Radar Band Of The Week – No. 26: Fiction

Fiction – imploding post-punk clichés one angular stab at a time

For a band whose name aligns them with the world of stories, tales and glorious fabrication, Fiction aren’t so hot at a decent lie.

We’re backstage at the capital’s Scala, where the London band, only on their second single, have just warmed up for Warpaint on one of the hottest billings of the year. Softly spoken German-born bassist Daniel Djan is attempting to explain why he’s wearing a large iron door key on a string round his neck, like some sort of indie latchkey child.

“My grandfather owns a castle in Germany,” he begins gamely, “and I’m just waiting to find that castle. I keep trying, though, with every lock when I go on holiday…”

As grand, invented rock’n’roll backstories go, it’s not exactly Dr Funkenstein and the P-Funk Mothership, but hey, he’s having a go.

To be fair, the facts are exciting enough at the moment for Fiction. Their warm, loose and bright sound, on the Talking Heads-indebted herky-jerky post-punk of ‘Curiosity’ and the Maccabees-by-way-of-XTC romance of ‘Phyllis’, led to the aforementioned ladies (who keep flitting through the dressing room, occasionally breaking into a cheer of “I LOVE FICTION”) handpicking them for their album tour.

Next month they’re supporting Klaxons and releasing glinting, Afropop-tinged, Anthony Rossomando-produced single ‘Big Things’. Onstage, their fluid multi-instrumental set-up (Mike Barrett and James Howard share stand-up drum duties and vocals, while James splits the guitar with Mike’s brother Nick) means that their sound never gets stuck in a groove, branching restlessly off into different styles. If it’s hard to pin down a definite sound, beyond a touch of Yeasayer here, a snatch of Wild Beasts there, that’s not an accident.

“If this age is about anything,” asserts Mike, “it’s about looking back, it’s about pastiche, and it’s becoming hard to define what style music is any more. It’s a complex web of influences with everyone, and there’s no centre of gravity at the moment… In a situation like this, the only thing you can
do is be yourself.”

“I think we’re just motivated by the hook, as an idea, a way to draw people in,” offers Jamie; while Dan dryly notes, “We just want to revive music.”

“We’ve got a lot on,” concludes Nick wryly.

Need To Know
• Dan replied to the band’s advert for a bassist by saying he could also play violin – this wasn’t true!

• Their gig came after three rehearsals, which Dan describes as “the most intense experience ever”

• Nick gave up medical training to focus on Fiction


This article originally appeared in the November 13 issue of NME

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