Crystal Fighters are fresh back from an extensive European tour and are returning to the UK for a handful of festivals this summer. With a small UK tour planned for October, DIY caught up with them at Underage Festival to talk second album plans and receiving hand jobs from taxi drivers.
Your line up has changed quite a bit over the past couple of years, how did the band in its current form come about?
Sebastian: Yeah it has changed a bit, Laure and Mimi used to be in the live show but now they just do recordings. Mimi’s training to be a doctor and Laure’s… AWOL, and now we have the beautiful Eleanor on backing vocals and Andrea on drums.
Gilbert: With playing the same songs a lot it’s fun for us to expand and change the way we do it, it keeps it fresh.
For someone who may not have heard Crystal Fighters before, how would you describe you sound to them?
S: A mixture of old folk music ideas with newer dance music ideas
G: Heavily resting upon our influence of the Basque country, both the musical and cultural traditions of the Basque.
A wide range of influences can be heard in your songs, do you consciously listen to lots of different genres?
G: Definitely, the great thing about being in a band with these guys is we’re all into different stuff, I like one thing, he doesn’t and vice versa. It means that when we make music it’s really varied and interesting. Personally I like to listen to all the pop music that’s new or hot or whatever every week. We read This Is Fake DIY and stuff like that, y’know.
You’ve recently been touring extensively in Europe, does your heavy European influence mean your music connected better there?
S: I think it might do, certain countries have been really interested in us for some reason and maybe that has got something to do with our European influences. Also having spent a lot of time touring the the live versions [of our songs] may have moulded into something that goes down better in Europe.
G: Also I think our show is designed to make people dance, have a good time, have fun. We all love a big drunk English crowd, they’re great, but in some European countries there’s a more liberal attitude, later shows; like in Spain they don’t go out ‘til midnight. People really wanna party, whereas [people in] the UK can sometimes be cynical. So maybe in Europe because they have more fun, we go down better.
Have you got any interesting stories from your European tour?
S: Our sound girl got a hand job from a taxi driver…
G: There was this one time when we were playing football… [laughs] I can’t tell you any of the stories! I’m trying to be prime minister in a few years so, y’know…
Your album ‘Star of Love’ was inspired by Laure’s grandfather’s opera. Are you writing new material at the moment and has it been more difficult without the opera to base it on?
G: Not at all, the book for us opened up our minds to this mass culture and older Spanish music. A lot of people think we draw influence only from this piece of writing, but it was more like the gateway to all this tradition and culture. Hopefully now we’ve spent time exploring the Basque country we can draw all these things together with our more contemporary influences and make an amazing second album.
How far is your second album along the line then?
G: Probably about 99%? Yeah, 99% unfinished.
S: We’ve got a lot of ideas for songs and how we want the whole things to feel but it’s just a matter of recording it.
Are you putting aside any time to write and record?
S: Yeah, after October. We’re coming back from Australia mid-October and taking an indefinite amount of time off to record.
G: What do you wanna hear on the album? I’m interested, I mean I know what it’s gonna be but where do you think we should go with it? Slow down? Go harder?
Maybe do both extremes? Just take it to a whole new level.
G: So more of the same, but better.
Exactly. So I’ve read a lot about your live shows and you seem to have a reputation for going all out when playing live. Is this something you put a lot of effort into?
G: When we first started as a band it was all about playing shows, not recording tracks or getting a record deal. So wanting to play to people every week and trying to come up with exciting stuff has always been at the centre of the band. The records are like a snapshot in time of what we’re doing live.
Has it been different playing to a younger audience today?
G: Yeah, they don’t get to go to festivals all year. There are no adults in the main arena, they’re all having a great time. There’s no booze or drugs, well there might be but not for the majority of people.
S: The bouncing teenager is quite an honest barometer of how up or down a particular part of the set is and it’s quite good to know when the drops make it go off. It would be nice to have an underage crowd in the studio to test out your mixes on…
G: The last Underage show we did about two years ago was probably one of the best sets we’ve ever played. There’s an energy with the youth. At other shows you’ve got drunks, or cynics, but here the cynics just don’t come to the show.
S: The kids are the future, so I wish we could play more shows like this.
How’s your day at Underage been?
G: Hot, sweaty and not enough beer.
Are there any other acts you want to check out in what’s left of the day?
S: I’m actually late for Is Tropical right now.
Crystal Fighters’ new single ‘Plage’ is out now via Zirkulo Records. They’ve also just released a deluxe version of their debut album, ‘Star Of Love’.
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