This is the archived SXSW 2012 schedule. Please see the current schedule here.


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The box? fiN think way outside it. In times of warfare and recession they sing of celebrating
life, remembering the good times, appreciating what you have and not letting the detritus of
modern life drag you down. In an age of endless band reunions and formulaic era revivals,
they’re taking the base elements of alternative rock and moulding something unexpected and
innovative out of it. In an era of perpetual social networking, downloading and gig spam,
they’re planning to self-release their debut album on a series of limited-edition 7” vinyls
adorned with pictures of famous British inventors, downloads available only via codes that
come with the record.

“There are no rules,” says suave and charismatic singer Luke Joyce, “throw away the
rulebook. You want to aim as high as you can, and that’s what we’re gonna do. If you aim
at ‘impossible’ you’re always going to end up better than if you just aim for somewhere

The Box, though? FiN thought, played, slept and drank inside it. Because The Box was
what they called the abandoned caretaker’s house on some old school grounds in Surrey
where local schoolmates-turned-twentysomething guitar pop visionaries Luke (the Nirvana,
Pumpkins, Cure and REM-loving outcast and hopeless romantic with a few rudimentary
songs under his belt and a paranoia-inducing drug habit firmly in his past), guitarist Jonny
Garner (the popular yet introverted perfectionist, nicknamed Bubble because “even though
he loves music, he doesn’t listen to music”), their new bassist Kerry Lambert (the hedonistic
cider freak rebelling against his religious upbringing) and drummer Simon Harding (the surfer
dude with a head for business) convened in November 2008 to concentrate on leaving behind
their grunge covers band roots, utilising their childhood roots in Motown, The Beatles, Led
Zep and Nirvana and channelling their creative forces for the reinvention of alt.rock.

“We called it The Box Sessions,” Luke explains, “because there was this abandoned house we
went to and it was shaped like a box, it was tiny. It was abandoned for so long it was damp
in there, but we went in for three weeks to knuckle down and focus on writing some songs
for the record. We’d decided to take it really seriously. There was so much damp on the
walls that we built tents in the rooms upstairs. We had blow up beds and slept in there, drank
beer downstairs. We converted downstairs into a little rehearsal and recording studio, it was
brilliant. It was a really good time for the band, we really learnt about who we were in there.
We found our sound, found out what we wanted to do and went for it.”

It was during The Box sessions, demoing intently on perfectionist Jonny’s laptop, that
fiN’s revolutionary approach to guitar rock was forged: adopting the shape-shifting and
exploratory attitudes of Animal Collective, Yeasayer, Foster The People and Cage The
Elephant, but with one foot planted firmly in sonic soundscapes set for stadiums. The sessions
produced a handful of tracks – most notably an as-yet-untitled instrumental piece that builds
from a Radiohead-style atmospheric opening to a volcanic eruption of Foo Fighters frenzy,
and ‘Eve’. “It’s about losing you virginity,” Luke explains. “It’s quite a dark song. Losing my
virginity was the most awkward fucking experience of my life. That’s my experience, really
bungly, really uncomfortable afterwards…”

Kerry: “It’s about the seedy side of it, it’s not like Green Day going ‘hyuk, I had sex for the
first time!’. It’s a dark take on it.”

Over the start of 2009 further songs emerged – the energised riot rock of ‘23’, the masterful
ballroom balladry of ‘Everybody Dies Alone’. fiN were becoming a brilliantly esoteric,
genre-busting band and, eager to gauge reaction to their exciting new sounds, they flew to
SXSW in March 2009 and blew minds and rock’n’roll gaskets aplenty.

“It was life-changing,” says Luke. “We just plugged into amps out there and got on with it. It
taught us not to be so protective.”

“We played the gig of our lives,” adds Kerry, before explaining how the trip was his final
hedonistic blow-out before undergoing his own personal Strongbow rehab. “That was the end
of it. It was the last night of South By and Cage The Elephant gave me my last cider. I forgot
the rule that you have to close your curtain on the tour bus or you’re fair game. I woke up
with willies drawn all over me and a shoe down my boxer shorts.”

“He took half a Xanax before he went to bed because he was having trouble sleeping and
because of that the alcohol stayed in him,” Luke adds. “He woke up more drunk than he was
the night before, so he fell backwards out of the bus and he was hugging us all and he stank.”

Hardly ‘Exile On Main Street’ admittedly, but fiN had had their first taste of rock’n’roll and
it fizzed on their tongues. Back home, for the next two years they knuckled down to writing
and recording their debut album in Cream Studios, the Cato complex in Wandsworth (where
they’re now based) and their own flats, working slowly, with an intricate perfectionism.

“We wanted to write an album ourselves,” Luke explains, “do it DIY and have that freedom
to express ourselves. Then see what happens. It came out in dribs and drabs. It started out
quite heavy but we didn’t want to be a really heavy band. We wanted to be a band that wasn’t
afraid to write pop songs as well as still have the rock element.”

With songs originating from Luke before Jon would “hash out all the crap” and the rest of
the band would “get a vibe”, fiN’s debut grew into a tight, focussed yet boundlessly creative
record. Modern influences gradually crept into the mix – MGMT, Yeasayer, the prevalent
wave of New Cure electro – and the national and global gloom drove them to want to make
an uplifting Friday night album as a shot in the arm for a broken society.

“I really wanted to capture the sense of celebration,” says Luke, “especially with everything
going on with the recession and everyone being a bit pissed off and unhappy. We wanted to
celebrate over adversity and get people having fun, have a good time.”

fiN’s music urges you to grab life by the horns, just as the band do with music. Theirs are
songs of hope in times of financial hardship, of carrying brightness into what seems such a
bleak future. ‘23’ is a message to Luke’s recently-redundant dad to stop being pessimistic and
yearning for his youth. The afrobeat-tinged ‘The Truth Lies In Honesty’ merges its Vampire
Weekend and Yeasayer upstrokes with an urge to remould yourself as a new person after
personal loss. And the full-on Brand New/Biffy Clyro bellow (with a hint of dEUS chanting)
of ‘Life Is Wasted On The Living’ is an attack on blank consumerism. “’Things’ are so
important now, ‘things’ you hold in your hand or buy. The song’s saying don’t think of it like
that, enjoy your life, embrace it.”

If the MGMT-inspired ‘It Changes Everything’ follows a similar theme of blowing bubbles in
the face of hardship, there are more downbeat moments too. ‘Where Are You Now’ is a grief-
stricken piano ballad that took the entire writing and recording period to get right, and ‘Lucky
You’ brings a Muse emotirock urgency and ambition to a song that’s envious of the shut-
down brain.

“It’s a song about people that are ignorant,” says Luke. “Ignorance is bliss they say, and it

goes ‘you don’t know yourself, lucky you’, in the sense that being like that you’ve got no
cares in the world. I’d rather be like that than have all this shit that goes on in my head every
day. I’d rather be ignorant and live a blissful life. I wish I could be that guy who gets married,
has kids and gets a normal job and is content with being like that. I think that’s amazing, I
can’t do it, I’m not programmed that way. I’ve got all the bad stuff you get, like my fear of
death and my ridiculous OCD. I have a dark side but I hide it.”

Luke’s dark side will no doubt rear its head on album two, for which he’s already written
forty song sketches, but in the meantime, savour their immaculate debut - mixed by Muse
and Foo Fighters impresario Adrian Bushby after the band sent a track to him on a whim -
and its inventor-festooned 7” release caper. There’ll be no downloads for sale or record deals
sought – fans will simply collect the vinyls either at gigs or in record shops and you get a
download code allowing them access to the MP3s as well as videos for every song and behind
the scenes footage. It’s a cool, creative way to purchase a cool, creative album from a band
that represents the next generation of indie, a bona fide evolution that finally sees British
guitar rock stop dragging its knuckles and start punching at the stars.

“We’re the heaviest indie band around,” says Luke. “We’re very diverse. It’s light and shade
but we’re not afraid of pop music or writing curveballs.”

fiN: don’t box them in.

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