Gimme Your Answers 2: An Interview w/ Fear Of Men

Fear Of Men
Photo by Eleanor Hardwick

Back in June of last year, A Music Blog, Yea? spoke with “androphobia”. Well, maybe you’ll recognize the band if we put it this way: the very awesome Fear Of Men! The Brighton-based band are currently on the road with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and soon release their debut album Loom (available for pre-order now). We spoke with the band’s Daniel Falvey about Nelly Furtado, motorbikes, and making a pop album with depth before they hit the stage in Toronto on the 26th.

AMBY: Hello Fear of Men, welcome back to AMBY! What’s the band been up to lately?

Fear of Men: Thanks! After finishing recording the album we got right down to making the artwork for the front cover, which took three months, and then started filming videos for it. At the moment we’re preparing to go away to America for 6 weeks to tour, which we’re excited about but there is a lot to do ahead of it!

AMBY: How would you describe each member of the band in one word?

Fear of Men: Me: Sleepless, Jess: Sleepy, Mike: Sleeping

AMBY: You release your debut album Loom on April 22nd. What was the experience like recording the album?

Fear of Men: Looking back it was a good experience where we became very close and learnt a lot about each other, but at the time it was definitely quite an intense time. We’d work on the album whenever we weren’t at our jobs or on tour, and the process took the best part of the year. We ran out of money and the owner of the studio kindly let us record there at night unattended so we were learning how to record ourselves at night in an underground studio, getting out at about 5am to go home and get a couple of hours of sleep and then going to work! It was nice to be able to spend more time in the studio experimenting with effects and manipulation of sound. We played around with recording tracks hard back on to a tape machine and then feeding that back on to the track, and we’d do it multiple times until we got the distortion just right. Having time to experiment in the studio was definitely something we enjoyed and we picked up little techniques and sounds that we’re excited about expanding upon for the next album.

AMBY: What can fans expect to hear from the new record?

Fear of Men: We hoped to make a pop album with depth, and I hope it’s an album that people will keep going back to hear new things bedded in to the mix. On this album we’ve played more with dynamics and contrast than before. There are parts in songs that are very textured and dense sonically, often placed next to sections that are more sparse and cold. We’ve always been interested in exploring fidelity and manipulating sound by pushing analog equipment until the source sound warps and breaks up, and there is evidence of that on our early singles, but this time we were able to experiment and push that element more. It’s something that we are interested in, putting Jessica’s very pure voice next to dissonant sounds within the context of a pop song. It was an album that we put an awful lot of ourselves into and I think people will be able to hear that.

AMBY: When it comes to the title, what’s the significance behind Loom?

Fear of Men: It references quite a few things – mostly it ties in with a lot of Jessica’s lyrics on the album, but it also references the claustrophobia and the internal pressure we felt while recording the album. We also like the double meaning – there are a lot of textures that weave in and out of the album, so it also alludes to that.

AMBY: You recently dropped the official video for Luna. What’s the story behind the song?

Fear of Men: We worked a lot on the drums on this song. I wanted them to be both very choppy, but also crash like waves at various times. The reference point I gave Mike for how I wanted the drums was actually ‘Maneater’ by Nelly Furtado. In the end it proved hard to recreate that sound in the room we were recording in, and obviously the drums in ‘Maneater’ are really made using a drum machine, but it’s what we were aiming for within the limitations we had set ourselves and it’s a style of drumming I’m very interested in exploring, in it’s basic form it is quite punk, very stripped down – you only really need a bass drum, snare, and hi-hat and that appeals to us. I love the crisp sound of a hi-hat closing. You can hear a similar approach in ‘Green Sea’, those are quite hip hop/ R&B drum beats really. Then for guitar sound those swells are made using an echo chamber. For me the vocal melodies, especially in the chorus, are very liquid and I wanted to complement that with production that crests and falls, and really plays with the tension of the bridge where we stay on that note before breaking into the chorus.

Lyrically I think that song is quite personal to Jess and the ‘unbearable memories’ that she talks about destroying are something I can guess at but wouldn’t want to speculate on too much. She doesn’t like to go in to too much detail about what the songs mean.

AMBY: What do you do for fun when you aren’t making music?

Fear of Men: To be honest I can’t remember the last time we weren’t working on music or doing something to do with music – either artwork or videos so I’m not sure anymore! We really love music and playing music so we’re very happy for that to take all of our free time when we are not at work. However in terms of other things we do; Jessica dogsits and paints, I like football, and Mike likes motorbikes.

AMBY: If you could choose to have your music featured in any movie or show, which would you choose?

Fear of Men: Match of the Day, my Dad would be proud.

AMBY: Where would your dream concert take place and who would be in the line-up?

Fear of Men: These questions are always so difficult because it would probably have to end up being a weeklong festival to fit everyone we’d want to play on. In reality we felt very lucky to play FYF festival last Summer alongside artists such as Roky Erickson, The Breeders, My Bloody Valentine, and to get to watch the incredible Deerhunter set from the side of the stage. That was like a dream and was close to being a pretty perfect festival for us.

AMBY: And lastly, what’s the best part of being in Fear of Men?

Fear of Men: Just getting to hang out and make music together. We haven’t had a chance to do it recently but when we go to Mike’s farm for the weekend and hang out and make music it is always the most fun I’ve ever had. We’ve spent so much time together we’ve probably gone a bit weird, we have our own sense of humour that has developed over time, but also a way of working that is really productive. We each bring different things to the table and it’s all just about how we’re going to make the song the best that we can.

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Thank you Fear Of Men, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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