Pop band Guillemots flock south

Article published on Nov. 10, 2006
Article published on Nov. 10, 2006
Guillemots, a new Brit pop band from London, hit the continent with some new pop tunes

Guillemots who? Aren’t guillemots short-winged birds that live on cliffs? 'I wouldn't say guillemots are particularly short-winged,' answers Fyfe Hutchins, AKA Fyfe Dangerfield. 'This curious name comes from one of my early lyrics.' As the leader of the up-and-coming band ‘Guillemots’ walks down the Champs Elysées with a bunch of new songs in his moleskin, he is stopped by hordes of female fans. They beg him to listen to some of the love songs they have written for him. He raises his arm and checks his watch. "Ok, quickly, I've only got five minutes."

Three portions of food later

Straight from London, this fresh new band is riding on a wave of fame after the release of their latest album 'From the Cliffs'. Now they are landing on the French shores, hoping to conquer continental audiences.

Though they remain close to their Brit pop roots, the band boasts some very diverse members. One wonders how the English singer Fyfe Dangerfield met Mc Lord Magrao, the guitarist from Sao Paulo, Rican Coal, the Scottish drummer, and the Canadian Aristazabel on the double bass. 'I chose to work with Magrao because he knew how to play a type-writer and a match box, just like in the Commitments sketch.' Rican immediately impressed Fyfe Dangerfield with his great appetite at a TV programme: 'The main reason why Rican became the drummer of the upcoming Guillemots was because he had three portions of food.'

And yes, you’re quite right in thinking this is the sort of slush up-and-coming bands serve up to NME reporters and their fans. But our ironic, cosmopolitan cliff-hanging band do boast impressive musical CVs.

Dangerfield studied music in Birmingham as a child and is familiar with experimental and classical music. Rican Caol played for an Irish folk band, the Fureys, before joining the crew. He has been also described as having a 'deranged' view of rhythm. MC Lord Magrao went from learning old school Brazilian samba tunes to playing guerrilla gigs for a death-metal band in Sao Paolo. His skills are influenced by Tom Zé, Mike Patton and John Frusciante from RHCP. Double-bassist Aristazabal Hawkes studied jazz at in New York. She joined the band when it was created in 2004, though Fyfe Dangerfield was afraid she might 'beat him up with her jazzy past'. She does not like to be associated with any specific style though. Recently she spent a long summer playing on a cruise ship for a man called Johnny Favorite.

Difficult to describe

Although Guillemots could be described as a melting-pop of several music genres, none of them could entirely describe their sound. Too independent and weird to be categorised as pop, their music still remains accessible. Their jazzy experimentations do not take them too far from well-wrought indie-pop recordings. And lastly they are neither rockers nor songwriters, at least in the strict sense of the word. Their songs are meant to be 'for the masses' (preferably drunk).

Guillemots share an attitude rather than a specific genre or taste in music. These features make them an original but familiar band. Take a look at 'I Saw Such Things In My Sleep' (Fantastic Plastic, 2005) and 'From The Cliffs' EP (Naïve, 2006), but especially in their LP debut 'Through The Windowpane' (Naïve-Polydor, 2006). Their third single 'Made Up Love Song #43' is arguably their best one. It is both a perfect love song and a sophisticated example of '80s wave piece recalling Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

To conclude Fyfe tells us that, during rainy days in London, 'there's poetry in an empty coke can'. Actually the band often sound more British than expected.

Catch the Guillemots who are currently touring in France: Nov 10th in Lille, 11th in Paris, 12th in Nantes and 14th in Bordeaux