If the video for “The Hambiltons” (premiering here) doesn’t convince you that Louie Fontaine isn’t like the other rockers out there, just ask him about The Beat Machine he created, the hotels and clubs he’s built, or maybe the time the FBI surrounded his house shortly after 9/11 and looked to take him in.
Yeah, he’s had quite the journey since his birth in Denmark in 1972.
“When I walk down around the streets here, people are taking pictures, like I’m an original,” Fontaine laughs.
The topic is New Orleans and how it almost seems like he’s a native of the city where he now makes his home, but his answer could be applied to any part of his life, because he is a true original. These days, when he’s not at his club Handsome Willy’s, Fontaine is on the road, currently supporting Samantha Fish as he promotes his recently released album, The Sun Ain’t Black.
“This one, I think, is the best I made,” he said. “You always say that, but I did a lot of moves to make this record. First of all, I hooked up with my old manager again, I got into Dockside Studios and started to record down there. It’s always been comfortable for me to play over here. People seem to understand more what I’m doing and I think the storylines are important. I played a lot of Eastern European countries and they don’t understand what I’m talking about. I moved over here, I bought a club down in New Orleans and I made a lot of moves to start doing this again, so I think it’s gonna be good.”
Fontaine’s stay in New Orleans is his second one, though it’s always been a regular stop in his travels. He first visited the city with his parents when he was ten, and it’s safe to say that even at such a young age, he was hooked.
“It feels good here for me,” said Fontaine, who packed up his Beat Machine and made the pilgrimage to America in 2000.
“I came here with the Beat Machine, the mechanical drum machine I built, and that was just about to take off when I moved here with the whole band,” he recalls. “Things were going good in Europe and I wanted to go over here and have a new territory. I went here and got a record deal and then came 9/11, and my tour was starting on the 15th of September.”
The subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan scrapped planned tours, but the most bizarre side effect of the 2001 terrorist attacks took place when the FBI showed up to his house in New Orleans.
“They accused me of being a terrorist because I had this machine they thought was a bomb,” he said. “That was the end of that.”
Soon, he was home in Europe once more.
“I went back and did a lot of other things,” he said in the understatement of the year. “I played music and I have a couple of hotels. But the music was always there.”
By 2015, it was time for him to return to the post-Katrina N’awlins. A lot had changed in the city, but to Fontaine, it was still the place that he loved.
“After Katrina, a lot of things happened, especially the first couple of years, but the feel of New Orleans hasn’t changed,” he said. “Some neighborhoods have changed, but the feel of the city hasn’t, and the music is still here.”
In Louisiana and in his heart.
“I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t stop, and it got a little too much,” he said of his various adventures in the hotel business over the years. “But the music was always the center. I’m a hundred percent ready for this.”
Louie Fontaine plays The Stanhope House in Stanhope, New Jersey on Tuesday, Dec. 12. For tickets, click here
For more information on Louie Fontaine, click here