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In today’s “In the Spotlight” I have the Great pleasure to present Fendahlene to you! So lean back and prepare for an interesting read.
Hi and thank you so much for taking the time to join us “In the Spotlight”.
How long have you been Fendahlene and what is the story behind the name?
Paul and I had played in bands back in high school. We even won a Battle of the Bands competition playing as The Arthur C Clarke Mystery Band. Not long after we finished uni, we decided to give the band thing a proper go. I knew Paul was keen anyway, we’d spoken about it a bit without committing fully, when at this huge house party I was asked out-of-the-blue to come up from the floor to play bass with the hired blues band. We played a 20+ minute blues jam, and that was me hooked. This was in 1994 – within weeks we’d formally started Fendahlene, with Ben on drums (he also was at school with us).
Coming up with a name was a bit of an adventure (tbh we had decision paralysis). Finally we wrote a bunch of names down and just picked the best one.
A ‘Fendahlene’ was a character in a Doctor Who serial from the Tom Baker years called “Image of the Fendahl”. They were the 12 children of an antagonist/monster called a Fendahl. Its physical form was basically a cheap air conditioning unit covered in papier mâché with ribbons coming out, like a great old school prop. Once we decided on that as a name, we had to then work out how to spell it (we didn’t like the official spelling Fendahleen, partially because there was another band on the Sydney circuit with a name that ended with ‘leen’).
A good thing back then with the name was that people invariably asked you to spell it for them once they heard it. Like every time, which helped etch it into people’s memories. There were still some crazy missteps. For our first paying gig, for example, the promoter advertised us in the street press as “Sendahlene” even though we spelt it out for them in the NATO phonetic alphabet “Sierra, echo etc..”. We got to the venue and there was a huge sign with it misspelt. Thankfully Paul managed to procure some chalk and set about some of the fastest remedial work you’ll ever see.
Who would you say are your greatest influencers in music.
We have so many influences, and although Paul and I like the same music generally, we also differ a bit on what styles we are most passionate about, which helps us I think with the writing side of things.
Both of us are heavily influenced by the likes of the Beatles and the Stones (in fact pretty much everything from the mid 60s to the mid 70s). We’re also hugely influenced by 80s/90s alternative – from REM, Hüsker Dü and The Replacements through to grunge, and the Sydney live scene. It may sound a little obscure but that scene was enormous (and very prolific) only a few years before we started to play on it, giving us the likes of INXS, Crowded House and Midnight Oil, for example. You can add Sly, Otis and Janis too.
For me especially, TRex was such an influence when I was first learning to play (they were hugely out-of-fashion when I was in high school but Bolan was the first ‘over-the-top, rock star’ that struck a chord with me). Paul is also enormously influenced by alt-country, which comes through in a lot of what we do.
Finally, in the last 12 months, we’ve picked up, and learned so much, from the indie music community, mostly through Twitter. Would have to say about 95% of music I listen to now is indie, and across such a broader range of genres than before. It’s such an amazing thing that we’d never expected would happen, so long after we started the band.
With covid restrictions easing up in places, what are you most looking forward to when you can play live again?
Making connections with the crowd is so important, a big part of the buzz of playing live. And their reactions don’t have to be over the top, or anything. Even if we see one person tapping their foot, or listening with eyes closed, we know we’ve made a connection, and there’s no feeling like that in the world. So yeah, there’s that J
Also, it will be a chance to play songs from our recent album live – almost all of them have never been played on stage due to the lockdown (all our plans for an album launch party and shows went out the window with the pandemic).
One more thing. Really can’t wait to make some serious noise. I mean love acoustic and playing at home of course, but really want to let it rip through a decent PA…
What is the one thing you would like to tell your fans?
Just how important you are to us. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a super fan or just like one of our tunes, either. For us to make an impression with our work is just so special, it’s a lot of the reason we do this every day.
What is the one thing you would like to tell to the Music Industry?
Don’t treat acts as commodities and curating the life out of listeners by funnelling them into tight listener categories that fit into easy-to-market-to segments. The same goes for deciding trends in music and manufacturing hype in order to satisfy a predetermined outcome. As with the other creative arts, all great trends and movements in music have been led from below, by people actually falling for a new style, or approach. Allow this to become organic again. Be bold, like the big record companies from the 60s through to the early 90s who went searching for the magic, instead of trying to invent it through focus groups. Because the way it works at the moment, at the top end, is lessening the social value of music and therefore weakening society and culture in general.
Finally, invest in promoting physical music, regardless of the format. Tangible products bring music to life, as does ownership of them. The reason that Kindles have not taken off with children and teenagers is that young people want to own their own things with which they identify, which they can see on their shelf or feel in their hands. Fuji film’s Instax camera is enormously popular with that very demographic because it enables young people to produce a physical photograph. Work on bringing the physical back to music.
Thank you so much, and I hope we will hear a bunch from you in the future!