It seems like a lifetime ago that I caught Copenhagen, Denmark's alt-rock band FooN at 'The Smokehouse', here in Ipswich, for a fantastic show (it was actually November 2019). The guys have a really rather splendid new single out on Friday (26th February) entitled 'The Compass' and guitarist Mathias kindly took some time out to answer a few questions below.
FooN are Olivia Vestergaard (Vocals), Mathias Schwartzbach Pedersen (Guitar), Allan Bay Larsen (Bass) and Nicolai Andersen (Drums).
'The Compass' is out on February 26th on all the usual digital sites and you can still pick up their 'Tidals And Embers' EP from 2018 from those sites.
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with FooN, could you give a short history of the band?
Thank you for having us! We are a hard rock band from Copenhagen, Denmark. The band consists of Olivia (vocals) Mathias (guitar) Nicolai (drums) and Allan (bass). For the past few years we have been, and are still, on a mission to write music that would sound awesome when played in a huge stadium and then turn that fantasy into reality.
So far we’ve toured Denmark and The UK, and played all sorts of shows between metal festivals and acoustic living room shows. Last year we got to play a sold out Vesterbro Rock Fest just a few days before lockdown hit Denmark.
And who would you say were the main influences on FooN?
Our main idea is to think in terms that aren't necessarily musical, and then listen if we can picture that in what we are hearing ourselves play. We use keywords like "explosive" and "high ceilings" for the sound - and if a song sounds like it one or both, then we can work on it. For inspiration we listen to a lot of different bands. Where we’re heading now we’ve been listening to Bring Me The Horizon, Biffy Clyro and Shinedown. But we are also fond of artists like Yungblud and Harry Styles. Fans and journalists have previously compared us to artists like Jack White, Fall Out Boy and Paramore (which we’re stoked about) - listen and judge for yourself.
You're releasing a new single on the 26th February entitled 'The Compass'? What is the song about and do you feel it is a progression from the 'Tidals And Embers' EP you released back in 2018?
The song is about the frustration of trying to make the right choice in an ocean of options and possibilities. It is based on the metaphor of an actual compass: It can show you which way the corners of the world are, but cannot tell you which way to go unless you already know.
Musically and production-wise it is a bigger sound than before. We detuned the guitar/bass, used some more harmonic chords and voices and skipped out on solos in favour of a more breakdown oriented bridge. On the recording you will hear many (subtle) layers of guitars and vocals.
It is also a step for us towards being a more unified band. While the songs on “Tidals & Embers” were all written and arranged by Mathias and recorded with a session drummer (Emil Frøsig from Danish power metal band Downfall) “The Compass” was arranged and recorded with everyone’s input which made everyone play at their full potential.
Is 'The Compass' the first release from an EP or album coming our way? Or is it just a stand-alone single you wanted to put out at this time?
We do have more songs written and ready for recording. Some of which we’ve been playing live for a while. For now “The Compass” is a stand-alone song we wanted to record and release to showcase our sound and image going forward. It might make its way onto an EP or an album - but more music is definitely on its way.
Where did you record the single? Is it somewhere you've recorded before?
We recorded it at LAK Studios in Albertslund, Denmark. We recorded the vocals for “Tidals & Embers'' at the same studio - but back then the process was very messy as the studio was brand new, and the songs had been done, but with a different singer, so Olivia's vocals had to fit in on top of a 90% done mix.
For ''The Compass'' we had Claudio Andersen, who has previously recorded for Helhorse and Wolves Among Us, among others, as the producer and he did an amazing job. He was a pleasure to work with and always had ideas for how to make the song sound like we wanted it to - but always in an open and collaborative manner, so everyone was comfortable and could deliver 104% on their instrument. Having Claudio really made all the difference in getting the song to sound as massive and explosive as it is.
You came over to the UK back in November 2019? How did those gigs come about?
After being in touch with Dan Kirk (from End Time PR) on Instagram and liking and commenting on each other’s stuff for a while he gave us an opportunity to play a show in Cambridge. Ambitious as we are we thought to make a tour of it, so we added more dates, got in touch with more bands and venues and embarked to the UK with high hopes - and everything went really smoothly and better than we could have dreamed of. The responses from the crowds were always positive, we arrived everywhere on time and no one got lost along the way. We also managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing and a few pints which is important in the UK.
And what things stood out for you from the trip?
The people! Wherever we went we felt welcome and appreciated. One thing was getting ourselves a handful or two of new fans, but we made a lot of friends on the road as well.
Any plans to come back to the UK? I know you had to cancel a few shows in early 2020 you were due to play over here - will they be rescheduled at some point?
We will be back as soon as we can! As soon as it is safe we will be looking into coming around for a longer tour. We are also planning to go to Germany when we can - so maybe it will be a whole European tour.
The general pandemic situation has prompted bands to try alternative ways of reaching their audience - livestreams, podcasts etc? Have you tried any of these and how did it feel doing them? Do you think bands will continue to carry on with these methods if we return to some sort of semblance of normality? And do you think the way bands reach out to their audience has changed forever now?
It has definitely opened up a lot of opportunities that won’t go away anytime soon. It has been interesting to follow the development. It started out with a lot of live streamed shows, which evolved into lo-fi performances and hangouts online. It seems like it is the personal connection between artists and fans that is essential, and that will be just as important even when we get to a new normal.
We have played a few livestreams, and attended some as well. After trying a few things out in the spring we decided that nothing was in a rush. So while still writing and interacting with our fans on social media, the four of us also got to spend time together without having shows to prepare for, or a lot of business to take care of. It really helped us grow as friends and as a unit, which ultimately has made us a better band.
Do you feel there is a good Danish music scene at present? Any particular bands from Denmark you'd recommend readers to check out?
Absolutely! The Danish music scene is awesome to be a part of. With artists like Volbeat, Mø and Lukas Graham being immensely popular it seems like a lot of the world is looking towards Denmark for more - and you can even see less mainstream rock/metal bands getting recognition outside Denmark which is awesome. If you look at the posters for Techfest or Download Festival you will spot a few Danish bands.
Just to name a few of our own favourite fellow Danish bands it would be: Redwolves, Odd Palace, Samzara, Kellermensch and Rebecca Lou. Check them all out!
And finally, what plans do you have for FooN in 2021?
We had our video shoot for “The Compass” cancelled, so we got a music video to do later on. In September we are set to return to Vesterbro Rock Fest in Copenhagen for the 2021 edition. With plenty of time to prepare the set it’s gonna get explosive and intense.