Interview with Lewis Pesacov of Fool's Gold

Summer is a great time to expand your musical tastes and discover some new artists to listen to while you’re tanning or sipping lemonade. Los Angeles world music band Fool’s Gold is touring the globe with some of the freshest beats of the summer. Lead guitarist Lewis Pesacov spoke to The State Press about jam sessions, remixes and everything in between.

State Press: Fool’s Gold truly understands what it means to blend a variety of ethnic flavors to create a new sound. How did the band members bring all their international and musical backgrounds together to create the African and Western pop fusion sound you have?

Lewis Pesacov: Luke [Top], the lead singer, and I are kind of the leaders of the band. We wrote all the music. Luke was born in Israel, so he brings that Hebrew image. I’m from Los Angeles, but my parents listen to a ton of world music. Luke and I mutually loved world music and we were like, “Why not?” When we opened that up, people started coming out of the woodwork…friends of friends…and we started finding people that also like this type of music. For example, Salvador Placencia, our percussionist, is a huge fan of African music. He’s kind of more of a fan than he ever was a musician. Only recently did he become a musician. So in a weird way, we bonded over our love for this music, and that’s what brought certain people together to form the band.

SP: The band’s lyrics are sung in both English and Hebrew. Regardless of whether your fans understand the lyrics, your sound is very appealing. But how does the band get its lyrical message across to fans who don’t speak Hebrew when lyrics are sung in Hebrew?

LP: I think that the music and the way Luke sings are so emotive that there’s a nonverbal communication that happens…it almost transcends the meaning of the words Luke is singing, and that’s what’s really important about it. We listen to so much music in languages I don’t speak, but it feels very natural for me to not necessarily understand every word that the singer is singing. On the flipside of that, though, if you buy [our] record, the lyrics are all [written] inside. It’s kind of a different experience [to] read the lyrics and see them phonetically.

SP: The music video for “Surprise Hotel” features fun-loving old men who participate in a party full of hip, young people. How did you guys come up with the concept for that video?

LP: I worked [with] Matthew Lessner, who directed that video, once before. He was really stoked on that song and really wanted to do the video. He had seen us play. There’s something that happens when we play…almost kind of like this ecstatic bliss. The song is kind of “trancey” and repetitive. [As] it keeps going, you get further into this trance. I think his concept for the video was to set the scene for this really bizarrely ecstatic party that we’re the soundtrack to. These old men are just being ecstatically blissful and just going wild. And [why not] bring some dogs in, because dogs are awesome, and some lizards, and some chicks in bikinis…you know. The people in the video are our friends. The old dudes were actors who just wanted to do it. It was all pretty impromptu.

SP: You guys really know how to incorporate some great jam sessions into your shows. Besides a lot of practice, what’s the key to producing a successful jam session during a concert? I’m sure that’s kind of hard to coordinate since there are quite a few of you in the band.

LP: You have to have the right vibes. […] There’s this moment before we go on stage [when] we all come together in this little huddle and breathe together. There’s something about coming together as a unit, as a community, and forgetting the individual. We’re all part of the cause of this machine. […] That really helps us to bounce ideas off each other. It’s like watching a really great basketball team pass the ball. It’s this thing that builds and builds, and once you get there, you lose yourself in it. Ideally, the audience is also feeling this energy and also losing themselves in it. […] It’s special that we can do this.

SP: You personally released one of the best remixes of the year. As an artist, describe the process of creating a remix. What was it about “Wide Eyes” by Local Natives that made you think, “This song inspires me to put my own twist on another artist’s music?”

LP: Remixing is really fun in general. I really like reconceptualizing someone else’s work. I think that remixing is like a contemporary, modern day version of covering a song. Bands don’t cover songs nearly as much as they used to. In the ’60s, everybody was covering each other’s music. Jimi Hendrix famously covered “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” days after it came out. We toured with Local Natives for a month. We’re good friends with those guys. For some reason, every day when they played that song, I just read it as a rap song. It was kind of a joke. I think they like hip-hop, but they’re not huge hip-hop heads. I was like, “Dudes, I’m going to turn this song into a hip-hop song. Just watch.” I was working on it for a while [when] we were on tour with them. When I finally finished it, it turned out awesome. It really works with that song. I wanted it to be a club banger, or something that you could listen to in the club. But then it still has that feeling of their song.

Reach Lenni at lhrosenb@asu.edu


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