Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

Tanyel Gumushan /
May 4, 2017 / Culture

“I reckon our profile would need a good ‘threesome’ joke in the description.” Joe Banfi, starts, as no band with three members could describe themselves via Tinder profile without one.

It’s learnt that bassist Chris McCuaig runs out of swipes quite often, and the profile pictures would feature Aaron Graham’s drum face. Joe himself actually uses his happy relationship as the base for Banfi’s cherry drop tracks.

Having travelled across Europe opening up for Bear’s Den, the band have shared new images to give insight into life on the road – taken by their long term creative collaborator Jake Dypka.

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Hanging out with the trees and trying to look cool…”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Putting our faces through the gaps of a beautifully constructed tipi we found in the forest.”

The East Londoners may not be able to yet put their finger on exactly what their ‘sound’ is, but describe it as “an on-going process of practice”, explaining how the growth is similar to “the same way that people don’t notice themselves physically growing and changing over time until they see a picture from years before.”

With harmonies as gentle as a feather stroke, and vocals that lush with a tropical sense, Banfi’s songs sweep a hip-swaying groove and wear rose tinted glasses. The sunbeam feel is almost reminiscent of the warmth of Joe’s earliest memories of listening to his dad’s Walkman on a long car journey from Northwich to Edinburgh.

“There’s always a keystone like a riff or a lyric that everything else gets built around.” Joe says, in ‘Where We Part’ timing was key, especially for the slick line entering the chorus. Highlighting the strength of the relationship between the rhythm to the snare drum.

Lyrically there’s a folksy edge to the tales that Banfi tell, there’s preference to “lyrics that put together a thought or a situation, but that leave room for whoever’s listening to fill whatever emotional gaps are left.”

Whilst some leave a bittersweet feeling on the tongue, when lathered atop of joyous beats, Joe explains how the relationship that the lyrics have to the tempo or mood “is something that [he] doesn’t really understand.” Instead, he “prefers to leave that to chance or whatever dictates how the two things combine.”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Chris, taking a moment of calm before another night on tour.”

Latest single, ‘Rosedale House’ is best doted as a “lost-love kind of song”, and was built around a guitar riff from accidentally leaving a harmoniser-pedal on. Named after, and an ode to, a block of flats in Stoke Newington where Joe and his girlfriend used to live, the song is almost a dystopian vision. Whilst the song acted as  “a way to celebrate what we have” Joe discusses how it also allowed him “to get a glimpse at the kind of pain and regret I’d go through if we ever let it all go somehow – a bit like Scrooge’s horrible visions of his potential future.”

Where each band member has a distinct “home” in their instruments, sonically it’s difficult for them to step on each other’s toes. However, “personally, it gets very silly very quickly.” Reminiscing on the recent Bear’s Den tour, the band recall a night in Belgium where after a few beers they were calling it a night. However, Joe remembers, “when I turned around, Chris was right behind me wearing a full-on Pulp Fiction gimp mask that he’d brought with him for the sole purpose of scaring the shit out of me and Aaron, and out of pure reflex and fear I did this judo throw on him that I’d learned from school.

“Next thing we knew we’d broken this really nice old chair that Chris landed on. Luckily the man who ran the Air B n’ B was really kind and didn’t mind about either the noise at 3am or the chair.”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Finding friends in the fields of the New Forest…these guys were cool…”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Aaron grew up in the New Forest, so this guy must’ve recognised him from school or something?”

Travelling around Europe, not only did the band manage to have a chat with an “absolute bad-ass” horse in the New Forest, but whilst it may sound “cheesy” on their longest tour to date Joe leaned “how much I truly love playing these songs with Aaron and Chris, and I had no idea that I could get so invested and involved in a single live performance until now.

“There were some really special shows where the three of us connected so fully with the emotion of the set and we felt the audience joining us with that whole vibe.”

Having started to write his first song aged 7, to out-do Aaron Carter – an American 9 year old pop-star, Joe can now proudly tease the arrival of new music over the coming weeks. With an album waiting patiently in the wings, it’s clear that Banfi’s competitive drive well and truly paid off pass the primary school verse.

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Joe, concentrating on his parts and wearing his favourite Dry The River T!”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Aaron, singing some ooohhhs in ‘Where We Part’…”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Aaron, in mid hard hitting flow at the end of another blasting set!”

Fly on the wall: on tour with Banfi

“Performing at the Hammersmith Apollo and loving every second!”

Words by Tanyel Gumushan

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