PHOTOGRAPHY Douglas Hart
WORDS Julian de la Celle
Pink Flames is made up of duo Max Oscarnold of TOY and Isabel Spurgeon of JC Flowers and have just released their debut single on Raft Records, The Vinyl Factory sub label set up in collaboration with The Horrors’ / Cat’s Eyes’ Faris Badwan and his brother and Loom frontman Tarik, on the 22nd ofJuly 2016.
Described recently as Broadcast meets Brian Jonestown Massacre, ‘I’m Just A Star On A Democratic Flag’ was originally released in the late sixties by L.A. cult band Smiles and is accompanied by a striking new video by founding member of The Jesus and Mary Chain and award winning music video / film director Douglas Hart.
We asked Faris Badwan why he chose to put out the next Pink Flames single and what was next for Raft Records:
"I first heard PinkFlames' Smiles cover and instantly had it on repeat.. but the main thing that impressed me was Max's songwriting. It's easy to turn up the reverb and play with an acoustic guitar but they have loads of great songs which is unusual for a lot of new bands. Issie's vocals have a cool detachment that reminded me of Mara Keagle's heavily-sedated delivery on Brian Jonestown Massacre's 'Anemone', which is one of my favourite songs of that genre."
"In terms of what's next on Raft Records I can't say for sure, but we are in touch with loads of great new bands and I'm only interested in releasing stuff I really love.. hopefully bands like Happy Meal Ltd, Liphemra, Ether, FISH, Hucks.. there is a lot of good stuff at the moment particularly in London and I've been to more gigs in the last year than I did in the previous five."
FOXES: So where did the idea of starting this project come from? When did you both meet?
Max: We met at Luke's house, a friend we had in common and then started seeing each other, and instead of watching tv we liked doing bits of music to pass the time.
FOXES: What were your main influences for this band?
Issie: Linda Perhacs, Bridget St John, Townes Van Zandt, Sibylle Baier, Bert Jansch etc.
FOXES: How is the writing process like with the two of you?
Max: We would stay up all night (that's when we were the most productive) and start gathering new ideas to create a full song, or try to remember ideas from years before and stitch them together.
FOXES: What was it that got you into music and wanting to start a band in general?
Max: Mainly how boring sports was and other things were to me as a child, music seemed more fun. It's where I could meet interesting people, at least where i grew up. I started playing a tennis racket when i was 9, thats how I learnt my fingerpicking.
Issie: My brother and I were exposed to so much music from around the world when we were growing up. Our parents liked to dig far and wide for new songs, and we're the same in that context. I've always wanted to make music but never had the confidence to start.. I guess the only musical thing I've made before meeting Max, was a weird, abstract electronic piece. It consisted of 11 pedals and two synths. I called it 'Bird Has Flown' ha, it's a bit silly but I still value it.
FOXES: How is this different from playing with TOY?
Max: It isn't that different, its just friends doing something together.
FOXES: Do you remember the first concert you ever went to?
Max: I don't actually, but I do remember the first time I wanted to go to a concert, it was when Nirvana played at Rock in Rio in '92, I think, and my mother didn't let me go.
Issie: Yes, vividly. My mum took me to see Pulp at Thetford Forest.
FOXES: The first record you ever bought or that was given to you?
Max: It was a Tracy Chapman casette i got given at the age of 5.
Issie: My first tape was 'Oh Carolina' by Shaggy. Still love it.