In the age of electronic music, it’s refreshing to hear a band utilizing world music to celebrate life. The pure uplifting soul of Fool’s Gold will leave you with a smile from ear to and ear, and the feeling of having just sailed around the globe. With African inspired rhythms and Caribbean flavor, this band goes a step further by adding Hebrew lyrics to their music.
Hailing from the great melting pot of Los Angeles, these musicians – Luke Top (lead vocalist & bassist), Lewis Pesacov (lead guitar), Garret Ray (drummer), Brad Caulkins (saxophone), and Sal Placendia (percussion) have boiled down from their original 12-piece band to five main members. Their appreciation for cultural sounds is unique to each individual background, which lends a fresh approach to jamming.
The Unintentional Formation of Fool’s Gold
After years of hustling other music projects and running in similar circles since high school, the band’s founders – Luke and Lewis – bonded one day in 2007 over the Ethiopian artist, Mahmoud Ahmed. At that moment they decided to attempt something neither had done before – jam with a collective of 30 musicians. Luke tells MiLLENNiAL, “We just wanted to dip into this other world without expectation.” The next thing they knew they had formed a community for artists to try something different. “This became a nice cathartic experience for everyone,” he says of the early days. Luke and Lewis realized they had something special and decided to make an album – recording it live within two days.
Their self-titled debut album put them on the map in 2009 when Beyond Race Magazine added Fool’s Gold to their list of 50 Emerging Artists to watch. Their live shows also added a vibrant element to their already colorful music. Luke says, “We try to create this tranced-out communal experience between us and the audience. That’s one of the strongest things we have going for us.” Jumping into the crowd and playing amongst the audience earned the band invitations to play around the world, even opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ England tour in 2011.
Taking Time to Make a Third Album
Having toured for four years with their first two albums, the band decided to stop in 2012 and take their time making a third. With a synthesis of core members, the band wanted to mature their sound, drop the label, and relax into their creativity. Lewis tells us, “It’s an evolution of Fool’s Gold.”
But with an ever-changing industry, taking two years to produce an album has its challenges. “We don’t have a record label involved in this third album…so it’s been a challenge to not have a release plan in place,” Lewis says. He follows by saying that on a positive note, the extra time has been good for the music as well as for the demand of listeners.
Luke adds, “The music industry has really changed since we first started, but bands are coming back.” The rise of the electronic music producer has certainly taken hold of Millennials, yet bands like Mumford and Sons, The Black Keys, and Arcade Fire are making instruments popular again.
Thoughts on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
Born in Israel and having migrated with his family to the States when he was three, Luke says the recent outbreak of war between Israel and Palestine has left his family more than shaken. “It’s nothing short of depressing. My family is completely freaked out,” he says of his relatives still living in the torn country. The band has also toured throughout Israel and experienced first-hand the culture and opinions of the people. “Everyone that I’ve spoken with wants to have a resolved two state solution, but it doesn’t feel like [the government] is pushing for peace.”
Lewis, who is half Jewish, says, “It goes beyond being Jewish…people don’t want to offer any concessions. Israel doesn’t want to concede any land. And Palestine doesn’t want to concede that Israel is going to have to exist.” Luke adds his solution to the crisis, “It would be really revolutionary if Israel decided to not retaliate against the Palestinian missiles, since they have the Iron Dome defense system. What if they stood in front of the world and led by example?” Luke makes a wonderful observation looking at the amount of casualties that Israel has caused in Gaza.
Lewis points to a song on their upcoming album called “Breaking the Cycle” that speaks to this very issue. “I don’t think Luke is singing about the situation in Israel, but it’s about not going along with what your parents told you or taking the life they gave you. And in a way, that’s what [Israelis] need to do. Just get over the past. But no one can get over it. History is never going to solve the problems of Israel.” On a final note, they both hope for peace in the Middle East.