In volume 1 of the Indie Spotlight, we had a chance to talk to Tuomas Asanti of the Finnish indie band, "French Films"...
photo by Tekla Valy
Rusty Frets: Tell us a bit about how "French Films" came together.
Tuomas: The band was formed in 2010. Johannes had been playing around with ideas for riffs and eventually wrote the song that was going to be the first ever French Films track, Golden Sea. Quite quickly the band was formed just in order to be able to mess around and have fun and maybe play a show in a friend’s club or something. There was not a great vision of putting a band together, it just happened.
Simply put, people seemed to like what the band was doing so the band kept on doing it and here we are.
Rusty Frets: Who are some of your influences and what do you think you've borrowed from those influences?
Tuomas: We all like bands like The Shop Assistants, The Rolling Stones, Beach Fossils, The Raveonettes, early The Strokes, Close Lobsters…these are all great bands. There is a lot of crap these days but fortunately also a lot of excellent music that just doesn’t get heard enough. I bet there are influences that can be heard in our music but it’s always been hard for me to point out which those might be so I’ll leave that to the wiser people.
Rusty Frets: Have you done much outside of Finland yet? If so, where have you found that you were best received?
Tuomas: We’ve actually done more outside Finland than we have done inside our home country. From the very beginning we have toured Europe quite extensively. Hell, the band’s first ever show abroad was in Macedonia (a country not that often visited by Finnish bands). We have also played in Russia, Japan and China. Our first U.S. shows were in 2013 when we played four shows in New York.
The crowd naturally is a bit different in every country. It’s hard to say where we have been best received but we’ve had great shows e.g. in Budapest, Osaka, Gothenburg, Madrid… the show in Glasslands, New York, was also pretty damn good.
Rusty Frets: Any tours/upcoming concerts or new releases you'd care to share?
Tuomas: During 2014 we concentrated mainly on writing new stuff. Although we did few shows around Europe it was still a sort of a break year for us. Since the debut EP in 2010 we have released two full-length albums and one 7-inch and have been on the road a lot so a bit more quiet year on that front was actually very welcomed.But, when you have new material and it’s been a while since you’ve played a show you get really eager to get on the stage to show what you got. So, we decided to do a show in Helsinki in early January where some brand new material will be heard for the first time. We will also definitely release new material during the spring. No dates yet have been confirmed but I am pretty confident that we will get to gig in 2015, too.
photo by Marek Wilczyński
Rusty Frets: The recording process... did you record/mix yourselves? studio? Any tips for those wanting to record themselves?
Tuomas: As said before, so far we have released one EP, two albums and one 7-inch. All these we’ve recorded and mixed ourselves. It’s great to do everything in the recording process without any ”outsiders”. It gives you a lot of freedom. But it is also demanding, really. Without anyone from outside the band itself kicking your butt it’s on you to get the record done in time. You might also get stuck with some songs without fresh ears from someone else besides the band.
I think one of the most important things to keep in mind when one is recording and mixing by themselves is to remember to dare. What I mean by that is that you should have enough time (and balls) to try new recording techniques, explore new sounds and be adventurous in terms of how you mix and produce. Nothing is worse than killing an excellent and interesting tune with poor sounds or safe and pocket-warm production.
photo by Anna Salonen
Rusty Frets: Could you give us a breakdown of gear that you are using?
Tuomas: Our drummer Antti endorses C&C Custom Drums that is an American manufacturer based in Kansas City, MO. The guys at C&C really do a great job, even a bass player like me can really appreciate their products. Antti uses solely Turkish cymbals.
Johannes plays with a Japanese-made Tokai Silver Star Jazzmaster. He uses a regular non-modified Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp. In his pedal board there’s at least a Digitech Bad Monkey, Strymon Blue Sky, a Boss compressor-sustainer pedal and EHX Memory Man Deluxe. I am pretty sure there’s some other distortion pedal that I now can’t remember. For reverb he uses the amp’s built-in spring.
Max plays with either a 70’s-era Rickenbacker 330 or an Epiphone Casino. His amp is a Vox but I honestly don’t remember which model it is. I am pretty sure it’s not vintage, though… Max’s pedal arsenal tend to change all the time but lately there’s been a Boss Super Distortion, an Analogman Bi-Chorus and a rather funky 30-year old delay pedal from India. I think that both guitarists play with regular 10- 50 or something strings.
I use a Tokai Hard Puncher, a P-bass style Japanese bass. I also have a nice 1960’s Luxor Rickenbacker copy that I just recently bought. My amp is Ampeg Heritage SVT-CL and cab is a regular Ampeg 4x10. I use Aguilar Tone Hammer DI/Preamp, and EHX Holy Grail Plus reverb and a 80’s Boss Dimension C chorus pedal. For strings I usually choose DR Hi-Beams in 100-45 gauge.
Santtu plays with a Nord Electro synth. He is like Max in the way that he tends to use different pedals all the time but he rarely uses more than three at the same time.
Rusty Frets: In terms of marketing your music, what have you found to be the most productive/useful?
Tuomas: Social media is of course very important. I think radio is still strong when it comes to marketing new album for example. But in general engaging your fans in way or another is probably a solid way to market your music.
Rusty Frets: Any tips that you might have for artists/bands that want to take this gig seriously?
Tuomas: If you want to make it in this line of business, it's 85% hard work, 14% talent and 1% good luck.
photo by Raul Murciego
Special thanks to Tuomas for taking the time to talk to us! To see more about French Films, check them out on Facebook here: French Films on Facebook