Saturday, 18 April 2009

Exclusive: Fashion Launches Rocket Launches

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Fashion Launches Rocket Launches is more an artistic statement than a band. It combines theatre, tribal riddims and improvisation in one of the most exciting musical projects to crop up in Sydney for some time.

Originally a side project between the Midnight Juggernauts, Lost Valentinos and Mercy Arms, over two years it has developed into an indie establishment away from the glamour of commercial acceptance.

But with these trend-setting bands already drenched by heavy radio play, international followings and multi-continent tours FLRL have opted out of traditional song structures and the artistic trappings of poppy riffs and catchy hooks. They've even canned a singular band lineup. Like the great Animal Collective, FLRL has no set members and those that do perform together at any given moment will often swap instruments. Don't quote me on this, but they probably share underwear too.

Steve and I saw FLRL at Siberian Nights the other week. During that dark, musty set it quickly dawned on us we weren't watching a run-of-the-mill hipster band - but a group of mystic mammals creating something organic. Seeing them play in-the-round, in a circle pit, made it a communal experience for not only the band (bouncing glances off one another) but also for the crowd that encircled them.

Performing in-the-round isn't anything new, it's fucking primal. From indigenous tribes belly-dancing around the rotisserie, to the Ensemble Theatre Company staging plays in a thespian pit, this method has given the advantage of increasing performer-audience intimacy. Huddling rhymes with cuddling, feel me?

It's not often this much talent finds itself in such a raw state, so i caught up with FLRL guitarist and Lost Valentinos hero Jono Ma. He took time out of the madness of releasing the highly anticipated album Cities of Gold to talk about what it feels like launching into orbit.

So Fashion Launches Rocket Launches is a Juggers/Mercy Arms/Lost Valentinos side project?
"It's not really a side project. It's a separate thing in its own right. There are lots of members. Infinite. FLRL involves people from all those bands you talk about and more..."

Who are the band members?
"There are no set members, and no conventionally set songs. Coming to a show is the best way to work out who does what... keeping in mind it can change at anytime."

Like, we get the gang of gypsies thing, but how did FLRL start?

"A friend of ours was launching a fashion label in a church - about 2 years ago - so we played, I think together for the first time on stage - and the band name chose itself after that..."

Does the band name mean anything?
"Originally it meant that we'd only ever play at fashion launches and/or rocket launches. But, as we eagerly waited by the telephone, it quietly dawned on us that that phone call from NASA, asking us to play at the launch of their next space mission, wasn't coming anytime soon. So we started launching our own rockets."

What’s with the circle pit performance?
"It's a way of communicating, seeing as the show is spontaneous. We need to be able to exchange ideas with one another live."

Would you agree your live set is a little shamanistic?
"No. Actually, Yes. Well, spirituality is one of the four pillars of inspiration…"

Why do you guys love drums so much?
"Probably 'cause of the way they make us move! Aside from voice, drums are the most primal instrument. But unlike the voice it's not complicated when trying to fully express a feeling with drums. And we are all animals after all..."

Why the Animal Collective-like band structure, or are you just hobos?
"'Cause we're animals."

Nice. You guys are busy with your own bands – is FLRL a creative outlet?

"FLRL is certainly a creative outlet, yes, but it’s just another thing we do. It’s natural. Though it probably could never have been conceived had we not experienced being in “bands” previously."

Will we see an EP at some point?

"There will be releases, in one way or another. Who knows, probably under a totally different name…"

Ok Jono, stop teasing. What do you want to tell people thinking of seeing you live?
"Would it be too cliché to say “expect the unexpected”?"

Um, yes.
"Yes, it is."

Fashion Launches Rocket Launches - Drums of Death

Fashion Launches Rocket Launches - I Am @

No comments: