Interview: Les Savy Fav

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LES SAVY FAV
interview by pete soyer

Between conflicting schedules, tour dates and four time zones, Les Savy Fav is a hard band to get a hold of. For the better part of two weeks I felt like a dog chasing my tail and only biting air. Don’t let the short answers speak for the depth of Les Savy Fav. Drummer Harrison Haynes, guitarist Seth Jabour, Tim and Syd (who is also head honcho at Frenchkiss Records) make up a great band that is bending all the boundaries of their genre.

I witnessed the spectacle of their live show at a small club in Montana before I even knew who they were. They were loud, fast and in everyone’s face. The small bar was filled like an overstuffed pillow, with people listening from the stairwell at the door. And then, just like that, they were gone. Swept away into the cold night and all I had left was their third full-length Go Forth. They slipped in and out of my CD player like an ex-girlfriend who shows up looking for quick booty from time to time, but never for the full commitment. Their songs pull you in, suffocate you and then vanish. So I thought, being the mighty pen-wielding journalist, I’d be able to capture their essence in this interview. Once again, they were elusive, only dropping small nuggets of insight into their elite club. So who knows what Les Savy Fav really is. Is it punk? Is it prog? Is it funk? Is it jungle? Call the band what you will, just don’t call them easy to get a hold of.

PS: How were the shows?
Syd Butler: I assume you are talking about the shows with the Faint and Schneider TM. They were a blast. Those guys are fantastic. The first couple of shows were hard due to the long drives, but once things got under control it was a smooth sailing.

Do you ever get tired of traveling? Ever just feel like staying home and watching Return of the Living Dead?
Tour is like camp. You can’t wait to go, it’s fun when you first get there, you miss home and then at the end it’s sentimental. I never feel like watching the return of anything. Also, driving more than eight hours is boring – then I want to be anywhere but the van.

How do you get ready after having a month off?
We practice. Also, we have played so many shows that we know what to expect. We have the basics down, so as long as we are listening to each other there are usually no problems.

What does everyone do when you have a hiatus? Day jobs?
Tim, advertising and webdesign. Seth, illustration (seththom.com). Harrison, painter. Syd, Frenchkiss Records

What is a day like at Frenchkiss?
Starts at 11 ends at seven. Talk shop, eat, listen to music, yell at people, laugh, lots and lots of phone calls.

I saw Enon open for the Dismemberment Plan a couple weeks ago, but didn’t realize they were on Frenchkiss. Do you look for bands to be on the label or do bands come to you? How did you meet Enon?
We met John from Enon years ago when he was playing for Brainiac. We are close friends and it was a no brainer to release anything he touches. Being on tour Les Savy Fav gets to see and play with great bands. This helps. People hand us demos, send us demos and friends call us up and talk about sending us demos. If you are good fit on Frenchkiss we will contact you.

Did you know someone from all the bands on Frenchkiss before signing them? Were there any that you heard and thought “I have to sign these guys”?
I knew Sean, we played with The Apes, S Prcss sent us the CD, Bloodthirsty Lovers sent the CD to a friend who passed it on. Lifter Puller was sent to Chris in Ex Models… They just rule.

sp : JT

I saw you play at Jay’s Upstairs in Missoula, MT. That club can hold around 90 people, but you have also played huge venues. What are the differences between the large and small crowds?
It doesn’t matter to me, small and large have their pluses and negatives. PA’s in smaller venues stink, but it’s great to be so connected to your audience. I think Tim does a great job of breaking down the barriers between the large rooms. He makes them seem close and personal.

The show at Jay’s was with the Apes and between their opening and Tim’s stage presence it was one of the wildest shows to fly through Missoula. Any memorable shows for you after playing so many? Any memorable performances by Tim?
Some of the earlier ones. Believe it or not they felt crazier. We had a show in Seattle where his alter ego, Tig Clamor, Jazz Dancer, came out to do a flash-dance scene with water and all. On this last tour with The Faint, he rode a mattress out across the audience like a magic carpet ride. All the way from the stage to the entrance and back to the stage.

In a metaphor, describe Les Savy fav to someone who has never heard of you.
It’s like thunder and lightning at a dance party.