Three Piece Sweet
Following on from their marvellous Echotropic EP, Paris-based NLF3 – lynchpins of the Prohibited label – have delivered the goods on ‘Ride On a Brand New Time’, a rich, heady but perfectly palatable long player. Joe Shooman prods them a little for answers.
Rockfort: How important is it to have a sonic anchor to a composition?
Nlf3: We do work around the idea of a sonic approach to a song. It means we search for the right sound for each element - it can be percussive, with effects, or recorded through a dying guitar amp... or we simply choose the best way to position the microphones during the recording (spacy/roomy or dry sounding). It is essential to our way of composing.
Rockfort: Do the tracks come together round a sound, an instrument, a rhythmic idea or something else?
Nlf3: In our rehearsal space, when composing, we generally work on looped patterns using sampling pedals. We play live and generate some new parts for each song, improvising and jaming. In our process of composing we roughly record a lot of short melodies, rhythms, ideas that we like, then we use them later during the real recording studio session.
Rockfort: How do you know when a piece is 'finished'?
Nlf3: Basically when we entered the studio for ‘Ride On a Brand New Time’, we just had some rough demos of the songs, with the main melody lines – generally Fender Rhodes and bass, or guitar and bass, and some ideas of rhythms. Mitch (Ed: Nlf3’s drummer) then created or adapted the main parts of the drumming in the studio for what would be the final takes. On some songs, we also recorded a lot of percussion overdubs to complete the general atmosphere and grooves. We consider a song to be finished when it has been well arranged and mixed, when it's like a block and we can feel a large frequency spectrum... but it needs to tell a story! The three of us have to agree on everything and the title - which is not a minor detail.
Rockfort: Is the avant-garde still valid in music?
Nlf3: We don't feel we belong to a special 'avant-garde' thing. We do incorporate in loads of influences our music and probably have a special take on it, which means we transform and re-make the music we love and that we want to hear. Influences such as Fela Kuti or Can, for example, might sound a little avangardiste, but to tell the truth we consider ourselves as rockers, in the same way as Sonic Youth, which is just fine with us. Now people think these guys are a 'pop' band, but back in the early 90s and the end of the 80s they were considered experimental and avant garde, just from the fact that they were composing on open-tuned guitars. If someone says Nlf3 is avant-garde, we won't go mad either ...it never hurts… but our tools are 'classics'.
Rockfort: Tell us about some musicians or artists that we might not know about, people who inspire and/or inform you.
Nlf3: We're sure you know and love most of the artists we like or feel close to (see myspace/nlf3). We should give a special mention, though, to Silver Apples, who had really a visionary approach for their time, the mid-late 60s.
Rockfort: What's next for you guys?
Nlf3: The album is being released in Europe, so we will be on tour from until winter, including some shows in the UK in April and others probably later. Touring is great and it sounds like people want to hear the songs live. The first reviews are coming out with great feedback and understanding of our thing. Cheers!