NiteTalk: Electro-Punk Band Fall on Your Sword Dishes on Their Shatner Obsession

Sarah Bereza

Duo Phil Mossman, formerly of LCD Soundsystem, and Will Bates celebrated the longest day of year at Lovin Cup in Williamsburg last night with an outdoor performance from their new electro-rock band Fall on Your Sword. The William Shatner-obsessed pair dabble in creating commercial jingles, scoring films and have achieved fame for their "Star Trek"-inspired viral YouTube video. We caught up with Phil and Will ahead of their show.   

Describe the origins of the group. Where are you guys from and how did the group form?
Will Bates: We met composing for a company in New York. We were composing music for commercials together and we started playing together, basically, when we were there. The band had sort of been in a different incarnation before and the three of us kind of all got together in that place and started writing. We actually did a commercial which won an award two years ago.

Was that the Absolut Vodka commercial?
No, that one was actually nominated for another one, we didn’t win it though. It’s for the boots one. It’s called “Damn Boots.” It has Phil’s vocals on it and we’ve been performing it as part of the band for a while now.
So what’s the overall sound and concept of the group? What are you guys trying to achieve artistically?
Will: Yeah, that’s a tough one. I think to begin with, the band was very about sci-fi. It started out very sci-fi influenced. A lot of cinematic influences. I think the big thing for us is just to not and we sort of refuse to bore our audience -- even if it means frightening them or making them laugh or whatever. So I feel like in a way that’s been our kind of big thing but also good songs.
Phil:  We like to blend a few unlikely influences. It’s very cinematic, bit of rock n' roll, bit of '70s glam. Just very basic rock n' roll music.
Will: Yeah, with a little electro-peppering. Both Phil and I come from a pretty heavy dance background back in London. I feel like inevitably that’s in the music.

What’s the significance of your name?
Will: That came from a direct Flash Gordon quote. When the band first started out there were a lot of songs -- I’d say about three quarters of the set was music that was inspired by Queen’s score to the original 1980s movie. And there’s a scene in that where Emperor Ming is telling someone to fall on their sword. So I guess it just kind of came from that. But it also can mean so many different things to different people. I kind of rather like the idea that people bring their own interpretation of it.

Do you see yourselves doing more commecial work?
Will: Well we’ve been doing it for awhile and it definitely helps pay the bills. And I think for a long time we kind of kept all of those different worlds kind of separate. And now Fall On Your Sword is more than just a band, we’re also more than just people who do music for commercials. It’s like a whole umbrella. We do music for movies, ads, fashion shows and we make movies. There’s a lot of cross coordination that’s happening. We’ve got these studios that we built three blocks away from here.
Phil: There’s a huge stigma attached to doing music for commercials. We’re so brazen about it, we actually try and bring a bit of artistry to it. So, you know, we don’t just like, license a track in China, or something like that, and take the money. We’re actually very open about doing it, and we try and bring a bit of artistic integrity to doing it, because it’s a medium that is becoming far more creative. And at the end of the day they’re trying to sell trainers and soft drinks and stuff.
Will: People are sort of accepting more and more that it is a way for bands to survive and why not kind of take it a step further you know? We’re trying to develop Fall on Your Sword as more of a brand now in its own right. The only way to do that is by doing good work.
It appears your most popular video now is Shatner of the Mount. How did the idea come up and were you surprised by the reaction to it?
Will: Pretty surprised actually. There was another "Star Trek" thing that I had actually had taken down because there was a moment of partial nudity in it which hadn’t occurred to me. But there was this thing called "Back to the Ship," which was done about a year or two before "Shatner on the Mount." So we were already beginning to get known as a science fiction kind of band I guess. And I just happened to stumble on that footage of him, he’s talking for 45 minutes about a scene in a movie that’s first of all, completely [expletive] and secondly is only about 20 seconds long. It’s phenomenal -- the man is a maniac. He’s talking for three quarters of an hour about it. So of course you’ve got to make something good out of that. And he talks with a certain meter, you know? It was very natural for us to just kind of turn it into a song.
So what’s your fascination with William Shatner in general?
Will: I mean how can you not be?
Phil: How can you not be fascinated?

Will: [laughs] The man is a tortured genius. He actually tweeted it, he twittered the video a few weeks ago. We’d been doing quite a lot of science fiction conventions and stuff which we’re sort of beginning to take a little bit of a setback from. [laughs] As much as we like to embrace that side of our following. But we played at this thing called the Chapel, which is a lot of fun. But he happened to tweet it the day of that event, which is pretty funny.
Have you guys ever gotten the chance to meet with him?
Will: We actually tried to contact him to do it but it didn’t seem to happen.
What impact do you think evolving technology will have on the future of music and film?
Will: That’s interesting. Well first of all I feel like we’re definitely technologically savvy, but we deliberately try to keep our technology on stage really lo-fi. No laptops. Phil was in LCD Soundsystem for a long time and that whole thing was about having no playback, no laptops, all analog. If stuff goes wrong it’s like, you embrace it. You use it as a part of the show. So for us I feel like we’re pretty happy with what we have. Stuff breaks all the time. I think as far as our show goes we’ll keep it the same way. As far as the industry goes, I mean I guess that’s why we’re doing what we do. Because of the way that things have developed.

So what’s the future of the band?
Will: We’re scoring this movie called "Aardvark." It’s premiering on July 15. We’re the band for the event and the band for the movie. We’re going to be playing a set before and then doing an overture for the movie and stuff. So that’s going on. We’re actually going to Cannes tomorrow, to potentially, hopefully, fingers crossed, we were nominated for another award for another commercial that we’re playing tonight as well.

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