Thursday, November 22

Eclectic bands to play the Echoplex

Imagine Kraftwerk’s infectious rhythms and electronic instrumentation, a driving melody and quirky lyrics, and you’ve got the U.K.’s Fujiya & Miyagi.

Tomorrow night, students will get the opportunity to experience F&M’s catchy rhythms as they perform at the Echo alongside Pop Levi and Project Jenny, Project Jan.

Since their formation in 2000, the original duo ““ David Best on guitar and vocals and Steve Lewis on synths ““ have added bassist Matt Hainsby and drummer Lee Adams. When F&M first started, its sound was more experimental, but eventually the band became more traditional while still retaining a distinct sound that gained popularity as the musicians crossed over to the United States.

“We started playing lots of shows and ended up coming to America, like this is our sixth or seventh visit,” Best said.

“It’s quite unexpected, really, from where we began.”

Although Best’s interest in electronic music began when he was young, F&M’s music is not limited to electro-beats and synths ““ it is a fusion of old and new. F&M members have aimed to combine their electronic influences with a more traditional lyric-based sound.

“We started interested in electronic music, but I was also really interested in different guitar groups.

“Stuff like David Bowie, I was very interested in as a kid,” Best said.

F&M’s lyrics are characterized by unusual mantras that foreground the band’s electro-rock instrumentals. “Knickerbocker,” the first track off the 2008 album “Lightbulbs,” features chants of “Vanilla strawberry knickerbocker glory / Vanilla strawberry knickerbocker glory / I saw the ghost of Lena Zavaroni / Vanilla strawberry knickerbocker glory / Hans Christian Andersen plays musical statues.”

For F&M, it’s important not to sound similar to other groups, even as they hearken to the past for influences. Inevitably, modern production technology keeps the band’s electronic sound modern and fresh, but lyrically they are also innovative.

“Music is just something I love. Since I was little, I just have to hear songs I haven’t heard before,” Best said.

“Maybe that’s the reason why we started a band, so we can make up songs that haven’t been listened to before, and that’s the joy it brings really.”

Project Jenny, Project Jan ““ composed of vocalist Jeremy Haines and programmer and keyboardist Sammy Rubin ““ will also be performing tomorrow night. PJPJ is another innovative group who has toured and collaborated with F&M in the past.

“We did a couple of tours together and then became close; we really liked each other’s music and we started talking about how great it would be to make a song together,” Rubin said.

F&M have already collaborated on the first track of PJPJ’s Colors EP to be released on April 14, 2009. In addition to their collaborative efforts, the two bands share a similar experimental approach to music.

“I don’t consider our music really electronic music; it’s just music that happens to have some electronic in it, but there’s also very non-electronic, very traditional sounds in it too,” Rubin said.

This will be the second time PJPJ performs at the Echoplex; a year and a half ago they opened for F&M at the same venue. For Haines, Los Angeles is the most exciting part of the tour.

“I like to joke around a bit in between songs, but some people don’t think that’s very funny; sometimes people don’t like my humor and we end up getting heckled, but that doesn’t happen that often ““ only a handful of times,” said Haines.

Billboard has called PJPJ live “a shockingly dynamic, danceable and hilarious affair.”

Although Haines questions his own hilariousness, he agrees that together with F&M, the show should be a lively event.

“It is a pretty dynamic show I guess: We got some ups, we got some downs, we got some fast ones, we got some slow ones,” said Haines.

Haines encouraged students to come to the show as a midweek stress reliever before finals.

“I had to take a couple of eight o’clock classes when I was in college; senior year, it almost killed me man, almost killed me. But I survived and here I am,” Haines said.

“It’s going to be a really fun night,” he added. “I mean, three bands, a lot of dancing ““ it will be like a good Tuesday night dance party.”

The U.K.’s Fujiya & Miyagi will play at the Echoplex tomorrow night with Project Jenny, Project Jan and Pop Levi: an ideal midweek stress reliever.

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