Les Savy Fav
New York City post-hardcore outfit Les Savy Fav have been creating some of the most raw and vibrant records in the world over the past 15 years. Aurally renowned for their striking and powerful productions, the group encompass a rare dynamic found within contemporary music, embodying an unadulterated passion for their music underpinned by a deliberate disconnection from the immense musical world around them. In a year that has seen the recent release of their fifth studio album Root For Ruin , lead guitarist Seth Jabour shares how 2010 unfolded for the group.
“I got married!” he laughs cheekily, “That was probably the biggest highlight personally. Speaking on behalf of the band it was a very productive year. We recorded and released our record which is now out and about. We’ve played a tonne of shows around the world and we’ve just got back from Europe. Now we’re just setting the wheels in motion for 2011 in what will most hopefully be another successful year for us.”
The power and energy found within Root For Ruin is undeniable. A logical progression for the group, the album’s direction is evident as a culmination of the group’s history and experience. A forward step backwards, Root For Ruin is a vivacious and unnerving listen.
“It came from the idea of wanting to make a record that was really aggressive and very direct,” shares Seth carefully, “We were looking around at the musical landscape such as minimal wave, chillwave and whatever variable-X wave that is out there at the moment,” he chuckles. “We’ve always been a band that sort of bucked trends a little and we really focused on what we weren’t hearing out there.
“We thought about what bands we were listening to in the 90’s when we were first forming like Superchunk, Circus Lupus and more bands than I could probably name right now. We wanted to put all of that together and that’s really where our heads were. It’s really from the heart; it’s exciting and it’s a little fiercer than some of our past efforts have been.
“A lot of the similarities to our previous records come out in the production stage,” he further explains. “We’ve been working with Christopher Zane since 2004, when we finished (their seminal record) Inches. His general vibe as a producer and his aesthetics when it comes to making records is very evident on the front half of Inches, what we did for Let’s Stay Friends and now what we’ve got on Root for Ruin” he tells, pausing momentarily for breath. “Things have become a little more stripped down and we’ve got back to the basics and back to our roots. As fans of music and also as people making music that’s what we were striving for this time around with this album.”
Underpinning their prowess on record is the group’s almost undefinable live performances. Revered for lead singer Tim Harrington’s onstage antics, the group’s undeniable live presence is reinforced by their energetic, vicious and spontaneous approach. “I don’t think our performances have changed too dramatically recently. Well,” Seth contemplates, “Tim’s got a bunch of new costumes that no one has seen over in Australia yet,” he laughs fervently.
“For the rest of us? We sort of just try to keep doing what we know how to do. When you have one guy running around onstage then it’s a spectacle; it’s awesome. But if you have five guys running around onstage, then you look like a collection of jackasses,” he sneers. “We try to recreate the songs that we wrote for our records to the best of our ability. We always put on a good live show. As long as we bring a lot of the energy that has carried us this far then it’s a pretty tried and true formula.”
Returning to Australia for a string of shows nationwide, a collection of headline and festival performances for the Laneway Festival (which they also played in 2006), Seth shares the group’s anticipations for the tour.
“We don’t do a lot of heavy planning when we come to play a show anywhere” he relates humbly. “We’re a band who really like to embrace the moment and kind of feed off what the audience is giving us.
“I think we’re pretty good at improvising our shows and sort of winging it. It’s what we’re really consistent with and it works really well. People understand that when Les Savy Fav play a show it’s not going to be a boring show and it’s going to be exciting and it’ll keep everyone on their toes. We essentially are just going to try and keep everything and everyone within the moment.”
A band who have forever left their mark on the post-punk and post-hardcore and post-variable-x revival, the future for Les Savy Fav whilst consistently uncertain remains an exciting prospect.
“In 2011 we really want to work Root For Ruin. In 2012 and beyond I really don’t know, we never know. It could be anything. It could be a new record, it could be no more records, I honestly couldn’t tell you.”
LES SAVY FAV play the LANEWAY FESTIVAL at the Footscray Community Arts Centre on Saturday February 5 – alongside !!!, Cut Copy, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Beach House and a million other excellent bands. It is, of course, sold out. BUT! You’re in luck, as they also play a one-off sideshow at Billboard The Venue on Tuesday February 8 – tickets from Polyester Records, ticketek.com.au and 132 849. And they’re fucking awesome live – so don’t miss out. Root For Ruin is out now through Shock.