Monday, 28 October 2013

DEVILANGEL: Our interview with the amazing DC Fontana!

1 - What was your earliest musical memory and what pushed you towards pursuing a career in the music industry?
"Earliest musical memory would be hearing my mum’s Everly Brothers and Jim Reeves records then getting into the Beatles aged ten and totally immersing myself in the outbreak of punk a year later! No one but myself pushed me towards the music industry - my parents had a typically old fashioned view and actively discouraged me from making a racket which of course only served to make me more determined to make a bigger, louder racket."
2 - Had you been involved in any other band prior to DC Fontana?
"Sure did - most of my earliest bands were just group names and make-believe...most were just band names and never even met but in the eighties I was in The Dream Factory who had a minor flirtations with the charts when we signed to northern soul label Inferno, run by Neil Rushton. I have never been outside of a music-making project in my adult years. Scott Riley, who is the DC organ player, was a member of Spectrum and E.A.R., the offshoot projects of Pete Kember’s Spacemen 3, whereas Donald Ross Skinner was Julian Cope’s long term right hand man, guitarist and producer."
3 - How did DC Fontana begin?
"The band evolved from a previous one called The Lovebirds in the nineties and was initially just an excuse to socialise, write songs and have some fun with my hometown mates. In fact our story doesn’t follow the norm and it took quite a while before it really became a serious band. We have continually evolved and enjoyed different line ups which have helped keep the project totally viable, fresh and ever moving forward. The blueprint remains constant but it is constantly and freely re-designed."
4- Where did the name DC Fontana come from?
"Our original guitarist Neil Jones came up with the idea to name ourselves after Dorothy Fontana, the “Star Trek” script writer from Hollywood and she recently contacted us to say she is honoured we did so - in fact she lectures at the American Film Institute these days and often wears her DC Fontana shirt which is great!"
5 - How would you describe the sound of DC Fontana?
"It’s turned-on music to shake your hips and pluck your heartstrings but I don’t see it as being any particular genre really or allied to any kind of movement. We filter the joy and pain of everyday life through a kaleidoscope of an ever-changing sonic arsenal and the music is as urban as Harry Palmer and as pagan and hallucinatory as Lord Summerisle."
6 - Your recent EP is called ‘Pentagram Man’. Where did this title come from and why did you choose it?
"The EP is named after its title track, a song I wrote about an imaginary character from Birmingham who fooled himself into thinking he’s a serious magus of consequence. He wrongly thinks he is related to the occultist Aleister Crowley, is convinced he fought in the Vietnam War and lives his life at a frenetic pace because he is terrified that if he slows down someone will be able to laugh right in his face but no one likes to be humiliated do they? So a speedy life keeps the chavvy haters at bay, at least so he thinks. This delusional and eccentric loner, whose interest in black magic stems more from reading Dennis Wheatley novels than any real esoteric knowledge, is ostracised from his neighbourhood because he doesn’t fit the bill, has no friends, no money, lives on the outer periphery of society and feels sad when people poke fun at him. He could be your uncle or your old school teacher or the sad, silent drunk who sits in the corner of your local boozer. He might even be you. The song was allegorical, lamenting humanity’s ability to fool ourselves about all manners of things while also celebrating eccentricity and sticking up for those who live and turn far from the mainstream of society’s usual orbit."
7 - ‘DevilAngel’ is an anthemic track from this EP. What influenced this song and what is it about?
"On one level it is a twisted love song a drawn from my own personal experience while on another it concerns itself with the paradoxes within us all: the good and bad, the dark and light, the yin and yang that affect the human experience. It’s about dealing with those contradictory forces and the interconnecting and interdependence of them with everything around us as well as plugging myself into the cosmos. I get wary of talking about this because I don’t want to come over like a pretentious tosser but there' an ancient heathen overtone to the lyrics underpinned by a chant in the middle of the song which name checks some of the old deities, namely Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali and Inanna. We used a really unusual collection of instruments on the track which makes it stand out a little so you get the usual guitars, drums, retro organ and horns plus a cimbalom which is a Hungarian hammered dulcimer famous for the theme tune of 'The Ipcress File', a Chinese yangqin, autoharp plus orchestral reeds like cor anglais, oboe and flute. We are always keen to use different sounds."
8 - You are currently working on a new album. What can fans expect from this?
"Well it’s right at the earliest stage so we’re still developing it but the record will sound radically different to the first album ‘Six Against Eight’ and we’re definitely pushing back the boundaries and striking out. Of course we have a different line up to that on the debut record and DC Fontana has always been about evolving, never standing still and staying fresh and viable so no two records of ours will sound the same. The first thing people will notice is it will be less brassy than previous records and it’s fair to say it will be a natural progression from the ‘Pentagram Man EP'. The songs are more organic and rooted in an earthier vibe, more guitar-orientated plus we are using quite a bit of mellotron and people will hear plenty more vocal harmonies. There’s more magic flowing and as with all DC records there will be many twists, turns, unexpected flavours and surprises as we have always enjoyed experimenting and refusing to stick to cosy little generic expectations. We are hopeful of having at least one major surprise on the album. I’m proud we’ve got this reputation of putting out really well recorded, well-written and produced material and I’m very excited with the new stuff - it’s a lysergic leap forward. Having our producer Donald now playing a heavily active role as our new guitarist will reap dividends & anyone who knows of his work with Julian Cope will clearly hear that across the new album. Songwriting wise the tunes are from me and Scott plus Donald and we have a very large pool of tunes being recorded right now."
9 - Do you have any 'rituals' before you go on stage?
"If you believe some of the hysterical press we’ve had you’d think we might sacrifice an animal or drink a chalice of blood or something equally satanic and deeply rock 'n' roll haha! But actually no, I can’t think of any regular rite we get hooked into. Personally I like to find a little space for a minute or two of peace to clear my head a bit before I go on. Tuning the guitar often helps too."
10 - Any live dates coming up?
"Because the band has been going through personnel changes in 2013 and because I’ve had a difficult time in my personal life we’ve had our quietest ever year yet but 2014 will be a much busier, happening time for us and we will be on our travels again. That said we have a handful of gigs between now and the end of the year so people should check out our website for more information. It will get much busier as we build to the next record plus we are going to be doing some more gigs with former Sorrows singer Don Fardon joining us on stage."
11 - Any new songs in the pipeline?
"Speaking personally I am writing more songs now than I have ever done. Most never see the light of the day as we do have a good sense of quality control but the creativity flowing among myself, Scott and Donald right now is electrifying. The songs for the next album are without question the best DC tunes yet."
12 - When can fans be expecting the next release?
"Difficult to put any approximate release date on the next album as we’ve only  just begun recording it and like most bands out there we’re struggling financially and fighting against an imploded music industry. But we are hopeful that it may be ready for public consumption next summer or autumn - watch this space!"
13 - Who would be your dream collaboration?
"Scott Walker."
14 - Who would be in your dream supergroup?
"On vocals Nico and Scott Walker on different tunes! On guitar and vocals Syd Barrett of The Pink Floyd, on guitar Will Sergeant of Echo & The Bunnymen, on bass Larry Graham Jnr. of Sly & The Family Stone, on drums Pete de Freitas of Echo & The Bunnymen and on keys Brian Auger. I'd also have backing vocals from The Dedrick family (The Free Design) with regular guest spots from Jason Pierce (Spiritualized), Tom Verlaine (Television) and Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab)."
1 - Favourite Beatle?
2 - Favourite band?
"Echo & The Bunnymen."
3 - Favourite new band?
"Plastic Palace People."
4 - Favourite song?
"Passionate Friend - Teardrop Explodes."
5 - Favourite album?
"Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (The Pink Floyd)."
6 - Vinyl, CD or download?
"Personally vinyl as I like the tangible piece of art aspect of it, the size of the sleeve etc. as much as the sound but DC release all our music on all three formats to keep all satisfied."
7 - Style icon?
"Norman Wisdom."
8 - Favourite clothing brand?
"I don't have one."
9 - Favourite film?
"Daisies (directed by Věra Chytilová)."
10 - Favourite TV show?
"The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan)."
11 - Who would play you in a film of your life?
"McGoohan if he was alive!"
12 - Favourite food?
"No number one fave-rave but I am a committed long-term vegetarian."
13 - Football team?
"Aston Villa."
Hope you enjoyed this feature on DC Fontana! Check out our previous feature on Groovy Uncle!
Check out DC Fontana here -
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