Getting Grimy with La Faro
Francis Jones listens to the latest from the band
Listen to La Faro's Tupenny Nudger (2.1Mb)
LaFaro, purveyors of finest punk-rock discord, are an incontrovertibly in-your-face act. Whilst others are busy powdering their noses, puffing up their insubstantiality with artificial gloss and glister we can rely on LaFaro, a band who refuse to hide the bruises beneath make-up, to give it to us straight.
From the cosmic big bang of the band’s inception in 2004 to recent, official recording how the Belfast-based three-piece have cocked a snoop to blustering finesse, their grimy gutter-rock providing the sonic wrecking ball with which they demolish artificial constructs.
The past two years’ accumulated experience has been brought forcefully to bear on the LaFaro EP, a quartet of beautifully produced tracks that manage to retain that pleasingly rough-hewn feel. Bristling with a sense of righteous defiance these are songs guaranteed to claw their way into the listener’s affections.
Caffeine animated, Jonny Black (Vox/Guitar) and Alan Lynn (Drums) talk excitedly through the genesis of this long anticipated release.
Lynn: ‘We’ve had a couple of demos which we’d brought out ourselves, but this is different. This is what I’d describe as a proper record, the music presented as we wanted, with the artwork and everything.
'Most importantly we had the opportunity to spend some proper time in a studio, to get comfortable with the whole set-up. When we heard the playback we knew we had something impressive, something that we would be happy to release, we thought "right, let’s do something with this".
'Originally we’d recorded six tracks, and we used four of those for the EP. Anna (Fitzsimons, Bass) had even suggested doing a full album, but we just couldn’t afford it.’
The EP sees the LaFaro sound boosted with some studio oomph whilst managing to retain those salacious, rough-edges for which they’re renowned.
Lynn: ‘We recorded it down in Bangor tech. Marty (Stuart Martin) works down there, somehow or other we’d all got to know him and, in fact, every time we’ve recorded we’ve done it with him. This time, however, it was a different process, we didn’t just go in to capture that as ‘live’ feel, this is a more measured affair.’
The fact that they have taken time before committing to record has ensured that what we hear is more fully-formed, more assuredly LaFaro. This isn’t the work of a fledgling band rushing to seal their legend in plastic; this is an exciting snapshot of a band that stands self-aware, continuing to evolve, but with a definite identity.
Lynn: ‘We’ve written so many songs, some songs just come and go. Initially you’re fired up, totally enthused and think "yeah, that’s it", but after playing them a few times you’re not so sure and you drop them. But, the tracks on the EP are representative of where we’re at right now. These are the tracks we’re most comfortable with, the pick of the bunch.’
Black: ‘It’s taken a long time for us to get to know each other musically, simply to learn how to play together. What was hard about the EP was going through the process of what to keep, what to use, because basically we like them all.
'What it comes down to is how we want to be represented and, quite simply, which tracks came out the best, but it’s hard, choosing to favour some of your children over the others.’
Contained within these four tracks is all the charm and contrariness of LaFaro’s multi-faceted musical character, volatile, romantic, darkly humorous, altogether an alluring proposition.
‘When I talked about picking the tracks which 'represented’ us I didn’t mean that in a calculated way. Just that we wanted to pick tracks that showed what we’re capable of at this stage. There is some quite adventurous musicianship, moments of sheer fun and just dark, dark humour.
'You can’t just do four serious tracks, be all self important "this is serious man, this is my art", you gotta show different aspects of your personality.’
Descriptions of LaFaro’s musical personality recurrently revert to ill-considered concepts, genres such as ‘scuzz-rock’ or ‘sleaze-rock’ are often bandied about, Black is altogether more succinct in his analysis,
Lynn: ‘Yeah, it’s just dirty.’
Black: ‘We don’t really ascribe to those genre descriptions, how can you? All I know is what it sounds like to me, what it feels like when I’m playing it and that’s filthy.’
Lynn hastens to expound upon his bandmate’s pithy description,
‘So it’s got some sleaze, but it’s more than just that, it’s loud and it’s angry, but it’s not that we’re trying to be a particular way, I’m just naturally a hard hitter and he’s just...
Imbued with a strong sense of self, LaFaro seem unperturbed by criticism, determined to plough their own furrow,
Black: ‘I’m not too worried how people see us, just as long as they see us. I like people to tell us exactly what they think, I’ve had people come up to me after a gig and say "you guys were fucking awful, you can’t sing and your band are crap." Good, you’re getting a reaction. Of course I do quite prefer it when they say ‘you rock like fuck.’ But, ya know you’ve gotta take a chance.’
LaFaro EP Available Now at Field Records, or from BackBeat Records
Auntie Annies, December 20