Thorns and Cool Stuff
Alison Garner
It's been a hectic year for THE FAUNS who will be playing their first Brighton gig next week for ISOLATION. We caught up for a quick chat about their brilliant album Lights.
2013 was a fantastic year for music, the best since ... well, we can't even remember but probably somewhere back in the glorious eighties when independent music reigned supreme. When Savages' album Silence Yourself was released in early May, we thought it was probably the album of the decade. In the end it didn't even make it to our album of the year, such was the quality of releases that followed it. As the year drew to a close and we were patting ourselves on the backs in delight and remembering how only twenty-four months previously we were drowning in the depths of despair, a late release was pushed out amid the sea of Christmas box sets. We gave it a listen and stopped dead in our tracks. And then we tore up all our lists and started them again, because The Fauns' Lights simply blew us apart.

Quite where it had come from was a mystery. It was a record taken out of time and dropped into the twenty-first century. Alison Garner's voice enthralled, while the guitars of Elliot Guise and Lee Woods reached heights other bands could only dream of, infused with a spellbinding simplicity. There was an impressive depth to this collection; the nine songs and two instrumentals displayed wildly different approaches, yet all merely reflected different shades of light from the many facets of an untouchable whole. Lights was thirty-eight minutes of complete joy, and utterly bewitching. Our first thought was that we desperately needed to see this band live and if they weren't due to play in Sussex we would ask them to play for us. And thankfully we succeeded.

The Fauns
Why did the band decide on the name The Fauns?

Originally it was going to be The Thorns but Michael has a Sarf London accent and can't pronounce "th"s properly... Also the film Pan's Labyrinth was in the cinema at the time which kinda sealed the deal.


Congratulations on such a great album. 'Lights' was released some four years after your first album – why the long delay and was it a painstaking process to put the album together?

Personal life got in the way a bit when it came to writing the second album. We got there eventually though and the timing was good with signing to Invada. If we had finished it earlier we may not have benefitted from working with the label.


You released the first album yourselves but the second came out through Invada. How did they get involved and how much did it help to have a third party to take care of things?

Redg who runs the label came to see us play a gig in Bristol. There were technical problems so we did what I call an "angry Fauns" set. Redg asked us to sign on the strength of that gig so we did something right. It's great having the label carrying some of the burden, they also have their shit together when it comes to PR. We don't sit back and let the label do everything though, if anything we work even harder to complement what Invada brings.


Looking back at it from some distance now, how do you feel about the first album?

We're proud of it even if it is a bit of a bumpy ride at points. We kinda know what we're doing now although we still try and retain the lo-fi edge with more recent recordings.

The Fauns
Lights stands out especially because it it not only sounds beautiful, but it has tremendous power as well. So many records that attempt to capture a similar mood end up sounding twee or insipid. Was it a deliberate intention to make sure the album had such strength?

That was the intention, it's a fine line to tread though and sometimes it doesn't come together so there are a lot of rejected tracks. The rule is that the songs in theory should bring about a kind of uplifting melancholia.


We knew your first album and quite liked it, but when we heard Lights it absolutely blew us away. Were you surprised at the reaction to it?

It was a surprise, we don't really consider the press reaction or audience reaction when writing. We were just doing what we do to the best of out abilities. It's pretty cool that people are so into it.


You use the word 'Shoegaze' to describe your music. That term was dreamed up as a disparaging collective noun by a powerful music press in the early 1990s. We loved the Shoegaze bands of that era but would never have described your music in those terms. Do you feel you have an affinity with those bands or identify with their introspection?

We don't have an issue with the word shoegaze as it's a bit more descriptive than plain "indie rock". There are definite influences from the 90s shoegaze scene that we're proud of. We do however try to draw in a lot more, from dance music, soundtracks, electronica etc... I think it's a mistake to adhere to the rules of a genre or copy a band influence exactly.


You toured Europe with Alcest with tour buses and the works. That must have been some experience?

It was the best experience we've had as a band ever. Such a lot of fun and also a real education in how to organise a tour like that. Personally I miss my tiny bunk on the bus. Tom lost his sock too...


While you have been promoting Lights have you had any opportunity to write new material or has it been too hectic?

We've been writing lots. Mainly the instrumental side of things but soon vocals too. It won't be four years this time! Promise!


The Fauns are playing at The Hope in Brighton on Wednesday 11th June. Tickets at a bargain price of £5 are available from Resident in North Laine or on the door on the night. Doors 7.30pm. You'd be mad to miss this band.
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