INTERVIEW: Kerr Okan of The LaFontaines ahead of Sheffield visit

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The LaFontaines can be seen at Sheffield’s 02 Academy, providing the main support for Don Broco, on April 27.

Their new album Common Problem is out now on A Wolf At Your Door Records and here is the band’s Kerr Okan to answer a few questions ahead of the Sheffield gig.

You have a very unique sound. How would you describe your music style?

It’s hard to try and describe something that doesn’t really exist anywhere else - It’s the gift and curse of what we do. Some people try to loosely lump it in with other genres because it makes it easier for the industry framework. But we’ve become accustomed to it by now, it’s always going to be tough being the first through the door. All we know is whatever type music we make, people like it. Be it 3,000 folk up in Glasgow or 200 down in St. Albans, they keep turning up to the shows. I think at our very core we are a true rock band.

You guys have been around for a long time, with two superb albums under your belt, yet haven’t quite hit stadiums yet - are people just not ready for this level of musical mayhem?

The only problem we have is exposure. We’ve been 100 per cent independent since we started The LaFontaines ten years ago. That means everything from forming our own record label, manufacturing our own CDs, creating our own merch, artwork, videos etc since day one – all on the tightest of budgets. The only problem we face is finance. More money means more exposure. We’ve never had a problem with anyone not being ready for the music; our only issue has been giving them the opportunity to hear it. That’s why live performances mean everything to us.

The LaFontaines are renowned as the best live band in Scotland by a long way - is getting people to the shows the key to future domination?

Live has and always will be our main priority – it’s where the band comes alive. We have the best possible time at every show we play, regardless of city or venue, and I think that translates to the crowd. That’s why we have that reputation. People can tell when something is genuine, when a band is being authentic and true to themselves. Live is where you get to witness what The LaFontaines are all about. Plus we are absolutely class live to be fair.

Your last album Common Problem showed massive growth in terms of writing and production and also explored the lighter and darker elements of the band more than ever - where do you go from there?

Common Problem was certainly a darker record than our debut. With Class, we had all our lives to write, and up to that point everything was still pretty new and exciting. With Common Problem we had seen a lot more of the world, we had toured pretty much everywhere you could as a band, and the world was/still is in a pretty shaky state - so lyrically I couldn’t help but write about that. I think in terms of what comes next we just carry on doing our thing. We already have a unique sound so we never need to worry about anything sounding rehashed or redundant. Just carry on making some big tunes.

What’s happening in terms of writing and recording at the moment?

Literally just before we jumped on this tour, we were in the studio recording new material. In fact, as soon as we get our next day off on this run we are heading back to Glasgow to finish a couple songs off. We never really stopped writing after Common Problem, and since then everything has been flowing pretty well. The way things are going at the moment we will have another release by the end of the year. It already sounds pretty different to our last record… obviously.

How exciting is it to be headed back out on the road with Don Broco?

We‘ve never been as excited about a tour as we are for this one, genuinely. We had a night out with the boys in Broco a few years back in Birmingham and it was total class. They are up for a laugh and they play good tunes, what more could you want? One of the best things for us is that we get to play to a whole host of new people. Any opportunity we get to spread the music is something we appreciate and will make the most of. Please get yourself down as early as possible and we promise we won’t disappoint.

Any special memories or experiences in Sheffield?

We’re buzzing to come back to Sheffield, we’ve had some of our best gigs there over the years. The first time we ever came down we were supporting a band called Bad Rabbits at the Plug, who funnily enough have also supported Don Broco. Since then, we’ve done 3 headline shows there and we always make a point of including it on our tour runs. Never played the O2 before though, so please get down early for the best show Sheffield has ever seen.

Jamie, your drummer wrote a book which came with the album, just telling the crazy stories we know only too well are true of his mental life - were you surprised how popular this has become?

I’m more surprised that he can actually remember any of his stories, let alone write them down! I love how it authentically spread though. People were recommending it to friends and family and then word spread online and orders started flying out of our store. There is even talk of turning it into a mini series… but that’s for another interview.

Why should fans come along early to see The LaFontaines?

Because we promise you the best gig of your life, or a money back guarantee (terms and conditions apply).

For more on the band, see @TheLaFontaines