Crystal Fighters, the Basque-inspired folktronic band, have made their way to New York before. On their last trip, they danced with fans on Webster Hall’s wobbly floors. Now they’re back with more fans than ever. After releasing their second album Cave Rave in May and embarking on a wave of festivals over the past few years, they’ve built a fully grown legion of fans they call “The Fighters”. We chatted with band members Sebastian Pringle and Graham Dickson about the live experience, diabolical touring dreams and the fans they like to describe as “gorgeous.”
SuperGlued: You just played a summer circuit with a lot of festivals. Do you feel like the energy is different in the summertime? Performing outside for your fans, in the sun?
Sebastian: Yeah, it’s amazing at festivals, it’s really good because you’ve got your fans, and you’ve got people who don’t know you so well. It’s just a good party atmosphere. It’s quite open, there’s more people there, there’s a great energy. Lots of space on the stage to sort of express yourself. Hopefully if the weather’s nice, it’s great. So we’ve had pretty good luck this summer.
SG: How do you survive long tours, between shows?
Graham: Hydration, meditation, raw diets.
Graham: Marination. Cooperation.
Sebastian: High skill levels.
SG: Considering the fact that your band name and the story of your band’s start deals with this idea of an opera, how do you guys like to play that out in your live shows?
Sebastian: We like to sort of take the audience on a journey, like a musical, emotional quest to the end of the show. I think the whole starting point of the band still remains with us. We have this kind of urge to still tell this story and as the story evolves, it gets more complex. We can’t wait to have another album under our belts, so that the sort of pageant is even richer.
SG: We’ve read somewhere that you guys have made use of props in performing? We saw you at Firefly this year, I didn’t see any props that time.
Sebastian: No, no props. Well, there were probably a few props, but just scattered props.
Graham: There’s usually some crystals on top of my amp rig. Back in the day, we had signs and stuff, and scene changes. We’ll be doing more theatrical stuff in the future, I’m pretty sure.
Sebastian:: Working on dance moves as well.
Graham: We’ve been coordinating dances for years.
SG: Do you have any live performers whose moves or style you’ve admired in the past?
Graham: Prince is a real inspiration to me. Frank Zappa as a frontman. Bowie.
Sebastian: Arthur Brown of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. He used to set his crown on fire. Which is quite fun.
Graham: Even like that dude, the lead singer of The Hives. There’s some dudes these days, that are just killing it, too. Bast. [points to Sebastian, both laugh]
SG: We’ve also seen Cave Rave described as an album that was kind of constructed to be better heard live. Do you agree with that?
Sebastian: I don’t know, I suppose we are quite a live band and the guy who produced it is quite a live guy. So yeah, you could say that. It definitely, for us, feels really good live. But we hope at the same time, once we’re dead and gone, people can still enjoy the Cave Rave.
Graham: I think on this album particularly too, that some of songs were definitely meant to be played live. And some of them weren’t. And the ones that were meant to be played live, you try to make sure are enjoyable to listen to on headphones or in a car, or whatever. It’s really so personal, too, what you think is a “live” song.
SG: So you had a show in a cave. If you had unlimited resources, what kind of show would you throw together for your hardcore fans to top that?
Sebastian: Probably like, a show in Atlantis.
Graham: Endless funds would definitely do it.
Sebastian: Just get like, several submarines. And just go there.
Graham: Or just raise Atlantis. For the weekend. Imagine it rising out of the water.
Sebastian: And then rises on top of us. [both laugh]
SG: Have you ever had an interesting gift given to you by a fan, tangible or intangible?
Sebastian: I was once given a leather pouch full of marijuana. Actually, there was very little weed in it. Mainly tobacco. But there was a nice message. It was kind of scrawled, as if by a child. It was just on the stage, and I picked it up.
Graham: Some people will give you bracelets, like when I’m down in the pit. One time I got a nice stone bracelet. Which was nice. Some flags are thrown on stage sometimes. We fly those.
SG: Do you remember the first time you noticed that people in the crowd were actually singing all of the words to your songs?
Graham: Not all of the words, but the first time people knew the words to the songs was when we went to Japan, before our first album came out. They had learned them from the YouTube videos out. We had maybe fifty, sixty, a small number of videos and hits on videos. They were mouthing the words to “With You,” it was crazy.
Sebastian: Also, the song “I Love London,” with the lyrics so simple. The first show, by the end of the show, they were going “I love London!” Like, wow we’re gonna be massive!
SG: Can you describe your fans in a few words?
Graham: Gorgeous, perfect, and—
Sebastian: Impeccable taste. Nice, thoughtful people hopefully.
Graham: It seems like the people going to our shows want to have a good time and want to be there to have fun. There’s no knife fighting. [laughs]