It can be tough being compared to one of the most popular indie acts in the world, but Simon Balthazar, Fanfarlo’s lead singer, doesn’t mind being mentioned in the same breath as Arcade Fire.
“They’re a great band,” he says. “But it’s the same old. We leave trying to compare ourselves to other people, we prefer to let the music speak for itself.”
It’s easy to see why this British five-piece get compared to Montreal’s favourite sons — they dabble in the same rich instrumentation, lush harmonies and pounding percussion as the Arcade Fire.
But the band have a number of other acts in them too — there’s some Coldplay on the thundering I’m A Pilot and Beirut-like orchestration makes it way onto a whole bunch of tunes.
Ultimately, Reservoir, the group’s debut, is a brooding listen with layers upon layers of sounds. On I’m a Pilot Fanfarlo recorded 100 guitars.
“We rounded up every guitar we could find and all of us, and people in the studio and our friends — we got everyone in the room and played the song over and over again,” says Balthazar. “We also spent hours doing layers of stomping and clapping.”
Not every song took hours to record, but on the band’s next disc — which they hope to start recording in a few weeks — it’s likely the group will spend much more time in the studio than they have in the past.
“That’s definitely the sort of thing we’re interested in doing,” he explains. “We just recoded a new song and again spent a lot of time playing around with percussion and layering. We’re not the kind of band to go into the studio and plug in a couple amps and bust it out.”
They’re also going to keep using weird instruments when they get the chance. On Reservoir the group used “boxes full of rubbish” to create a shaker-like device. On a recent song they recorded, Balthazar says, “I found myself playing coconuts.”
Whatever they play, it’s clear that fans are flocking to band. They received rave reviews for their recent SXSW gig and Balthazar admits that more often than not their shows are sold out. Still, he’s trying not to let the attention go to his head.
“We try not to analyze it too much,” he says. “To some extent we’ve been in a bubble being in a van all the time. But we notice things have been going well and people are paying attention.”