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Fonda 500 - Interview

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 1 / 2 / 2004

Fonda 500 - Interview


Battling against the perils of a soundcheck and an over enthusiastic DJ, Anthony Dhanendran's interview with Fonda 500 at a recent London gig goes disastrously wrong, but still manages to come to a happy conclusion

The perils of being an interviewer are many and varied. You might end up, drunk and forlorn, in a wheelie bin, after a heavy night with Aerosmith. You might find yourself hurtling along the Bavarian autobahn in a small white van with the former members of Hear’say, misplaced apostrophe and all. Or, worst of all, you might find yourself interviewing Lou Reed. On a more mundane level, there are hundreds of things that can go wrong in one evening. Take, as a case in point, the attempts of one music journalist (who shall remain nameless) to interview the Hull-based band Fonda 500. In the interests of disclosure, I should state at this point that this story has a happy ending. The band are very nice, the venue is lovely, they play a storming set, and all goes well. But, for the present… As Prince once invited us; dig, if you will, a picture: Fonda 500, long-serving indie oddballs, are on their way down from Hull to London for the night to play to their adoring fans at Whitechapel’s Spitz. Now, this is not a course of action to be recommended to the faint-hearted. But for a band of Fonda’s stature, it is clearly all in a day’s work. So far, so good. So, on turning up at the venue, I’m not surprised to find that the band are soundchecking. I am, however, surprised to find that they’ve missed their scheduled soundcheck time by a cool three hours. But, again, this isn’t a problem. It is at this point that Simon from the band appears, in search of food. He is directed to a frankly dodgy looking newsagent’s across the road, and returns with a sandwich that has seen better days. Time for the interview is drawing in. Having wolfed down the alleged food, Simon leads us upstairs to the balcony, which doubles as ‘backstage’, with the promise that we can do the interview there. And we can, but it’s not going to be easy. After all, we can’t stop the DJ downstairs because the Dictaphone is picking up more of the Jesus And Mary Chain from the decks than of Simon from ten inches away. So it’s going to be the trusty old notebook, then. Unfortunately, in the dark, and with no surfaces around, it’s an uphill struggle. So, with that introduction, and the disclaimer that because of the above, what you read here may or may not have been made up or imagined, on with the show. Simon, “the frontman, if that’s a word,” does the introductions. But, obviously, I can’t hear him. I manage to catch the name of Ian, who is the drummer. “He’s the quiet one” says Simon. “We’re promoting the fourth album ['Spectrumatronicalogical Sounds'],” he adds. “It’s been getting good reviews. We’ve been doing lots of gigs – it’s rock’n’roll… Nick’s been driving a lot.” At which point Nick chips in: “In the last two days, I’ve driven nine hours, and I’ve slept for five and a half.” “We’re trying to grab the attention of places we haven’t played much before” says Simon. “We’ve never played a headline gig in Nottingham before.” They played Nottingham the previous night, before heading back up North, then down here to London today. They’ve just signed to the tiny but influential indie label Gentle Electric. But they can’t remember when it happened. “We’ve been with Gentle Electric since the 16th of September” says Simon. “I think.” There’s a brief confabulation between the band members while they attempt to divine the date. Agreement is reached with only minor scuffles, and they settle for the 19th of November. “It’s been about three months, anyway.” The Spitz, it seems, is one of their favourite venues, and is a place they’ve played a few times. “We’re enjoying ourselves tonight,” says Simon. “Jim’s driving back.” It turns out that not only do the band do all the "work" at the gig themselves (such as carrying amps and setting up the drums), the van is hired, and has to be back in Hull the following day. No matter what Aerosmith or the Stones might have done, doing a Hull-London-Hull round trip, with a gig in the middle, in just over 24 hours, is pretty close to being rock’n’roll. “We’re promoting the album at these gigs. We sold four copies last night,” muses Simon, happily. Would they like to be successful, then? Would they like, in fact, to be able to own their own van? “Of course. If we had the money, we could pay for people to take the day off work and come and see us.” Fair enough, I suupose. Now, Hull isn’t the most sunshine-blessed of places. So how did a bunch of people from up there come to be making such, er, interesting music? “I don’t think it matters where you’re from. People have the same kind of feelings in London as they do in Hull. Although I don’t think a band from here could make an album like this. They’re all on the dog’n’dole. Or something.” It is at this point that the first support act strike up, and we agree that it would be a good time to surrender, and admit that very little of any coherence is going to come from tonight. They do, sportingly, invite me to bowl some questions at them from the side of the stage, in-between songs. I have to decline their kind offer – it would have spoiled what turned out to be a superbly energetic, but tightly controlled performance, and one that is certainly worth seeing, if you haven’t yet done so. The band are apologetic (as well as being amused) by the way this unorthodox interview has gone, and offer to make some notes for me themselves, in turn. It is possible that they say more about Fonda 500 than any interview. And, in the interests of disclosure, here they are, in full: “Joy is in the ears that hear” – Bod “A bad day is when you drive more hours that you sleep” – Nicholas Brøten A good day is when you eat more than you listen – Ian I am smaller the further away you are from me – Simon You can’t get your points unless you work for the full lesson – Mr. Sarel

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Fonda 500 - Interview

Fonda 500 - Interview

Fonda 500 - Interview

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