LETTERS TO FIESTA ARE MANCHESTER’S VERY LATEST addition to the bustling nu-folk, anti-folk, mixed-up folk scene. Currently, it’s the knitwear figureheads Gideon Conn, The Travelling Band and Jo Rose who are leading the way across the craney city. The Travelling Band even made it on the soundtrack for the Ian Dury biopic, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll with ‘Angel of the North’. Such tough acts to strum after, are Letters ready to take up their spot?
First off, this band is female-fronted. Anna Louise Etherington is the redheaded pixie and lead vocalist, currently under the influence of “Electralane and Au Revoir Simone right now.”
Secondly, with word spreading quickly about the foursome despite having only played three gigs, the easy-to-pin folk music nametag has already led to a misunderstanding and therefore a gig tale worthy of only the very sweetest of bands starting to make it. “We didn’t know until we turned up to our first gig that we had been billed as an all-female folk line up.”
No, you poor listener of a promoter. There’s actually three lads in the crew. “And we were the only band with amps and electric guitars.”
LETTERS TO FIESTA ARE:
Anna Louise Etherington – Vocals, Keys
Tom Brydon – “On the old guitar”
Alex Redhead – Bass
Marlon Solomon – Drums
“We don’t have stage names but behind closed doors we like to refer to each other as Clare Shavings, Dirk Von Schwartz, Vince Magnum and Johnny Pockets respectively.”
Anna is mostly responsible for the name of the band. “We struggled for about 7 months trying to find a moniker and the only thing we could agree on was that we liked the word letters. Anna just blurted out the rest one day.”
Thirdly, you have to love a band which doesn’t take themselves that seriously despite being talented as fuck. Less artyfart, more Garth Marhengi. For example: “We like it that Fiesta is a real elder statesman. The soft-hearted gent of a slightly unspeakable genre, and also that it was informed, written and essentially created by its own readers.”
Erm.. Yeah, weird. Knowingly, funnily, nerdily so. Although not as weird as a photo op down a back alley.
After being asked if anything bizarre has happened to the band recently: “I suppose being photographed in the dark in a fancy dress shop, whilst listening to old harpsicord music was pretty weird…”
Amidst the surrealistic responses, they are very collected and urbane about their tastes and which musicians may – or may not – slip into the heart and mind of the band.
“Sonically there’s plenty of directions we stay away from, but we’d prefer not to name names. Music is subjective after all. Like all artists we think we have our own unique sound but comparisons are inevitable.”
And fourthly, why you should like this band, is that they managed to pull together a gig in the nick of time. “The day before our second gig the venue had to be closed for health and safety reasons, so we ended up organising our own venue and support bands in ten hours just because we didn’t want to let everybody who wanted to see us down.
“Strangely it seems like the more the more problems we have the better we work together and the better results we get. Not that we don’t mind an easy life either, if you can hear us Mr Fate.”
Their strongest track to date is probably ‘Forever Lost’, where the lyrics howling over the dreamy lo-fi pop, and the live version is on their MySpace.
In terms of their influences:“The stuff we all cross over on that informs our sound ranges from Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac to Radiohead. Lately we’ve been listening to Broken Social Scene, Deerhoof, Black Keys and Bombay Bicycle Club to name just a few.”
Well with that door wide open, Letters to Fiesta have a vibe of Broken Social Scene about them, there’s definitely some Susanna and the Magical Orchestra meets Mercury Rev before bumping into Jean Jacques Smoothie …at a soiree in Northern Quarter. Very ghostly, yet very chilled and bright.
All their rehearsal sessions are on MySpace, and it’s the stand out track ‘Leaf Skeleton’ with the frenetic drumbeat and The xx-style bells where the arrangement sounds like it would have been created a few years down the line, rather than as a debut.
I ask what will be the most important thing about Letters to Fiesta: Writing? Lyrics? Touring? Fans? Festivals?
“Badgers. Always the badgers.”
Seriously though? “We just want to make as much music and do as much creative stuff as we can for as long as we can. Obviously we’d like to get as many people interested in us as possible too. We’re not bothered about reaching U2 status but we don’t necessarily want to live in the shadows either.”