The Fallout Trust is more than just your average band. The London based six piece not only live together, but also recorded, produced and mixed their own album, in their own studio and on top of that did their own art work and videos.
Signed in 2004 to At Large Recordings, they released limited edition EP in 2004, and “WashOut” and “Before The Light Goes” last year, and set the wheels in motion for their critically acclaimed debut ‘In Case of the Flood’. With influences across a broad spectrum, from The Beatles through to The Arcade Fire, the band have gained a reputation for atmospheric, breathtaking live performances.
Dee Massey caught up with frontman Joe Winter in an alleyway behind Metro, to talk about the next album, living with your bandmates and bands deserve to be banished from the world forever….
Photo’s by Niki Kova’cs
Firstly what is The Fallout Trust?
The Fallout Trust is a six headed band. Conceptually? Well it’s actually a name we had a long time ago, it was something Guy always had at the back of his mind when he was studying in Newcastle, it was a name that was mentioned when we first started sowing the seeds of putting a band together, and I always thought it was a great name. For me, it’s like a contradiction in terms. All six of us we were probably quite disillusioned with our lives at that time, our mundane existence, we kind of fell into a reliance on each other, and that was The Fallout Trust.
And you guys first started the band after a visit to Berlin’s Hansa Studios?
Yeah that was at the end of one period in our lives, where we both wounded by life, we’d barely seen each other for the last few years, and we just ended up going to Berlin, following those paths that we’d grown up obsessed with – I guess we’re both fairly obsessive characters ..and we were very inspired by the place, it’s a very imposing place but at the same time we felt like we were somehow part of it. The thing about Berlin is the place is in transit, you almost step onto it like a conveyor belt and step off it again.
How did you recruit the rest of the band? You’ve got your brother..and sister is it?
Sister in law, Jess, she’s married to my brother Matt. He and I have always been pretending to play music all our lives, because we big Beatles fans and Queen fan..ha..I probably should admit to that….I’m a Freddie Mercury obsessive [laughs]
A closet Queen fan!
No I came out long ago…..oh God that sounds so wrong! [laughs] But yeah we grew up [and my dad] had all these cassettes, a hoard, and I found them when I was about six and we went through them together. We were in bands together before, and Guy was in a rival band at school. We actually got bigger on the Bristol scene than Guy’s band and there was this feeling, well I can’t really speak for him, but we realised that he needed to be in a band with us, as it would be better! We started writing together and it was better than the things we were doing separately.
So when you’re writing now, what kind of bands are your main inspiration?
I was a big Patti Smith fan, I love Horses, Radio Ethiopia and all that stuff. I mean, her voice was an incredible influence on me, her voice is incredible. The things she does with her voice, I can only hope to be a fraction of someone that talented. Also Michael Stipe, not so much not now though.
You guys have been compared to Arcade Fire and Super Furry Animals amongst others – do you consider that an apt description?
So someone said…I mean we’re big Arcade Fire fans… we got a pre-release copy of their album and we quite bowled over by that, but at the same time the strings and stuff was stuff we’d been doing since we started. So we were quite excited by that because we thought maybe there was an opening for us..
..They were paving the way for you?
Not so much..I mean, we’re not so cynical as to jump on the bandwagon, I can’t ever imagine us doing that. We’re not a fashion band in any sense, as you can probably tell [points to clothes and laughs] But yeah, Arcade Fire are a great band, live they are incredible, because it’s a whole experience, it’s not just about the music. That’s something that from the very outset we were striving to be, the whole product, we never wanted to just be a band who put their heads down and played guitar. It’s all about the performance.
You come across as very self contained, self sufficient band. You guys have your own studio, you do your own art work…and you all live together?
Yeah we do all still live together, but it’s possible that we might not for that much longer. We’re writing the second record at the moment, and the place we live in now is very much a working environment and captured the sound for that record….we utilized the sounds that that place can create so we want to find somewhere else to record the next record. It won’t necessarily be the same place that we live, but I think we’re willing to move on, I think we need to physically move on as well as sonically.
Was the last album totally recorded and produced by yourselves?
We recorded it and produced it ourselves, like you said we’re quite self sufficient in that sense. I mean one argument is that we’re all control freaks and it’s too hard to just let go of it but I think that’s something that, on the second record, we’ll experiment with more, perhaps doing stuff a bit more spontaneously. We’re still talking amongst the band about methods we could use.
Would you ever just record it live?
Erm…well…bits of it…little bits of it. It’s a very layered sound, because it’s quite complicated, it took us quite a long time to get it sounding right. It’s quite a diverse record I think, and speaking for myself..I think there’s a big gulf between what we do live and what we do on record. And whilst I think that can be a good thing and leads to an interesting interpretation, when you see the band live it can be a different experience, perhaps more different that you’d expect from listening to the record, and I’d personally like to bring what we do live into the record a bit more. I think there are times when I’m singing live that we just haven’t captured yet, and my personal goal is to somehow capture that, harness the energy on record, which is pretty difficult to do I think.
So with that in mind, do you prefer being in the studio or out there doing it live?
Personally, definitely doing it live, because each time you play it’s a new version of a song, when we’re finishing it you have to finish [a track]..put a pretend full stop on the end of it, but you’re still developing songs and for us, we never really sit still, we’re always thinking …could this song be better, if we changed the bass line or the introduction to the song or whatever? There are songs from the album that we play slightly differently live now…that’s just the way we are as people, we’re never really satisfied, we’re probably difficult people!
So would you consider bringing in an external producer for the next album?
Well, that’s something we’re talking about at the moment. I think that we’re leaning towards the idea of bringing someone in but someone to be collaborative with, not someone to wrestle control away from us. I think it’s important not to dwell on things, I think you learn from everything you do, you know….you record a record and you go on tour and meet people, and you think well next time we do it maybe we could try something differently because ..you’re never going to be completely satisfied with anything. That’s life.
What have been the highlights for the band so far?
Highlights? In terms of supporting people I really enjoyed the tour we did with Tom Vek, partly because we had a mutual understanding between us, not that we were trying to do the same thing musically but I think we’re both about experimentation, we both felt that a lot of current music at the time was a little bit tired and repetitive, you know. I think we bonded over that a little bit, so that was pretty special. Also the tour with yourcodenameis:milo, the thing about them that was amazing was that we were on tour with them for 20 dates or something, and every night something different came out of their music. At first you just hear a barrage of noise….but then you get to know it and it’s actually quite complex stuff, they’re a really great band.
So what’s the best thing about being on the road, and what’s the worst thing?
The best thing about being on the road is…well for me, I like listening to music so I just lock myself away with my headphones, I take a stack of mini discs and just plough through them. I listen to lots of new music, because when we’re at home…well we obviously listen to music [laughs] but we spend a lot of time writing and recording so it’s nice to have that break on the bus. That and writing, because I write quite a lot of words on the bus as well, we’re quite individual. We tend to lock ourselves up in six individual worlds on the bus, because obviously we spend so much time together – I guess it sounds like a contradiction but when we go out on the road we’re all closed off [in our own worlds].
So what’s it like being in a band with your brother?
It’s brilliant…we’ve always done stuff together so there was never really a question mark over that. We don’t argue so much as we used to…he occasionally pulls me hair on stage…that’s why I keep it short [laughs] so he can’t grab hold of it!
And lastly…since today is 6th June 2006..666..we’ve got a few quickfire questions, all to do with evil….
Oh god…[laughs]…ok….quickfire…well I’m a bit of a procrastinator…but ok..
If you were the devil for a day…who would you smite down?
There have been so many people in the last week that I just can’t put my finger on it…I have to be careful what I say! ….IF they drop us…the record label [laughs]
Which band should be banished to hell forever?
Far too many…most bands! I don’t think I care enough about those bands…but I don’t think any bands should be banished to hell, because fair enough if people want to make music, I don’t understand some bands though, bands like The Others, I don’t understand that fashion band – when something’s just about being in fashion, it doesn’t make me angry, but I just don’t see the point..
What would your idea of personal hell be?
Um….thinking that I knew everything, that sort of thing…becoming a person who thinks they know everything.
What’s your most evil drinking experience?
Well I take it quite easy these days but if I cast my mind back…probably a mixture of drugs and alcohol…does that count? [laughs] Or probably when me and Guy were out drinking together when we were children, far too young to be drinking…we hid 7 cans of Stella each in a bush…we thought we needed that many to get drunk, partly because my brother Matt got drunk and told me he’d had 7 cans, just to get me into trouble…and I did get into a lot of trouble…[laughs]
What’s the worst, most evil food you’ve ever eaten?
Worst and most evil;…probably sprouts mexiane…sprouts with too much spice…they repeat on your for days [laughs]
Which of the seven deadly sins are you most guilty of?
Envy probably…but I try not to be, but in a band of six people you look around and see what talented bastards they are. It’s a good thing!
And if the devil was just one person…who would that person be?
Well surely we know…it’s Donald Rumsfeld…every time I see him on the news…isn’t it obvious? He is the devil…it’s not up for debate [laughs]
Thanks Joe..you’re free to go!