BAND INTERVIEW: Fake Teak

Teak Scotland 2

Fake Teak are a four-piece alternative rock band based in London. The group was originally the musical brainchild of lead vocalist and bass player Andrew Wyld, evolving eventually into a range of musicians with eclectic styles and tastes.

They belong to a rich lineage of left field, alternative artists and you can hear the influence of groups like Roxy Music, The Teardrop Explodes, Talking Heads and Sparks, along with more modern influences like Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend and LCD Soundsystem. I reviewed their eponymous debut album which you can read here

Tell me a little about the history and genesis of the band, when were Fake Teak formed and by whom and who are the members in the current line up?

Fake Teak started out as a name for Andrew to bookmark songs he’d written that didn’t really belong in any of the bands he was in at the time. Then one day Gabby Young phoned him up to book Fake Teak for a gig and Andrew decided maybe it was time to do something about it. He met our first keyboardist and through him our drummer Andrea.

Andrew met Ali, our guitarist, while building a ten foot model of the nosecone of a nuclear missile for a short film; Jo (Andrew’s sister) volunteered to join when the first keyboardist moved away, and we’ve since merged into a kind of family cemented together by music, powerful margaritas and in-jokes about 1970s radio DJs.

Your music is distinctive and unique, who were your formative influences and who are your current artistic inspirations? 

Growing up, the Wylds enjoyed music like the Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Cream and Roxy Music. Influences on all of us include Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Fela Kuti…the list is endless!

What are your views on the music industry and the current musical climate? Do you feel the effects of the internet have been helpful or deleterious for alternative artists trying to get their music heard?

The music scene seems to be moving away from the recent emphasis on talent shows and manufactured pop so that, as in earlier times, how artists look is less important than their music, which is healthy. The internet is great for disseminating music but streaming makes it harder for musicians to get paid more than a pittance, which is a real problem.

Is there one artist or band that you would love to tour with?

Hot Chip feels like a great fit for us. We would love to tour with them! Also Teleman and Public Service Broadcasting.

You’re based in London, is the music scene there thriving or difficult to navigate?

We really enjoy playing in London, but as with music in general the capital is saturated, so it can be hard for different styles of music to be matched up with the right audience. Promoters can be cynical at times so it can be more about filling a space than really aiding the growth of an act. Plus we’d love to see more South London venues thriving, we often play north of the river but it would be great to play closer to home more often!

Teak Scotland 1

Your eponymous debut album has some fantastic tracks, is there a consensus favourite in the group?

A tricky question, but we all enjoy Post Office Tower, it’s a really pleasing track and showcases our collective strengths. Lagos 82 is also particularly fun live as it really gets the audience involved.

Who are the main lyrical influences for the group?

In addition to the artists mentioned, David Byrne, and of course our beloved Sir Terry Wogan! But each of us has tried to develop our own ‘voice’, using quite abstract ideas or personal experiences yet allowing enough ambiguity that listeners can bring their own interpretation to the lyrics.

The video for Bears Always Party The Exact Right Amount is highly entertaining, who was behind it?

That was Andrew and Ali harnessing their inner bear-wrangling skills. We got some pretty strange looks whilst out bear-illa filming. We’d like to make it clear that no cuddly toys were harmed during the making of the video. Hopefully it’s DIY in the best possible way with our home-made puppetry, and special thanks go to the Star & Garter and Ascape Studios in Bromley for the locations, and to Ali’s partner Iga for her camera work in the final bear party scene!

Are there other any strong influences on the group’s music from other art forms? E.g. cinema, literature, poetry, visual arts.

Breathless was inspired by the French film À bout de souffle, and Serge Gainsbourg is another influence. Prufrock was partly inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Archive footage of the Post Office Tower fuelled the imagery in that song, and the accompanying music video.

What’s in the pipeline for Fake Teak?

We have a gig coming up at the Colour House Theatre on 26 July, where we’ll launch our next EP, featuring songs we wrote and recorded on the first of our annual Scottish retreats to Achmelvich in the Highlands. We have another retreat there booked for August, which will include more recordings, and more sampling of the local Lochinver Larder pies!

teak-album-cover.jpg

Tell us a little about the songs on your debut album!

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Written as an antidote to songs set in clubs! We’re too grumpy for that kind of stuff, so we wrote this to poke a bit of fun at it. That said, this one does get people dancing…

Bears Always Party The Exact Right Amount

By contrast, we do enjoy a good party. This is about the kind of party where everyone is welcome and everyone can party in the way that suits them best. It is of course hosted by bears, because they are the cuddliest.

Post Office Tower

One of our best known. The Post Office Tower was one of those places you always recognise on trips to London as a kid; later, Andrew learned about the 1972 bomb attack on the tower (that sadly led to the closure of its revolving restaurant) and wondered, in the light of 9/11, what would life be like if that had succeeded? This is a song about modernism and its mistakes, but also its optimism, something we want to recapture now.

Solid-State

One of the first songs Andrew wrote; this is about the tension between logic and emotion. We feel that logic actually connects you to your deepest emotions and lets you understand them better, and this is about that. Also transistors.

Recall A Thought

This song is built around Ali’s brilliant, insistent guitar riff; everything else springs from there. The bass provides a melodic and rhythmic counterpoint to the guitar line, and the drums add a steady, hypnotic groove. This is a song about both the joy of a relationship and the wistfulness of saying goodbye, echoed by the high, plaintive synth line.

Lauren, Veiled

Andrew used to like someone called Lauren, who had a photo of herself in a veil from her friend’s wedding. It didn’t work out but we got this little ditty out of it.

Whole Lot O’ Grief

A wry look at impostor syndrome, particularly when you have a friend who seems to find it all easy, this is a lovely, slow, warm jam from Andrea. The Moog bass was a departure for us, but definitely one we’d revisit, and we particularly love the drowned piano in the middle section. Also check Jo out on flute!

Lagos 82

Andrew woke up with the bass part to this running through his head in the middle of the night. He whistled it very quietly into his phone to try and avoid waking anyone; weeks later, listening to it back, he was convinced he’d plagiarised it, but after listening to several records convinced himself it is an original song. The title is because we imagine this is what a collaboration between Fela Kuti and David Bowie in 1982 might have sounded like.

101

All about the early stages of a new relationship, this is a highlife and new wave filled bundle of fun. As with several of Ali’s songs, it’s built around a crackling guitar riff, with the bass taking things into the relative minor in the third verse, ready for the harmony-laden breakdown and a triumphant burst of energy at the end.

No Shame

The riff and the opening line were inspired by Jo’s love of Hot Chip, but soon the song grew into an evocation of those nights out when you’re vaguely dancing with people you don’t know very well, and end up strangely drawn together by that shared experience. The other main musical influence is LCD Soundsytem’s Us v Them; a bit of disco mixed in with the electronica. When we performed this song at a wedding the guests started up a conga line, which was a surreal but brilliant moment!

Breathless

This started out as something like an attempt to write classic 60s and 70s thriller music, like Lalo Schifrin’s score for Bullitt or the brilliant soundtrack to The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three by David Shire. Andrew envisaged it as a kind of tango, split in time, between an elusive femme fatale in a dark bar and a detective trying to find her some hours later. We particularly love the chords at the end and the fun jazz middle eight. Andrew yells on this one. Yells.

Fake Teak’s Achmelvich EP will be launched at the Colour House Theatre on 26 July.

Visit their Facebook page HERE

 

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