EVERYTHING IS MY FAMILY
PLAY IT AGAIN SAM / [PIAS]
NOAH BETHKE: firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Fighters are a band who learn from humanity’s most ancient traditions to make music that sounds like the future. The core trio of singer Sebastian ‘Bast’ Pringle, guitar and txalaparta player Graham Dickson and multi-instrumentalist Gilbert Vierich have spent the last three years traversing the planet, reconnecting with nature and learning to play forgotten instruments. They return now with a new record ‘Everything Is My Family’ which embodies their ecstatic lust for life and, as Bast says, “is more dance floor, more psychedelic, more tropical, more rave, more sunshine, more pretty much everything” than anything they have covered before.
Since the release of acclaimed second album ‘Cave Rave’ in 2013, Bast has spent time living in the Basque Country, The Canary Islands, and Central America – a field recording of tropical wise-men in conversation in Costa Rica opens the album - and says his time away from the overpowering buzz of modern civilization has given him a new perspective.
“They're those great type of places you can happily do most of your existing outside,” he explains. “It felt like we were living out the vision we had on ‘Cave Rave’; following that ancestral desire to unite with nature and our fellow human beings without the distractions of the many screens and all-consuming inventions of modern society. I’d often be passing the time just playing a guitar around a fire, being taught Nigerian hymns or Brazilian folk songs or Sanskrit mantras. When you hear that music, you can really feel the power and mystical wisdom of those traditions. By singing and playing songs that have been passed down, generation after generation for thousands of years you feel somehow very in the moment yet also with this amazing feeling of connection to this vast collective psyche that has believed in these powerful things for so long.”
Meanwhile, bandmate Graham lived “up a mountain” in Maine before traveling down to Peru in a modern life-provoked quest for otherness. He says that the time they each individually spent exploring the world has helped them come to terms with some of the highs and tragic lows the band has already experienced, such as the death of drummer Andrea Marongiu in September 2014.
“We don't want to dwell on anything but we’re conscious of the fact that a lot has happened that inspired us in different ways,” says Graham. “We're really happy to be back and to be alive and to celebrate all of this. On the last album, we asked a lot of questions about existence and other things. This time I think it's more about us just realizing a lot of the answers we were looking for may be out of our control. The songs on this album are less about questions, and more about times there was nothing else to do but surrender to the experience. Making music that instinctively seems to match those moments, so they last forever in a song is a lot of what we were trying to do. Also just reconnecting with that love of storytelling and ways of expressing the incredible mystery of life.”
Those songs include euphoric lead single ‘All Night’, which Gilbert describes as the track on the album which may remind people most of the music the band have made before, because it “brings positivity and excitement” and was written in the band’s adopted home of the Basque Country, where elements of their first two albums were recorded.
Another big party tune is ‘Good Girls’, which Bast says is a “classic story about a girl who turns out not to love you as much as you thought. We love the song, and we love the vibe of it. It’s a cheeky number, originally written sitting around a fire on a beach on the south coast of the UK.”
Dive deeper into the new album, however, and you’ll soon discover that Crystal Fighters are pushing beyond boundaries into spiritual areas that neither they nor anyone else has truly explored before. Epic new track ‘The Moondog’ is one such example.
That was written in a dream or astral state,” explains Graham. “This woman came to me where I was staying in Peru and sang me the chorus. It’s a love song. A ‘moondog’ is when, in the right atmospheric pressure, a perfectly symmetrical ring forms around the moon. That had happened the night before, so I thought of this story about someone looking at a moondog and looking at the stars and then accidentally tapping into the frequency of the resonance of a distant star and being transported there by love.”
Elsewhere on the record, the band have explored new genres and sounds without losing their Crystal Fighters essence. “We’ve tipped our hats to other genres of music that we haven’t touched on in the last two albums,” says Gilbert. “We have new guitar tones, new synth sounds, we’ve been listening to everything from minimal techno, to cumbia, breaks house, and disco, so our ears have developed in those terms.”
In the handful of years since the release of their debut record ‘Star of Love’ in 2010, Crystal Fighters have firmly established themselves as one of the planet’s great live bands. Their 2015/16 world tour covered five continents, performing to a million people over more than 180 shows. They now find themselves deep in rehearsals so that they can begin premiering their new material during their extensive European tour during October, November and December 2016.
“A bunch of songs, like ‘Ways I Can’t Tell’ and ‘Fly East’ were written specifically for the live show,” says Graham. “We can’t wait to play them.”
“We write songs that make us want to dance around the studio,” adds Bast. “We figure that if it makes us dance it will probably make other people want to dance too.”
More than just getting us dancing, Crystal Fighters have crafted an album with the power to reconnect us with the truth of the world around us. The band first took their name from an unfinished opera written by original band member Laure’s Basque grandfather. They were captivated by the Basque folk music and mythology, and formed the band in an attempt to expand upon the wild and deranged spirit of the old man’s writings. Now they’re moving beyond even that, to a place of truly global understanding.
“Whether it be singing round the fire or building a fire, there are certain things that in the modern world we don't have to do and yet those things were integral to our survival as a human species,” explains Bast. “Living in nature, you realize how important it is to be able to gather the right bits of wood and keep the family warm for the night – although, obviously we usually had a lighter! There’s an analogy there for the kind of music we're making at the moment - trying to tap into these ancient technologies, like music, like fire, to bring people together, whilst using modern implements to build something relevant and potentially transformatory for people living in the crazy days that we live in today.”
Crystal Fighters are building a fire – come gather round.