London up-and-comers Banfi have just dropped their second EP, ‘Marlow’, via Communion Records.
Out today, Friday 2nd November, it arrives just ahead of a tour that kicks off on the 11th in Leeds, and includes a night at London’s Moth Club.
Frontman Joe Banfi talks us through the four-track release track by track, from uniting opener ‘If Not For You’, to lonely closer, ‘The Wall’.
Inspired by Jane Austen and Scott Fitzgerald, to us 'If Not For You' feels like a march - a joyful protest. It’s got a feeling of loneliness and heartache but also a feeling of togetherness and triumph/defiance. I guess that comes from the subtleties in the gentle/understated vocal performance and the ordinary vocabulary used in lyrics that gives me a sense of domestication and the closeness and comfort that you can feel from that.
'Marlow' is about mourning, and being human and how death is central in our understanding of what it is to be human. It’s a sense of fellowship and togetherness. With this track, we feel like we hit some new territory in the studio we really got to explore new sounds and samples.
Our producer, Eliot had also just installed a big modular synth rack, which to explain simply is a cabinet full of really expensive and amazing sounding synthesisers and modulators that you can make crazy noises with… fun! We even ran some of the live drums we recorded in the studio through a few of the synths which is why this track has got a pretty crazy snare sound.
It has a really tight and gritty junkyard feel at the same time as being soaring and heartfelt and emotional. This contrast was something we had to try and glue together and to try and make the sound as natural as possible. There are lots of really interesting influences like Tom Waits, Michael Jackson and War On Drugs, flowing through this track that all raise their heads at different points.
I always describe this as a ‘future ballad’. “Fabulous” sounds like a love song but it’s our most political song so far, about love in the face of all the shit austerity that the Tories have inflicted in the past decade. “Maybe they’re after us, and maybe we’ll lose the fight” is about all the couples in Britain who had to deal with the Bedroom Tax a few years ago. There are a lot of heroic couples out there who will always transform suffering into some kind of goodness.
This song started as an even softer and less synth-driven composition, but over time playing it live and working on it in the studio we realised that we could really drive the song along with the synths and more synthetic sounds you can hear throughout. Having said that, the backbone of the song is still the classic chord progression and meaningful sentiment that comes through in the lyrics. There are loads of interesting sounds in there including my radiators, washing machine, the cat, some heavy breathing (thanks Michael Jackson), and a load of other samples and recordings.
The monologue in Taxi Driver about loneliness got this song underway, but loneliness or the threat of it is a continuous theme in Banfi songs, sometimes as an implicit threat, but sometimes as in 'The Wall', it’s more explicit. This is one of our heaviest songs and most of that energy interestingly comes from the synths.
'The Wall' has changed quite dramatically since the first time we played it together. We actually played it on our European and UK tour at the start of this year, not that you would know it was the same song that sits on this EP now! We were actually struggling with it a little on that tour. We knew the parts and the melodies were cool but we just didn’t know whether the feel and the overall aesthetics of the song were right. So we went back into the studio and inspired by what Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West and Fever Ray do with distorting synth. We decided we wanted to make a big abrasive sound that would force the listener to make a decision as to whether or not they could bare it.
Banfi's new EP 'Marlow' is out now.