CHICAGO — “I just want to always outdo myself from my previous project,” said Brian Flores, founder of indie rock band French Police. “I just want to be better each time.”
And better, Flores has become, at least according to the internet.
Although French Police has only existed in its current three-piece lineup for a little over a year, the band has steadily amassed a following of listeners around the country interested in their nostalgic brand of synth pop and post punk. Since launching, the group has amassed a quietly growing following, with numerous Instagram followers and more than 24,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Their most popular track, “Hidalgo,” from 2019′s “Pedaleo Nocturno” EP has more than 215,000 listeners and counting.
Since growing in size with the addition of bassist Rolondo Donjuan and lead guitarist Manny Herrera in the spring of 2021, French Police’s ambitions have also grown, too. This summer, they’ll get to live out some of their largest dreams as they embark on their first West Coast tour.
French Police as a band was the result of years spent making the wrong kind of music in other bands that weren’t the right kind of fit. And even French Police itself has gone through numerous lineup changes, with Flores remaining the only constant after a fallout with other band members.
Reforming a band during the pandemic was difficult. Without the prospect of live shows to gain a local audience, the band was solely reliant on the possibilities of the internet.
“It was tough because, you know, we couldn’t play shows or anything like that. So everything was based off like whatever we’re just releasing on Spotify or whatever,” said Donjuan. “It was kind of frustrating because I remember we finally got to play a show like it was like a big deal.”
Yet the writing process itself never suffered. Flores, the group’s primary songwriter, records at home using a basic recording setup. Most of it is made by himself, randomly playing with the bass guitar and improvising sounds and lyrics until a song begins to form around it.
“In terms of like, making music, I think it was kind of like the best time because I was just isolated by myself. All I could do was really make music,” Flores said. “I usually try to finish a song the day that I’m making it. Just don’t want to lose the magic and all that.”
And although Flores takes inspiration from other bands or sounds (French Police’s music certainly recalls the cold acidity of European synth pop), he says his greatest source of inspiration is him challenging himself. “I want to make a song to completion, and just have it be something that I want to listen to over and over,” he added.
With the advantages of modern recording technology, the group was able to write and record together, even if they were not in the same room. One band member could send the other the parts they had completed while bouncing ideas off of each other from the comfort of their own homes. Although it was not an ideal situation, especially for a renewed band trying to capture its footing, it did help shape them into the sharp and sleek act they are today. Without the ease of in-person rehearsals and the immediate feedback of live shows in front of an audience, the band was forced to find what worked best for their group moving forward and based on their own tastes.
Such dire straits ultimately proved beneficial. Their first show with the new lineup took place in June 2021. The added consequences of not playing together and live for so long made the show a success. Later this summer, they’ll take their act on the road for a West Coast tour that includes stops in Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, among others.
“I think with the kind of the success we’ve been having right now, it’s kind of made us take it even more seriously,” added Flores. “And like, it’s pushed us even more to be like, ‘Hey man, we have like a lot of potential. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep growing. Keep making better music.’”
(Britt Julious is a freelance critic.)
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