Meet the eclectic foursome ready to blow your minds with their new album Common Problem
“We are very much a live thing. If you see us perform I think you instantly understand what we’re all about, it suddenly all makes sense,” says Kerr Okan, lead vocalist of experimental noisemakers The LaFontaines. Hailing from Motherwell in North Lancashire, the band have been forging through blogosphere and airwaves alike with their unique (and rowdy) concoction of sound.
“The music we make is so unique that it kind of acts as a gift and a curse. A curse because the industry always wants to put labels on things ‘Oh that’s an acoustic guy, he sounds like blah… they are a rock band, they sound like blah…’ but we don’t fit that mould so we pose a problem. That’s the gift at the same time I suppose, because fuck being a copy of something else.” Take but one listen to their recent singles ‘Release The Hound’, ‘Asleep’ and ‘Common Problem’ to see what he means.
The LaFontaines bring to mind many an artist, none of which really correspond with the other, and whilst such comparisons are no doubt an annoyance, it persists in being the best way in which to convey the band’s range to an uninitiated newbie. Over soon to be two albums, the band touch upon elements of The Streets, Twenty One Pilots, Twin Atlantic and aspects of early Linkin Park, with tracks spanning rock, pop, hip hop and and bassy electronics to boot. In reality, the band – including drummer Jamie Keenan, guitarist Darren McCaughey and bassist John Gerard – take influence from many far flung places.
“As a band I’d say we draw from all our individual preferences rather than a collective interest in one type of music. Darren is all about his synths, Jamie is the soul man, John loves a bit of pop…and I listen exclusively to Nickelback… We didn’t go in with any set idea of how we wanted to sound, it just sort of happened,” explains Okan. “To this day we’ve never went to create a song and went ‘It should sound like this.’ We just sort of show up, plug in and it happens. Sometimes it’s harder than others right enough.”
Whatever it is, it’s clearly working. The LaFontaines stats are only rocketing up, the band having over 20,000 likes on Facebook and gaining a massive over 3million plays on Spotify alone! With so many expectant eyes on them, are they beginning to feel the pressure?
“The only pressure I feel is on making sure they actually hear it. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Spotify are so monetised that they only way you can really be heard is if you pay up – which is fair enough by the way,” Okan adds. “They are free services and if you don’t like them then feel free to fuck off. But what I’m saying is, when you are still a relatively small band, working to super tight budgets, the biggest fear is often not if people will like your new music, but actually if they will even get the chance to hear it.”
It is no doubt a fear that permeates all new bands even in the opportune social media age, where – since the days of ye olde MySpace – new acts have been able to take charge of their own trajectories and communicate directly with a wide and potentially international fanbase. However – as previously stated – nothing really compares for The LaFontaines when it comes to gigging. Since the release of their debut album Class in 2015 the band have had the privilege of travelling all over the world.
“Playing Central Park in New York was pretty cool. That was also our first time in the U.S at that point, so that made it that little bit sweeter. But by far the best place we’ve been as a band was Morocco. We went to film a video for our track ‘King’ in the Sahara Desert and it was unbelievable. We only spent the one day and night in the actual desert and the rest of the time was spent driving about seeing the most unreal scenery. The snow capped ruggedness of the Atlas Mountains, to the manic streets of Marrakesh. It was a total culture shock. We were there for one week and it was never boring at any point. I loved the people and all the different types of music I was exposed to over there. 10 out of 10!”
Far closer to home, The LaFontaines have been plugging away at the 2017 summer festival circuit in anticipation of the release of their second album Common Problem, that Okan previously described as much darker than their debut and provides an intense and relatable social commentary. Their live shows however prove quite the opposite. “Reading and Leeds was great for us, but I’d have to say Download was the highlight of our festival season. They shut the tent down for us because it got so busy, and we would NEVER have expected a reaction like that!”
For those yet to be part of the experience, the band are back on the road soon with an October/ November headline UK tour (view dates below) but until then you’ll have to make do with their other talents. “[Jamie] has written a book about our travels from the road. Over 100 pages of debauchery, intrigue, and reckless redemption. I would recommend you check it out if you get the chance. Its called “The LaFontaines Solve Twelve Of Life’s Most Common Problems”: its actually pretty good.”
The LaFontaines’ album Common Problem is out on 27th October via A Wolf At Your Door Records. Check out their playlist of inspirational artists below.
Oct 27 – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
Oct 31 – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Nov 15 – Sound Control, Manchester
Nov 18 – Barrowland, Glasgow
Nov 21 – Boston Music Room, London
Nov 22 – Leadmill, Sheffield