We’re now counting the days until Belladrum, with less than a week to go we managed to get a last minute catch up with John Gerard from The LaFontaines ahead of their performance on Friday.
If you haven’t heard The LaFontaines before you’re missing out. They don’t really fall firmly into any genre, as Kerr Okan fronts the band with rapping whilst they also have a mixture of rock/pop/drum and bass as well as few melodic moments scattered throughout. I’ll be honest, if you haven’t heard them it sounds like a combination that will never work – but they’ve cracked it in a superb fashion. If one thing is certain, it’s that they bring something very unique. Further to this, their onstage energy is highly infectious right from the start of their sets.
Their name was inspired by Don LaFontaine, the American voiceover artist. They used to have a recorded intro which was played at the start of their sets – John discussed how this came about: “To cut a long story short…we contacted [Don LaFontaine] and he agreed to record a short intro for us, but he then died suddenly. Peter Dickson (of X Factor and E4 fame) heard our story and agreed to finish what Don had started. It was a lovely gesture and a fitting intro to set the scene. However, we feel that it has run it’s course now, maybe we’ll pester him with another sob story and see if he’ll hook us up with a new one…”
It’s been a while since they were last up north, however luckily for us they’re back this weekend making their first ever appearance at Belladrum: “We can’t wait to play at Belladrum, it’s got an amazing reputation, and I personally have been waiting to tick this off my list of places to perform for a long time now. It also helps that a lot of our friends in various bands are playing too, it is a nice feeling when there are so many familiar faces floating around.”
They promise to bring something entirely new to the festival and will definitely provide a set to remember. With a wide range in influences John talked about how they bring all of this together to create the sound we know and love from them: “There has never been a model for how the band should sound, it is all just the end result of each band member being allowed to do what they want. I don’t think any of us have similar influences at all, which is strange now that I think about it, but it’s never caused any friction so far (touch wood).”
The past year they’ve been focussing more on building their fan base down south, there was always some concern about playing down south that no one would understand Kerr as he raps in his strong Scottish accent: “We expected a language barrier, and were concerned that this would interrupt the fun and energy that we try to project live. However, it’s ended up never being an issue…apart from when we try to order drinks afterwards.”
Those who have already been taken in by “Font Mania” will be pleased to know that they were recently signed to an independant label, John talked about what this has been like so far and what it means for their future: “We recently started working with LAB Records, which has been class. Our enthusiasm feeds off of each other, and we’ve always had the same goals in mind, so it’s been a great experience working with them. We’re in the process of organising our first single ‘All She Knows’, which is planned for release late October.”
“We have been writing non-stop and trying out different new songs at various shows. The good thing about all the touring is that we get plenty of opportunities to road-test these songs to see exactly what works with different crowds. It’s been working out well, now it is all just about finding the right producer and release date to get it all out there.”
As with most up and coming bands, The LaFontaines have had to find a balance between working and finding time for the band: “It’s easy to complain and admit defeat, but to be honest the bands commitments are generally planned well enough in advance. It also helps that we’re doing things with a bit more clout now, so our employers are more understanding than they would be if we tried to get a month off to play in pubs with a Bay City Rollers cover band.”
In May of this year they made a very special appearance at this year’s final ceremony of “Miss Scotland” – John noted: “I honestly have no idea how that one came about, I think a lot of unusual proposals come our way because we are a bit different. It was such a fun event to attend, let alone perform at. We were all collectively crowned Mr Scotland, and we now all live in beautiful mansions, our wives are all tall and have bone structures on all the right parts of their faces, and our children (boys and girls) all look like Ryan Gosling.”
Their song “Under The Storm” was chosen as the theme song for this year’s T in the Park, this was then used in all advertisement for the festival, which obviously brought a lot of attention to the band: “Having that song playing over the online campaign was surreal, there were so many big names being advertised on it! There were a lot of people asking who the song was by, so it was great to see it generating that sort of curiosity. The footage of us performing ‘Under the Storm’ live at T in the Park is now on YouTube for those who didn’t make it.”
Up till now I’ve been fortunate enough to catch The LaFontaines live nine times, and every time I have been completely blown away. Having already seen them play Glasgow a couple of times before their first ever appearance in Inverness supporting Twin Atlantic in 2011 I knew we were in for something special – I was not wrong. The reaction they received that night was incredible and they truly deserved it for one of the most energetic performances I’ve ever witnessed from a band playing in a support slot – they easily could have been the headliners that night. I wondered which performances stood out most for John up till now:
“Our recent sold-out show at the Classic Grand is one that immediately springs to mind. I don’t know if it’s because I got to finally rock a tuxedo, but that was definitely a factor. We also recently played the BBC Introducing tent at T in the Park, which was amazing fun from start to finish, the ridiculously good weather topped it off.”
If you’re heading along to Belladrum, go see The Lafontaines to see if they can top the reaction they received at T in the Park. I promise you that no matter what kind of music you listen to, they will play a set that will appeal to everyone, there is no other band out there just now who will provide a set quite as much fun as theirs.
The LaFontaines’ debut single ‘All She Know’ will be out soon. Visit www.thelafontaines.co.uk for updates or follow @TheLaFontaines on Twitter.