In Conversation With . . . Fort Fairfield

Fort Fairfield is the musical duo, comprising brothers John and Tom Lück, who create an atmospheric experimental music they call ?shoegaze electronic.? See review of their CD The Dead Sea Scrolls (free to download until February 28) in Gregor’s Bed.

Recently, elder brother Tom took the time to chat with Wanda Waterman St. Louis about children of the ?80s, Swedish liberals, and sibling rivalry.

Golden Days of Childhood

We grew up in the ?80s in the suburbs of Jönköping in Sweden. My little brother was a delight for me until he turned five and started to follow me and my friends around in spite of me telling him that he couldn’t play with us. He would come home crying to Mom that I was mean and not letting him play with us.

At age seven he developed a criminal master plan: he would run into my room and start to beat me. He was a sneaky bastard and had mastered the art of pretend crying. So when I got furious he ran out crying and screaming for his mommy. I ran after him, wanting to beat the little bastard, only to find him hiding behind mommy, fake crying. And I would get a telling-off from Mom or Dad.

This went on for a couple of years until one day he buried himself. By this time he had simplified his act?he just went downstairs making noises and screaming, ?Stop beating me!? and crying. But on this day I was upstairs and Dad was downstairs and so Dad became witness to a pre-Edward Norton Fight Club scene.

I left Jönköping for the west coast and my brother went south. But I came back after seven years and made it even further into the woods. I prefer to think of myself as a modern cultural hillbilly.

About the Music . . .

My brother asked for a guitar for his fourteenth birthday and after a week or so it sat untouched. Later on he got an electric guitar that he played more often. It was always out of tune and in the end there were only two strings left. In short, we’re self-taught. But we still can’t tune a guitar.

We call our music a lot of things, and it definitely has a shoegaze feel to it. Christ, we’re Shoegaze Extravaganza! And we gaze a lot at our shoes, mostly because my Fred Perry shoes are neat. Fort Fairfield redefines shoegaze, and That’s final.

Our name, Fort Fairfield, is taken from the city of Fort Fairfield, Maine, USA. I think we picked this name because my brother thinks Miss Fort Fairfield 2007 is cute. I would like to add that my opinion isn’t the same as my brother’s. I think they should have closed down the competition after 2006; they will never top Miss Fort Fairfield 2006.

My brother has this new hang-up where he has to make the music solid. Apparently he has issues with the flow. He thinks if he can sample the sounds of the flow and the floating in the world and record it he can control the flow, press pause, and make it?oh, yes?solid.

Obviously my brother lost it a long time ago. It upset me because we had this great record almost done and instead of laying down the finishing touches on it, my brother takes a summer job in the mountains as some kind of park guard. Not only does he look ridiculous in the clothes, he doesn’t even like nature!

So here we have a nature hater working as park guard, afraid of the floating, and recording the floating. This is fine with me, but then he calls me in late summer asking for the water levels in Lagan (a stream near where I live), like this is some kind of general knowledge that I should be aware of.

You really have to dig deep to find an upside to this and I can only find one: compared to him I seem like a perfectly reasonable and sane person.

Necessary Tension

I guess that tension is one of the conditions we need for creativity. The dream would be to be by myself, but that isn’t how it is so there’s always tension when we make music. For example, I just told my brother that I thought the beats should be a little more sharp??clinical? was the word I used. I had given him some great input since I’m the one with the good taste (he sometimes shows really bad judgment in music’see Lars Winnerback). But he broke out in a rage, not just calling me names but also attacking my budgie, Mogwai, calling him deformed and slow. (This is not true; Mogwai could be a show budgie if not for his left eye, which doesn’t pop out as much as the right one.)

In my brother’s defence I must add that he had just lost his budgie, Ralf, when his dog, Wilma, mistook him for dinner. It’s water under the bridge now but I still believe it was him who threw a snowball at my window. I’m almost sure of it. I did see a white Volvo leave. But he denies it.

There is an old tear between my brother and I. This goes way back to the year 2006 and it was blowing right-wing madness all over Sweden. It was an even race. Then it happened: The right-wing liberals did a makeover on their leader; instead of one eyebrow he got two, and they suited him up. The Leijonborg effect was born. This was all it took?suddenly the semi-racist restrictions and the disassembly of the Swedish welfare system were okay. I would go out in the woods and blow my brains out before I would vote for the liberals.

Meanwhile my brother goes out and votes for this man! It was the biggest disappointment I ever received over the telephone. For hours I thought he was kidding. And if you ask him today he denies it, but then again he claims to have had nothing to [do] with the snowball either.