Bands form and create music together all the time- it’s a pretty cut and dry concept. The thing about that is, well, they are usually in a reasonable proximity. Amps and drum kits get lugged into the garage or the basement etc. and so it begins. But for international rock band The Foolks, they play music together in a very modern – and distant – way.
The Foolks are spread out between three continents and many miles of deep blue sea. Birthed during and because of the pandemic, this unique crew has made the most out of an uncertainty-fueled reality, and act as proof that it can bring innovation.
With a name that’s a combination of “folks” and “fools,” the members of the band give a nod to the way those in their respective communities have conducted themselves during unprecedented times. Spanning thousands of miles, they each have varying insight when it comes to being “foolks” in their respective communities. The American perspective is provided by members Charles Berthoud in Massachusetts and Andrew Picha in Tennessee. Across the pond, Jamie Wiltshire dials in from Cambridge, UK, and Emmanuel Dron from Singapore.
So far, the band has put out their first single as a unit, “The Most Beautiful Queen,” which– from merely a logistical standpoint– is especially impressive. With a classic rock feel that sends you back a few decades, the emphasized electric guitar is the star of the show. More than anything, though, it makes you feel like driving down an interstate in a convertible with the top down.
Even more impressive, The Foolks intend on putting out their debut full-length album by the end of the year. This 10-song uppercut of an album delivers the familiar sounds of classic rock in a fresh and endearing style, displaying the fact that chemistry can happen from miles away. Songs like “We’ll All Get Nothing to See” and “Friends” are songs you’d be best advised to turn up your speakers to- hell, the whole album for that matter.
We we were able to pitch some questions across the pond to Dron in the Philippines by way of France regarding the band’s inception, creative process, the new single, and more.
First things first: how did everyone get connected? Who came up with the idea to create a band that spanned the globe?
The band and album wouldn’t have existed without the hard times of Covid-19.
I used the 3 months of time off to produce the album. I had lots of music left in the box for years. I wrote lyrics and finished my songs, and wrote some new songs for that project.
I wanted that project to reflect the situation of today, and record it from my home, and play with musicians from around the world. Like a “Zoom” album in a way.
I have always been busy- traveling every month to Europe and Asia. I never took the time to push myself back to music. In December 2019, I went to Los Angeles, and I went to the famous guitar shop, Norman’s Rare Guitars, with the idea to buy just a “souvenir” t-shirt, but ended up coming back with 5 guitars. That really pushed me back to music. I decided to start to work on some music, and then in February when Covid-19 appeared, I was no longer allowed to travel for work, and I decided to challenge myself and to write and produce a full album.
I decided to work with some of the best musicians out there to release that album. Instead of playing with just local guys around me, I built a “Super Group” for that album.
The first musician I really wanted to work with was Charles Berthoud from the U.S. I discovered him by chance on YouTube around a year ago. He has 30K followers. I was very impressed with his play, his touch and feeling. One of the most talented bass players for me. I managed to contact him to work on my songs. He did a fantastic job. Today he has more than 400K followers on YouTube just one year later.
Then the voice was more challenging. I tried a few singers that I found on Fiverr. The one that stood out was Jamie. He is a very experienced singer who plays with two bands in U.K. His voice perfectly fits my songs. He did really a great job on the album.
Last was Andrew, and I found him on Fiverr too- great drummer from Nashville. He graduated from Berklee College of Music, and he toured around the country with many different artists.
How did the name, The Foolks, come to be? You’ve said that the name is a combination of “folks” and “fool.” Which “foolks” is the name a nod to, if any?
The name “The Foolks” is based on “folks” (people, humans) and “fool” (crazy). A name that reflects the situation of the world we are living at the moment.
What has been the best part about being in an isolated band?
In my case, to not have to face humans haha! Working at my own tempo.
What has been the biggest challenge?
To make it work without being in a real studio. To be able to communicate between the musicians, but also with the sound engineer during the mixing and mastering process (which was done in a studio in France).
You all just released your lead single, “The Most Beautiful Queen.” What was the writing process like, and what inspired the song?
No real inspiration, as the riff came simply to me. I wrote other lyrics, and was really struggling with the melody and lyrics. The song was never finished and then at the end of March when I started to work fully on the album, inspiration came from nowhere, and the lyrics and melody came within 15 minutes.
The message is everybody can get a second chance in life. Everybody can fight for his/her dream and achieve it even if you are down on life. You need to take the inner strength left in you, and look straight to the path of a better life.
I wrote that album mostly in G tuning. 8 songs out of 10 are.
I learned that kind of tuning when I was playing with my first band in France, and we were covering “Honky Tonk Women” from The Rolling Stones. I had a guitar just to play that song. I really loved the power of the riff with that tuning. I have been using it a lot since back then and wrote many songs with it. And the riff for “The Most Beautiful Queen” is one the first ones I wrote using that tuning.
And can you talk about the production process?
I wrote the song with a basic beat and basic bass line, then everybody played their parts that replaced the “demo” parts. I did a pre-mix, then sent all the layers to a studio in France (Wild Horses Studio) that did a much better mix and the master.
What does the future look like for The Foolks?
Hopefully we will do a second album. I wrote few songs already.
Is there a plan to be an “in-person” band once things mellow out a bit?
Touring would be great, but everybody has their own agendas and live around the world. Not easy to meet and tour easily. However, I am sure that if we had a great response to the album, that would be a motivation for everyone to move to the proper path of a band!