Fono Comes Around
By Corey Welton
In what appears to be more of a continuing trend than a one-time fad, the Christian music scene is becoming more and more incorporated into the mainstream of modern music. One of the UK's brightest additions to this movement is Fono.
Consisting of Del Currie, Ian Crawford, and Andy Ridley, Fono's first booking (then known as "Seven") was as support to Bon Jovi in front of 60,000, back in 1996. Shortly thereafter in 1997, they were voted the fifth best unsigned band in Britain by readers of Kerrang! Magazine and were soon sought by a number of mainstream labels. Recently finishing up a tour supporting the Goo Goo Dolls, and now on tour with Audio Adrenaline, Del (lead vocals/guitar) took some time out to talk with us about the band's current success, and what they're doing when they're not on tour.
Tollbooth: Just a simple question to start. Where did you all meet up, and how long have you been together?
Fono: Ian and I used to play in a band together a few years ago, and I've known Andy for years. About 3 years ago when I was putting the band together I gave Ian a call to play bass. Andy came along to a rehearsal for fun more than anything, turned out to be a serious player and joined the band straight away.
Tollbooth: Who are some of your musical interests and outside influences? Who did you listen to, growing up?
Fono: For me growing up it was AC/DC, Motorhead, the Ramones then U2 and now we're into all sorts from Marvin Gaye to Sugar, Smashing Pumpkins, Helmet and beyond.
Tollbooth: In recent years, we've seen Christian bands such as the Newsboys and Jars of Clay, etc., have great success across the world complete with Top 40 airplay. In your opinion, why do you think this is the case? Do you see it continuing?
Fono: I guess they must be good bands. Obviously the way the charting works in America helps because Christian stores are chart registered, that doesn't happen in the UK and they haven't had the same success here. I think it can continue, so long as the band don't pretend to be something they're not.
Tollbooth: Several mainstream labels have pursued Fono in the past. What were the influencing or deciding factors that led you to sign with a smaller, Christian label?
Fono: We're still talking to major labels and currently have a lot of interest in that area. KMG have had a mainstream partner working with them on us all along so it wasn't like we've chosen one over the other. KMG are a genuine bunch of people who are as committed to the band as we are and that was the reason we went with them.
Tollbooth: Perhaps one of the most energetic and powerful tracks on your CD, goesaroundcomesaround, is the sixth track, "Alcatraz." Can you give us some background on this song?
Fono: It actually came from the movie Murder in the First and it's pretty much about the system or whatever trying to break a man's spirit, but that spirit actually bending until the system breaks. The system part is a variable really that can be substituted for wherever you're at personally.
Tollbooth: While we're discussing the album, what's behind the album's name?
Fono: goesaroundcomesaround is about what it says, you reap what you sow be it good or bad. Also it's been a weird couple of years and if you stop and think there are so many things happening in every day life that are like history coming back on you.
Tollbooth: One of the loudest debates in the music industry right now is that of an artist's outward appearance regarding his or her actions while in the spotlight. What responsibility do you believe a performer has, as a potential influence on individuals or a culture?
Fono: When you're in the spotlight people hold you up right or wrong. If you've got any common sense you'll try and act in a sane way that is sensitive to your audience. So there is responsibility there, but some critics just go to extremes and they need to chill out just as much as some artists need to be aware of their observers.
Tollbooth: What directions do you see the alternative music scenes going in the next few years?
Fono: I haven't got a clue. I never was any good at predicting those sort of trends.
Tollbooth: No show ever goes perfectly as rehearsed. What's the strangest thing that has happened during one of your shows?
Fono: Funny enough, we had a Spinal Tap moment in Sweden a couple of months ago. You know how the record starts with the loop countdown thing, well we decided to start the set with that sample triggered from CD. They announced us on, the crowd were shouting "Fono, Fono, Fono...", the loop started playing, we started to slowly stroll on the stage, next thing we know the CD jumped and stopped completely and we had to sprint on, grab our guitars and try to recover from a very uncool beginning to the set.
Tollbooth: What's in the future for Fono? Tours? Videos? New releases? Enormous websites? F: We've just finished two months on the road with the Goo Goo Dolls and Tonic and we're heading back to the States in January for a four month stint with Audio Adrenalin amongst other interesting spots like the Donnie and Marie show. We're doing a video for 'Drift Away' and the UK mainstream release for the album is being planned for early 2000 so it's all go go go for us right now.
Tollbooth: Speaking of websites, is anyone in Fono an avid Internet junkie?
Fono: I'm a total net head and Andy is a close running second.
Tollbooth: In those inklings of spare time that show up when you're not playing music, what kind of things do you do to keep yourselves entertained? What authors/titles are you currently reading?
Fono: Well, we're big curry fans and enjoy a good Indian restaurant. We all suffer from an obsession with autobiographies so right now we're doing Hendrix, Aerosmith and Led Zepplin.
Tollbooth: What do you see yourself/selves doing ten years down the road?
Fono: I honestly don't know,
every time we plan something, something else happens. But I hope we're
still going strong.