We met Nick Robin, former front man with La Folie, a band we had a great deal of respect for last year after reviewing their album ‘Risus Sardonicus’. Recently we’d seen him perform a solo gig at SOYO and were curious as to what had happened to La Folie and what Nick was up to as a solo artist, so here it is:
Scenester: If you don’t mind, could you take us through the demise of La Folie?
Nick: Yeah that’s fine; I promise I won’t burst into tears or anything, if I start to choke than we might have to stop…..lol! When we started out, it was four of us all living together and pretty much spending all our time together, and then when we went to do band related stuff it was all very focused, we’d just get on with it and it would be all about writing songs. Three or four years down the line, Danny (drummer) had had two children and was losing interest cos he was doing pretty well with his job at Apple, then it came to the point that the only time we got to socialize together was with the band. So the rehearsal used to be like a get together, so out of a four hour session, two hours of that would be spent talking absolute rubbish, you know getting drunk and not really focusing on the music. Then it just came to a point were we couldn’t find time to get all four of us in a room to rehearse anymore let alone socialize together, so the song writing wasn’t flowing as fluidly as it used to. I think so far as the song writing went with La Folie we raised the bar quite a lot, there were pop-like songs like ‘Apples’ which were good in there own right but then when we did stuff that was a bit more ambitious like ‘Arachnophobia’ that had big build ups in it. I think as a group we couldn’t do a three minute pop song, we had to have this crescendo in there somewhere and when you’re only meeting up once a fortnight it’s not that easy to orchestrate these things.
We never actually said we’ll call it a day, we just came to the point when we realised that we’d not got together for about two and a half months and there’s no time we could do it again....so we all knew it was over without having to have that conversation.
As far as me doing my own stuff is concerned, generally whenever I go to the toilet I take my guitar with me and I’ll end up probably sat there for forty five minutes. The only room in my house that has any reverb is my bathroom so I’ll sing and I’ll sound like an angel, but it sounds better than doing it in any other room in the house. That’s what I do, I’m not going to lie about it, it can be pretty awkward when the door isn’t locked cos my housemates just assume I’m playing guitar but I’m not....erm......I’m multi-tasking!
But it did make me sad not having La Folie anymore, so I thought if I’m gonna sit here making up songs I may as well put them out in the public forum and see if I can get a bit of feedback on it. Now that I’ve been doing recording and stuff it’s made me want to put a full band together again.
Scenester: So do you think you’ll get the band back together or stick to the solo route?
Nick: With La Folie, it won’t happen again, personally for me there’s too much frustration, it’s not Danny and Mannie’s fault that they got more going on in there lives, but I can’t work all the time being frustrated at not being able to get and practice. If I find the right people who are as ambitious as me and are prepared to meet up two, three times a week then I’d love to do a band thing again, Jacko has expressed an interest in doing it and he was always the most committed, so it would be nice to get back with him. I reckon if I put a normal band together, a drummer, a bass and guitar then I know I’ll get complacent with that format so my first thing is to get someone who can play fiddle down and then build a band around that. I wanted to do this recording with just acoustic guitar like I do at gigs, but then I got a bit carried away and thought maybe electric guitar will sound good, so now I’m thinking I might have a heavy band again. I don’t know we’ll see what happens, the songs are there, it’s just how they’re performed that needs to get sorted out.
Scenester: Has your inspiration changed from the work you did with La Folie, now that it’s just you?
Nick: I wouldn’t say my inspiration has changed, I’m a sucker for pop songs really and some of the songs I write I’ve probably felt a bit embarrassed to bring to La Folie, maybe they weren’t heavy enough or all I wanted was verse, chorus, verse, chorus and two minutes, done! The music I listen to is still the same, it still comes from the same places but I don’t have to have anyone else’s approval but my own. Again that’s why I wanted to put these tracks down before I find another band so I had all the bones of everybody else’s parts that I wanted them to play. I’d write say a verse and a chorus but I wouldn’t have any structure to it because that doesn’t really come until I get to record something. To be honest I haven’t got into any new music or new bands for about a year now, I kind of fell out with it and just sat listening to all my Doors and Pixies records, aside from that I like a lot of the 60’s psychedelic stuff. I did get into a band recently, The Black Angels, they’re amazing but not really something I could see myself doing.
Scenester: So do you have anything coming up in the near future?
Nick: I’ve not really been pushing it cos my plan when I first started thinking about doing it was just get a couple of gigs in Sheffield and see if I could do it cos I’m not comfortable playing on my own. With La Folie I wasn’t the most talkative and in your face front man and when I was I only came out and said something stupid....but now I haven’t got the other guys to hide behind to share the blame with if it goes wrong, now it’s just me, it’s kinda terrifying! But, yeah, once I had a couple of gigs out the way, now that’s done I’m starting to feel a little more ambitious. As of now I want to get some reviews, get myself noticed again because if you drop off the scene for a while people forget you exist.
Scenester: Your first gig was down at The Washington, how was that for you?
Nick: Terrifying, absolutely terrifying but it was good and quite encouraging because with La Folie we almost got used to emptying a room. We did have hardcore people there but the people that stayed in the room generally loved it, I’ve always said if a hundred people stay and at the end five come up and say they absolutely loved it then job done! But at The Washington the room actually got busier while I was playing, my nerves calmed a little bit but I still managed to spill me pint. I saw Manny at the bar and said “Get us a pint I’ve spilt this one!” but between him getting it to me and me getting it to my mouth, I was shaking that much that there was only a third of a pint left! My nerves weren’t so bad down at SOYO, I just had to get used to it again. In fact I wanted to do my first gig there because that’s the place I’m most comfortable in and Matt makes you feel welcome, some people you deal with, it’s like you turn up and they’re like “Oh, the bands here, we’ll be in our Ivory Tower up here if you want anything!” So yeah I wanted to do SOYO, but then The Washington came up, Friday afternoon bank holiday, everybody pretty drunk, this one guy comes up to me afterwards and says “That was amazing, how many legs have you got?” I’m thinking well it goes boom, chish, boom, chish, you do the maths, but people seem to be quite impressed with the dexterity of it all...!
So there it is, La Folie are no more, but the essence of what they stood for is alive and kicking in the form of Nick Robin, we’d like to thank him for taking time out from recording to talk to us and look forward to what he’ll do next! Incidentally Nick is still on the lookout for a fiddle player, so if anyone feels up to the challenge let us know and we will forward your details on to him, cheers x.