The Pitch:You just finished a stint of your tour where the band opened for Edward Sharpe, and perhaps some other bands? How did that go? Do you ever learn anything from the bands you're touring with?
Top: It went great. At least two members of ESMZ used to be in FG, so it felt like a reunion of close friends. They are all super-cool to travel with, though. And great musicians. We always learn from bands we travel with. I think when a band does something really well, it is always inspiring.
What types of global music did you guys grow up on?
Arabic folk music, Israeli pop music, Afrobeat, reggae, and various Brazilian musics.
For songs sung in Hebrew - for the writing process - were the songs penned in Hebrew or translated from English to Hebrew later?
Actually both. Sometimes I would start with somewhat "difficult" English lyrics and would then employ Hebrew professionals to help me find the right words. But on other songs, like "Nadine" for example, which has simpler Hebrew lyrics, the Hebrew parts were self-generated. My grasp of the language isn't rock-solid, which makes things interesting and mysterious for me.
How has the recording and writing process changed since the band became a five-piece? I assume touring is much easier.
The second record was conceptualized as a "record" and written/recorded somewhat quickly, whereas the debut was a collection of songs we had been jamming on for a couple of years. In both cases, Lewis and I wrote the songs. But with the second record, we were able to hone in on detail and really refine what we do. This was, of course, helped by the fact that we were on tour for almost two years and had a stronger sense of identity and purpose. And, of course, a fixed five-member band. Touring is definitely easier the more we do it. And having less people has its advantages. It's nice knowing who is in the band for life.
What inspired the material on Leave No Trace?
Our experiences traveling the world. Questions of identity. Emotional entanglement. Mali music. Chimurenga music. Tom Tom club. Soukous. The Smiths. Tropicalia. The group mind.
Being labeled as an indie Afropop band - is that even accurate? It seems that the band is influenced by lots of genres. I assume genre labels are kind of annoying in any instance, but what other types of music around the world do you feel influenced you (I assume African music is just one)?
I don't know what it means. We're dudes from L.A. that are interested in some pretty disparate stuff and have found a band that is capable of synthesizing it and openly experimenting. See above for some genres...
It seems like the music the band produces is fun and poppy but is really intricate and full of (overall) positive vibes - this seems like a difficult combination to just wing. Do any of you have a professional writing background or had extensive training with instruments?
I think fun and poppy is one aspect of what we do. If you dig into our material, you will find a broader color palette. We pride ourselves as being able to convey a wide variety of moods. Which is kind of how we are as people.
Anything fans can look forward to this fall? New tunes?
We can't wait to get home and crank out some new tunes. Ideas have been bubbling, and the whole thing is about to burst!
Catch Fool's Gold on Wednesday, May 23, at the Riot Room. Support for the 21-and-older show from Future Kings. The 8 p.m. show costs $8-$10.