Creating a sonic stir with their firebrand blend of hardnosed electronica and amyl-fuelled, dirty rhythms, Fonetiks are pushing all our buttons at the moment, and making us forget what our doctors told us about dancing like that, at our age.
We caught up with them ahead of this Friday’s gig at Mello Mello to learn everything pyschokrautbox, polymeth and cameltronica. “We’re the sound of three men attempting to do something new in a world in which everything has already been done,” they tell us.
The electronic landscape is in good health at the moment, in Liverpool, yes?
Liam: Better than it’s been for a while, but then I guess that’s true of the music in Liverpool generally. It’s fairly broad to be fair; dance, experimental, synth-pop, trip-hop – there seems to be a couple of bands of each and every genre, although never enough for a full scene. But in a lot of ways, that’s better – variety being the spice of life and all that.
Wardy: Within the large umbrella of electronic I’d say yes, it is at a stage where new things are stirring around on the live circuit. The association with technology gives it a progressive and positive position. Now it’s interesting seeing what people are choosing
to do with what’s available to enhance the their music.
Jamie: It is, and it has been for ages. Nationally and internationally electronic music is bigger than ever – I don’t agree with the ‘rock is dead’ argument because it’s clearly not, but I do think that influences on musicians are moving out of genre and becoming much more wide-ranging – electronic music is everywhere, from the biggest venues and the top 40 to tiny art spaces and cassette tapes.
You’re not your typical laptop warriors – you’re a lot harder. If there was a big electropop fight, you’d win, yeah?
Liam: Thank you for noticing that. I guess because we’ve got a computer a lot of people group us in with the synth-electro bands, but that’s not what I’m aiming for. We’re a band that happens to have a computer as one of its instruments, but musically it’s much more influenced by The Pixies than by Kraftwerk. As for the fight, we’d maybe hold our own for a while, but then it would probably just become sexual. Especially if Sun Drums were involved.
Wardy: We are a band with different tools but we are a live band. We choose to use the technology this way. None of our tools were built as weapons as a primary use.
Jamie: Yes. Of course we would. First round knockout every time. We would use an SP-404 the same way Ric Flair would use a foldable chair.
Where is dance music at right now – and where do you plan on taking it?
Liam:The future of Dance music is even more tiny sub-genres with even more stupid names, Cameltronica, Batskwak, Lesobotic Caligraphy, Bavarian Bluegonk, Neil Kinnock’s Birthday Special, Even-hardercore, Psychokrautbox, Moomblegum, Polymeth, Sub-Polymeth-aton, Crabglitch, …..
Wardy: Are we taking dance music somewhere? We do have a lot of room in the new van – Das Bus! We are always developing our sound.
Who are you listening to (in town, and further afield)?
In Liverpool we all really like Wet Mouth, Vasco da Gama, Kusanagi, Muto Leo, The Left Hand, Alas, Minion TV. Outside of the city: We recently played with a band from Huddersfield called Bewarewolf, who were excellent.
Liam: I’m loving the new Animal Collective stuff, and I’m also listening to a lot of Conlon Nancarrow and Curtis Roads.
Jamie: It’s all about hip hop at the moment. El-P’s new record, the Killer Mike record, Danny Brown’s new mixtape.
What can we expect on Friday?
Liam: You’ll most likely see us flailing desperately around the stage incompetently trying to play our own songs, whilst futilely begging the sound man for something, anything, in the monitors.
Jamie: The sound of three men attempting to do something new in a world in which everything has already been done.
What’s your take on the shifting state of the city’s venues?
Wardy: Change is always a good thing in my eyes. It goes your way happy days, if not it makes you fight harder for what you want.
Jamie: It’s good. Obviously it’s awful when people lose their jobs, but attachment to one place in particular seems misguided to me – things must evolve to stay fresh, we must roll with the punches. What the closure of some big venues in Liverpool has done has encouraged the use of DIY spaces as well as less traditional gig spaces, which gives impetus and opportunities to the people who might find it harder to get on at a carefully regulated night.
Spontaneity is important. The only really worrying thing is how much the council seem to hate spontaneous, unregulated art – the lifeblood of any thriving city is its culture, and that is not something a council or public body can create from nothing.
Liam: I’m made up that the Lomax is up and running again, great venue and Frank and everyone there are all lovely people. As far as I can tell, new venues are best treated with caution. You keep seeing the same few places closing down and then re-opening every six months as a string of clueless ne’er do wells throw around some excess cash.
The good places are the ones that build up slowly, find their crowd, and do their best to run the place properly.
And what about audiences – how are Fonetiks finding their public? What have you got to do to get heard these days?
Liam: Oh Lord, we wish we knew. I guess just put it out there, and don’t expect to be loved by everyone. In fact I’d go so far as to say that if no one out there hates you, then you’re probably doing something wrong. Also, be nice to people that come to see you. With all the options there are in Liverpool for live music, you should be pretty fucking grateful that someone’s spent the time and money to come see you.
Wardy: Play loud and often. We get a lot of interest in our equipment when we play, hopefully the fans are listening as well as watching.
Jamie: People seem to like us. We are trying to do something different in a recognisable setting, hopefully that is working. Also, write good songs.
You’re curating a big night out in Liverpool – where would it be, and what would be on?
Liam: I’m not a huge fan of organising gigs. We’ve run a few nights before, but the whole thing is just too much like hard work. I’d rather just get pissed and watch the bands. So as long as someone else is running the actual night, I’d say in front of the big screen at the Camp and Furnace with all the local bands we mentioned before, plus Animal Collective, Holy Fuck, Underworld and Parliament-Funkadelic, plus DJ sets by the guys from Can’tMixWon’tMix…
Wardy: While we are in hypothetical land there are no limits… Free bar in a hired casino, have Fun Loving Criminals play Mimosa through as an album while we gamble. They would be supporting Animal Collective. 2many DJ’s to follow and a surprise 3am set from Holy Fuck. Then a bit more whiskey and betting.
Jamie: It would be at the Tate. There would be an exhibition of Goya’s black paintings, mid-period Francis Bacon and Jenny Saville. The music would veer between 80s hip hop like KRS-One and Public Enemy and things like Four Tet and Bibio. Salt Dog Slim’s would have a hot-dog stand. I would be the only person there.
What’s your old school mix tape favourites?
Jamie: I always, always used to start mixtapes with Midnight In A Perfect World off Endtroducing by DJ Shadow. Don’t know why. Also Kinky Afro by Happy Mondays and Blondie’s One Way Or Another, if only for the middle eight – the best middle eight in the history of music. And if you disagree, I refer you to question two.
Liam: If I had to make a mix tape right now it would probably go:
(start it off really up) Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots,
DJ Hype – Super Sharp Shooter,
Animal Collective – Brother Sport,
Pixies – I’ve Been Tired,
(then ease it of a bit) Black Dice – Night Creme,
Modeselektor – Edgar,
Tricky – Tricky Kid,
Nirvana – Dive,
(then bring it up again) Underworld – Rez,
Aphex Twin – Cock/Ver10,
Lightning Bolt – Sound Guardians
(then something different) Conlon Nancarrow – Study No.37,
Curtis Roads – Half Life,
Krzysztof Penderecki – Flourescences
(then bring it up again) Congopunq – Red Car Go,
Prince – You Got The Look,
Deize Tigrona – Injecao,
Koppen – Ethiopian Juice,
Holy Fuck – Lovely Allen,
and then to round it off - the finale of Mahler’s Second Symphony. Fuck yeah!
Liam: We just bought a band van, so we want to get out and play everywhere we can. Plymouth on a Wednesday night in front of three people here we come!
Jamie: Touring. Better records, by us and by other people sitting in bedrooms mucking about with computers and samplers. An El-P remix of a Fonetiks track. But only if he will accept payment in empty beer cans.
Seven words to describe yourselves please….
Try and break as many rules as possible.
Nice. We’ll recommend them to our sister site, eight avenues.
ManGone Presents: Jazzhands, So Sexual, Fonetiks, Threshold DJs
Mello Mello, Slater Street
Fonetiks, Terrornation, Detuned Radio, Organ Freeman,
Lomax, Cumberland Street
Main Pic: Iwona Siestrzewitowska.
Pic 2: Ark Images