Banfi in conversation
With their experimental guitar textures and arresting melodies, East London trio Banfi are steadily gaining popularity in the Alternative scene. The Mic sat down with Joe, Aaron and Chris ahead of their show at Nottingham’s Bodega last week.
Forming 3 years ago, following Joe’s solo work, he and drummer Aaron began working together in Aaron’s basement, shortly recruiting Chris when ‘we realised we couldn’t do it just us two’. Since ‘freezing [their] nuts off’ in Hackney the trio have been signed with Communion, becoming staple supports for the likes of Bear’s Den and Nathaniel Rateliff. ‘It’s handy cause once you’ve been dropped in to that pool then you know a lot of people straight away. Kev Jones who is part of the whole creative side of things is very kind and helps gives you confidence when you’re pursuing the right kind of sound.’
Heavily inspired by Tom Waits’ ‘crazy experimental sounds’ and the Police. ‘We always talk about the Police cause of when we grew up, and then the first 10 tracks on the This is: The Police playlist on Spotify are probably, what I think are the best rock band songs of all time. They would be the constant thing, you like new stuff but you always go back to who you essentially believe is the best. Every artist has that person they go back to and ours is definitely them.’ When listening to them play you can hear echoes of these musicians within their catching melodies and distorted bass.
The trio claim to be rather new at touring, ‘we basically lost a year, well not lost, last year we basically didn’t play at all. There was a lot of different things happening, we were recording and basically didn’t get a chance to get out and tour.’ This supposedly lost time is not visible at all on stage as the harmony and banter between the trio infects the crowd. ‘When you play live it’s really enjoyable cause it’s a different kind of energy on stage.’ As Chris puts it ‘it’s all about having a laugh’. However when confronted with the question as to whether they preferred live shows to the studio their opinions were divided. ‘I would say you can’t have one without the other, unless you’re Kate Bush. When you play live it’s all outward, it’s all about the audience, they’re not having a good time then it’s a failure, it’s for them. Then when you play in a studio it’s all inwards. If you haven’t found something out or discovered something then the band suffers. You can’t do too much of either. If you’re out playing live all the time then you’ll never get a look in and eventually you’ve got nothing more to give them where if you’re in the studio and you’re inward all the time then maybe that would be ok but I do think you’d go a bit mad.’
One of the standout songs of the set was unreleased track ‘Future’ with it’s gradual build and climatic end. Both Chris and Aaron claimed the future hit (pardon the pun) as their favourite song to play. ‘It’s this weird thing where when Joe was writing the demo there’s this drum part that he just put on there like ‘this might be good’ and I was just like ‘you can’t play that’. But now my drummer friends who come see us play keep saying ‘man that bit is really good’ and it’s the only bit I didn’t write so I’m like thanks. That’s my favourite song as well. It’s massive. It makes me wanna be in that live video of the Goo Goo Dolls singing Iris. The one where it’s the 4th of July in America and it’s pissing it down, like I’ve never seen, and there’s water everywhere and everyone’s going mental, it’s so euphoric.’ So as Joe perfectly quips ‘so basically [Aaron] wants to play future in the rain.’
Banfi are certainly ones to watch with an album set to be released in the Spring and live dates in the New Year. Their commitment to their work is admirable as they push the boundaries of guitar pop, creating experimental rhythms and sounds.
The Songs They Wish They’d Wrote:
Chris: Here, There and Everywhere – The Beatles and Life on Mars? – David Bowie
Joe: Every Breath You Take – The Police and Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
Aaron: I’d Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know – Donny Hathaway