INTERVIEW: Ten Fé talks new album Future Perfect, Present Tense

British band Ten Fé (Spanish for “Have Faith”) may have started as a duo between Leo Duncan and Ben Moorhouse but have grown into a 5-piece group (bassist Ron Shipley, keyboardist Johnny Drain, and drummer Alex Hammond). Now that their busking days are over, Ten Fé are touring in support of their new sophomore album Future Perfect, Present Tense. The album is maturity at its finest with rich melodies and instrumentations that the band spent effort amount of time. The inspiring summer 70s sound makes anyone want to sing these songs during a campfire. Read more into detail what frontman Leo Duncan has to say about their new project!

You’ll be visiting back in San Francisco on April 11th at The Independent, but the last time you came here was when Ten Fé played in Rickshaw Stop. What do you remember about San Francisco from the last show?

Well, I remember it being the best place of the whole tour! So that was a real buzz, because it was our first time in San Francisco. The crowd was mad. Last night, we played in Denver and there were people who had been in the Rickshaw Stop for that show. It was really exciting for us! It was the last show of tour so it felt like a mad journey and wicked to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Congrats on the album release!  Your new album Future Perfect, Present Tense is finally out.  Where and when was this recorded?

It was recorded in two places: Oslo, Norway and England. You got the cold Norwegian vibe when we recorded it last winter and lovely summer London when we finished recording. The studio in Oslo had oak-panels and kinda Scandinavian looking. It was inside a factory made of cement. Outside it looked liked a parking lot, but inside it was a Hansel and Gretel treasure trove of guitars and special gear.

The album was produced by Luke Smith who has worked with Foals & mixed by Craig Silvey who’s done Florence and the Machines and Arcade Fire. How were the behind the scenes process of this album?

We worked with Luke before. We did our first few singles with him actually like three or four years ago. It was really good to work with him again. We usually worked till 4am, but these sessions were in the day. He really understood us what we were trying to do musically. The sessions were easy, but hard work. He knew the sound we were going for and he has a studio right next to our rehearsal studio. It felt very homely and we have the same management.

You’ve talked about the influences of folk in your music along with how bands like The War on Drugs and Fleetwood Mac inform your work.  What is it about the style of music that resonates with you?

In the case of Fleetwood Mac, I have real respect of the classic American song. We use to busk a lot in the London underground. We find that some songs would resonate more than others. We’re real believers in the song itself than the style. That’s our message. Songs last for years while styles don’t. In terms of The War on Drugs, we love the mood and the world they create. There’s a simplicity and honesty to it. Those were the things we were looking into for Future Perfect, Present Tense. We’re happy how that came out!

What songs from the album did you enjoy writing and how did these songs come about?

Ben and I write the songs. The ones Ben sings are usually what he comes up with and the ones I sing are mine. We meet and write the lyrics together. We want to deal with themes that are universal and understanding. When we talk about what we want the songs to mean that’s a big thing for us. I think the song “No Night Lasts Forever” is important for this album because the theme of the album is a strange feeling of gaining wisdom, but it’s painful to get it. That’s what the song is really about. When we were writing it, we thought ‘Is it a positive or finite thing? You’ll always lose the excitement and the romance of the night’. We decided in the end that it’s both. There’s a wider theme in Future Perfect, Present Tense where you get excited about the future, dreams, and fantasies that you have. They kinda propel you to the present. When you arrive in the future and it’s never as good as you think it is. “Not Tonight” and “Superrich” is exactly the same. ‘Heaven ain’t the place they say it will be’ when you finally get somewhere that you been wanting to get there for ages, it’s often not what you imagine it to be. Rather than be disappointed, if you can feel wise and grateful then you’re in a really good place.

With your prior album Hit the Light under your belt what were the lessons learned that you found worked and didn’t work?

Yeah, totally. We’re still learning now. The songwriting for Hit the Light was set high. We knew whatever we did next we had to write songs that were as good or even better. We found by using electronic instruments were difficult to be honest as performers. When it came to recording this album, we thought we used more acoustic instruments. We thought it would make it feel more real. Another thing we learned was to do more things ourselves. The album cover was done by Rob and the photography was done by the rest of the band. We co-produced the album with Luke and got more involved with the production. This album is more about taking creative control and feels honest.

Who would you induct to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

I would induct Ben Moorhouse of Ten Fé! I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a really good cook as well.

With the album title, would you travel to the past or future?

Good question! Definitely the future. I would like to travel to the very end of the future to the very last day just to see how far we’ve come or evolved. Maybe 8 foot and bald? I would love to find out how we look like at the very end.