The France – California
D|L / Streaming
The France release their 4th single, the positively summery, uptempo, ‘should be’ radio hit California this week following on from March’s Forever Too Long.
California is influenced by a trip a couple of the Manchester based band made to the Golden State in 2017. Liam and Joel packed up and went travelling the world for 10 months. Armed with 2 acoustic guitars, they stayed in a load of hostels, met loads of people and California was just the final part of the USA leg. “That whole feeling of being in a part of the world which so many people talk about, then falling in love with it. Its just such a cool place and had the freedom to do whatever we wanted.”
For a long time I had issues with The France. I believed their debut single Indie Kate, with it’s double meaning of the title and the word ‘indicate’ making a full on cheese fest. It was all a bit too ‘Scouting For Girls’ for my alternate preferences. What didn’t help was when I saw a photo of the band. My first impression was ‘Shit, One Direction have really let themselves go,’ with the press shot making them look like an ageing boyband who had just been released from prison after serving time for undisclosed misdemeanours.
As time has gone on, after a few listens to the track and subsequent singles I realise that while it’s more ‘commercial’ than what I’d tend to listen to, the songs are actually well crafted 3 minute ‘pop’ songs with catchy hooks produced by a group of rather talented individuals; the aforementioned Liam Dodd (Bass / Vocals) and Joel Murphy (Guitar) along with Joe Weetman (Drums) and Ric Marshall (Keyboards). They are a top bunch of lads, thankfully with a sense of humour. I sat down with the group to have a chat about the single and life in The France.
LTW: How did US audiences find your ‘summery British indie pop’?
“Well recent history of UK artists tells us that we wouldn’t be liked because the music isn’t heavy enough, or we dont look or sound a certain way. That turned out to be garbage. Every open mic or hostel-room gig we played, people loved us, and were filiming us for their social media. US audiences just love live music. Add in the fact that we are original, fresh, and wrote songs they could sing along with on first listen just gave them something different”.
LTW: I’ve seen some of the out-takes of the video for the single and it looks great. It’s got an ‘expensive’ feel to it as have Forever Too Long and Indie Kate. Do you think videos are still as important for promoting as they were in the early days of MTV etc?
“They are important because the whole network of Social Media is now built on videos, photos, content etc. Our director / producer for ‘California’ Zac Hancock really captured the visuals for this song. As musicians we create and work with the sound, but to have someone like Zac on our wave length who creates and nails the perfect visual for the music is special. All the ideas on the video are owed to him and his team. Absolute genius.”
LTW: Are you building towards doing a Duran Duran ‘Rio’ level video?
“Haha yes, the one with the yatch! Groupies in bikini’s and a few fifth’s of Spice Rum sounds like a good start. Knowing our luck it would be more Huff & Doback than Duran Duran tho.”
LTW: You know I’ve taken the piss about your image previously, maybe unfairly. How would you describe your look, is Image important?
“We really don’t know, our image changes so often, we just wear what we wear. Maybe more for like the music video concepts I guess we have to portray a certain visual. But look at diversity with The Beatles, Rubber Soul to Sgt Peppers was like 2 years apart? People don’t need to be labelled to a certain image like Indie Pop / Lad Rock/ Metal / Punk etc. The music is far more important for us.”
LTW: You recently played in Lancaster as part of Fear Records presents and also in Preston at The Ferret. What’s it like playing live again?
“Unbelievable. Having a crowd (although social distance and seated), is what we love most. We’ve worked so hard through lockdown getting our set nailed. We feed off the audience and to see new people filming on their phones, and learning the words during the set is just a class feeling”.
LTW: Will you be doing anything special to celebrate/promote the release of California?
“There’s been talk of a surprise party at our Label Manager’s house, not that he knows about it yet. We need to see how the song is received from the public first, then it will be a few swift ‘Ken Barlows’ down the local we imagine”.
LTW: Hopefully things will be more open in the 2nd half of the year. Have you any gigs or tours planned?
“Fear Records are sorting all that for us so stay tuned. As a band we just want to get out, round the country to play to and win over as many people as possible. Then when the Covid restrictions allow us, we want to go and play in Luxembourg for that 1 fan over there who is the first to download everything we ever release! We’re also happy to play a few house parties in the UK as well just give us a shout”.
The France they’ve recently had sets streamed on Facebook and broadcast on Mark Radcliffe’s ‘Live From The Edge’ on Showcase TV if you’re interested. In the meantime, whether it’s house parties, children’s parties or bar mitzvahs I’d try and catch up with them as soon as you can. They have a great sound which I’m sure will see them appearing at festivals for years to come.
As well as the single version coming out this week there is an extended remix due soon. Danish Producer Sidelmann has worked the track into a David Guetta type banging club track which will give your summer ‘staycation’ that Mediterranean vibe.