"For us there was this classic problem - how do you relate to what you've just done, how do you relate to those expectations, so we came out of that experience kind of like - fuck it! Says Simon Balthazar over the phone from London, responding to whether or not Fanfarlo's soon-to-be released third studio album Let's Go Extinct feels less conservative than the last.

Harnessed by this concept record they now oscillate back and forth between newly found statements that are bold and lyrics that are sentimental, in order to make a record on the premise of what they, as a band have always desired. "It was great, that feeling of letting go was so liberating and that's a good starting point for anything." This essentially forms the basis of the ten-track release from a band clearly unafraid to continue their very own musical evolution, despite commercial expectation, as he adds, "whether it's creative or life in general, it's extremely important to let go and let things happen."

Yet after signing with a major label following their debut album Reservoir, Simon explains the tumbling rushed process of success in saying that the second record felt comparatively more stressful. The sudden label/public expectation coupled with a flourishing new audience to make music for, caused a shift in the songwriting which forced them to open up lyrically - somewhat like the natural anthesis of a flower.

Now, they've started to let go and bloom irrespective of an album that titillates a rather macabre human concept.

There's this overarching feeling of control slowly starting to slip further away with them and their proposed dystopian reality is intentionally and realistically distorted - song titles include 'The Beginning And The End', 'Life In The Sky' and even in the album's title track alone the chorus claims "it's clear the wheels have turned/we're standing in the way of ourselves/the world will go on without us."

Despite the gloomy call-out for our extinction, it's clear as to what they're wanting people to take away even if he counters each answer with equal bouts of glum clarification (he resonates when he tells me that it's because he actually enjoys thinking about existential things like this). So a delightful explanation that "The message is not - yeah it'd be a great thing if we all went extinct!" is directly met with "The idea is more to get people to think about the concept of extinction and where it leaves us, after all extinction is the rule and survival is the exception."

The air shifts after we recall bass player Justin, having recently dubbed them as a bunch of 'Positivists', not pessimists, and after a good spin of the record I couldn't agree more. The paradox starts to unfold as his ability to convey a clear idea that people will hopefully understand only proves to be an exciting sense of new musical advocacy from the band.

We both agree that musicians have an ability to start pitting themselves as thought-leaders, if the thought is led by a strong sense of value.

Simon is the emotional centrepiece for the band, something I learn within minutes after confessing how I originally pictured him sitting in the lotus position on a blanket writing songs. Whilst contemporary music seems to be increasingly incalculable and diverse in its combination of genres, Simon's vocals certainly sound more confident and visceral this time around, which brings me to question if they had any new methods of songwriting in the first place; "I think there's a lot more thinking, life experience and musical experience as well as appreciation of different kinds of music I've had contact with over the years this time around."

He feels the beauty of pop music belongs to enjoying every layer you can create and engage with emotionally, irrespective if you care for lyrics to begin with. "Don't get me wrong" he reassures me, "I don't have any problem with lyrics about banal things, there's definitely a place for that as well."

So I question where the core of influence stems from just before he calls Alan Watts a "massive hippie basically" and mentions how parts of a lecture became parts of the key turning points for the track title 'Ruse', full title, 'Myth of Myself (A Ruse to Exploit Our Weaknesses)' and goes onto say "he's a wonderful down to earth, psychedelic guru, one of the guys who introduced Zen Buddhism to a western audience." He adds here, that we all aren't as inherently individual as people would like us to be and this song is a playful reminder that the idea of 'self' and 'individuals' is highly regarded as something of supreme importance in our culture.

So many themes across the album aim to make people empathise with one another on a deeper level rather than being singled out as individuals. Admittedly for him this attitude is "kind of like a weird sacred cow that I'm not so keen on." According to Simon, there's a clear force in our culture that highlights the construct of individuality as opposed to bringing about a sense of togetherness and connectedness. He feels that the pursuit to get 'high' breaks down this exact construction; "I feel most things that have to do with religion, philosophy, psychedelic drugs, trance dancing whatever, happen at the same time we push that strong sense of self and I find that troubling and complicated."

In the same breath of justifying the piercing ideals of the record he adds; "It's really hard to get truly into someone else's head, it's a sort of almost limitation we have as people, and that's interesting to me."

Their sound development didn't stop at the concept because they've started to explore a different palette of acoustic and electro combinations. It was during my attempt to coin the term 'Science Fiction-y' (when referring to some new novelty sounds I picked up across the record) that landed up in a vat of unexpected mutual understanding. He's accommodating all right, and begins to explain the cinematic details of the soundscapes going as far as mimicking the sounds of the synths and referring to them as the real 'ravey bits' in some tracks.

It's glorious, because he's finally letting go! Some "pew-pews" and "beow beows" the novelty doesn't wear off and he begins to outline the process of using an 80's keyboard called the DX7. "There was this backing vocal on the track On A Distance that sounded a bit spaghetti Western/The Good The Bad And The Ugly, didn't it?"

After minutes of a full-geek-out about the novelty of synth presets, the recording process for Simon is a revealing topic.

"When I picked up the guitar for the first time I was 16 or 17, I started learning songs by The Beatles or whoever and the thought of making a craft out of it is the moment when I got really fascinated about being able to record." He stays with that thought and explains how he's always been fascinated about layering up sounds because "there's a real magic to it."

I wonder what the album would have sounded like had I put it on at that moment. It feels more like a partnership, a close-knit silent agreement amongst the band moderately due to the well-defined audibility in the album and dialogue between the members and their audience during the run up to the release.

Who knows what Fanfarlo might have done if they didn't actually believe whole-heartily in this thickly textured existential concept they had created for us to grab ahold of, explore and rip apart?

The band created few of the most enticing and charming podcasts running up to the release which made them feel apparently more unified and happier in a lot of ways, and as we fondly rehash a few stand-out details such a Justin's love for Steely Dan, Luke Turner discussing the origin of the name Fanfarlo and even Tuvan music, he agrees they were the greatest antidotes to an existing media supply rife with ADD. "These (podcasts) let you listen to someone talk about something relatively special interest and all the obscure things you find out, whether it's about music, architecture, science or art can stimulate interest you never knew existed." The beauty for the listener here, rested firmly in the band creating a clear image of the personality behind the music.

This additional human element, after so much conceptual ideology, biological thematic foundations soaked so deeply in scientific and philosophical trails, planted a seed that invited the listener into their world. Be it instinctual or thought provoking.

By drawing inspiration from side projects they support constant evolution; "we're all music sponges and we really like to listen to things that are radically different to the music we make." He for one will soon be working on a new-wave disco project with a Norwegian Producer who worked on the first xx album.

As Simon trails off and we come to the end, he tells me how he tries to be less of an individual; "I think music is an excellent way of feeling really part of something and also losing yourself a little bit and that's this ancient appeal that music has - it is something you can lose yourself in."

So? Let(s) go - extinct.


Catch the band live on Tuesday Feb 11th in London and/or any of the dates below...

  • Feb 11th - London, UK - Village Underground
  • Feb 12th - Brighton, UK - Green Door Store
  • Feb 16th - Sevilla, Spain - Maladar
  • Feb 17th - Madrid, Spain - But
  • Feb 19th - Valencia, Spain - La Rambleta
  • Feb 20th - Barcelona, Spain - Festival De Guitarra
  • Feb 24th - Paris, France - La Maroquinerie
  • Feb 25th - Amsterdam, Holland - Bitterzoet
  • Feb 27th - Berlin, Germany - Bi Nuu
  • Feb 28th - Munich, Germany - Ampere
  • March 1st - Vienna, Austria - Flex
  • March 3rd - Bologna, Italy - Locomotiv
  • March 4th - Milan, Italy - Tunnel
  • March 6th - Zurich, Switzerland - Rote Fabrik
  • March 7th - Frankfurt, Germany - Das Bett
  • March 8th - Brussels, Belgium - AB Club