Hey everyone, welcome to the second installment of our ongoing series of interviews with Kung Fu artists, both past and present to help you all get more familiar with the bands and musicians that have made Kung Fu Records what it is. Today we sat down with Tommi, drummer and one of the vocalist for BIFFERS from Livorno, Italy!
KUNG FU RECORDS: Hey Tommi, thanks for talking to us! Let’s start with the typical questions, so how was the band started?
Tommi: The band was formed by Dario in 2007, as a reinterpretation of the music he grew up with. Happiness for Madness (former band of Dario and Tommi) had just split up: the project that ensued (with Tommi and Miche), Breakout Division, tended toward an experimentation in indie and post-hardcore, while Dario (more linked to sounds insufficiently explored with HFM) preferred to continue composing for the upcoming project.
KFR: Where did the band name come from?
Tommi: Dario, like the rest of us, loves “Back to the Future”, and the name comes from the villain Biff Howard Tanner. Later we found out that it is also a slang term to define the “best friends”, an archaism for “thugs”, and in French it means “strike”.
KFR: What music do you guys like to listen to, and what has most influenced the band?
Tommi: Among our common listenings there are 80’s/90’s hardcore punk, American 60’s/70’s soul music, the Housemartins and “uncle” Frank Zappa. Our sound owes much to the San Francisco late 80’s scene (albeit more polished and implemented), but our compositional approach reflects our love for black music and Paul Heaton’s and Fatboy Slim’s band, with a 360° approach to the music, like master Zappa loved.
KFR: Have you had any line up changes?
Tommi: From an initial 4 members lineup (of which Dario is the only survivor) we became a trio in 2010, a few months after recording the first EP. Dario and Eddi were joined by Tommi, thus making the Biffers a gang rather than a commercial project. In 2013 Pasquale replaced Eddi on bass, remaining faithful to the basic requirement of the band.
KFR: Give us three adjectives that describe your music.
Tommi: Self-‐involved (our songs mostly tell our stories), vicious (we have some defects), essential (even sitting within the canons of rock, our music is based on the songs, like it’s for folk singers-‐songwriters).
KFR: You guys consider yourselves punk rock. What is punk rock to you?
Tommi:For us, punk rock is a musical key in which to write about us and keep training our lazy minds, and of course a way of life: facing things our own way, with liveliness, a bit of levity and enough rationality.
KFR: You guys toured Spain at the end of last year. How was that?
Tommi: We have traveled many km’s (about 5000), ate lots of tortillas (typical Spanish potato omelette), through breathtaking landscapes, took memorable concerts (including pub brawls), made new friends and promised to return soon, everything in Tommi’s car.
In spring 2014 we also took a european tour through Germany, Holland and Belgium.
We met awesome people, traded our hats with some of them, and went to Groezrock to see Snuff, Descendents, and many more.
KFR: Any great tour stories?
Tommi: In Burgos (Spain), we stopped a DJ set in the club to do some busking, ending with the launch of the manager’s guitar (a huge rugby player), who was watching us approving. A few hours earlier, there was a memorable reaction of Dario, who discovered that the Morcilla dish (typical of the area) he was greedily enjoying was made of rice and blood. D -‐ “Is it meat or fish?” T -‐ “It’s blood.” D -‐ “Ah.” Despite his expression, the shocking truth did not prevent him from eating up all the pot.
KFR: What’s Livorno like? Is it a good scene?
Tommi: We love Livorno, it’s up to all sort of things. Through this, we can learn a lot by what happens around us and moreover draw inspiration to compose our music.
We also think that its scene offers some great realities in the national and European underground.
KFR Favorite quote?
Tommi: “I think people ought to know that we’re anti-‐fascist, we’re anti-‐violence, we’re anti-‐racist and we’re pro-‐creative. We’re against ignorance” Joe Strummer.
We wish we could say the same thing about Biffers.
KFR:How did you come into contact with Kung Fu Records?
Tommi: We eventually shared our first videoclip on their Facebook wall (as we did with other labels we like) and after a few days Joe wrote us asking if we wanted to work together. Among the music we grew up with there are many bands that are (or were) in the label’s roster.
KFR: Any other Kung Fu bands or releases you like? Any you would recommend to people? Any one that you wish you could do a show/tour with (past or present)?
Tommi: Thanks to some very active record shops in our town, in the early 2000’s it was easy for us to spot the finest independent music from USA and Europe. From Kung Fu’s roster we listened to the Vandals, the Ataris, Tsunami Bomb. The latter isn’t active nowadays, so we can only hope one day we’ll play with the Vandals and/or the Ataris.
From the present roster we like Cooper’s vocal style and Knockout’s approach to punk rock and Jamaican music.
KFR: Why did you choose “Bubblegum” as the first video? Where did the idea come from for the video? Who are all the people in it? Any special cameos?
Tommi: Actually we chose “Falling down” as the first video! The screenplay was just too long and we didn’t have enough time to film it because of the tours and the recordings, so we said “Alright, let’s just do a video of Bubblegum where everybody’s chewing bubblegums and that’s it.”
Maybe we’ll come up with the other idea later on, we really like it. The people in the video are friends of ours, their parents, ex-bandmates and random people.
KFR: Is there a song on “Whoa!” that really stands out for you beyond “Bubblegum”? If someone reading this, has never heard you guys, what song off this album would you tell them to listen to?
Tommi: We believe that “Falling down” is a good summary of the whole album.
KFR: Where did the idea of the album artwork come from?
Tommi: We asked our graphic artist to represent our mascot Larry in an environment similar to the one where the songs were composed.
KFR: What are the tour plans for this album? What’s next for Biffers?
Tommi: We’re planning some shows in Spain in September, then something in Italy in October and November, then back or a few weeks in Europe for the end of the year. We would like to tour Europe more extensively in 2015, and maybe (why not) visit the U.S.
KFR: Anything you want to say to someone out there that is hearing about you and your band for the first time?
Tommi: Hi people out there! Please listen to our music and (if you like us) join the Whoa! Club, our mailing list that we use to get in touch with our friends around the world.
We hope to meet at our shows everyone that has anything smart to say.
KFR: What are your dreams and plans for the future?
Tommi: Make a living in Belize! In addition to this, along time we would be able to consolidate our reality in its technical and compositive aspects, hoping to improve our music offer, as well as working on a convincing show to carry around as much as possible (even up to Belize).
KFR: Anything else you want to say?
Tommi: We are so excited about the signing with Kung Fu, we hope we can bring our music to a bigger audience, especially in the US where most of our sound comes from. We grew up with much of the music on Kung Fu, so it’s a huge pleasure to be part of its great roster. The development of technology opens new doors in order to spread your message, and we’re looking forward to pursue our work and reach everybody who appreciates it.
You can see our previous episodes of PUNK ROCK IS YOUR FRIEND here:
PUNK ROCK IS YOUR FRIEND 1: René van der Zee of COOPER