I’m always happy to invite The Fnords to play at The Cool Cat Club (writes Andy Wood). Not only is their debut album ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Fnords’ a big favourite of mine but they are such a great, fun band to catch live. Their sound is pretty fine, a catchy, fun mess of Garage and Post-Punk, twang and song titles that blur B-Movie aesthetics with serious lyrics on topics such as consumerism, relationships and gender roles in the modern world. They sound great as well, music for the head, heart and hips. If you don’t want to dance and jump around to The Fnords then you may have lost your soul. The three of them also look so cool and like they are having so much fun playing live that it becomes quite infectious and more than a few friends have fallen for The Fnords in a big way after catching them live.
2014 sees the release of the first new recording by the band in a while with them contributing a track to a 4 song tribute to The Cramps and plans are afoot to release a second album later this year. A bunch of new songs have been appearing in their live set and sound as good, if not, dare I say it, even better than those on the debut album. I for one, am incredibly excited to hear some new material, and also can’t wait to see them live again.
Ahead of the show The Fnords answered a few questions ranging from the expected to the downright bizarre. Which is as it should be for in the world of The Fnords nothing is ever as it initially appears. Caz’s answers were captured under duress late in the evening at work by Derek over the telephone.
Please introduce yourself briefly and tell us what your role is in The Fnords?
Sarah: Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter/Artwork stuff
Derek: Drummer and roadie…
What or who first got you into music?
Sarah: I’ve played music since I was a small child. Mostly woodwind, violin and classical guitar. When I was ten I wrote a musical on a Casio VLTone keyboard all about how much I hated hippies. Which was a bit harsh really… I got obsessed with Smash Hits, and later Melody Maker and the NME. Went to lots of gigs. Then I got competitive with my male guitar playing friends and started writing songs.
Derek: Piano lessons, perhaps? First record that stuck with me off the radio is Motorhead’s cover of ‘Leaving Here’.
What was the first record you ever bought for yourself?
Sarah: The first record I bought myself was ‘Buffalo Stance’ by Neneh Cherry. I stand by that. Although obviously I wish it was something cooler.
Derek: ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren (second-hand).
Caz: Can’t remember.
And the most recent?
Sarah: ‘Oregano Accumulator’ triple cassette/DVD box set by Stretchheads.
Derek: A recent pressing of ‘Mad Daddy’/’Rockin’ Bones by the Cramps.
Caz: Rasputina album.
Have you ever played in any other bands apart from The Fnords?
Derek: Yes, lots.
Sarah: I’ve been in a couple of ‘never left the practice room’ bands in the past. Currently I record/perform solo as Grimalkin555; and I’m also a member of Okishima Island Tourist Association, Opaque, Angel of Everyone Murder and Nosferatu Pharmaceuticals. And a couple more things in the pipeline also.
Caz: Gussets, Age of Windows (….and other, older things; ask her! D.)
What was the first gig you attended?
Sarah: Shoegaze-era Lush at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh.
Derek; A Canadian band called April Wine at the Odeon. Diamond Head were the support.
Caz: New Model Army, probably…
And the most recent?
Sarah: Wolf Eyes and Urine Gagarin at Sleazy’s.
Derek: Vladimir and Yoko Pwno!
Caz: Cramps night in Glasgow.
Do you have a favourite all-time gig you’ve been to?
Derek: Not necessarily favourite, but a stand-out for fun was Teenage Fanclub playing Bandwagonesque at the Barrowland a few years ago.
Sarah: I’ve racked my brain to search for an answer for this. I’ve thought of bands who became huge that I saw in tiny venues, bands that were simply jaw-droppingly good and gigs that have made me grin like an idiot throughout. And I cannot pick a single favourite.
Caz: New Model Army 30th anniversary at Nottingham Rock City.
Dingy basements or outdoor festivals? Which do you prefer?
Sarah: Basements. Easy. I hate festivals. And sunlight. Or rain. And happy people.
Derek: Depends on the band.
Favourite five records?
Sarah: I’m the sort of person who has old notebooks full of lists of favourite bands/records/fantasy compilations tapes. There are too many to pick a mere five. But, here, now – ‘Grotesque’ by The Fall, ‘Prayers on Fire’ by The Birthday Party, ‘Barbed Wire Kisses’ by JAMC, S’pend the Night With’ by The Trashwomen, and ‘Step On It’ by Bogshed. In a Desert Island Discs kind of way I could live with only those records if I had to.
Derek: Changes from day to day. The Velvelettes – ‘Needle In A Haystack’, The Undertones – ‘There Goes Norman’, Silversun – ‘I’ll See You Around’, The Eastern Dark – ‘Julie Is A Junkie’, Presidents Of The U.S.A. – ‘Kitty’ – 5 to be going on with.
Caz: Oh god, how do you answer that? NMA – ‘Vagabonds’, Stranglers – ‘Walk On By’, Magazine – The Light Pours Out Of Me… what else?
What are your feelings in general about music videos? Any particular favourites or hated examples?
Sarah: I like ’em. At their best they can add another dimension to a song that you hadn’t previously considered. Favourites I can think of just now – ‘Jocko Homo’ by Devo, ‘Death Valley ’69’ by Sonic Youth, ‘Wail’ by JSBX, ‘Pig’ by Sparklehorse. Hated? Anything with half nekkid women gyrating about to sell some lowest common denominator popular bullshit.
Derek: They can be a good accompaniment to the song. They can also be pish…
Caz: Don’t know; depends on the video and its content.
What are your favourite films/television programmes?
Derek: I haven’t had a telly since the late 90s. Ludwig and the Clangers!
Sarah: Wild Zero, The Magic Christian, and anything by Pete Walker, Shion Sono or Jean Rollin. TV wise – Hammer House of Horror, Nigel Kneale’s Beasts, weird 1970s kids stuff like The Owl Service or Children of the Stones. I don’t have a TV anymore either.
Caz: Don’t know; don’t have a telly.
If someone made a film about The Fnords who would you like to play you and why?
Sarah: I’m struggling with this… Can we make it kind of like 200 Motels, and can I be played by Oliver Reed? I know he became a hideous drunken oafish laughing stock, but still…
Derek: No idea!
What are your favourite books/authors?
Sarah: Alasdair Gray, Alan Moore, JG Ballard, Guido Crepax, George Orwell, Phillip K Dick.
Derek: Rudyard Kipling, Terry Pratchett, Bill Bryson, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Brookmyre, lots of 2000AD over the years.
Caz: Victorian Gothic fiction.
If your house caught fire what would be the first thing you tried to save once you knew your family were safe?
Sarah: The cat.
Derek: The cat.
What have The Fnords been up to in recent months?
Sarah: We’ve written a bunch of new songs. Some of which we can just about play. Others are ‘getting there’. We’re also featured on the Lux Lives 7” split single doing a version of “New Kind Of Kick”, alongside The Bucky Rage, Sterling Roswell and Mondo A-Go-Go. Which you can buy from us at gigs. If you are so inclined.
Derek: We’ve rehearsed twice recently!
When can we expect a new record?
Derek: Sometime this year, perhaps.
Sarah: Hopefully we should have something out in the Autumn. We’re about halfway there in terms of material, and we had such a laugh recording ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Fnords’, it’ll be great to go into the studio again. With gin. Lots of gin.
You’ve played Dundee a couple of times now already. How has the reception been and do you enjoy playing here?
Sarah: The first time was a bit strange – it seemed quite subdued in terms of ‘audience response’ (yuk! horrible phrase), but loads of people said really nice stuff to us afterwards. The second time was much livelier. Totally looking forward to coming back!
Derek: I think that the last time was busier than the first time; we enjoyed it. I didn’t batter my head off the lintel, either.
Caz: Yes, good.
Sarah, can you tell us a little about Grimalkin 555 please?
Sarah: I’ve been releasing albums as Grimalkin555 for the past 5 years or thereabouts. I’d describe it musically as an overload of distorted samples, beats, noise and screaming. Not all necessarily at the same time. I used to really love the Digital Hardcore label – Atari Teenage Riot, Cobra Killer, EC8OR, etc. and it partly came out of that, and partly out of my inability to use audio software in the ‘correct’ way. Grimalkin555 has a lot of the same themes that go into The Fnords’ songs (a warped feminism, obscure pop culture references, historical oddities), but manifested in a different way. Live, I usually use a sampler, a dictaphone and some effects pedals, destroy all the cassettes I use and usually can’t speak for a couple of days afterwards due to pushing my vocal chords too far. I always use a completely new set of samples each time, it’s never the same set twice. Both Grimalkin555 and The Fnords albums are available from http://www.kovoroxsound.com. A selection of tracks can also be found at https://soundcloud.com/grimalkin555
Anything else that you would like to add?
Sarah: Fun fact: Derek isn’t allowed to have a microphone on stage because he has an unending repertoire of awful puns.
Derek: This band is a lot of fun.
Caz: Don’t think so….
The Fnords play with the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Friday 11th April with The Edsel Furys, The Bucky Rage, STOOR and Bobby Stickah.
Here’s a video for the wonderfully titled Zombie Go-Go Girl