NEW YORK (AP) — Florence + The Machine are more like FLORENCE + the machine:
There's no question who dominates.
Florence Welch was first signed as a solo artist, and the CD booklet for their
latest album, "Ceremonials," has 14 pictures of Welch, none of anyone else.
But her band plays an integral part in her otherworldly sound: "She has definite
ideas about what she wants and she feels like she can trust us to deliver the
goods," said harpist Tom Monger.
And if the band ever has a breakout player, Monger might be it. Welch calls his
addition to the band, which now stands at seven, "a total fluke": Shortly after
recording the "Dog Days Are Over" from the band's album "Lungs," which included
a keyboard sound simulating a harp, Welch was sitting in a studio when Monger
walked by, carrying something that Welch said "looked like a telephone box
wrapped in a blanket."
She wondered what it was, and Monger told her it was a harp. She quickly invited
him in, and The Machine soon had a new member.
But he's not your parents' kind of harp player. He takes the instrument out of
the parlor and plays with strength and aggression.
"There is still this kind of stigma or stereotype to the harp being a romantic
instrument played by ladies in long dresses and very regal settings," he said.
"That doesn't have to be the case."
Leave all that to Welch, who has drawn comparisons to Stevie Nicks for flowing
onstage outfits and a witchy woman persona. The "Ceremonials" opening track,
"Only If For a Night," is about a ghost (the singer finds it "so strange, so
surreal, that a ghost should be so practical"). In "Seven Devils," she talks
about how "all your love will be exorcised." She proclaims on "Shake it Out"
that "it's hard to dance with the devil on your back."
Florence + The Machine's first album, which sold more than 3 million copies
worldwide, was a quilt with a number of different producers, including Paul
Epworth, whose work with Adele helped take the British singer to the top of the
pop world this year.
"I wanted to make a sound that was cohesive, that was a whole, rather than a
collection of songs that sounded quite separate," the 25-year-old Welch said. "I
wanted a sound that floated through the whole album."
She and Epworth took a different approach for "Ceremonials," which was released
last month. Welch feels it represents her varied influences, which range from
Hole and Nirvana to Kanye West and Jay-Z, and Beyonce. Rihanna and Lady Gaga are
also favorites, as are Spiritualized. And Kate Bush.
"There's a real sense of people being into loads of different stuff at once,"
she said in a recent interview. "I think you kind of get that from this record,
the fact that I've been into so much different stuff. Style-wise, it touches on
so many different things."
Welch said she and Epworth "kind of geek out together on drum sounds." They
frequently sound like miniature bomb blasts on top of music that might otherwise
be considered ethereal, reminiscent of Bush's work.
Rolling Stone described it, without really defining it, as "a very British
record," a point that was echoed by VH1 music executive Rick Krim.
"It's not American, whatever that means," said Krim, executive vice president
for talent and music programming. "It feels like it's from the hills of England
Krim and VH1 have signed Welch to participate in its upcoming "Divas" special,
where she will represent British soul music. Next year, MTV will air an
"Unplugged" episode with the band. Krim said he was impressed by the
distinctiveness of Florence + The Machine's second disc.
"She's not trying to make cookie-cutter Top 40 music," he said. "She does one
thing and hopes the audience gravitates toward her instead of doing something
that will fit a format."
Florence & The Machine
CAA / Creative Artists Agency
Agency Relationship: Exclusive
2000 Avenue of the Stars
Beverly Hills, CA 90067 United States
Responsible Agent: Carole Kinzel
Direct Phone: 424-288-2000
98-106 Leonard Street
London, EC2A 4RH United Kingdom
Responsible Manager: Mairead Nash
ID Public Relations
150 West 30th Street 19th Floor
New York, NY 10001 United States
Responsible Publicist: Rhett Usry
Direct Phone: 212-334-0333
Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Avenue
(between 49th and 50th Streets)
New York, NY 10019 United States