Fighting Kites: Five Reasons You Don’t Need Or Want A Singer

Neil Debnam of Fighting Kites tells us why sometimes, you’re better off without a frontman.

So, here I am, a member of London instrumentalists Fighting Kites (who coincidentally have a new album to promote) and the fractured scapula behind drony musical mumbler Broken Shoulder, to explain why singing is an outdated concept in modern alternative music. To be honest, I think I could have done this a lot better when I was a few years younger and full of disgust for ridiculous front men and women. But time marches on, and whilst age has dimmed my candle, I am still an instrumentalist at heart, so will do my best to convince. Here are my five reasons you don’t need or want a singer.

1. Singing is too easy
Anyone can be a singer. You don’t even have to be able to sing. I myself sing in a whiny moany voice, which is why my first solo recordings under a different name will hopefully remain buried, probably due to lack of interest. Of course, I am not saying people who can’t sing shouldn’t sing. Singing is a lot of fun, particularly at a karaoke night, as I was recently surprised to discover. It’s just that if you are promoting it as your talent, you had better be doing it in an interesting way. I am a bit of a hypocrite, so what I admire in some vocalists I like, I hate in others I don’t like.

2. People put on stupid accents when they are singing
The ‘Mid-Atlantic’ being a classic one, very popular in the eighties, but by far the worst offender for me is the ‘Mockney’. You can’t put on a stupid accent when you are playing an instrument. You have to wait for the gap between songs to parade your stupid voice, probably saying stupid things. This is why I should never be let near a microphone at a show. I need to drink to get enough courage to play. The drink makes me say stupid things, as anyone who has ever had a beer with me will know. Verbal silence is golden.

3. The Voice is the mainstream
Pop music is all about singing. I love some pop music, but us indie-folk are supposed to be the counter-culture. X-Factor is full of Mariah style vibrato and vocalists who REALLY MEAN IT!! These type of singers who clench their fist whilst doing a soulful version of a popular crossover indie hit are who we should be fighting against. I know every one of you is deeply unhappy that there will never be a prime time show where 4 judges sit on spinny chairs with their backs to a pale man trying not to fluff a guitar loop.

4. The words
For every amazing lyricist, there are thousands if not millions of pretty poor wordsmiths. The reasons the good ones stand out, is that the majority is nonsense. For every Captain Beefheart, there will be multiple Noel Gallaghers. It is true that there is a good Kasier Chiefs lyric, but you have to take words from lots of their different songs and put them in a different order. And make sure that cocky drummer has nothing to do with it.

5. Instrumentalists are deeper
Who knows what that enigmatic instrumentalist is thinking? (As long as you keep them away from the mic between songs). It’s a scientific fact that bands who don’t sing are far more interesting and clever than ones who do. There’s no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact.

Did I mention that the new Fighting Kites album is out soon? There’s no singing on it. Although if you want, you could sing your own words along with the tunes. 

Fighting Kites’ self-titled debut album will be released on 7th May via Variant Records.