Eclectic Crystal Fighters had unlikely inspiration
So you’ve heard it all, and there are no musical surprises left to be discovered, right? Give Star of Love, the debut album by London, England–based Crystal Fighters, a spin, and you may think otherwise. The group, which revolves around the core trio of Sebastian Pringle, Gilbert Vierich, and Graham Dickson, makes a wildly eclectic, pan-global brand of pop, breathlessly mashing up everything from dubstep and folk (on “Solar System”) to disco and new wave (“With You”), with bits of punk and acid house thrown in for good measure.
“The three of us—myself, Graham, and Sebastian—we’ve all grown up on totally different kinds of music,” says Vierich, reached at a Montreal tour stop. “But we all share a love of good pop music, classic songs from the ’90s and ’80s. Graham listened to a lot of rock music, Sebastian a lot of European and hip-hop music, and myself a lot of electronic music. And really, we do like to try to combine all these things.”
There is a common thread that runs through almost all of Crystal Fighters’ songs, however, and it’s not one you might expect. The official story is that, while clearing her late grandfather’s belongings out of his home in Spain’s Basque country, singer Laure Stockley discovered a manuscript for an unfinished opera. The old man’s writings gave Crystal Fighters not only its band name, but also its sonic direction, which involves employing traditional Basque instruments in the service of postmodern pop.
Stockley provided it with much of its original impetus, but she no longer performs with the group, having decided that the life of the touring musician wasn’t for her. In that regard, she couldn’t be more different from Pringle, Vierich, and Dickson.
“Playing is like our life’s blood,” Vierich says. “When we started, all we wanted to do was play live. It wasn’t about making CDs and stuff, it was about going and playing every week. That’s the thrill for us. And at a later date we said, ‘We’ve got to make some records that people can listen to as well.’ ”
Hence Star of Love, which came out in 2010 in the U.K. The album is only now seeing release on these shores, and that will keep Crystal Fighters on the road for the foreseeable future. Vierich reveals that he and his cohorts have a new LP in the works, one that he promises will be both more eclectic and more cohesive than the first one.
“We don’t feel like we fully achieved the goal with the first album or mixing Basque music with electronics,” he states modestly. “So we hope it’s the same, but better, with an extra degree of maturity, a few more thoughtful moments, and maybe a few more styles that we didn’t cover in the first album that we really like, and stuff that’s influenced us recently.”
Crystal Fighters plays Fortune Sound Club on Thursday (May 31).