Posted On 24 Aug 2018
Meet the cinematic southern gothic alt-rock London five-piece Curse Of Lono. On August 17th, they released their new album, AS I FELL.’
Formed in London in 2015, Curse Of Lono is Felix Bechtolsheimer (vocals and guitar), Joe Hazell (lead guitar and vocals), Dani Ruiz Hernandez (keys and vocals), Charis Anderson (bass and vocals) and Neil Findlay (drums). ‘As I Fell’ is the follow-up to ‘Severed’, one of the most critically acclaimed debuts of 2017, and builds on Curse Of Lono’s deeply cinematic blend of harmony-laden Americana and driving, gothic alt-rock. It’s a sound that owes as much to old faithfuls like The Doors and The Velvet Underground as it does to more contemporary artists such as The War On Drugs, The National and Wilco.
Learn more about Curse of Lono in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Thanks for taking the time to chat to me. It’s 5:30 in the evening so it’s nearly beer o’clock.
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artists favorite songs this summer so what is YOUR song of the summer?
‘I’m The One Who Needs You Tonight’ by Cordovas. We just did a UK tour with them and they were amazing.
How has 2018 been treating you all? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year?
It’s been a crazy year so far. We finished our album in January and have done two UK tours, a European tour and a bunch of festivals already. Let’s hope it keeps coming. Our goal is to be billionaires by Christmas. We need the money so we can back our drummer to run for Prime Minister.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Has anything surprised you about this ride so far?
I knew we had the right people together the first time we were all in a rehearsal room together. Apart from me and the drummer, none of us knew each other. What’s surprising is that we’re all best friends now. It’s literally like our second family.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
London is a melting pot of cultures, people and music. There’s a country scene, a techno scene, a rock scene. I guess London has opened our eyes to the possibilities of mixing things up. It’s also taught us not to take ourselves too seriously as individuals. Our music has a lot of ambition but our personal egos are pathetically small.
Where did your band name first come from? How did you go about picking it? Was it a hard decision to make?
THE CURSE OF LONO is a book about Hunter S. Thompson’s druggy exploits in Hawaii during the 1980 Honolulu Marathon. It’s not one of his best books but I love the Ralph Steadman illustrations and the historical passages about Captain Cook’s voyage to Hawaii in 1779. Apparently the natives thought that Cook was the reincarnation of Lono, the Hawaiian god of music and fertility, before eventually killing him for outstaying his welcome.
We had a copy of the book in the studio when we were recording the first demos and we loved the madness of it all. It was the name and the story of Captain Cook more than Hunter S. Thompson’s binges that suited the atmosphere of the recordings.
You just released your newest album, “As I Fell.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
I did the initial writing on my own then I recorded some rough demos for the rest of the band. After that we headed out to the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree to work on the songs together.
I think ‘As I Fell’ is a more ambitious record than ‘Severed’, which was recorded almost entirely by myself and our producer, Oli Bayston. ‘As I Fell’ is very much a band record. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about the process. I haven’t made a record in this way since I left my old band Hey Negrita. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well it all came together. Everyone contributed a huge amount. It was definitely the most satisfying recording experience I’ve had so far.
Do you remember what it felt like the first time you heard the whole album from beginning to end? How did you celebrate the official release of it?
It was at Abbey Road Studios here in London when we mastered the album. I was very emotional, especially as the last song is about the stories my grandfather told me about growing up as a half-Jew in Nazi Germany and a horrific train crash he survived in 1954. The album comes out on Friday so I’m sure there will be a few drinks consumed.
How did you go about writing the songs on this album? Do you all work on them together or separately first and then together?
I usually start writing on the guitar. When I find a riff or a chord progression I like, I start to sing along. Sometimes words come fully formed and sometimes I have to be quite disciplined. There are songs on the new album that came in less than an hour and others where I had to sit down and chisel away for days on end. I’m no good at co-writing so I usually finish all the songs before recording some very basic demos. The rest of the band and our producer, Oli Bayston, then come in and rip it all to pieces before building it up again.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
I think that’s probably different for each one of us. I love being in the studio but it also comes with a lot of stress and terrible insomnia. I feel a lot of pressure when I’m trying to get the songs down. The touring is the party that celebrates a job well done.
Do you have any upcoming tour dates this summer that you would like to tell our readers about?
We’ve been on tour pretty much non-stop since March. We have a couple of festivals left this month and a short Scandinavian tour, then we’re taking a few weeks off before it all starts again in October. There will be more European dates in the fall, followed by a UK headline tour in November and December. We will finally be hitting the US early next year. We can’t wait for that!!
August 26 Graze Festival, Hampshire
August 28 Stockholm, Bryggarsalen (with David Ramirez)
August 29 Oslo, Café Mono (with David Ramirez)
August 30 Malmo, Folk å Rock (with David Ramirez)
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today? What would you say is the most challenging part about it?
It’s incredible to be able to hang out with your friends, making music and traveling the world. Being able to call that work is even cooler. The hardest part for me is being away from my wife and kids. My daughter is two-and-a-half years old and it’s hard on all of us when I’m gone. But I try to balance it out by taking time off in between. I know some people with more regular jobs and they see their kids less than I see mine. It’s a balancing act.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
To be honest, we do our best to steer clear of politics with our music. I am deeply frustrated by a lot of what’s going on out there on both sides of the Atlantic but it’s just not the sort of thing I write about. I’m sure there is lots of great politically motivated stuff out there but I’ve never succeeded in making a political argument in three verses and a catchy chorus. There are plenty of songwriters who can do that. I’m just not one of them. Anyone with any common sense at all knows that things are totally screwed out there. There are better people with stronger arguments who are working on the rest of the Muppet Show.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this group?
I can’t really imagine making a record without our producer Oli Bayston but, if we had to, I guess Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Warren Ellis (Nick Cave), Kurt Vile and Aaron Dessner (The National) would be top of the list. As far as artists go, we’d love to work with Nick Cave or Kurt Vile.
If you guys were all going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you want to take with you and why?
I think my baritone acoustic. It’s the sexiest sounding guitar on the planet and it doesn’t need batteries. Our vocals can cover the rest and I’m sure Neil, our drummer, could find a pair of coconuts to bang together.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
If I had to distil the songs into a single message then I guess it’s that all our lives are little movies and they’re all interesting if told in the right way. In fact, I find most people’s lives more interesting than the celebrity nonsense we see in TV. But there’s nothing original in that. I guess I’m just trying to perpetuate what I got out of reading Bukowski as a teenager.
Where can our readers connect with you?
Through our website www.curseoflonoband.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That said, the best way to connect is to come and say hi after a gig. We can all have a drink together and discuss politics.
(All photography provided by Right Angle PR)