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10 February 2013

Interview: David Klotz of Fonda.

When The Sun Hits Interviews 
David Klotz of Fonda

Los Angeles band Fonda fuses together classic pop hooks and gracious, dreampop sonic with a colorful, blissed-out, reverbed drenched kaleidoscopic wall of sound. The primary members/songwriters behind Fonda are David Klotz and Emily Cook, with the band's live shows coming to life with the talents of Johnny Joyner (Aberdeen) on Guitars, Ginny Pitchford on Keyboards, Jason Crawford (Grey Does Matter) on Bass and John Broeckel (Little Red Lung) on Drums. When not playing in the band, Emily Cook works as a screenwriter (Ratatouille, Gnomeo and Juliette) and David Klotz as a music editor for television (Glee, Game of Thrones).

The History of Fonda
Emily Cook moved from London to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. A chance meeting with David Klotz on a movie set led to the friendship that would eventually form the band Fonda. Sharing an adoration for Farfisa organs and the musicals of French film director Jacques Demy, they recorded 1998's Music For Beginners EP. Pressing a thousand copies, David and Emily spent their weekends driving to record stores to consign the 5-song disc. Their hard work paid off with the help of KROQ's legendary DJ, Rodney Bingenheimer, who played the track "Crazy Love", making it one of the top ten most requested songs on his show in 1999.

Later that year, David Newton, former member of Sire/Reprise artists, The Mighty Lemon Drops, joined Fonda after producing their debut album The Invisible Girl. With a host of friends filling in on bass and drums, Fonda self-released the album in 1999. It was embraced by college radio and peaked at #39 on the CMJ 200 Album Charts.

In 2001, Fonda released their 2nd album The Strange and The Familiar. Soon after, Fonda's crafty pop sense caught the attention of Miramax Films, hiring the band to write and perform the end title song to Robert Rodriguez's 2001 summer hit movie, "Spy Kids". Fonda's catchy "Spy Kids" anthem appeared on the film's soundtrack and was released as a single in Europe. To this day, it's still a current favorite on Disney Radio.

In 2003, Fonda recorded and released their third album, Catching Up To The Future ... And then, as it always does, life gets in the way: career opportunities, mortgage payments, wine tastings, babies, etc. David Klotz continued writing songs, however and eight years later, Fonda returned with the 5 track
Better Days EP. The EP was picked up by Minty Fresh and given a re-release on vinyl at the tail end of 2011. David and Emily spent the following Summer completing 10 songs for their 4th full length album, Sell Your Memories to be released on Minty Fresh in 2013.

How and when was Fonda formed?
I was recording songs on a 4-track cassette around 1995. I always wanted to be in a band, but didn't know any musicians, so I asked the friends who were around me at the time to start a band with me including my then girlfriend Emily (now my wife and current singer in Fonda).  We were all still learning how to play our instruments when we got our first ever gig at a cheesy sports bar near the beach.   I think our bass player, at the time, worked there, so he convinced his boss to let a shoegaze band come in one night instead of the usual disco cover entertainment. There was a big crowd that night and it wasn't to see us ... they were there for the all-you-can-eat fish dinner special.  After that, we moved on to more appropriate venues!

The band took a hiatus for several years – what was that like? What’s it like to be back?
The hiatus was a good thing.  After we released Catching Up To The Future in 2003, I basically decided that I was done. Our daytime jobs were becoming careers.  Band members were drifting off to other projects.  Handing over the keys to our rehearsal space was a sad, symbolic moment. But, during those years, I wrote a lot of songs..some of which ended up on the Better Days EP.  The entire music business changed too and I was intrigued at the idea of making music that people could hear instantly.  I put "Summertime Flight" up on our website as a free download and the response was encouraging, so I thought I would have a go at making another record again.  I am much happier doing this now than I was 10 years ago.  Our expectations are realistic.  We don't take things too seriously. When we rehearse with the band, it's like having a drink with old friends and if we happen to make a connection and someone likes our songs, we're thrilled.  

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?
We are releasing our first LP in 10 years on Minty Fresh.  It's called Sell Your Memories - ten new songs which we recorded over the Summer of 2012.   We are working on doing some Southern California shows in the near future and hopefully more shows this Summer.  I intend to record again soon, as well - A busy year planned! 

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
I don't think we've ever fit into any scene.   I wish we did.  It would help when promoting an album!   I think sub-genres are more popular now than ever since there is just so much music out there to sift through. It helps people find music they like more quickly.  Sell Your Memories was written in the spirit of 80's College Rock and 90's Alternative.   I wanted to capture the feeling of staying up late on a Sunday night to catch the new video from Lush on 120 Minutes.  I try to write pop songs but at the same time I purposely borrow from the dreampop/shoegaze aesthetic.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
There's so much great music out there now, but sadly I have a habit of discovering records a year after they have been released.   Someone asked me to list my top 10 records of 2012 were recently and I think half of them were released in 2011. 

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
For me, a Fender Jaguar through a Pro-Co Rat pedal into a Fender Twin Reverb amp  is still the best!    I use a Boss Dual Overdrive pedal and Boss Digital Delay pedal as well.  Many of the guitar tones on Sell Your Memories  were created with plug-ins inside Pro-Tools with amp simulators and other effects.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
I use Pro Tools from writing all the way to recording and mixing.   I'll record a rough guitar track along with some programmed drum loops.   I'll have the complete structure of a song worked out with a melody in mind.  When that's set I'll write the lyrics with Emily.   I'll get a lot of tracks layered on, before she sings on it.  We'll record the vocals at home on a laptop through a little apogee box and then I take them back to my studio and finish recording on the HD system.   I would upload the songs to the our drummer and he'd lay down his drum tracks and send them back.  I did this with guitars, too...sending sessions back and forth via Dropbox.    This is the best way of working when you are busy.   I recorded half of the guitars live through a Fender Twin and the the other half direct using Amp Farm, Eleven and Waves GTR.  I relied a lot on Altiverb 7 for reverbs and Echoboy for delays.  Our process is probably unlike most traditional bands in that Emily and I record an entire album and then put it together with a band afterwards.   The album was done and mastered before it had ever been performed live... In fact, still hasn't been performed live yet.      

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?
Our last full-length CD was released before iTunes existed, so things have changed dramatically.  But, there are a handful of record stores opening up in Los Angeles again.  I am happy to see a resurgence in vinyl.  I feel positive about the future.  Who knows, though.  I took 10 years off, so things seem fresh and interesting to me at the moment.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
I think it's different for every artist. It's entirely possible for a band to achieve the same results on their own as they would with a label.  Whether you are doing it yourself or someone is helping, it's hard work either way.   

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
I prefer vinyl but, I probably listen to most music on mp3 due to convenience and just being too busy.  A few days ago, I got a Spotify notification on my iPhone telling me that that New Order's latest album was released. Within seconds I was streaming it in my car on the way to work.   While I was listening to it, I thought about the time I drove myself to a record store when I was 17 years old to buy Technique on the day it was released.   The convenience is nice now, but the anticipation and excitement is gone....and I'm sure it's more to do with my age than the format....and also maybe New Order's new album is nothing to get excited about, anyway! 

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Growing up, I loved the The Velvet Underground, The Smiths and REM, but it was the first Stone Roses album that really had an impact on me.   That record made me want to learn how to play guitar and write my own songs.  It was inspiring.   From there, I related more to the bands that were coming out of the UK in the 1990's than the whole "grunge" scene in the US.  Bands like Lush, Ride, Slowdive, The  Telescopes,  Pale Saints and Blur were all influential.   I liked The Primitives and they were probably the band that I wanted emulate the most when I was thinking of the ideal band I wanted to play in.     I loved the album Erotica by The Darling Buds.  They took the innovative sounds of My Bloody Valentine and fashioned them into a pop format that, to me, was very appealing.        

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?
I'm really looking forward to reading George Saunders's new book, "The Tenth of December".  His short story "Offloading For Mrs. Schwartz"  was the original inspiration for the title of our new album.  I love Quentin Tarantino's films and Django Unchained was brilliant. Life of Pi and Amour are probably our favorite films from the last year.  We love the English TV series Sherlock and Emily is currently reading the poetry of Louis Jenkins.   As for music, we've currently been enjoying records by The School, Panda Riot, Videotape, Boris, The Horrors, Ringo Deathstar, Brave Irene and The Go! Team.  I love the new records that Secret Shine have been putting out in the last few years.  And, Mychael Danna's score to Life of Pi is quite nice too. 

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Hmmm ... not sure, I think as long as the day ends with a good bottle of wine, life is good.