen to it, and something happens that we didn’t expect to happen, so I think playing music and listening to music gives a lot of inspiration that we need.

Luke: I mean ideally we’re finding ways to synthesize your life experience through your iPhone so at best you’re able to do that, you know it’s like software. You want to find out through your personal experiences and your musical taste. It’s a bit like goal but I don’t know I think you know if we know ourselves enough and if we are masters of what we did and we can do that we can have this all encompassing thing I think. This new record we made it feels a lot more like this.

Weekender: So yes about your new album “leave no trace”, do you think will be a turning point in your career or do you feel it’s more of a continuity of the first one?

Lewis: You know it’s funny we’ve been discussing a lot about the fade of this record. Who knows? But it’s definitely a different record.

“Esthetically and creatively it’s definitely a turning point”

Luke: Esthetically and creatively it’s definitely a turning point, we kind of achieved what we wanted to do with the second album like as far as esthetics and song writing and taking another step forwards.

Lewis: Yes, but I also think everything we should do should be a turning point, you know the next album should also be a turning point and the next tour will hopefully be a turning point and we’ll start playing the songs in a different way because we’re kind of open to these ideas. Like from the gecko, hopefully every move is kind of a turning point, these crazy jigs are puzzle over, created about it.

Weekender: But you can see it as a turning point or just as an evolution.

Both: Yeah, yeah exactly.

Weekender: Are you satisfied with it? Or do you feel that as an artist you need to do more?

Luke: No… Yeah, of course.

Lewis: I’m not sure I will be ever satisfied with anything I do, to be honest with you. And I think the day I’m satisfied I’ll probably die, because I never feel satisfied, it’s almost a problem for me. I feel moments, quick moments of satisfaction and then I just move forward and I can’t listen back to what we’ve done. There are always new ideas, there are always different ideas and things that we can try to catch here.

Luke: I mean it’s almost like once you’re done with something, you can move on the next thing immediately, sort of a process of getting it all out and then it’s done and after is a whole new chapter. Like, I think I want to listen to the record once or twice as we finish it.

Lewis: Yeah… Then move on.

Weekender: You just close the door and go forward?

Luke: Except that we play the song every night. (laugh) But it’s a different life.

Lewis: There will be evolution there and the song will change hopefully and we’ll push them and maybe they’ll sound like totally different songs! Give us a year!

Weekender: I wanted to talk about the label “I am sound”. How is the relation with them?

“In LA, we are totally free with what we do”

Lewis: In LA, we are totally free with what we do. I think, we actually didn’t really give them anything, I think we gave them one demo of what we wanted to record and I think we recorded the whole album and gave the finished product. So there wasn’t so much in and out, so from our perspective it was really nice that we are free to do whatever we want to do and they really supported us and they’ve been actually really supportive of the new record and I think it’s a really good energy going into the next level.

Weekender: So do you think you’d work again with them for a third record?

Lewis: Well the third record?!… I don’t think we have a third record on the contract with them! But who knows…

Weekender: But so far so good?

Lewis: Yeah, it seems very good going into this album release.

Weekender: So about Japan… Have you been?

Both: Nooo… Unfortunately not yet.

Weekender: Would like to?

Both: Yes… Definitely

Luke: Our second record is coming out for the first time in Japan. Our first record wasn’t released at all in Japan. Sony Japan is taking care of it. So hopefully we’ll get to go! But please put on good words about us to Japan!

Weekender: Of course we will! I guess you have so many people working for you doing this but we’ll help where we can.

Lewis: Yeah!

Weekender: So you’ve never been to Japan. But what kind of images or sounds do you imagine about Japan? What do you imagine of Japanese people?

“I actually studied with a Zen flute master and it was really beautiful”

Lewis: I would love to go to Japan. When I was younger I studied the shakuhachi, you know the traditional Japanese straight bamboo flute. And I studied the samurai, when they were dismantled they all became monks and they started playing this flute and I actually studied with a Zen flute master and it was really beautiful. I learned how to read the notation, the Japanese music notation, and I did it for a long time. With that experience I guess I have a lot of cultural fantasy about Japan. You know it seems to be like a really vivid place and a place of really interesting people! And it seems like, very deep. Like I think even going to Tokyo we won’t even catch the surface of what Japan really is.

Weekender: Tokyo is pretty cool, trust us!

Lewis: Is it?

Weekender: Yeah, despite what you may hear on the news. Do you have a special message to Japan?

Lewis: A special message? I think a message of hope.

Luke: Have they ever invited any fool’s gold? Hmmm…. Don’t hate your neighbor! And make him some toast!

Lewis: Exactly! There is message of hope in our music! I think it goes across all cultural boundaries, we hope at least, you know coming togetherness and celebration of life so hopefully we can send that.

Luke: We will hand-deliver to them if they want and physically go there and give them hope directly.

Lewis: We’ll come and play for them!

Weekender: Something else you’d like to express?

Both: Please invite us to Japan, we want to play for you, please buy our album! We’ll bring some peanut butter!

Fools Gold are planning to play in Japan soon, for more info visit the official site: www.foolsgoldmusic.com

Interview and photos by Elsa Triquet.

Even though the event was thousands of mile from Sendai, the overall message garnered from all at Calvi on the Rocks was one of overwhelming support and hope for the people of Japan.

Fool's Gold festival

For more information on Calvi on the Rocks visit: www.calvionthebeach.com