If politicking ever was a means to an end, such news would be fresh to the Infadels, a gang of five “misfits” from East London who emerged onto New York’s scene this past week for shows at The Delancey, Avalon, Joe’s Pub and Rothko. The group’s fourth performance showcased a vibrant collection of dance/punk that involved the on-stage use of trash lids and a melodica to complete the clatter of a funk-filled gathering thick enough to consume the full extent of Rothko’s insides. I met up with song-writing frontmen, Bnann (vocals) and Matt (guitar/programming), after their gig to discuss the band’s forthcoming album and their very first visit to the city.
With no idea what to expect from New York’s tastemakers, the Infadels discovered a warmer reception than they had anticipated. “We played Avalon the other night and it was just pure people in a club. They got down with us and we had a really good response. It was almost like a European club… like it was somewhere [in] Holland or France, [where] they were so much more open than I expected them to be,” said Bnann.
Bnann adds: “Plus, I think that songs are born out of life experiences and you have to live your life and kind of find yourself in weird situations that bring out inspirations to you through the songs. That’s what’s good about the album. It’s a collection of moments. Like photos really. They’re like snapshots of time.”
Matt: “What’s real is when we come back with our second album it’s like every experience we have in New York will be in there.”
The new album features “Love Like Semtex”, a synchronous feat of psychedelic energy whose title refers to an “explosive device”, and was inspired by dancers the band had encountered at Trash, their local spot in London. The performance had left them with an undeniable “power electro kind of warning” that would transpire into the single, which was produced within a five-minute experimental exchange of lyric and tune. “It was hilarious. It sounded like four monkeys trying to play electro music, but there was this charm in it,” said Matt. “When you really lose your inhibitions you can do great things.”
As musicians, Bnann and Matt originate from separate backgrounds based in song-writing and electronic music that eventually became a “juxtaposition of the two sides”. Collectively, the Infadels believe in a non-formulaic, “no rules”, approach to their music. “A song can emerge any way if we keep listening, we’ll find interesting things to make it a song and that’s what we do. It can be anything from walking past a sign in a council state,” Matt said. For Bnann, the instance arrived when he encountered a fight between two men for Top Boy. “As they were having this fight one of them kept saying ‘I’m the Top Boy, I’m the Top Boy’ and I’m standing there watching it and Matt’s like, ‘What are you doing Bnann?’ I’m just taking it in and I just went home and started thinking about it and then we wrote the song.”
Before the Infadels, Bnann, Matt and Al (drums) had formed Balboa, a group that became entangled in the high-fashionista scene of electroclash on the way to its demise.
“Whatever world – we didn’t survive it. We can’t compete with these fashion people that look fantastic, you know, and keep changing and keep moving and such. It’s like we’re geezers. We’re just guys. We’re mates. We’re friends”, Matt said.
He adds: “We almost forgot to see ourselves, rather than saying, ‘Will this be big? If we sound a bit like this band we’ll be massive.” None of that stuff. We’re just going to have a good time. This is our last shot at being in a band we’re ever going to have. We’ve really done it for a long time. We thought this one’s for us. This is our mission now. We’ve done this, we’ve done that. We’ve tried to please.”
Bnann: “We’ve actually stopped trying.”
Other members of the band include Richie (percussion, onstage mixing) and Wag (bass). According to Matt, the group is as varied in personality as it is in skill. Richie, who collects a range of global music and is the band’s “underground” connection; Al not only has a drum background, but also has the ability to arrange songs; Wag is versatile with various instruments, has a technical mindset and mixes most of their material. With no official leads or man left behind, the Infadels have pursued various ways to organize power within the band. Matt: “We’ve tried many different political systems of hierarchy in this band the best one we found worked. We tried democracy, which doesn’t work in bands at all. We tried fascism, and that doesn’t work at all. We’ve kind of got like anti-democracy now, where if anyone likes it it goes; if one person doesn’t like it then it won’t go, and that kind of creates interesting pressures on people. We all respect each other. If four people love it and one person’s stopping it, [there is] a lot of pressure on them to make sure they’re really right in what they’re thinking, and that seems to be the best way for us to continue.”
Despite being unsigned in the US and all the distractions of industry B.S. that comes with that, Matt and Bnann say they’ve maintained focus upon their music. “We’ve been quite out of politics. We’re aware that we’re not signed out here therefore someone’s going around saying, ‘Come see these guys’”, Matt said.
Bnann: “To find out what America’s like – and the rest of it – it seems pretty cool. It’s all surreal to us.”
Keep the Infadels on your radar. They’ll be making a splash in early ’06.