If you like your rock 'n' roll tight and bright
and fast and loud, you're going to dig tribal-glam art-punks Fangs
On Fur- straight outta Los Angeles
on a mission to get the party started.
If you're a promoter, you might - no, you will - want to book the band on their European tour. What are Fangs On Fur like, live? They're like this, and this, and it all looks like this.
And the two principal members of the band, F-Boy and F-Girl, say stuff like this...
Let's take it from the top - some introductions, history and geography. When and where - and how - did the band start?
F-Girl: My name is Francis, Francis Barbi.
F-Boy: And I'm Francois Du Monde. We sulk near and around Los Angeles, California.
F-Girl: I won F-Boy in a knife fight and that was the beginning!
F-Boy: It was a typically sunny, bright and all together cheery day in dreary old Los Angeles. The year was 2006 somewhere around the knee of June, I think.
F-Girl and I were in a band called Chinatown and the XXX, with two other drips. After our third show, they kicked us out for being too weird. We immediately started FOF later that afternoon, and again later that same night.
Who's who, and what do they bring to the party?
F-Girl: There's you, and then theres me , Chema, Red Horse and everybody else is just kind of hanging out.
F-Boy: I'd like to bring a six pack of cheap beer, that is if no one else is bringing that.
F-Girl: Better bring two, Bub.
I found a handy Electronic Press Kit lurking on the web - fairly ancient stuff now, but there are various other bands mentioned there. It seems there's a bit of pre-history. Is Fangs On Fur the band you always wanted? In retrospect, does it seem like everything else was leading up to Fangs On Fur?
F-Girl: In the band before FOF, F-Boy played Guitar and I played drums.
During one of our first practices we were working on an Idea that eventually
became the song 'Fangs On Fur'. The other members in the band thought what
we were doing was too weird and crazy. F-Boy and I knew, I think, from
that moment on that we had to start our own thing, creating the kind of
music we wanted to make!
|Fangs On Fur play 'Fangs On Fur' by Fangs On Fur.|
F-Boy: Our first rhythm section, like every other rhythm section in LA, had other projects. They were on loan to us.
F-Girl: They're old friends of ours and when they found out we were starting FOF they wanted in! Later we had Sam Soto from Auntie-Christ with Exene Cervenka, and Stevyn Grey who was with everyone else.
F-Boy: He's been in more bands than any of us put together.
F-Girl: He's playing drums on our first CD and they sound bitchin'. But after our first European show we had to give him the boot.
F-Boy: He was too busy.
F-Girl: Miss Koko and Stevyn both left around the same time...Then came Wes Disaster and then Jay Smith and then Chema Zurita and Lenny Verralis...and Miguel Conflict...and Red Horse and Andy Anderson. Etc, etc....
F-Boy: Chema is from London and is part of the FOF family! He's the Bass player we wish we could have in LA but for the meantime we're using hired guns here until he moves to LA .
F-Girl: Or until we move to the UK!
But when did the idea of Fangs On Fur leap into your heads? Was it a fully formed concept to start with, or did it evolve over time? Did you think, "We want to look like THIS and sound like THIS" - or was it more of a random, organic thing?
F-Girl: I guess it was more of a random organic thing.... it was just
what we did.
F-Boy: In our other band, Chinatown and the XXX, F-Girl and I both showed up separately in war paint. We were like, whaaaat?!
F-Girl: That's just what we did, without talking about it. We looked like a band that didn't fit with the other half. It was AWESOME!
Did it take time for the definitive Fangs On Fur line-up to arrive? Do you think you've got that definitive line-up now?
F-Boy: No, we haven't.
F-Girl: We're getting closer!
What happened to those ex-Fangs On Fur members I see in the EPK? Was it musical differences, or did you have some bizarre gardening accidents?
F-Girl: Bizarre gardening accidents? Their thumbs weren’t the only things
on them that were green. Some members went off to do their own musical
adventures, and some just quit playing music altogether. I think we ruined
F-Boy: One was bitten by a tarantula...but not really, but yeah.
Fangs On Fur are almost always referred to as denizens of the Californian deathrock scene. In Germany 'Californian Deathrock' is practically a music industry brand, but to us in the UK, it sometimes seems as if the Californian deathrock scene is about 20 people who continually form and re-form bands with each other. Everybody has been in Christian Death at some point, and everybody takes it in turns to have Stevyn Grey on drums!
Surely, it's not really like that - is it? Is there a viable scene, that provides bands with all the essential infrastructure - and an audience? Do you feel part of that scene, or apart from it?
F-Boy: No, it's not like that at all. It's at least 30 people strong!
F-Girl: Stevyn Grey is a drum whore, but he did an amazing job playing drums for us. There's no shame in hiring the right man for the job. We got killer recordings from him.
The Deathrock scene isn't any more incestuous
than any other scene. As for it being viable - it got us to Europe, twice!
F-Boy: Yeah, it's a viable scene. We get huge support from the Deathrock scene worldwide, not just LA. It's small but loyal to the last drop of blood.
F-Girl: He's making this up. Just kidding, we have the coolest fans ever! And they do some pretty amazing things for us.
F-Boy: As far as getting in the way, it all depends on what your long term goals are for your band. If your ultimate goal is to open for Lady Gaga, maybe Deathrock isn't such a good choice for you, or you might just see it as a challenge.
I guess that being part of the Californian
deathrock scene is a helpful thing at times. It means European festivals
such as the WGT are more likely to book you, because they're not just
booking the band - they're booking the brand. But do you ever want
to cut all connections and just go your own way?
F-Boy: Balls! And then what?
F-Girl: It doesn’t matter where we'd go, we'd still be pigeonholed into some other scene. It wouldn't matter, It's all been by chance up until now anyway. We're just stoked to have an audience. The scene is they're in is secondary to that.
|Fangs On Fur having a fag in Whitby. Mondo editing!|
And now we're talking of Europe... how was your European tour? Did it seem like you were a long way from familiar territory, or did you find yourselves among kindred spirits? Were there moments when you found yourself exchanging dubious glances and remarking, "Well, we're certainly not in Kansas any more" ?
F-Girl: It was Aaaaaamaazze! We both totally felt at home in Europe and
we definitely found ourselves with kindred spirits we will never forget
and hopefully never lose connections to.
F-Boy: Actually we felt more at home in Europe than LA, although at times it was a little difficult to find the train stations, but not by much. We had a great time played at some really fun shows and met so many rad people from all over Europe.
F-Girl: I really feel it's the people, in these cities you meet, that make the place a magical one or a fucked up balls one, luckily we met some awesome bubs, who we totally love and miss.
Was it an easy jaunt, or were there any
fuck-ups, disasters or rock 'n' roll moments along the way? Any TV-out-of-the-hotel-window
incidents? And would you come back?
F-Boy: The tour almost never happened. We were supposed to play twice
as many shows all over Europe, but due to some last minute shenanigans
by some dubious characters we were left alone to salvage what we could.
The tour was almost cancelled.
F-Girl: It was explained to us that we would never be able to tour Europe. We said, fuck that, and made a lot of midnight emails to points unknown. Thankfully we heard back from enough promoters to salvage booking our tour.
F-Boy: We had to do some back flips through burning spiky hoops to pull it off. A lot of people we hardly knew came to the rescue and we are forever grateful to them.
F-Girl: To many of whom we still owe beer. Without their help the tour would have been canned.
F-Boy: And the T.V. was out the window
the second we landed. Hahahhaha!
F-Girl: Chema and Lenny are a recipe for disaster!
F-Boy: One story is at the WGW festival in Whitby. Chema and I got back from a party at like four in the morning, opened the door to our cottage and there's Lenny is dressed in F-Girl's lingerie. We were like, WTF is going on here? The two of them and a guest of undetermined sex were decked out in pasties, garters and everything..... apparently they had been running around the streets wasted, flashing the locals!
F-Girl: I caught a cold...
F-Boy: We almost never made it to Paris because of a rail strike in Italy.
F-Girl: That was the biggest nightmare of the whole trip! Never again will I fly out of any Italian airport. They are the WORST! We were 4 minutes late checking in but over an hour early for the flight. The attendant decided she didn't like us so we missed our flight had to pay over 300 Euros to book another.
F-Boy: F-Girl was screaming profanities at her after she gave us the boot.
F-Girl: I was so pissed and in that moment I thought, fuck it, if I go to jail I'm gonna go kicking and screaming, that CUNT!
The teller who was
trying to charge the card entered the wrong number too many times so my
credit card stopped working.
F-Boy: I thought, OK, if we get arrested at least we'll have food and a place to sleep.
F-Girl: 8 hours in fucking Milan with no money. No cell phone, no internet, no way at all to contact anyone...and no food.
F-Boy: Except for a bottle of Chianti the Moonlight festival gave us, a packet of bread sticks, one fine Italian chocolate bar, a packet of honey we stole from the hotel and an orange a Turkish businessman gave us the night before.
F-Girl: A feast fit for a king!
F-Boy: We were so drunk when we flew out of there, we forgot we had no money, and were flying into Gatwick, fucking Gatwick!
F-Girl: Gatwick may as well be in Scotland.
F-Boy: We were hungover, broke and stinking of Bolognese, and stranded in Gatwick for hours. Until somehow we were rescued by a British bus driver who took pity on us and drove us miles away from his regular route to safety.
F-Girl: National Express to the rescue!
|There's more to Fangs On Fur than punk rockin'. Here's 'En El Fuego De Tus Ojos' - soundtrack to a spooky spaghetti western.|
Do you think of Fangs On Fur as a political band? Are you anarchists or any other sort of -ists?
It's odd fact although we live in times of political turmoil and social upheaval, nobody much is writing songs about it, in the way that everyone from Crass to The Clash used to do. Can you envisage Fangs On Fur taking up the political songwriting cudgels - or have you already done so? Or is the whole concept of the political song played out these days?
F-Girl: I don't think we are a political band.
Although we do have songs that have political meaning, and I don't think
it could ever be played out for someone to speak their mind or writing
songs about how they feel.
I think what does matter is people actually doing something about it, taking action rather than being a spokesperson. We're not trying to be like Crass or the Clash but we are huge fans! Love you Joe! If we feel compelled to write something that's happening we will. We will not limit ourselves in what we want to write.
F-Boy: I feel that the listeners of today require
a bit of sugar with their spoonful of medicine. Although I wouldn't say
Fangs on Fur is a political band, some of our songs do have political messages.
I think that people are pretty sick of bands with a mission. We try to
bring attention to subjects we feel needto be addressed, in a more accessible
way, rather than smash the audience over the head with our political views.
But yeah, it's a little disturbing that bands these days don't have much to say about the state of the world. Maybe everything in the world is so sketch-balls right now, everyone just wants to hide in their happy place and pretend the worst of theirtroubles is a bad break-up.
F-Girl: There is so much happening in the world right now, the radioactive
suicidal North Koreans or the collapse of the Middle East and the nightmares
that will hatch from that egg, or the fall of the US and the world economy
and how banks are destroying everything.
F-Boy: Sounds like a summary of our second album.
F-Girl: If we ever finish it.
Is Fangs On Fur a completely DIY outfit, or do you have industry partners
and music biz movers 'n' shakers on your team?
F-Boy: Movers, Shakers? There's us, and Ralphie Nigma, that's it.
F-Girl: We do almost everything ourselves, but there are a few people we've shanghaied into the Fang Army. Usually it's F-Boy and I staying up all hours of the night printing t-shirts etc.
F-Boy: We have a friend who made some shirts for us just before we left for Mexico City and dropped them off at the airport minutes before we flew out.
F-Girl: That was sooooo bitchin' !
F-Boy: When we decided to press our Headhunter EP we recorded half of it with Gavin Ross at Steady Studio and the other half at Castle Fang (F-Girl's Cave) on our makeshift mobile studio we named Falcon's Lair Studio. The EP was mastered and pressed at Capsule Labs, cut on the same lathe as Sly and the Family Stone.
To make the deadline F-Girl and I had
to drive 70 miles to drop off the master discs to the engravers, at 3am,
so that they would be able to get the plates back to Gil at Capsule Labs
in time for him to press them before we left for the UK. The day before
we left we hand silkscreened the EP covers in F-girl's kitchen. Gil stayed
up all night, cracked out on home made cappuccinos, and finished pressing
the EP 4 hours before we left.
If a major label came along, waving a juicy contract, would you sign? Or is there nothing a label could do for you that you're not already doing yourselves?
F-Boy: It depends on the deal...I would love to do this with a bigger
budget and on a bigger scale. Unfortunately, I don't think a major label
is willing to sign the kind of contract we're interested in signing.
What does it take to keep your show on the road? How much behind-the-scenes work is involved in running a band?
F-Girl: I don't even know where to begin with that question, to be honest.
F-Boy: It takes up all of our time and at the end of the week there's still work left undone.
F-Girl: The administrative part of being in a band takes up a lot of our time.
We try to work on music and running the band equally but it's difficult to let them both exist in the same mind. The business part of it is poison to the artistic part. It kills any bit of creativity. I hate it.
F-Boy: If we're working on music we have to put everything else aside, and that can be problematic. We have to do things in spurts, like, now we're on tour, now we're recording, now we're playing around town, and all the while trying to find 30 minutes to run to the post office to ship orders. Which reminds me...I need to go to the post office on Monday.
F-Girl: Oh shit!
Does the band function as a profitable business? (That may be a silly
question, of course - I've never yet met a band who have answered it with
a 'yes'). Or do you have to fund the band from day jobs or other stuff?
What do you do when you're not in Fangs On Fur - or are you never not in
Fangs On Fur?
F-Boy: We do have to fund the band from our daily jobs, and that does limit our ability to tour and release albums, promote etc. It's expensive as hell, we spend every last extra penny on FOF and so far we're just about breaking even.
F-Girl: We're always in FOF. Even when it hurts.
|Fangs On Fur put on their 'New Coats'. Very sensible on a chilly evening.|
I was just listening to 'F Boy/F Girl' and it's got a very Clash-y guitar riff. Is that where you're ultimately coming from - old school punk? Specifically, British punk? On the face of it, that's an odd influence, given that you're based in the place that gave us X, The Germs, Dead Kennedys and umpteen more. Was there - and is there - something about British bands that makes a connection with you?
F-Girl: British music is a HUGE influence! Some of my all time favorite bands come from across the sea. We're not consciously thinking that's what we want to sound like though...it's just part of our musical vocabulary.
F-Boy: I like the mixture, LA+UK=...Fleetwood Mac? Hmmm...anyway, it's a classic mix, is what I'm getting at, I think.
F-Girl: F-Boy plays a Gretsch which has a very LA surf kind of vibe. Some of our other biggest influences come from our home town too, like the bands you've mentioned....X, The Germs, Gun Club, Dead Kennedys, the Adolescents etc.
F-Boy: Also some local bands that may only be an LA thing, like the Leaving Trains, the Humpers, the Weirdos, Pop-Defect, the Bags -
F-Girl: Even the Go-Gos, the Doors, and NYC punk Johnny Thunders, the Ramones. Iggy - he's American...
F-Girl: …the list goes on and on.
A lot of your reviews mention Siouxsie, and although that's a bit of a default comparison that every band with a female singer seems to get, are the Banshees an influence, too? If so, which of their 473 guitarists do you think was the best?
F-Boy: Siouxsie? Who's that?
F-Boy/F-Girl: JOHN McGEOCH!
other stuff goes into the Fangs On Fur brew? Can you envisage making
some music that's on a total tangent, or do you think you've got the
Fangs On Fur sound nailed now?
It's interesting that the new album (which I think of as 'The Yellow Album' because I can't find an actual title anywhere on it) has two distinct styles on it - a bit like Bowie's 'Low', which had the 'songs' side and the 'ambient' side. Which represents the future...?
F-Boy: We take our influences from all kinds of things, movies, music of all kinds. Musically I feel we've just begun to explore our sound. I'd like to work in more of the tribal aspects.
We've also been experimenting with synths. I'm sure some of that will work it's way onto the next album.
F-Girl: I don’t think we'll ever get anything “nailed down”, we are always gonna try to push ourselves to do better and to be as creative as we can be and try to push the boundaries. All I need is a drum machine and a Juno 6, quick!
F-Boy: I'm on it...
F-Girl: The Yellow Album...it's official title is the Yellow EP!
F-Boy: Actually it's the Headhunter EP. We were never really happy with the version on the FOF Album, so we decided to record some additional tracks, mostly vocals, remix it and release it along with some new material we had finished and some demos on the flipside.
The B side is pretty raw, a lot of it was single takes, we didn't clean them up too much. They're demos so we left them pretty much the way we threw them down. The vocals on 'Crooked Beak of Heaven' were from a phone call F-Girl and I recorded and then edited. We liked it so we put it on the EP. Our Second album I think will be released slowly as singles and B sides, we're skipping straight to our 3rd album.
F-Girl: Yeeeeeer Haaaaawr!
Or is this another area where it's better to keep it organic rather than making specific plans?
F-Girl: No plans, never any plans...
And finally....the traditional 'What next?' question. What are your future
plans for Fangs On Fur? Is there a master plan, or do you prefer to just
let stuff happen? Either way, what would you like to happen next...?
F-Boy: We're back in the studio working on new stuff. We'd like to release another album this year, hopefully, by this fall. We want to tour here in the States, and hopefully make it out to Europe again in 2014. I'd like to acquire a patron to bank roll this bitch.
F-Girl: Ooh, and music videos... Bury pirate treasure... Space Station Fang... exploring the sea floor and the deepest reaches of space, time and La-la-laaa...A submarine!
The 'Headhunter' EP was reviewed in issue 13 - archived here.