From Portland, Oregon, here’s a brand-new band
hold on, they may be brand new to UK audiences, but in February 2005, Richmond Fontaine celebrates its tenth anniversary. Let Willy Vlautin introduce his band to you and explain the fantastic things that have happened to them over the past year:
“Well, first is Dan Eccles, he’s our guitarist. He’s one of the most positive
and cool guys you’d ever meet. Plus he’s a madman on the guitar.
Sean Oldham is the drummer. When we began playing with him is really when Richmond Fontaine came into its own. He’s an amazing drummer who can play any style he wants and he’s so good he could probably read a book and play all our tunes and watch TV at the same time. Plus he’s an expert
electrian, mechanic, plumber, and carpenter.
Dave Harding is really the heart of Richmond Fontaine. He’s a huge music fan and an encylopedia of knowledge about it. He and I have been at this a long time and still there is no better guy to get a drink with. Plus he’s just a great, great bass player, my favorite bass player around.”
It is evident that these guys are the greatest possible of friends, who like nothing better than gruelling tours such as the one they undertook in Europe in the autumn:
“Hell, just getting to get out of the States was a huge success for us. Only
Sean had been to Europe. I’d never really left the States, nor
had the the other guys. So it was a great adventure. To think that I’d get to travel to the UK and to Ireland and Norway and Spain. Those are things you dream about but never think will really happen. And then to have people actually like our band was even more exciting, and the people we met were really nice and friendly and we all wanted to move to the country we were in at the time. If we were in Spain we’d all say, ‘we should just move here.’ And we’d talk about it and dream about it. It was the same in Ireland and everywhere else. So all in all, a real lucky break.”?
On the other hand, it takes much more than luck for a band to break through in such a dramatic way, and much of the credit must go to Willy’s episodic, story-telling style of songwriting:
“I write in a style of a narrator a lot of the time. I’m usually trying to tell
a story and I want the music to be the soundtrack for the lyrics.
That’s where the band is so great. They’re good at taking the folk song I bring them and changing it into something different altogether. The postcards came from when we’d be on the road in the States and I’d send my grandmother postcards from every town we’d go to. She was one of nicest people I knew so I could never tell her anything except about the weather or about what a great time I was having. That I was making money and being safe and that I wasn’t drinking too much and I was saving for my retirement. All lies, I hate to say. So I started writing these crazy postcards for fun, to let off steam. Walter (a character from the latest album, Post To Wire) came out of that. I get a little nuts on the road, and he’s one of those personalities that comes out after hanging out with the same four guys and drinking every day. Then when JD Foster, our producer, came, I told him about wanting to do a spoken word series on the record and he thought it was a good idea and we gave it a try.”
Anticipation is high for the band’s newly-completed seventh album, “The Fitzgerald”. Willy (who has also just been signed up for a book deal with Faber and Faber for his first novel) has an interesting explanation for why Richmond Fontaine’s progress up the slippery ladder of success has been so gradual:
“Right now we’re just practising and getting ready to eventually hit the road in the States. But all in all we’re taking it pretty easy. That’s how we’ve lasted so long, we just don’t work too hard.”
From Amplifier magazine