Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a band with a reading list… The (International) Noise Conspiracy… YACHT… and, most recently, international alternative dance rock sensations and revolutionaries, Crystal Fighters. The London/Basque band released their much-anticipated sophomore effort, Cave Rave, earlier this year, a work that, like those of the aforementioned bands, is equally indebted to the popular and the academic. In addition to being highly danceable and conducive to “having fun,” the album and the band are very rooted in the sciences and humanities. The liner notes of Cave Rave proclaim the album’s main influence as “the search for truth” and cites the work of the likes of Edwin Abbott Abbott, Henry More, and Edward Lear as texts central to the mission of Crystal Fighters. In fact, this May, just prior to the album’s release, lead singer Sebastian Pringle broke down the higher thought behind each of the album’s tracks for This Is Fake DIY, which can be found here (which I highly recommend reading, if you hope to get the most out of Crystal Fighters).
I recently got a chance to chat with Sebastian, who is currently in the middle of a tour that has Crystal Fighters opening for Portugal. The Man (in addition to a handful of headlining dates). When I ask him what he hopes people get out of the music of Crystal Fighters; which has been characterized as an amalgamation of influences as disparate as folk, synthpop, electronica, and even dubstep, inspired by a juxtaposition of classical and folk traditions and instrumentation with a postmodern, electronic musicality; he tells me, “We just hope they can experience a positive feeling when they listen to our music and have some positive and enlightened moment.” And when I ask him about the band’s intellectual background, he tells me, “We all studied things like that university, things like sociology and English literature and we started having a deeper interest in humanity and how we interact with one another and how we’ve been treating each other for thousands of years now.”
Crystal Fighters began in London in 2007 and released their debut, Star of Love, in October of 2010 in the UK and in April of 2012 in the states, courtesy of Atlantic Records. Their initial live shows and musical content were inspired by an unfinished opera written by original member Laure Stockley’s grandfather, focused on Basque culture and the high-minded, academic thinking the band have become known for. Their initial live performances were in the form of contemporary, popular operas, including props and drama-inspired stage productions. And while the live shows that gained them a reputation are far less rigid than that of an “opera,” they have played on the world’s largest festival stages, gaining critical acclaim for what is coming-to-be-agreed-upon as the most progressive live show of any contemporary pop band (A former student of mine proclaimed their last Philadelphia appearance to be the most amazing live show she’d ever seen.) When I ask Sebastian what can be expected of live dates on their current US tour, he tells me, “Hopefully some sort of journey more akin to being at some sort of modern dance opera… We want people to dance and be excited.” And as for what the future holds for Crystal Fighters, he tells me, “We’re planning to write more of our third record, which we’re doing now, but hopefully more writing and more time on the road.”