One of the best acts Prefix caught at ACL was Fool’s Gold, for the highly predictable reason that bubbly afro-pop tends to sound pretty good slotted in the mid-afternoon. It’s been a minute since their debut LP caught fire back in ’09, but the kids who gathered were still plenty eager to clap, jump, and even mosh in the gentlest way possible. We caught up with principle member Luke Top to chat about his trans-continental influences, his live show, and the odd origins of his band.
Fool’s Gold is known for its worldly influences, what was the first thing that made you fall in love with global pop music?
I do think about this sometimes, and it’s really hard to trace. I think because I came from Israel and moved to the U.S. at a young age, I’ve always had a split identity. And I think that’s always drawn me to music that’s also going through an identity crisis. There’s a lot of world music out there that’s influenced by western rock and pop and folk traditions. I always liked hybrids.
Did you know you wanted to make that sort of music?
I don’t think it hit me fully until after a little later in life. I realized I wanted to tap into that a little bit more. I’ve been making music my whole life but realizing that concept a little later.
Fool’s Gold can seem like a band that came from a central idea, would you agree with that?
In some ways yeah, we definitely came from a spark, we come from a mutual connection to international music. It kinda infuses everything we do. But since we started I think we’ve been on a track.
Did you always think of the band as something that would have multiple albums?
Not necessarily, it really just started out as a loose, open forum to experiment and have a semblance of community in a disparate place like L.A. It’s definitely been an arc to the whole process. I never would’ve thought we would be a band, and it’s becoming that now. But I’ve always wanted to be in a band, so it worked out.
So when you’re asked to make a second record and asked to iterate on your sound with a second album, coming from a project you didn’t expect to have traditional albums, what was your thought process?
We were never asked per say, but it was something we desperately wanted to do. The first album is kind of a snapshot of where we were, just very open and chaotic in a special way. We really wanted to make an album with the members we still had, and it all worked out quite well. We could’ve not easily, it wasn’t required, but we wanted to take the band to another place, and I think we were successful.
The new record is sung in English more, it’s more electric, do you think that’s made it more accessible?
It’s hard to say, the kind of music we’re playing is strange. It’s colored in an uncommon way; a lot of the things we’re doing aren’t going to be accessible to the common ear. I think of something like the Talking Heads that are intrinsically strange but still find an audience, I don’t think it’s that fruitful for us to think about approachability. But on some levels yes, the new record has shorter songs which leads to more radio play.
Of course you play your live show and you see a bunch of kids jumping around…
Yeah, and that’s awesome, we’ve been lucky enough to have people like what we’re doing every step of the way. We had kids moshing today, which wasn’t the plan. It’s all felt really natural and some people get us, some people don’t get us, and that’s fine.
You must’ve known that just by the nature of the music that the people paying money to see you would be pretty excited.
Yeah when we play our own shows or festivals its one thing. And when we play support slots it’s another thing. But this band has been through so much that we can adapt, we still give it our all and have fun. Like us or not, we’re here for now.
Fool’s Gold’s music seems more ready to succeed in the daylight than your average festival band.
Yeah maybe, but it also works well at 2 a.m. too. It doesn’t make you want to bury yourself in the ditch, that’s for sure.