Fresh off US tours with Swervedriver and British Sea Power, FILM SCHOOL have been making waves around the country on the UK leg of the British Sea Power tour.
Their live shows been described by various music publications as “sonically epic”, potentially “severely detrimental to your health” and to be blunt ” fucking amazing” – and last month the band could roll into town and tell us what all the fuss is about.
With their second full length album ‘Hideout’ the five piece seem to have hit their stride with their updated 2006 lineup, and with a cameo from My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Coisoig the album is proving the perfect show case for their exciting soundscapes and thrilling waves of sound.
Midway through the Scottish leg of the October UK tour frontman Greg Bertens took some time out from the tour bus to sample the haute cuisine of Little Chef and answer some questions posed by Dee Massey.
Firstly thanks for taking the time to do this – whereabouts are you right now?
In a Little Chef in Dundee, or as one of the crew members call it, “Little Thief” because of the outrageous prices.
Get back to basics, can you tell us how Film School formed?
Our current lineup came together after Jason (keys) and I put together Hideout. We invited Dave, who used to do sound for us, to play guitar. He introduced us to James, a drummer who he used to play with in a couple bands in Seattle. And Lorelei our bassist we found via a Craigslist ad. The ad said we were “looking for a bassist into Peter Paul and Mary and Husker Du,” which was the same line Joey Santiago and Black Francis used when they found Kim Deal and formed the Pixies.
You’re currently on tour with British Sea Power – how did that come about?
We did 12 dates with them through the south in the US and had an outrageous time. They took a liking to our music and invited us to come play the UK with them. It wasn’t an easy journey to make considering the weak dollar and we weren’t given any tour support, but we were very determined to make the trip and broke open our collective piggy banks to find some funds.
Before that you were on tour with Swervedriver – who apparently were a big influence on you guys? Who else would you cite as your main influences?
Hmm… Sonic Youth, Swirlies, Jesus and Mary Chain, maybe a little Cure “Pornography” in there as well. I’m also a big fan of Seefeel, though most people don’t hear it in our music.
Spinner.com describes you as one of the ‘most successful band to translate ..shoegaze into the 21st century.’ Do you buy into that? How would you describe your sound to someone who’s new to Film School?
We want to be the most successful band to translate shoegaze into the 22nd century. But oh wait, haven’t you got the memo? We’re “No-gaze” — it’s wall of sound but with loads of energy (and no gazing at shoes).
Hah! Phil Ek produced ‘Hideout’ – we know him best for The Shins, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Fleet Foxes – what was behind your decision to go with him?
Well he mixed the record, but yeah, I’ve been a huge fan of his since he began work with Built to Spill, in particular “Perfect From Now On”. I wanted to work with someone who “got” reverbs and space, but also a sense for songs and melody. Some people we’ve worked with in the past have tried hard to define every instrument in our songs and try to separate all the tones. In the end the songs felt overworked. I wanted someone who understood how instruments could blend into each other and create new overtones, while still maintaining strong melodies and driving songs. I think Phil gets that. Though most likely he’d laugh at all this and say whatever man, let’s make some music jackass!
Are there any producers you’d like to work with? How much input did you have the production?
I’m not sure. We’ve never worked with a producer, but I’m open to it if the right person came around. I produced the last record so I guess you could say I had quite a bit of input into the production.
Colm O’Ciosoig guested on the album – how do you know him, and any chance you’ll work with My Bloody Valentine again in the future?
Colm is a friend of ours, we’ve known for years. He lived in the Bay Area (of San Francisco) when we were up there as well. He came to some of the early Film School shows when his sister Finnoula would play violin and sing — we sounded horrendous. I don’t know if we’ll work with him again, I hear going on a spiritual journey with Tibetan monks after the MBV tour.
What other bands would you like to work with?
I’d like to do some work with DJ Adam Freeland.
Are you egos still in check or are you asking for random things on your rider yet?
We’re still just trying to get a full case of cold beer (no Carling please) and some water! Apparently it’s a massive challenge!
What are you 3 essential items to take on tour?
Laptop, deodorant…a sense of self?
You’ve been a band now for a few years, what are some of the highlights and the lowlights in the bands history?
We had all our gear stolen in Philadelphia in 2006, that hurt pretty bad. One of the highlights is being here right now in the UK playing with British Sea Power. Awwww!
If you hadn’t been in Film School, what job would you be doing instead?
I don’t think about it that way. If I wanted to do something else I would be doing it.
What’s next for Film School?
Recording. We’ve done 3 North American tours and all these shows over here. It’s time for us to lock ourselves in our studio and write some new material.
And lastly – any words of wisdom for our Crossfire readers?
Beware the vegetarian English breakfast at Little Chef!