We Fell To Earth have been announced as the support act for both The Big Pink’s UK tour and AIR’s European tour. Their new single ‘Deaf’ will be released 16th November on In Stereo records. Perhaps the reason We Fell To Earth make such widescreen, spacious and cosmic music is down to where they first met. Wendy Rae Fowler and Richard File initially crossed paths at Rancho de la Luna Studios out in the High Desert of California, a building that stands alone among the cacti and Joshua trees. For many years there was even a horse tethered out front but now you’re more liable, as the evening descends, to find bands strumming guitars in the yard, enjoying a barbecue beneath the palm trees as the glittering night sky sprawls above them.
“At night Rancho de la Luna is this whole other thing,” says Wendy in a breathless southern twang, “There’s no light pollution and it seems like you’re closer to the stars – on most nights you can see shooting stars.”
The duo’s debut album contains grains of that desert night ambience. It bleeds an otherworldly quality tinged with psychedelia, melancholy and songs that float into the stratosphere. The opening ‘Spin This Town’ canters spookily in on the ghost of Spacemen 3 at their mellowest, and the journey ahead contains musical tinges of everything from Jefferson Airplane to Suicide. Richard and Wendy’s way with harmonies is almost ecclesiastical on the likes of ‘Lights Out’, but hypnotic electronics are never far away, notably on the pulsing, bleeping ‘Sovereign’. ‘Careful What You Wish For’, meanwhile, contains a sad-eyed piano motif that just won’t quit, reeling listeners in and refusing to leave the memory. For the final song, ‘Undone’, the band acknowledge a debt to Ennio Morricone, turning up the spaghetti western heat, sassily emanating boot-scuffed dust and Mexican cantina percussion.
Rancho de la Luna, however, is not so much a saloon haunted by lethal, nameless gunmen in ponchos as a Mecca for stoner rock. It’s where Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme occasionally drags a who’s who of heavy guitar dudes to record his ‘Desert Sessions’ album series. It was within this milieu that Wendy Rae thrived, singing with Homme and Mark Lanegan. Richard, on the other hand, comes from a British dance music background. When DJ Shadow left U.N.K.L.E., the group helmed by Mo’Wax Records head honcho James Lavelle, File stepped into the breach. The duo produced the U.N.K.L.E. albums ‘Never, Never, Land’ and ‘War Stories’.
It was during the recording of the latter, laying down a number with Josh Homme at Rancho de la Luna in Autumn 2005, that File met Fowler. They hit it off immediately. File later dropped into her house in the
San Fernando district of LA. “We were hanging out talking and there are always a variety of instruments sitting around at my house,” explains Wendy Rae, taking up the story, “Rich picked up a guitar and
started playing something I liked, so I picked up my bass and before you knew it we had a song, both singing together, free-flowing creativity. Fifteen minutes later we started another, then minutes after that another – the rest is history.”
The music they began producing eventually took them to London but, somehow, they’ve never lost the sonic grandeur of the Californian wastelands. The duo’s vocals, used sparingly, soar throughout while
slow-burning pop melodies sparkle, never drifting into stoned self-indulgence.
Fowler and File’s backgrounds couldn’t have been more different. Most of File’s early musical influences come from his teenage years, listening to everything from A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Low End Theory’ to Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, whilst roaming and skating the streets of his home town of Sutton, and adopted home of the south bank of London’s Thames. Fowler’s influences on the other hand come from a much earlier time. In her infancy she recalls hearing “a bunch of old tunes my Mom and Grandma would listen to whilst sitting around drinking…Johnny Cash is the only one I can name out of those sessions, but there’s much much more which I attribute to something that sounds like old blues-country-surf which they used to call rock-n-roll. I’m always searching for those original tunes trying to make the connection between faded memories and what comes out when I pick up a guitar. I’m convinced Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ is one of the tunes my Mom and Grandma used to relentlessly spin alongside their gin and tonics.”
If there was a culture clash when Richard, with his electronic music background, started working with psyche lover Wendy, it was of the most positive kind. We Fell To Earth bonded over an area of music that
suited both their tastes, Krautrock. “We have a mutual appreciation for bands like Can and Faust”, explains File. “The rhythm sections particularly influenced us while making this record, where you have
the repetition of dance music but retain the humanity of a rock record. It was the perfect backbone for our evolution. Most of the songs were built around Wendy and I jamming out the rhythm sections.”
Also on the music of We Fell To Earth, echoing motorik grooves can be heard within their debut album, but only as one of a multitude of flavours. The duo gently search for the ethereal while never forgetting that pop music is always about mustering a decent tune that sticks in the memory. US TV shows have been quick to realise their potential with songs from their debut ‘Lights Out EP’ being snapped up
by giants of the small screen such ‘CSI New York’ and ‘Gossip Girl’.
We Fell To Earth’s live shows are truly atmospheric events that drag the audience off into their hazy, elegantly spaced out universe. They may now be based in London but We Fell To Earth inhabit a world that’s far from urban, somewhere sonically distant and dreamy. It’s a place it seems likely many more of us will be entering with them before the year is out.
Catch them live at the following shows:
The Big Pink support dates:
20th Liverpool, Academy 2
21st Manchester, Academy
22nd London, Electric Ballroom
12th – The Flowerpot – Single launch, London
AIR support dates:
26th Vox Hall , Aarhus
27th Vega, Copenhagen
28th Sentrum Scene, Oslo
29th Berns, Stockholm / with Air
1st Cable Factory, Helsinki
3rd 2009 B1, Moscow
5th MKK, Saint Petersbourg
7th Rock Café, Tallinn
8th Dream Factory, Riga
9th Vilnius Theatre Arena, Vilnius
10th Arena Ursynow, Warsaw
12th Sasazu, Prague
13th Petofi Czarnok, Budapest
14th Hala Tivoli, Ljublana