Luke Top, founding member of Fool’s Gold greets me like a friend. Surely he has no reason to do it, I’m only a voice on a telephone but he offers an enthusiastic “hey man” without pretence. From the first exchange it doesn’t feel like an interview to me. I nervously giggle that my editor is looking to publish a desert-themed issue this month and I hope that his band has some connection. My timid gesture is met with genuine laughter. “Yeah, I think we’ve got that covered” I can tell he’s grinning through the phone.
I hear him move outdoors on his end. A door slides open, the birds chirp and I dream of California. A chair squeals as he backs it up then hunkers down for what is definitely not his first phone interview, perhaps even that day.
He speaks with confidence on what he calls the “musical conversation” between his influences spanning time and great distance, leading them all in a beautiful dance caked with sand, sweat and love.
Most of the following conversation is much how I imagine a master class in African music appreciation would play out. It is immediately clear that I am not speaking to a man who once heard a djembe groove in four and said, “Hey, wouldn’t that sound cool in our songs”?
No. Rather, this is the man who has done his homework, the consummate student, revelling in the rhythms of a home not his own. This is the man who listens on headphones long into the night after everyone has gone to bed, obsessing over the subtleties and nuances. He speaks with confidence on what he calls the “musical conversation” between his influences spanning time and great distance, leading them all in a beautiful dance caked with sand, sweat and love. Luke Top and Fool’s Gold are actively, yet humbly, participating in that conversation.
Obviously I have to ask him about the Chili’s tour and he is happy to talk about it. Apparently all of the Red Hot Chili Peppers members are wonderful dudes with a great enthusiasm for music even on tour when time and sleep are hard to come by. We expected nothing less.
Touring with Fool’s Gold is a fascinating topic to say the least. The band has existed in many configurations over the years performing and touring with up to 10 people (holy balls). It has now come to be four. Imagine, if you will, a van jammed with 10 bodies and their instruments. Ten! You want to talk about suffering for your art, this is where it gets real. Certainly these folks could teach a course in team psychology in addition to being talented musicians to the last man.
Now it’s the listener’s duty to be bold.
We even get into the Fool’s Gold studio experience. For music that sounds so natural and live it’s no surprise that a significant portion of the ever complex recording process is just that: live music. Real music, committed to an analog two-inch tape machine that once belonged to J.J. Cale. If that name is unfamiliar, get thee to the record store post haste! For those with a touch of the geek in them, the rare and wonderful Binson Echorec was liberally spread like warm butter on many of the vocal tracks as well. End result: a fine recording of a fine band.
All of this is to say that if, like me, you’re sick of songs that last 3:30 being spoon fed to you like sample laden Gerber food, it’s high time you checked out Fool’s Gold. Fortune has always favoured the bold and this band is as bold as they come. Better yet, it makes your ass move from the first bar.
Over-editorializing be damned, I walked away from a short conversation with Luke Top holding a list of artists from all over the world to listen to. I listened to them all and, you know something? They are fucking awesome. Now it’s the listener’s duty to be bold. Abandon the sugar. Listen to the groove and you can thank Luke and his bandmates later.