March 5th, 2009 | Interviews

paul rodriguez | styling by ton y van van

Stream: Fool’s Gold “Surprise Hotel”


(from the self-released “Surprise Hotel” 45)

Fool’s Gold transcend the smog of Los Angeles with their big-band tropical-orchestral call-it-what-you-will multi-cultural dance music. If the crowd isn’t sweating by the end of their set, they warrant medical attention.

What instruments are in the band?
Lewis Nicolas Pesacov (guitar):
Three guitars. We have bass, we have drums, and then we have percussion. Two saxes and three percussionists, sometimes four.
Garret Ray (drum kit):
And whatever Erica does.
Luke Top (vocals/bass):
She pats my aura. She does this crazy dance behind me sometimes and behind people in general.

Does she tell you what color your auras are?
Amir Kenan (back-up/keys/percussion): We wouldn’t be able to understand it anyway.

Do you ever get mail for the record label Fool’s Gold?
No but we’ve definitely been confused with them. Our Myspace page has an earlier date that theirs, if that’s a modern copyright. There’s also Fool’s Gold the movie, which I saw recently. It was on TV. It was pretty dreadful. I was surprised that Donald Sutherland was in it. I can’t believe he was in such a bad movie. It’s bad.
It’s like a date movie, right?
Big Search (rhythm guitar):
A shitty date.
It was tropical though. Treasure hunting. Gold doubloons.

When was your Myspace page started?
Big Search: I think it was two years ago—our first show at Silverlake Lounge.
Lewis: It was a free-for-all at the beginning. If you showed up with percussion, you could play.
Big Search: A lot of those people weren’t doing stuff. They were just clapping and banging shit. Drunk.
Lewis: Now we have a core of musicians. I actually think people are insulted that we try to keep it smaller.

What’s the most people you’ve had on stage?
I think fifteen. It’s kind of like a marching band. Or a chamber orchestra.

I saw you wearing towels on your heads at the Echo.
Lewis: I got that from Wu-Tang. Ghostface. Like boxers. That’s the thing. Get into it before you get on stage.

Do you construct your sets out of songs or let them go?
Luke: It depends on the show. Sometimes we’re allowed to stretch out a little more.
Lewis: That’s what we like to do. It’s all about the small venues. The larger venues we always have to pare it down. We played the House of Blues of Anaheim and we were supposed to play a 35 minute set. I think we played three or four songs. And we played a 50-minute set and no one told us to stop. That was interesting. We don’t have the courage yet but if we get a half-hour set we should play just two songs.
Garret: We’ll have to pass out drugs at the door.
Lewis: No, but the whole thing is just, like—dance. This music is dance music. I was looking at this review from 1994—this one song was the number one hit in the Congo and it was a 15-minute song. There’s going to be a guitar solo then there’s going to be singing then there’s going to be more guitar playing. It’s all about the trance.
Luke: They go out for lunch, they come back, it’s still going.
Lewis: Maybe we should play really long at SXSW. Oh, last year when we went to Texas, we got pulled over and the cop brought out the German Shepherd and he took all our IDs, and one girl had her passport and the cop was like, ‘What country you from, girl?’ And she was like, ‘America?’ He had never seen a passport before. He was confused. And he couldn’t understand why she didn’t have a driver’s license and was over 16.
Garret: How we got out of there was we told him we were in a country band. And he changed his tune.

How did you bring the Hebrew singing to the band, Luke?
Luke: To these white people? Lewis and I were into world music and it happened organically. Started off playful. There’s no direct reason for it.
Amir: We both moved here when we were three and a half. So between the two of us we’ve got a 7-year-old Hebrew going on. We’re like one good 7-year-old Jew on stage. It’s really fun though. I feel lucky to be able to understand Hebrew on stage because Luke sings stuff that sometimes is kind of amazing and sometimes really funny and sometimes subversive, sometimes just commenting on what’s happening in the crowd at the time.
Luke: There’s always one Israeli in the crowd that knows what I’m saying.
Garrett: I like sitting in rehearsals when you guys are teaching everybody else the lyrics. Like phonetically.

Do you have an album ready yet?
Luke: We’re working on the full length but we have a 7-inch out. It’s two songs. We might add a third. We’re just stalling until we get the record out. I want to call it Notes From The Rat Race in Hebrew but I don’t know how to say it.

You’re associated with museums and animals—why?
Luke: I think it’s because public spaces that are more cultural centers—general public, instead of niche audiences—are really fun. In fact, the shows where there are adults and really young kids and also people our age are most fun because they all get into it.
Big Search: I totally agree. At the Getty show, older Israeli people would come up and get really into it and my little niece that’s a couple months old seemed really into it. So anyone from 2 months old to 70-year-old Jewish ladies seem really into it and a few non-Jews in the middle. I don’t want it to seem exclusive.
Lewis: The Eagle Rock music fest was like that also. People who take their kids to the street fair are good with us, and then we can do Cat Power shows. We’re all-ages.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you play?
Lewis: I want to play this music festival in Mali, in the Sahara desert. It’s four hours by 4×4 out in the desert from Timbuktu. It’s the most remote music festival in the world. I think we could probably do it. They have Innuits performing, then French bands. I saw Navajo Indians. It’s in January every year­—it’s called the Festival in the Desert.
Big Search: I want to play on a space station. Why do we have to be world music? Let’s be universal.
Luke: We should play on the border between Israel and Palestine. Bring the two-state solution through sound. One foot on each side of the border. ‘Dear governments of the world, we are Fool’s Gold. Shalom.’

Where would they put your music at Amoeba?
Big Search: Staff Picks, of course.

What do you like most about playing music?
Amir: Just the sheer fun of it. It’s a party every time there’s a show. Even sound check is cool. There’s so many people, it’s great.
Luke: This kind of music allows you to take the time with your music instead of having to package it in a certain way. We do have a lot of song structure but within that there’s a lot of room to dig into that.
Lewis: We have structure but within that structure, it’s really free. You never know when that structure’s going to happen but everybody knows it’s coming up. We’ve honed in on that.

It seems weird to share consciousness with that many people at once.
Big Search: And there are so many people that have really simple parts, me being one of them. I’m basically playing one riff for eight minutes. It’s like a piece of a machine. And Lewis freestyles guitar over that and Luke with his singing freestyles over that. But me and the percussionists and the drums all play very repetitive parts that you lose yourself. You give yourself up to what’s happening, in a cognitive way.
Lewis: It’s a communal trance in a weird way. You can feel when everyone’s locked in. And it’s fleeting! You can feel when everyone comes in and goes like a wave. And everybody knows when it happens.
Luke: It’s not just going through the motions. I’ve been in bands where it’s like, ok, there’s that part. And there’s that part! But here I can’t believe it works.