Austrian band Francis International Airport take delicate guitar melodies and transform them into multi-layered instrumental masterpieces. Their second album, “In The Woods” exhibits a band who have more time, technical expertise and sophistication to create a harmonious whole: opulent, dense and delphic. TDOA writer Amy delved into the bands vision of beauty, in an effort to learn more.
TDOA: I’m always interested to hear the story behind an album’s cover art. The cover for In The Woods is beautiful – who’s the artist, and what’s the inspiration?
FIA: The cover of IN THE WOODS is actually a detail from a painting done by Rainer Spangl, an vienna based artist. He is a friend of our labelboss, who connected us. In its labyrinthine and colorful way its like an abstract visualization of the album title IN THE WOODS.
TDOA: What has critical reception been like for this record? I can imagine you guys are an indie favorite.
FIA: At the moment we released our album only in Austria and Germany. We’re going to release the album in Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Swiss in spring. The critics in Austria and Germany were all positive, but we can’t wait to get some feedback from overseas also.
TDOA: Can you talk a little about what you’ve done before In The Woods?
FIA: We’ve been studying, working, living and loving in Vienna. Actually we still do.
TDOA: I’m assuming you guys chose the name based on the airport in the Grand Theft Auto game. What made you choose it?
FIA: Yes, the name is from GTA. When choosing the name, which was already a few years ago, we did not think too much about why we should take it. It was more like: why not? It was one of many names on our list while meeting at the rehearsel room to decide whats going to be the name of our band. From the distance I still think it is an interesting choice for a bandname. I like the fact it has this very contemporary aspect, because it is taken is from a computer game.
On the other side I’ve been working on the Vienna airport for quite a while and an airport is a strange microcosm – it is like a state within a state – it has its own rules, its own little infrastructure and mainly it is emotionally extremely charged. All things that also match to a band, so somehow after all these years it still makes sense to have such an uncomfortable long bandname.
TDOA: Who do you consider to be most influential among your contemporaries? I get the impression you’re not big fans of a lot of the “mainstream” alternative music out now.
FIA: We really consume a lot of music, old heros as well as contemporary stuff. I think influences happen mostly subconsciously. We are not trying to copy one specific band. All songs and musical styles we’ve ever listened to are puzzle pieces and we are trying to piece it together to get something that feels new.
TDOA: This whole record is freaking solid, start to finish. What was the creative process like?
FIA: This album really feels like our debutalbum, though it actually isn’t. We’ve been working with a producer the first time and also the first time in a professional studio, which was a complete new approach for us. We had the studio booked for January 2010, our drummer joined the band in October 2009. Within November and December we basically wrote the whole album, based on some scraps I collected over the year. For us it was hard work to write songs and grow together as a band in such a short time, nevertheless it worked out somehow. Not at least because of the patience of our producer and soundengineer we had the chance to work on the songs as long as we felt there is still something missing. On the other side we get really obsessed with details and they also helped us to let things go at the right moment. I’d say the creative process was pretty fast and intense and it took us quite a while to get some distance and listen to the album without wanting to change this or that. Now that it is released and some time has passed it feels like we have done a pretty good job.
TDOA: Can you talk some about the instruments used on this record? How did you guys craft such a diverse sound?
FIA: Even before we went to the studio we talked a lot about sounds. Everyone who was involved in this project knew that sounds would be an important part of the work on this album. We tried not to use sounds you’ve heard a thousand times before. That concerned every single instrument, from guitars to keyboards or drums – we wanted it to sound versatile.
TDOA: I read on your label’s site that the band was “kind of fed up by the ubiquitous Lo-Fi stuff by the likes of Best Coast or Girls.” What exactly does that mean?
FIA: We really like many different styles of music, also lo-fi stuff. Just because we don’t want to sound like these bands, doesn’t mean we don’t like it in general.
Like I said, we are really into sounds and somehow we would limit ourselves if we could not work on all these little soundsnippets, that sometimes only appear for a second in a song. We really wanted it to be full of ideas. the lo-fi thing mostly works because of sensible reduction, but this time we wanted it to sound complex.
TDOA: “Amnesiacs” is my favorite track from this album – do each of the members have their own favorites, or is there a collective favorite?
FIA: Don’t ask a mother who’s her favorite child!
TDOA: Is there a formula for making “sophisticated” music? What factors are important when working toward that particular goal?
FIA: It’s all about the right balance between reflect and letting go I guess. You must not neglect wether the technical nor the emotional aspect of writing music. But I’m pretty sure if you’re trying to write music after some formula it will go terribly wrong.
Check them out on tour!
2011-04-24 GER – Hamburg, Astra Stube
2011-04-26 GER – Hamburg, Hanseplatte Instore Gig
2011-04-27 GER – Offenbach, Hafen 2
2011-04-28 GER – Nürnberg, Club Stereo
2011-04-29 AUT – Noppen, Noppenair Festival
2011-04-30 SUI – Baden, Merkker
2011-05-01 SUI – Luzern, Treibhaus
2011-05-05 SUI – Rorschach, Mariaberg
2011-05-06 GER – Munich, Atomic Cafe (w/Sweet Sweet Moon)
2011-05-07 AUT – Vienna, Karlsplatz/Seebühne (Popfest)
2011-05-08 GER – Regensburg, Heimat (w/Sweet Sweet Moon)
2011-05-28 ESP – Barcelona, Primavera Sound
2011-06-26 AUT – Vienna, Donauinselfest, Ö1-Bühne
2011-07-29 AUT – Mank, Beserlpark Festival
2011-08-11 HUN – Budapest, Szgiet-Festival, Europa Stage
2011-10-27 AUT – Wiener Neustadt, Triebwerk
2011-10-28 AUT – Regau, Kultursaal
Here’s a live set that the band posted on their Facebook page: