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LaFaro's Jonny Black Talks To German Magazine Éclat

Jonny talks tours, the NI scene, Larry David, German chefs, Derry 'wans', writing 'fuck' songs and posthumously fires Scott LaFaro...

Cheers to Sean Duffy for translating this. Proof that a Derry man in Stuttgart is better than an English Man In New York. Follow 'Full Press Article' for original German.

"Our music is made for jumping into swimming pools" says LaFaro singer Jonny Black, and how right he is, the album 'Easy Meatknocks out alternative rock like a high-speed steamroller on the streets.

In the smoking room of the Chez Heinz in Hannover we meet with the fully loaded singer and guitarist Jonny, who broke his leg at the start of the European tour. What followed was a conversation about Northern Irish identity, German Chefs and a dark sense of humour, as black as a raven.
 
Eclat Magazine : Hi Jonny, firstly about your audience: you make music for men. Do women ever come to your shows? 
 
Jonny Black: We recently had a show in Belfast where for the first time ever there were more women than men. But nearly everywhere else we play it's to a majority of men in black t-shirts . People of Belfast have figured out that gigs are an alternative to clubbing and that it's not just “macho shit”, but I'm not complaining.
 
Eclat Magazine : I read recently that you covered a song from Katy Perry .. how did that go down with your normal audience? 
 
Jonny: (laughing) How did you find out about that ?? its true, we played 'I Kissed A Girl' at a festival last year. It was good craic; a horde of dark, evil looking men and a few woman dancing in front of the stage. It was a one off thing, we dont want to be known as “the band that covered Katy Perry”
 
Eclat Magazine : This is your second tour of mainland Europe, Have you noticed differences in the audience or your reception here compared with the audience in Northern Ireland?
 
Jonny: The main difference is the people are better looking, much better looking, the people in the UK are nasty, and the venues here are much cooler than at home too. The feedback we get here is also much better; in the UK no one is interested in rock music anymore, they are only interested in over-styled indie bands, but over here its different, touring here is a lot more fun.
 
Eclat Magazine : Really? I had the opinion that you were more popular in the UK than the rest of Europe.
 
Jonny: That's just because we toured there more often, but in the future we want to concentrate more on the mainland.
 
Eclat Magazine : About your new second album, 'Easy Meat'. There are a few strange interludes, German listeners  especially will notice on 'Langer'. Did you record many of the interludes here? 
 
Jonny: Yeah, I got them about a year ago when we were last here on tour, I just recorded stupid people or drunk people saying stupid, funny stuff . Funnily enough the majority of these people were German. I believe 5 of 7 interludes from 'Easy Meat' were recorded here. For example in 'Langer' it's the head chef from the club we played: after his shift he just sat at the bar all night and drank schnapps constantly, he kept getting louder and funnier all the time, he was a great guy. He kept calling us “Irish Länger”, that’s where we got the name, but Germany is always great, we always get great feedback here we feel as home here as we do in Belfast, other friends of ours, for example Therapy? feel the same way.
 

Eclat Magazine : 'Easy Meat' is more brutal, aggressive and metal influenced than your eponymous debut, did you go about this album more differently?

 

Jonny: (Immediately) Definitely, firstly we didn't have much time to write the second album. As well as that, we hadn't written anything new in over a year; that's why we just ripped out the stupidest, bluntest riffs that came to us. Hopefully it hits the spot, it should be a fun album.

 

Eclat Magazine : That means 'Easy Meat' is more spontaneous and riff orientated?

 

Jonny: That was the plan, “fuck songs” if you will (laughs). I hope people don’t take this album too seriously, it's a party album! We try not to get in anyway political. The lyrics are really colloquial; In Northern Ireland most people will understand them and the rest of the world dont care. It doesn't matter, people should jump into swimming-pools to our music.

 

Eclat Magazine : Did you have a concept for the lyrics? 

 

Jonny: Yeah, 'Easy Meat' should be as Northern Irish as possible. In every song is a phrase that is in daily use in some corner of the country, a lot of them are from Derry; they are the funniest people in Northern Ireland.

Our local following complained that the first album sounded too American, 'Easy Meat' is our answer to that.

 

Eclat Magazine : What exactly does 'Easy Meat' stand for? 

 

Jonny: (grinning) For lots of things; it can be pretty perverted. (thinking) but originaly it means “no worries” or “no problem”. 

 

Eclat Magazine : I find the album aggressive in a positive way. Do you agree? And if yes, why?

 

Jonny: I agree. Being honest, we are frustrated about the state of the country we are living. Like I said, we aren't trying to get too political, but when you come from Northern Ireland, you automatically become an angry person. It's a backwards country with a narrow horizon, you know, when you travel the world and come home, you get really depressed, (Laughing) so we are letting off steam about it: we are pretty pissed off (laughs harder). 

To be honest about the lyrics : I am fascinated by the things that are not said in a conversation, the undercurrent

things that are there but aren’t talked about. All the lyrics on the album bring these topics to the surface, 'Easy Meat' says the things people really want to say in conversation. It earned us the reputation of having a really dark sense of humor. We are kind of like Larry David.

 

Eclat Magazine : Your dark sense of humour is pretty obvious in your publicity shots, the ones where you are dressed as butchers posing in a forest. Who came up with this brilliant idea?

 

Jonny: Thats was Dave, our guitarist. The photo session was hilarious because people who were just walking through the forest were scared shitless, they all had this funny look about them. Lots of people found these pictures as funny as you did, they thought we were going to wear butchers' aprons onstage.

 

Eclat Magazine : Future Of The Left have similar pictures, except not in the forsest but infront of a rubbish compressor. Is there more than just this one connection between the bands?

 

Jonny: yeah, we know the boys pretty well, with my first ever band I played tour support for Mclusky, (comprised of former members of Future Of The Left). It was fantastic, listening to these boys talking crap was priceless, they are hilarious. We are still big fans and they are fans of ours, we go to each others shows.

 

 

Eclat Magazine : In my opinion you sound like singer Andy Falkous.
 
Jonny: Really? Oh no... Don't tell him that. I already apologisedt to his girlfriend for sounding so much like him, she said she didnt think so, and that I sounded more like Mark E. Smith from The Fall. I just laughed and accepted it .
 
Eclat Magazine : Which of your tour partners have been your favorite so far?
 
Jonny: We really had fun with Helmet last year. They always say you should never meet your heroes, but these guys were really fantastic; they have so much experience and along with it a dark sense of humour. Also topping the list would be And So I Watch You From Afar, cool guys, as well as them Fighting With Wirethey are on the same label as we are and we are pretty often together on tour. Their singer is one of the funniest guys on the planet, he's not afraid of making an absolute idiot of himself .
 
Eclat Magazine : Have you any other bands in Northern Ireland that we should be watching the radar for?
 
Jonny: Of course, there is a really healthy music scene full of young bands like us that are still developing who all know how to write good songs and how to play their instruments well, as opposed to us when we started. Event Horses and The Rupture Dogs are just 2 off the top of my head, they are both totally independent, do everthing themselves and are trying like mad to get to mainland Europe.
 
Eclat Magazine : Bands from Northern Ireland like you or And So I Watch You From Afar are remarkable, you appear and all of a sudden we are dealing with a new fresh scene?

Jonny: Yeah, the country and its culture have changed. The youth, the ones who don’t see the old borders, are up for their turn. They aren’t afraid anymore to take a risk, they aren’t afraid that they might get hurt and that was the biggest hurdle for a long time. Where we come from losers are the ones who get celebrated, the ones who are successful are resented, I mean our biggest sports stars, George Best and Alex Higgens were both chronic alcoholics, and both died as a result, but the love of the losers is slowly passing.

Eclat Magazine : On the subject of drinking: Motörhead are a classic Whiskey-band, the bronx belong to the Beer Faction, where to LaFaro stand?

Jonny: (Laughing) Depends who you are talking to. Alan our drummer wakes up every morning and has a beer for breakfast, as for me, I am a tea-junkie; a cup of tea and a smoke in the morning is as good as it gets. We don't take any of the hardstuff, but we do enjoy the Guinness so I guess that's where we stand. Your beer over here is excellent too though, we got wasted on Bitburger in Cologne last night, that was really good, but we are looking forward to seeing what Munich brings.

Eclat Magazine Ok, one last question, complete this sentence: When Scott LaFaro, the most influential jazz bassist ever, played in our band, we would…..

Jonny: Wow, ahhh (starts laughing) He'd be pretty old by now, right? (laughs on, is then quiet, and thinks for a bit) So ... When Scott LaFaro, the most influential jazz bassist ever, played in our band, we would…...... have to fire him, there is no way in the world I could imagine that we would play without using a distortion pedal. Apart from that, we would look pretty daft beside him.

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