We caught up with Les Savy Fav before their appearance at new London venue 93 feet east, as part of Southern Records' showcase night, billed as the "Valentine's eve massacre". Formed in New York, Les Savy Fav are one of the more well known and quirky bands in the art-punk, post-hardcore scene, receiving increasing media attention in the UK. Their London appearance followed a successful European tour, their most extensive to date. We spoke to Tim (vocals), Seth (guitar) and Harrison (drums). Syd, the bassist was elsewhere.
So how's the tour going? What kind of reaction have you been getting from the European crowd?
Great tour. It definately surpassed our expectations. Better than our last tour... we were playing for the second time, we've had larger turnouts... seen some progress. It's been a little more streamlined.
So have you got any new material coming out soon? Will you be playing any new songs tonight?
Have you heard the Xmas 7inch with Reprobates Resume? Well there's two songs we'll do tonight that're brand spanking new, and then when we get back to the States we're going to work on finishing what we have right now, which is like five or six sketches. So tonight a few new songs and some free-form stuff at the end - a couple of songs perhaps. We're very into that right now. We got totally into 'jamming' in Europe.
We heard you have your own record label? Can you tell us anything about that? have you signed any good new bands?
In the US we release ourselves on Syd's label, and, the deal is basically that, we were picky about what label we wanted to be on - we spent a really long time, after our first record, and before our second record, being picky about who we were doing it with and talking to lots of different labels and people, and in the end what we really wanted was a label where we feel like we're part of a family, part of a whole with the other bands. So we couldn't find one for ourselves, and we were like, why don't we just start one? Syd is from Washington DC and he's really into that idea of starting your own label, y'know, DIY stuff. We did it and now we've got us, Lifter Puller, they're really awesome - they broke up but the record we put out is really good. Our first record came out on the Self Starter Foundation, but the second record they just did the vinyl, we did everything else. And then this Lifter Puller record came out, French Kiss [Syd's label] did the vinyl and they did everything else. There's a new record coming out in April, this band the Apes who're from Washington DC, they're really amazing, and it's another French Kiss/Self Starter combo. But Southern records do our stuff in the UK and Europe.
Over here you tend to get lumped in with this new wave of american rock bands, people like At the drive-in and the trail of dead. How do you feel about that? is that a scene?
I don't know... I mean we get that in the States too. I personally don't know much about them. I like At the drive-in, I think those guys are cool. Over here, it's more like, somebody's decided that was something, but in the US they still compare us but it's not like a 'thang' y'know? I mean I don't see the US as being so massive. I see it more as one microcosm, and within that there are hundreds of sounds and styles going on, it's like, these guys are really San Diego, they're really Chicago, Seattle, y'know what I mean...
We've got this craze with 'nu-metal' bands like Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, and the media claiming bands like yourselves and the Trail of Dead are going to bring them down. What do think about that?
Well, Tim actually took Fred Durst out, at a discoteque in New York! - well, something like that, y'know i don't quite know what you're talking about. Something went down, for sure [laughs]. But those bands suck, so, I hope someone takes them down. So long as we're on the other end of the spectrum, that's fine by me. I'd rather be in there with Trail of the Dead/At the drive-in kids than being, like, "you guys have a really big Korn thing going on". I mean like I'm gonna be wearing this really freaky skeleton zombie mask on stage, or being sponsored by Ibanez.
Maybe this is just something the media's latched onto, but we read that you formed partly as a reaction to the post-rock movement. Is that fair enough?
Well, we formed in spite of it, and then we toured our first two years and people were really like, "you guys suck". Because everyone in the US then... it was like, everyone hated rock. By '95 rock music had become really popular, but then everyone was really contrary, and like, we'll be jazz rock. We were just gonna rock it out. People didn't know what to make of it... they maybe thought we were too late for jumping on the bandwagon, but really we were unfazed by that - inspite of the fact rock had come and gone, and now we were in 'post'-rock. I don't even know what that means. It's just, something that's not rocking out. Basically it's hipsters that don't rock. More jazz than rock. Post-rock's any band that are just like, rock isn't good enough. But we rock so hard we're kinda going in the opposite direction.
Do you think your sound has changed much as a band? what kind of direction is your new material going to be heading in?
I don't think as a band we analyse these kind of things like a listener would. Sometimes you can hear the changes after a record, but some bands would definately be, like, "this is our new fucking 'thing', let's rock it out!". Yeah we don't have a plan for making new sounds. We're a band that just follow our nose as things change. I think like with anybody, your tastes will eventually change over time, it's just a slow process, you know. I mean maybe I'm not listening to my Fugazi records so much any more. But I don't think we're knowing something, like, this is what I want.
What are you listening to at the moment? is there anything you really love in the music scene at the moment?
Well, on this tour there's 90 day men and the Oxes... we've got the Apes' record coming out which is probably my favourite band in a pretty long time. They have a 7inch out now, they're like, the line-up is an organ player, an old-time organ sounding thing, a singer, drummer, bass player. The drummer's kinda punk, the organ player is kinda goth, plays like [mimics horror-movie organ riff] - it's a hammond organ, like a spooky Doors organ. Their bass player is amazing, Eric, he just plays distorted trashy bass. Have you ever heard Old evil sound system, a band from Providence? But the Apes are a totally crazy live act. They wear entire camouflage suits, and playing with them in New York they kinda scared the audience away, then scared them back. It started out with people sittting along the walls, I think mildly entertained but not sure what to think of these guys, never heard of them. But by the end of the show I think people were hooked. The singer's so charismatic. He's like, super-stud, know what I mean? does a lot of push-ups, he's got long hair. But in the weirdest kind of way, y'know? We've played with the Oxes who're also an amazing live band. They're playing tommorow night aren't they? It's like, you've heard their records but this is something else. Enon - great band - they're playing new material.
Well, thanks very much. Good luck with the tour!
Tom Eyers and Matthew Willson