Grande orgulho aqui no TBTCI de poder apresentar em Premiere o vídeo "Oh Baby"" do espetacular Fir Cone Children, noise pop, fuzz, tudo em alta velocidade.
O debute Everything is Easy é um petardo alucinado onde cada uma das onze músicas não ultrapassam 2 minutos, um verdadeiro tiroteio de wall of sound lo fi que obrigatoriamente deve ser escutado em alto e bom som.
Desde de já um dos grandes álbuns de 2015 e digo mais, ouvir Everything is Easy é para ser escutado no repeat no mínimo umas vinte vezes só por diversão.
Grande lançamento da espetacular Blackjack Illuminist Records,
Resumindo tudo, o Fir Cone Children é dream punk, genial genial
Resumindo tudo, o Fir Cone Children é dream punk, genial genial
Q. When did Fir Cone Children start, tell us about the history...
With the birth of a child, your own child, life changes immediately. You have to face new challenges and you have to re-structure everything. Especially when you’re busy on so many levels: your job, your now grown family, and, of course, your life as a music-making individual. Quickly realizing that especially during the first months of a newborn you do get time for music, but in smaller doses, you need to adapt to the situation. The window to be productive often closes after some minutes, if you’re very lucky you get two full hours. I am busy with a couple of music projects, but now the time seemed ripe for an idea which I had carried with me for quite some years and which would fit to my timely needs: making songs with a maximum length of 2 minutes. Now, what other genre would that be than punk? In Autumn 2013, about five month after the birth of my first daughter, I grabbed my guitar and instantly wrote “Oh Baby” which is also the opener of the album “Everything Is Easy”. A song with not even a handful of lyrics. I just sang the name of my daughter, added some “aaaah”, improvised on the lyrics: I sang what I observed: she couldn’t walk nor talk yet, that’s what crossed my mind first, so I sang “No walk, no talk, but you got time”, in the end I added a little melancholic note, something which has to be in every song I write, mentioning that her first Summer was gone now. Well, this always sounds pretty sad, huh? Cold, wet days approaching and stuff … Though the feel of the song was all very summer-like. And that’s what I wanted the whole album to sound like. Summer holidays for punk kids, roaming through the woods, rolling down hills and playing in the sand. If you only have two minutes for a song you usually have time to sing the chorus two times, three times maximum, you cannot include more than two verses plus maybe a bridge and an ending. So basically you cannot put more than three parts into every song, which makes it easy and challenging at the same time. After “Oh Baby” the songs kept coming. I recorded them all in my study room. As it was right next to the baby’s room I couldn’t record anything when she was sleeping. And, well, babies sleep a lot. Usually I make music when it’s dark, now I had to do it at daytime. So, I had my wife taking care of our sweet beloved something, which allowed me to make music. As she’s always supported my music I got the chance to record 10 more songs during Autumn 2013 and Winter, and I finished in Spring 2014 when my guts told me: ‘Man, this is it. I got 11 songs in 22 minutes, and when I put the tracks in order and listen to the thing it felt whole.” The albums starts with a garage rocker, moves on to punk, switches to electronic beats and subbass for one song and, after that, delivers more fuzz, garage and punk, has my daughter sing the chorus of the song “To Write A Pop Song” – which she ‘wrote’ when she was 7-months old! - and ends with a lullaby and the soothing sound of distant crickets. Always included, no matter how power chord-driven it all came out: a Dreampop/Shoegaze guitar. Hence the term I’d like to coin: Dream Punk. Finally, the most difficult part was finding the band’s name. I had several names on my mind over the months, including Liizu (which is an alteration of my daughter’s second name), The Firconers, Fir Cone Kids and some more which I cannot remember. As I found my child chewing on a fir cone one day on a playground I chose it as a part of the band’s name. For me it expresses nature, something naïve and infantile, something romantic.
Q: Who are your influences?
In the last years I more and more learned to love short albums with a length of 20 or 30 minutes tops. Touché Amoré’s “I’m Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me” proved that music is not necessarily about long songs – except from ambient and drone recordings which should definitely be much longer than two minutes – it’s about timing, finding the right melodies and a sound that kicks your ass. And if it’s only 2 minutes long that’s even better. The cool moments are over so fast that you want to hear it all over. Well, of course, in terms of sound and style Touché Amoré have nothing in common with Fir Cone Children, just as Danish punks Iceage whose gorgeous first two albums clock in at 20 minutes, too. I’d also have to name one of my favourite bands of all time here: No Age. They are a duo comprising of a singing drummer and a guitarist who likes punk as much as ambient. No bass. In my mind Fir Cone Children are a two-piece too, so yeah, no bass it was for me as well. Voice-wise I found myself singing most stuff with my head voice so that it wouldn’t drown too much in the full sound of the guitar. I got reminded of a band called Wavves in that respect, but I never intended to sound like this band or like that band. Honestly, I don’t even believe listeners think of either Wavves, No Age, Iceage or whatever age while listening. Maybe, just maybe you can see a connection to the positivity and love-life-attitude of Japandroids’s “Celebration Rock”.
Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
My punk “me” will answer this question:
No Age – Nouns
Hood – Silent ‘88
Wavves – King Of The Beach
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Q. How do you feel playing live?
I haven’t so far with this band. Honestly, I don’t even know if Fir Cone Children will ever play live. It is just me, a one-man band so I’d need some more people around me. I know, I said for me, in my head, it’s a two-piece, but to be honest, I would need someone on the powerchord guitar because my arm would fall off after 3 or 4 songs, which would be quite a short concert comprising of 6 to 8 minutes. I could play the dreamy guitar while the drummer and guitarist just need to be in shape to rock without a break. Generally, I would love to focus on singing and acting out some weird stage performance. If you live in or around Berlin and want to be part of Fir Cone Children hit me up on Facebook or something. It’s quite easy to play these songs, we wouldn’t even need to rehearse that much, ha ha!
Q. How do you describe Fir Cone Children’s sounds?
Dream Punk! The power and everlasting force of the powerchord in combination with a heavy fuzz pedal is the base for almost every song, yet, it alone it is not what characterizes Fir Cone Children, it only serves to thicken the sound. What’s most important is the melody. It’s created by the head voice and a shoegazey, dreamy guitar which floats over the power chords. Actually, the band’s songs sound like they were made for children, played with the equipment and instruments of a loud and noisy indie band. My now two year old daughter can sing the choruses of two third of the songs and bangs her head to the distortion and lo-fi drumming. Yeah, maybe the songs are even a loud and heavy version of lullabies. From time to time I sing them in a quieter and slower version to calm down my daughter. Works. In 40% of the cases. I’m aiming for improvement. – As for the part my then 7-months-old daughter sang in “To Write A Pop Song”. My wife recorded that part by accident when she was sitting by our daughter’s bed at the end of the day. It wasn’t until the third time that we actually recodgnized she sang an actual melody, a pop melody. We were absolutely baffled. For the recording I did NOT transpose her voice or tuned it in any ways. I only slightly, very slightly, moved some syllables to keep the rhythm. Have you encountered a younger girl singing on a rock record? Me, neither.
Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
As mentioned above, I have a two-minute time frame for every Fir Cone Children song. This is to be filled with real structured songs, not some kind of weird improvisation with no hooks. I love hooks and I’ve always been interested in writing a good pop song. From the beginning it was pretty easy to play rhythm guitar because mostly I played power chords, which meant no hassling with my fingers. I could focus on the melody and just sang stuff which I would have usually said to my baby anyways or which just crossed my mind. The lyrics of the whole album fit into the inlay of the cassette, they’re not complicated nor too complex, sometimes both verses have the exact same words, but who cares if the verse already ends after 10 seconds when you’re waiting for the sing-along chorus anyways?
I recorded every song on an 8-track Tascam. One track, sometimes two, for snare and bass drum – depending how fast I had to drum. If it was too fast I recorded them separately. It may be interesting to some of the gear geeks that I played a huge 16” tom which sounds like a punchy bass drum. So it’s easy to play it with your hand, when your feet are just not capable doing the job. The other hand can now play the snare. Tip: Don’t forget to put towels on either drumhead! Sounds tighter! As for the rest of the 8-track: One track was usually reserved for cymbals and hi-hat, one for tambourine, except when I needed more than three tracks for guitars, then there was no tambourine. What about the effect pedals I used? Usually one guitar was played clean, the others were distorted to the max, one played through the Fuzz Factory of Z-Vex, the other through Z-Vex’s Box of Rock. Distortion is important! Man, I love the fuzzy sound of Flying Saucer Attack to give you an example! Usually there’s a second guitar with delay and reverb which puts the song out of its punkness a bit. I played two Electro Harmonix pedals: the Memory Man, which is a delay pedal, and the Cathedral, a reverb thingy. As a second delay I used the El Capistan which can be used to freeze tones and build incredible clouds of drone walls if you keep the pedal pressed. Finally, I used two tracks for the voice, in one or two cases three. Mostly the voice was sung through a distortion pedal, if I remember correctly it was the Fuzz Factory – but this time not turned to maximum level. Equalizer was added after the export to my computer. Sometimes I had to add another clean voice to not lose everything in fuzz. All in all, pretty easy, I’m telling you!
Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
Then, listen to Miumi. A German band from Wiesbaden. They make electro-ridden powerful and layered gazey Ambient songs which I cannot describe very well – maybe a bit like a mix of Fuck Buttons and Animal Collective. They released their new album on double vinyl last month.
Q: Which bands would you love to make a cover version of?
That would be something which is not punk in its original. Maybe something of the early Flying Saucer Attack stuff. I would have to invent lyrics, though, as you are mostly not capable to understand the words Dave Pearce is singing, ha ha.
Q: What´s the plan for the future....
As the first album was about my life of my first daughter my second daughter who is now three months old will get a Fir Cone Children album, too. After all, it’s them who the Fir Cone Children are! My second daughter has a completely different character compared to my first which is helpful when writing lyrics which are not a copy of the first album. I already demoed three song ideas. But now, I’m looking forward to the release of “Everything Is Easy” on the 26th of June. It will be available as cassette tape, CD and download via my own label Blackjack Illuminist Records.
Q: Any parting words?
Dream Punks of planet Earth – unite! And thanks Renato. You’re a godfather of shoegaze blogs.