With the inaugural Fort Fest looming (September 2nd – 4th in Bedfordshire), we thought it would make sense to track down some of these up-and-coming superstars and let them tell you a little about themselves. Joe Danher of FOES was one of the nice people we managed to get hold of and fire some questions at.
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
The band are based in Liverpool, though one of us now lives in London and commutes for rehearsals, recording etc. Originally, Chris and Josh are from the south (Worthing and Banbury respectively) whilst James and I are from opposite ends of Merseyside.
How did you meet?
We were introduced not too long after Chris and Josh moved up north. The four of us were split across two different bands, which both broke up within the space of a year, and we entertained the idea of collaborating on something. It’s funny really, the first discussion we had wasn’t very positive at all! More of a “well, we’ve got nothing else going on” type of conversation. Our previous bands were very different, I don’t think any of us were sure it’d work! Thankfully, it took all of 30 minutes in the practice space before we were assured it was a good idea.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
Just over three years now. The majority of that first year was essentially spent in hiding whilst we wrote, recorded and figured out exactly what we wanted the band to be.
Where does the name of the band come from?
It’s undergone a few changes actually. FOES was originally an acronym for Fall Of Every Sparrow, which came from a Carl Sagan quote about the existence of God. Over time, the former was used more and more, and we eventually dropped the longer name in favour of the snappier version!
What are your influences – individually or as a band?
We share a lot of musical influences. All of us are pretty big on the likes of Karnivool, Oceansize, Deftness etc, and then there’s the personal touches we each bring to the band. Chris always invests a lot in his lyric writing…I don’t think there’s one song in our back catalogue that doesn’t carry a significance for him. For me, I’ve always been a big fan of film music, and try to factor that into the arrangements on record.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
A number of reviewers have referred to us as “cinematic” and I think that’s a perfect summary of what we’re trying to achieve. I feel we’re sat at some kind of mid-point between progressive rock and post-rock, and there’s definitely a shared element to both those genres. It’s not just guitar music. Listen closely enough and there’s always something conceptual beyond that. More evidently, we’ve tried to ensure there’s a theme running through all our releases. For example, the last EP played on the concept of royalty with tracks like “Crown Antler” and “Rival Thrones”.
Which is your best bit of merch?
I’m really fond of the F logo shirts we’ve recently had made up. A close friend, Scott Duffey, is one of the best graphic designers in Liverpool and he’s previously worked with us on a few tour posters and screen prints. He was kind enough to oversee this design for us before Josh mocked up the tee layout. It’s simple but really effective.
What’s your live show like – why should the baying hordes troop over to the stage you’re playing onto watch you? What can we expect?
We’ve always wanted the live show to be the most engaging aspect of what we’re doing and a more accurate representation of the band than what you’re hearing on record. We try and put a lot of energy into each show, whether it’s to 200 people or 2 people. In particular, James’ drumming is always a talking point. He’s a very charismatic drummer and we get a lot of good feedback on that after most shows.
When/how did you find out you’d been selected to play at Fort Fest and what have you heard about it so far?
You know, it was a pure shot in the dark. I spotted the first line-up announcement with the likes of Lonely The Brave and thought “we have to play this festival!” I fired Jon the organiser an email and luckily, someone had already mentioned us as a band to consider, and he very graciously invited us along. I wish everything was that easy!
Which band (other than you guys obviously) is going to kick up a storm this weekend? Who are your top picks of the weekend?
I actually work with The Hyena Kill, who are an astounding live band; likely the loudest two piece you’ll ever hear! They’re an absolute must for the festival. As always, I’m really looking forward to Arcane Roots also, and it’ll be a treat to catch Grumble Bee again.
What are you working on at the moment and when/where can we expect to hear from you?
Well, we’ve just come back from playing Arctangent and Throwfest. The former was a real milestone for us as a band. It was so humbling to play to several hundred people, most of which were likely unfamiliar with us, and receive such a positive response. That’s an incredible festival in general. Looking ahead we have a short co-headline UK tour with We Never Learned To Live, then Fort Fest of course, and we’ll be back on the road around the album release though we haven’t announced details of that just yet. Trust us when we say there’s a couple of really unique shows in the pipeline.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen fans do at a gig?
I’m going to be boring here and say that our fans are a well behaved bunch. We’re surprised enough when we tour in a city we’ve never been to before and there’s people singing along. That’s wild by our standards!
What advice would you give to a young band just starting out today?
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t always get the response you want, and put serious thought into every element of your music.
If you could be part of any 3-band line-up who else would you have on the bill? One band above you and one below – a chance to plug a smaller, unsigned act!
Karnivool would definitely be our headliner. I think that’d be something of a dream support slot for us. As for smaller bands, that’s a tougher one. One of the best musicians I know is starting up a new project called Death Blooms. I’d certainly be keen to share a stage with them once they’re up and running.
What stage / time are you playing at Fort Fest (if you have your slot yet!)?
14:15 on Saturday 3rd. Main stage!