Ahead of their appearance at the Return of the Cool Cat Club on Saturday 30th June (Beat Generator Live! in Dundee), two Fnords meet Andy Wood to talk garage rock, subterranean decomissioned nuclear bunkers and copulation.
So where to start? Some basic facts then for your delectation:
1. The Fnords are a three piece from Edinburgh. That’s a group not a suit. Two gals and one guy.
2. They released their debut album, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Fnords, late last year on Kovorox Sound. It’s sensible advice and a great album.
3. The Fnords rock. No, I take that back. The Fnords really rock.
There you go, that’s the basic stuff out of the way. The bare facts laid out for you all. What do you mean the third ‘fact’ is in fact just opinion? Hey, don’t go confusing the issue.
Since I first heard The Fnords last year I’ve been gagging to see them live. I picked up their debut album in Monorail late last year (on vinyl, natch) and have since played it dozens of times. In fact, I’m playing it now as I write this piece and probably playing it again as you read it. It’s a fine, fun record with an abundance of ace tunes and witty, dark words played with va-va voom as Thierry Henry would no doubt tell you. I’ve heard he’s a fan of The Fnords as well and why wouldn’t he be? The songs have titles such as ‘Zombie Go-Go Girl’, ‘Cauterise My Love’ and ‘He’s The Devil (But I Love Him So)’; they mix up a swirl of garage punk, surf twang and a great ear for an addictive hook, chuck it in The Fnords blender and end up sounding so much more than the sum of those parts would perhaps suggest.
The facts? The facts are that I know less than zilch about The Fnords.
This much I have learned. They are Caz, Derek and Sarah. You want surnames? Damn, I’m not that close. We don’t swap Christmas cards or anything like that.
They are the best fun you can have with your clothes on. If you’re gonna cut a rug to their fine, fine music naked with all your inhibitions shed please do so in the comfort of your own home. With the blinds firmly closed. We’re not prudes round here but hey, I wouldn’t put you through that so… well, just keep that in mind.
The album is short, snappy and almost perfect. It would be perfect if it had seven songs on each side. Y’know, like The Ramones debut platter. I dunno why, but I like symmetry.
Did I tell you I also like The Fnords? Scratch that, I adore The Fnords.
Like da bruddas Ramone, on the surface The Fnords may come across dumb but scratch a little and they are whipsmart clever. It’s just that they don’t like to rub your faces in their smartness. They have a song called ‘Non Verbal Adjective Agreement’. It sounds like it’s pretty angry, that it might want to smack you or someone in the face but it’s pretty smart. It’s also a cooler title than just calling the song ‘Go Fuck yourself’. They do swear from time to time as well.
They sing about consumerism, dystopian futures, conformity, love in the modern world and make it sound like the best fun in the world. They also sound like they hold grudges and don’t care who knows it. They are smarter than Microsoft who think dystopian futures should be replaced by dustpan futures. Then again, The Fnords may just be the flowers in histories dustpan. Or was that dustbin.
What you still want facts?
Uhm… they write all their own material on the album. Except the aforementioned ‘He’s The Devil (And I Love Him So)’ which is by a band called The Hells. Nope, I don’t know who The Hells are but if they sound half as good as they do covered by The Fnords then I should know them.
The Fnords make me happy. In fact they make me want to dance like a loon. Just fully clothed y’know.
I love The Fnords. They really rock.
Sermon over. I’m all outta facts folks so here are The Fnords to separate the facts from the friction.
Who are The Fnords? Please introduce yourselves and tell us a little about how you came together.
Derek – Brought into the original band as a stand-in to allow rehearsal; when that band folded, Sarah and I (along with Megan, the original bassist) formed The Fnords.
Sarah – It was the ashes of an all-girl rock band, but we struggled to find a reliable girl drummer, Derek very kindly stood in. When that band (the unfortunately named ‘Pussycat Scratch!’) ended, we regrouped, found that we all like trashy garage/swamp rock kind of stuff, and took it from there. Megan left the band about 4 years ago, we decided to carry on. Caz was the bassist in The Gussets, who split up about the same time we were looking for a female bassist. She fit in perfectly, and the rest is history!
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Derek – Many and varied! Music; big band jazz to thrash metal and all that’s inbetween. A wide range of films and books too.
Sarah – I’m obsessed with American trashy garage punk from the 1990s – the San Francisco budget rock scene particularly – I wanted to have a band that sounded like The Mummies, The Trashwomen and The Drags. I think that hopefully The Fnords have a bit of that kind of sound. I was heavily into conspiracy theory when we formed – the name of the band is a reference from Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘The Illuminatus Trilogy’. I’m also influenced by mythology, bizzare history stuff, and obscure horror and sci-fi films/tv shows.
Your debut album, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Fnords, came out last year. How has the response been to that?
Sarah – It’s been good, people have said plenty of nice things about it, and it’s selling, which is the important thing! It would have been nicer to receive more reviews, only a fraction of the publications we sent it to actually reviewed it, but hey ho…… Anyway, we’re working on the next one now, but our notorious slow workrate means that it may take some time.
How did the album come to be released on Kovorox Sound? As a label it seems to have a pretty diverse roster of bands that, on initial hearing, have no similarities to one another.
Derek – I’ll leave that one to Sarah….
Sarah – Thanks Derek. The answer is sheer nepotism… I go out with Lea, who runs the label. I’ve been involved with several other releases on Kovorox, recording solo as Grimalkin555; and with others as Okishima Island Tourist Association, Angel of Everyone Murder and Nosferatu Pharmaceuticals. Caz and myself also play in the current incarnation of the all-guitar band Opaque. Putting the record out on Kovorox allowed us distribution through Cargo, which means that the album is downloadable through Amazon and Itunes, and is stocked by HMV in Japan!
Several of the songs have a dystopian/apocalyptic theme to them. In particular ‘Alternative 3’ and ‘I Was A Teenage Fallout Queen’. When you were younger, what did you feel the future held for humanity?
Derek – When I was young? Mutually assured destruction, mostly.
Sarah – I’m in accord with Derek here. I used to daydream about what I would do in the event of nuclear war, or global tidal waves, still do actually… I enjoyed reading survivalist fiction as a child, and still have assorted plans about what I would do in various apocalyptic scenarios.
Why shouldn’t children play with dead Fnords?
Sarah – Probably for reasons of hygiene. Not to mention all the suppressed future traumatisation.
What has been the best response to The Fnords?
Derek – Sarah liked being cheered in London!
Sarah – I have to admit, I did like being cheered by strangers in a London garage club whilst playing guitar… We have been begged for a second encore on a few occasions. It’s also very pleasing when people dance. Being likened to the Medway bands in a review; and finding a South American website with our first demo reviewed in Spanish several years after the fact.
And the worst?
Sarah – The worst thing is that I still remember this… Our live review in The List a while back that mentioned that I looked out of place wearing an evening dress and playing garage.. Pah! Had they never seen the 5, 6,7, 8’s? Fortunately no-one has had the gall to say anything negative to our faces, which is no bad thing.
For someone who has yet to hear you play how would you describe yourselves?
Sarah – Garage surf trash. With added vitriol.
Describe your ideal gig?
Sarah– Fantasy moon base, trapped audience who know all the words. Or possibly in one of Scotland’s subterranean decomissioned nuclear bunkers. With aforementioned audience. We’re not headlining, so we can watch the other bands who I have materialised from some mystic golden age of music using a time machine. Or something.
What does the future hold for The Fnords?
Derek – Tinnitus, probably.
Sarah – True. Also new album, probably next year; involving references to: spin-off projects from MK-ULTRA; eastern european spooky funfairs, Nephililm giants, and copulation whilst staring at striped sticks.