Interview With Fiende Fatale: ‘Head, Heart & Ballz’
‘It’s kind of daunting to be in a band,’ admits Matt Magee, lead singer of high-energy indie band Fiende Fatale. ‘There are just so many bands out there. When I was younger I used to hate other bands, but there’s room for that nowadays—just playfulness and irony.’ Rolph Angelucci-Edwards, lead guitarist for the band, adds that ‘it’s about giving something different.’ Irony, playfulness and that something different certainly feature heavily in the band’s stage presence: invigorating, intense and theatrical. As Rolph and Matt agree, good performance has got to have ‘ballz—with a zed!’ How do they keep their performances so lively? ‘Well. We keep Dom [Bowman, the band’s drummer] locked in a basement with gym equipment, on a high protein diet, and whenever we have a gig we just… release him.’ And seriously? ‘Rock and Roll is a show,’ Rolph explains. ‘It’s as much about performance as it is music. It’s really important to communicate who we are. I mean- it’s called “show”-business for a reason… rock and roll is a toss-up between head, heart and ballz!’
Asked about their influences, Rolph—‘the romanticist’ according to Matt—cites ‘debauched urban fairy tales’ by the likes of The Jam, Warren Zevon and Lou Reed. ‘It’s hard to talk about your own sound without sounding like a wanker,’ Matt adds. ‘I dunno, we sound like something really abstract—a dripping tap in a Brixton squat. No, that’s not it… it’s ballz.’ Matt says that he is influenced as much by 1Extra as by Radio 6. ‘1Extra is where it’s at! This is rock & roll via drum & bass.’ He admits that, if he could produce music himself, drum & bass would be his style of choice. Yet the band’s references range from Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde through to fantasies about David Cameron on MDMA, at G.A.Y, with the rest of Parliament.
What would Fiende Fatale’s other members say if they were here? ‘Alex’s catchphrase is “I dunno, man,”’ says Matt. And Dom, the band’s ‘most virile’ member, would ‘probably say something about females,’ according to Rolph. I ask if the band has any funny stories to tell. Both Matt and Rolph look very serious suddenly. ‘Not yet,’ says Rolph in a tone that can only be described as ominous. ‘Well,’ Matt looks thoughtful, ‘Dom’s last band did replace him with a drum machine.’ ‘He has a proper chip on his shoulder about that,’ Rolph adds. ‘Does that count as a funny story?’
Is fame on the cards for Fiende Fatale? ‘I think if I wanted to get famous I’d have to murder someone,’ Matt says, looking alarmingly serious. ‘Yep,’ says Rolph. ‘Serial killer or rockstar […] it’s hard to get famous in rock & roll right now—but you can have success! There’s a chorus of voices out there now, it’s not like there are… rock Gods. We’ll never be Bruce Springsteen. But we’ve got a lot to say.’ Matt argues that a lot of music at the moment is ‘empty […] there’s still a lot of big voices but there’s nothing to say. It’s easier to get by singing someone else’s songs than your own. I’m not “in touch” at the moment, really.’
And what about advice for new bands? ‘Give up!’ Matt yells, almost knocking his coffee over. ‘Kill yourselves in a dramatic way, then post it all over the internet!’ Rolph disagrees. ‘Everyone’s got something to say, you know… you can’t ever be wrong. You can only be you.’
Published in [SMITHS], Goldsmiths University’s magazine.