« Trans-siberian noise-rock express » : an interview with Jars

Muscovite noise-rockers Jars stopped in our area last November and we had the coolest time. The show was a total blast in a packed Bistro des Tilleuls and in front of an audience gone wild. This interview was done after the gig with Anton (guitar, voice), Pavel (bass) and Sasha (drums).

You are in the middle – or, rather three-quarters, – of the tour, how has it been going so far ?

Pavel : So far, two days off but the second day off was because of the car. We didn’t want it, we didn’t have a rest, we just fucked up with the car.

But they managed to put up another gig for you, didn’t they ?

Sasha : Yeah, and the second gig was even better ! Much more people came and everyone enjoyed it so much ! We had a great time in Guéret !

Is it your first European tour ?

Anton : No, I’ve been playing in Jars for 8 years, with a lot of different people,. We’ve been together for about two years. This is our first big European tour. Our first time further to the west than Germany.

S : So it’s our first time in France, in Spain, etc. all together. Definitely worth it !

Your last record was put out by a French guy, Lionel from Pogo records. Can you tell me the story behind it ?

A : The story is really simple. He just wrote us on Facebook and asked if he could put our record on his bandcamp. I said yes and then he helped us releasing the new one. He also helps a lot on this tour, sending info to everyone, spreading the word. Thank you, Lionel !

S : Yeah, he is a great guy.

Your music is grounded in noise-rock but you sing in Russian, unlike many bands who sing in English even if they’re not from this country…

A : We have some records in English – early ones. For me, it’s very important that the words I sing touch me. I need to feel what I sing. And, at some point, English stops doing it. The lyrics in Russian are a good way to go deeper… To tell yourself what you think and feel about different things.

P : I’d like to add that, on this tour, we played with different bands from different countries and when the bands sing in their native language, for some reason, it’s more interesting. Today, in the van, we listened to a band from Basque country, they sing in their language and it’s really great !

A : It makes music more diverse…

Anton, obviously the lyrics are important for you… It’s something that you spend time on ?

A : A lot of time…

S : After the song is ready, Anton spends several months creating the lyrics. This is how important it is to him.

A : Some of the new songs that we played tonight, the lyrics are in process. But no one can understand them. (Laughs)

Yeah, except when you explain it between the songs just like you did tonight when you talked to us about political events happening in Russia… Is the political situation in Russia something that has an influence on your music?

A : Not the music but the lyrics, definitely. Everything comes from the feelings inside… so maybe our music too !

It’s quite unusual for a noise-rock band. Usually punk and hardcore bands are more into politics…

A : I consider us as a punk band ! And, anyway, if you walk in the street with a guitar and somebody stops you and ask about what you play, it’s easier to answer « I play punk. » than going into details about noise-rock…

S : Basically, noone understand what noise-rock is. (Laughs)

So how is it to be a punk band – or a noise-rock band – nowadays in Moscow ?

A : Nowadays, Moscow is a good place to do any kind of music ! We have strong social networks, a strong scene. If you want to book a gig, you just do it. I’ve been in the punk scene for a very long time. I know everyone so it’s kind of easy for us.

S : I see a lot of newcomers and a lot of great new bands. In my opinion the scene in Russia and in Moscow in particular are on their rise. It’s really wild !

A : And there are people who want to listen to it, that’s very important !

S : And when you are in this environment, it’s so inspiring that it really helps you to push yourself and rise above yourself. Actually, I think that right now Moscow is the best place in the world to create music !

A : Yeah, one of the best place ! Ten years ago, we needed a lot of media to do a good show. Today we still need it but it’s much easier.

P : I think somehow that people have changed. They are far more interested in knowing what other guys are doing.

A : Yeah, ten years ago, a good band was a band singing in English. You were good if you played like Arctic monkeys. Now you’re good if you play like Grazhdanskaya Oborona and you sing in Russian ! Now we’re looking inside our own culture.

S : And also there are a lot of bands from different parts of our country, not just Moscow : Khabarovsk, Irkoutsk, Vladivostok…

A : And the guy who drives us has played a major role in that !

Yeah, you talked about Denis during dinner…  So, let’s pay tribute to the man ! You said he was able to drive from Portugal to Vladivostok !

P : Several times !

A : He did six tours from Moscow to Vladivostok. The point of this tour is the connection between different cities and it really works ! Now we have a lot of friends from Siberia…

S : Yeah, it makes touring way easier. Some years ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that you could tour through the whole country, right now it seems doable even if it’s difficult. It just takes a lot of time but you know almost everyone on the way, great people and great bands. So it’s easy : you quit your job and go touring ! (Laughs)

OK, so can you educate me a little about the Russian scene ? Can you give me some names that are important to you ?

P : Oh, we’ve been asked that before and you’ll need to stop us because the list is long !

A : So let’s set up the rules : only bands that are active now, ok ?

S : The first band that comes to my mind is EEVA. Great band, the guitarist was in the audience. He lives in France right now. And also, another band : RAPE TAPE from Khabarovsk…

A : Terrible name…

S : It’s an absolutely insanely great band ! I think it’s one of the best live bands in the world right now !

A : My choice is Pozori. It’s feminist electro-punk. Right now, they kind of disbanded but soon there will be a kind of reunion. I plan to play in this band. (Update : Anton is now playing bass in Pozori. -Ed.) It’s noisy, it’s angry and it’s kind of funny. It’s music that punches you in the face ! By a girl ! Fucking cool !

S : I have to say that the music is absolutely disgusting ! You will love it !

A : And my second choice will be C.X. They call themselves « boozecore ». It’s really slow sludge metal. They sing about literally two things : weed and vodka. They are so simple that it becomes political. Weed is restricted in Russia. Vodka is not restricted but not admired. They sing against cops – or pigs, as they say – and their message is : you don’t have to tell me what to do. I will smoke weed and drink vodka everyday !

P : My first choice is Supergoats, two guys form a town called Kirov, one is on drums and the other sings and play guitar and I’ll call their music raw-power-rock. They sing about dicks, tits and fuck. On one side, it’s very silly but on the other side it’s very raw, very arghhhhh !

S : It’s great fun, they are so wild ! The vocalist beats himself in the face during the show  and he beats himself really hard ! And he dances on the stage like this (pushing objects around. Ed.) It’s really fun. I love this ! Great shows !

P : His name is Pavel too. He is a big figure in the Kirov underground scene !

A : He is the Steve Albini of Kirov. Great guy !

P : The second band is IBN. I play in this band but I mentioning it because I only play the bass. The guy I play with is 10 years younger than me and I absolutely love him because of his fresh and open mind and his great ideas. As a person a bit older, it’s great to work with a younger, high-energy guy. It’s something like noise-rock but not as aggressive as Jars, it’s softer but… we do great shows too !

Thanks, I will listen to all the names that you have mentioned. There’s one name that comes to mind and that’s Pussy riot, the one Russian band that we have heard of in France in the recent years. So… do you have things to say about them ?

A : I took part in one of their actions and I got punched in the face ! (Laughs) It was really strange : when they see girls who gets power, they immediately get angry. It actually took place in MacDonald’s and I was really surprised that people reacted so quickly. I like them. They do a lot of good things – apart from being now a pop band. With the money they made on tour, they launched a media called Mediazona, which writes about police brutality and human rights and I think it’s the best media I read in Russia now !

S : Yes, it’s the most professional media in Russia today.

You mentioned bands of many different styles… What are you most interested at the moment musically ? What are you looking for when you go to a show or buy a record ? I mean : what’s your personal relationship with music at the moment ? What bores you ? What are you excited about  ?

A : Actually, I like good punk-rock and noise-rock bands that don’t invent anything new. But, right now, I’m interested in improvisation stuff. Playing with rythms and time signatures rather than always the same 4/4 stuff. I like that, I like noise, I like what Death grips does. Pretty ununderstandable music for me, yet. I like… unusual use of instruments. Probably we can mention Lightining bolt. The things they do with only bass and drums are really interesting. I also like minimalistic stuff : you only use the sound of your instrument but try to make something really strange.

Are there any French bands that you like at the moment ?

: Yes, I like Psychotic monks – quite like the Irish band Girl band. I even want to bring them to Russia but I don’t know how to contact them… Also Harpon, frightening music ! There was a band called Doppler. I heard them five or seven years ago and they totally blew my mind : so emotional, so technical, so cool.

S : I would say that… Some time ago, I stopped listening to records by emerging bands. Because I always want to see the band live first. The records are often a bad intermediary for the energy that the band has live. So I prefer going to live shows. Sometimes the records are cool but on stage it’s not so powerful and no so emotional. And also I’m in my thirties so I think it’s time to stop aligning my identity with the music I listen to. I don’t care about the style. I listen to jazz, academic music, everything ! It’s just about the talent of people who are really into what they are doing.

A : Actually, I do remember another French band : Aussitôt mort… or Mort mort mort ! We played with them in Moscow and Denis drove them ! It would be a crime to forget cool French punk bands like this.

P : I’m afraid that my answers aren’t that interesting… I’m trying to listen to new music, new bands and so on but, for some reason, I still like bands from the old age and for some reason I am still inspired by the Beatles and so on. Old stuff ! I listen to some new music but my heart, for some reason, is still with this old age. Sorry ! (Laughs)

Photo live : lowlightconditions. Merci à toi.

>>>>>>>>>> JARS

>>>>>>>>>> POGO RECORDS

« Déglingo comme il faut » : une interview de Dewaere

Dans la foulée de leur concert au Poulpe, les membres du quatuor pop-punk-noise explosif Dewaere ont pris le temps de répondre à mes questions. Etaient présents Marc (basse), Julien (guitare) et Maxwell (chant) ainsi que Franck (batterie) et Yann (tour manager qui fera quelques interventions bien senties). J’ai l’habitude d’ajouter la mention (Rires) pour donner une idée de l’état d’esprit à ce moment mais, là, c’est toute l’interview qui est à lire avec un sens de l’humour et du second degré bien aiguisé. Dewaere, c’est des tubes en série qui explosent sur disque, des concerts pied au plancher souvent délirants et incontrôlables mais leur interviews aussi sont rock’n roll.

Vous jouez très régulièrement et votre album en est à son troisième repressage : ça a l’air de pas mal marcher pour Dewaere. Est-ce-que c’est le fruit d’une stratégie établie et vous étiez sûrs de votre coup ou, au contraire, est-ce-que ça vous prend un peu par surprise ?

Marc : Totalement par suprise. Quand j’ai été recruté pour un boulot, on m’a demandé : « Est-ce-que tu vas repartir en tournée ? Est-ce-que tu seras totalement dispo pour le travail qu’on te propose ? » Moi j’ai dit : « Les tournées, c’est terminé ! » – j’avais 38 balais à l’époque – et je me retrouve dans la situation totalement inverse ! Mais, à la base, ce groupe, c’était juste pour faire du rock.

Julien : On a composé des morceaux, on a rencontré Maxwell. On s’est dit c’est cool, ça nous plait, on enregistre. Notre batteur connaissait un gars de chez Bigoût records et de chez Phantom records. On a envoyé notre album. Les mecs ont dit : « Oh, c’est génial ! » Ils nous ont proposé un deal pour 300 vinyles. Donc on a sorti l’album et suite à la sortie de l’album, on a eu de bons retours, qui nous ont apporté des dates, qui nous ont apporté un tourneur, puis d’autres dates, encore de bons retours sur l’album hyper régulièrement… Tout s’est enchaîné mais c’était hyper inattendu…

Hugues jouait dans Flying worker auparavant, et aussi Neige morte, Veuve SS – des groupes qui tournaient ou tournent plutôt dans la scène hardcore/DIY -, est-ce-que le fait de travailler avec des intermédiaires comme votre tourneur et dans des circuits plus larges vous pose certaines questions ?

Maxwell : Moi, je déteste chercher les dates, organiser les répètes – et je crois que tous les musiciens sont d’accord avec moi quand je dis ça. Quand tu as quelqu’un qui organise des dates, franchement tu peux te branler sous la douche tranquillement avec l’image de la reine dans ta tête ! (Marc plié de rire. NDLR)

Julien : Et puis, c’est pas comme si on était avec un agent véreux. Le mec, il est plus jeune que nous…

Marc : Il est méga passionné. Notre relation est hyper saine. On est à la même hauteur. Il nous aide à nous développer, il a capté le truc et… il bosse bien !

Maxwell : Il nous adore et on l’adore !

Julien : Parfois, il y a eu des gens qui nous disaient : « Nous, on veut pas passer par un tourneur, on veut passer en direct. » Mais c’est unE erreur totale parce qu’en passant par eux, c’est tellement plus simple. Eux, c’est leur métier. Nous, notre truc c’est de jouer de la musique et, eux, c’est d’organiser.

Du coup, qu’est-ce-que vous pensez des pratiques des tourneurs qui consistent à avoir un droit de regard sur les premières parties ?

Julien : Franchement… Pas grand-chose. Je pense que si j’étais tourneur, je ferais la même chose !

Marc : Là, tu poses la question aux musiciens, faudrait que tu demandes au tourneur. Basiquement, le tourneur, c’est un vendeur mais un vendeur qui kiffe son truc, pas un mec qui vend des pots de yaourts, c’est un métier passion. Si il nous fait jouer dans des lieux comme ici, c’est pas pour l’argent, c’est parce que c’est là que le groupe rencontre son public.

Julien : Il y a des tourneurs qui nous auraient fait jouer en première partie de Matmatah à l’Olympia mais lui si il nous fait jouer en première partie, c’est sur une date avec le Villejuif underground ou avec Cocaine piss.

Maxwell : Ca marcherait pas du tout…

Julien (interloqué) : Je sais pas… Pourquoi ?

Maxwell : Ca marcherait pas du tout parce que c’est NOUS les meilleurs ! (Rires)

Julien : Non, ce qui fait qu’on est bien avec lui, c’est que c’est pas business mais il y a un bon truc de développement.

Votre musique a un côté assez entraînant, assez fun. Est-ce-que c’est une envie que vous aviez dès le départ ?

Julien : Pas du tout ! Avant que Maxwell arrive, on avait que des instrumentaux orientés noise/math-rock. Assez rapidement, on s’est rendu compte qu’il fallait que nos morceaux deviennent des chansons.

C’est vrai que la voix de Maxwell sur du math-rock, j’ai un peu du mal à imaginer ce que ça pourrait donner…

Marc : Si ! Si ! Ca pourrait marcher mais ça serait vraiment chelou !

Julien : Il a apporté quelque chose de beaucoup plus pop à nos morceaux et c’est tant mieux.

Gloire à Maxwell , quoi !

Marc : Ca a été un putain de coup de bol et c’est génial ! (Il se tourne vers Maxwell) Si tu veux, tout à l’heure, je te (Une certaine conception de la décence m’empêche in extremis – malheureusement peut-être – de reproduire la proposition à caractère sexuel de Marc dans sa totalité, ni la réponse de Maxwell qui, il faut bien le dire, n’est JAMAIS pris en défaut de répartie. NDLR)

On entend parfois dire que, pour les groupes à guitare, c’est un peu la fin, qu’il y a plus trop de public, qu’est-ce-que vous en pensez ?

Julien : Moi, je trouve que c’est le contraire, je trouve que ça revient !

Marc : Il y a toujours un public pour les bons groupes et pour les bonnes chansons. Tu peux faire de la techno au kilomètre, ça va marcher 5 ou 6 ans, tu vas remplir ton festival parce que les mecs sont sous MD et qu’ils sont défoncés. Mais que ce soit en rap, en rock, en pop, c’est exactement pareil, les gens viennent chercher une émotion. A partir du moment où tu dis vraiment quelque chose, de la manière la plus pop qui soit, tu touches tout à coup un public hyper large et réceptif !

Yann (semblant se réveiller tout-à-coup) : Est-ce que vous voulez voir ma raie ? Ou mon zizi ?

Maxwell : Yann Olivier entre en scène !

Les gens parlent parfois des années 90 comme d’un âge d’or…

Marc : En tous cas, dans les années 90, Maxwell n’écoutait aucun groupe des années 90 !

Maxwell : C’est n’importe quoi : Michael Jackson, Spice girls, Fucking backstreet boys ! Mais bon, je suis né en 87, mec. These fucking dickheads listened to Nirvana, Sonic youth…

Marc : J’écoutais du black metal !

Maxwell : Non, toute ma vie, j’ai écouté les Beatles ! Pour moi, c’est tout ce qui compte ! Nirvana, je vois que c’est bien mais… ça m’emmerde ! C’est comme le massage shiatsu, c’est bien mais ça te fait rien !

(A ce moment, Julien essaye de m’expliquer le son de guitare qui l’inspire dans Nevermind pendant que les autres parlent de fantasme sexuels inspirés par la pochette de l’album de Nevermind de Nirvana… le résultat est difficile à transcrire. NDLR)

Maxwell (hurlant par-dessus la mélée) : FUCKING LISTEN TO THE BEATLES, YOU FUCKING IDIOTS !

OK, Maxwell parle-nous un peu des Beatles…

Maxwell : Si tu veux, toute la musique d’aujourd’hui, c’est à base de Beatles !

Julien : Tu crois que Beethoven a attendu que les Beatles arrivent ?

Maxwell : Les Beatles, c’est Beethoven ! … Non, mais au niveau des pop, mélodies – bon, les paroles, on s’en fout – c’est juste génial.

Julien : En vrai, tu as complètement raison.

OK, Maxwell, tu viens d’une autre culture, pas forcément rock, punk, noise, etc. Qu’est-ce-que tu as pensé d’eux la première fois que tu les as écoutés ?

Maxwell : Ils m’avaient dit que c’était « noise-punk »…

C’est ce que tout le monde dit, d’ailleurs…

Maxwell : Pour moi, « noise-punk », c’est The Fall mais hyper expérimental ! Pas de mélodies, rien ! C’est juste TRRRRFFFFFXXXXRRRRRZZZZ BBBBBRRRRRTTTTRRREWWWKKKKRRRR !!!!!!!! (Il fait le bruit avec sa bouche. NDLR) Ca m’excitait… Je suis arrivé à la répète, c’était pas du tout ça ! C’était un peu… organisé… un peu math-rock. C’était pas du tout ce que je pensais. Et du coup, je me suis un peu forcé parce que je connaissais personne à Saint-Brieuc et je voulais me faire des potes. (Rires) Je leur ai dit : « Vous faites de la merde, vous avez besoin de moi. »

Marc : On a pas besoin de toi ! Je t’ai trouvé ivre mort dans une soirée et je t’ai dit : « Eh putain, toi, t’as pas l’air français ! » et on a commencé à discuter. C’est exactement comme ça que ça c’est passé !

Julien : Le lendemain matin, j’avais un message de Marc qui disait : « Putain, j’ai rencontré un mec, il est australien, il a l’air complètement timbré mais ça peut être génial ! »

Vous racontez deux moments différents, en fait…

Marc : Pendant la première répète, il est resté assis à boire pendant une heure et demie. Il a tisé une première bouteille de Chardonnay, puis il en a ouvert une deuxième et enfin il s’est tourné vers le micro et il s’est mis à hurler comme un sauvage !

Julien : On a l’enregistrement de la première répète, j’avais l’impression d’entendre Jim Morisson en train de faire des Oh-oh-oh sur notre musique ! On était hyper surpris mais c’était génial. Moi, le lendemain matin, je me suis réveillé en me disant : c’est bon.

Marc : Exactement, c’est le gars qui nous fallait et puis voilà ! On s’est pas posé la question trois secondes ! C’était génial, déglingo comme il fallait. Il chantait juste comme il fallait, il mettait l’émotion pile poil où il fallait. C’était parfait. Et la lumière fût !

Vous avez complètement changé votre musique du coup ? Ca a mis longtemps à se mettre en place ?

Marc : Non, non, on n’a pas complètement changé. Il y a des morceaux qu’on joue encore qui sont issus de cette période-là…

Julien : C’est pas ses préférés, à Maxwell, mais bon…

Marc : Ce qui s’est passé, c’est qu’on a recommencé à composer comme on ne faisait plus. On s’est remis à composer en studio, à amener des riffs, il avait ses propres chansons qu’on a bousculées. On a bousculés nos chansons pour mettre du Maxwell dedans et puis voilà ! En fait l’album est né de l’espèce de pâte à modeler de cette époque-là

Maxwell, quel est ton rapport avec la langue française ? Est-ce-qu’il y a des groupes qui chantent en français que tu aimes ?

Maxwell : Je peux name-drop beaucoup de mes potes, là… J’adore les groupes français qui chantent en françmportant. Ils sortent pleins de groupes super bien. Il y a un groupe qui s’appelle Kévin Colin et les Crazy Antonins, Roland Cristal, Kévin Cristal, Kévin Colin… Tous mes potes de Toulouse… sans eux, je ne suis rien !

Marc : Ben merci, on est vraiment très content de t’avoir parmi nous, connard de merde ! (Rires) On est vraiment très contents d’être là ce soir mais je pense qu’on va y aller maintenant…

Maxwell : C’est des gens qui m’ont vraiment touchés… Bref, la chanson française, j’adore ! Il faut que les français gardent la chanson française au lieu d’essayer de chanter en anglais !

Et le rock en français, t’aimes bien ?

Maxwell : Ouais, j’adore ! Jacques Dutronc ! Françoise Hardy !

Julien : C’est pas rock…

Maxwell : Si, si, c’est rock, rock n’roll, un peu…

Julien : Françoise Hardy, rock ‘n roll ?

Maxwell : Serge Gainsbourg, Sheila, France Gall…

Pour moi, ça tombe davantage dans la variété ou la pop…

Marc : Cette discussion est complètement dingue parce que c’est deux mondes totalement différents ! Tu attends des références alterno d’un type qui considère qu’en fait la pop est rock !

Maxwell : Pour moi, la pop ça couvre tout. Et le rock, c’est une petite partie de la pop.

Marc : Mais un truc vraiment rock en français que tu aimes, ça serait quoi ?

Maxwell : Cobra… mais en fait j’aime pas trop. Je trouve que c’est drôle mais j’écouterais jamais tout seul. Dans le camion, ça va !

Et au fait, je suis sûr que c’est une question qu’on vous a posée plein de fois, mais Patrick Dewaere, qu’est-ce qu’il représente pour vous ? Pourquoi vous avez choisi ce nom ?

Maxwell : En fait, c’est l’oncle de Marc.

Julien : En fait, on cherchait un truc qui colle à notre musique et qui soit lié à Saint-Brieuc. Et d’un coup : Dewaere ! Il est né à saint-Brieuc. Le mec est torturé et en même temps, il y a un côté beau, émouvant chez ce mec-là et en même temps fou, violent, torturé et beau. C’était parfait, c’était ce qu’il nous fallait, Dewaere !

C’est marrant d’être attaché à une ville, comme ça…

Julien : Y rien de spécialement glorieux… C’est notre ville !

Marc : C’est la plage ET les mobylettes. C’est la base !

Julien : Moi, je suis anti-patriotique mais j’aime bien Saint-Brieuc quand même !

Et l’avenir pour Dewaere ?

Marc : On fait un deuxième disque, qui est plutôt bien en route. Les morceaux sont là mais il faut qu’on les dewaerise ! C’est la principale différence entre le disque que tu as écouté et celui qui va arriver. Sur Slot logic, on a tout composé ensemble, à l’ancienne, en répète. Pour le prochain, on a demandé à Maxwell – Maxwell compose tout le temps, de tout, il nous amène des trucs et souvent on lui dit « Non, ça, c’est pas pour nous… » – bref, on lui a demandé de nous sortir les trucs les plus pop possibles. Genre : si les Beatles étaient encore vivants, sors-nous les singles des Beatles vont sortir pour les dix prochaines années ! Nous derrière, on les détruit, on en fait les trucs les plus noise possible. Et ça donnera… ben, on verra bien, parce qu’on en sait rien, en fait.

Maxwell : Ce sera le meilleur album de 2020 ! Chaque morceau est un tube !

Julien : Il ne ment pas.

>>>>>>>>>> DEWAERE

« Boy, man, machine » : an interview with DROSE

The music of the american trio DROSE is a non-identified object in many regards. It’s a kind of slow and deconstructed industrial metal, where field recordings of sounds in a factory – the one where Dustin Rose, the thinking mind behind the band, works – are on equal terms with instruments and sometimes seem to impose their own relentless pace in a man-machine mimetism that is the very own source of inspiration of DROSE. Wether it is on the unique object/record published by the label Computer students (compiling their last album and several other recordings) or during one of their meticulous live performances, the encounter with this band is sure to have an effect on you. After going though that experience at their Urgence disk (Geneva) gig, I felt like following up with a bunch of questions I sent to Dustin by email.

This is your first time as a band touring Europe. What type of experience has this been so far ?

It’s been great! We have been shown excellent hospitality and the shows have been well attended.

The name DROSE seems to suggest that Dustin is central in the creation of your music. Is that the case ? I’ve read that your songwriting starts with the drums but can you shed more light on the process that leads to the writing of your songs ?

It’s true and the songs are usually written starting with a drum composition. The drums are very foundational in this music, so this is where I begin. I find it easy to explore different frameworks from the strongest rhythm element.

The creation of very particular soundscapes is obviously a major part of your music, with a sense of compressed space and the use of machine noises being key elements. Does this come first and do you have to work ways to recreate this sound during your live performances ? Would it be right to say that, in this respect, DROSE is similar to a studio band ?

I collect interesting audio when I come across it and then sort out how I can use it later. In order to bring this audio with us for live performances I have built some equipment to make that possible. We are able to reproduce any sounds from the recording in a live performance.

In particular, I noticed the drums were equipped with a sound system during your gig in Geneva. Can you tell us more about this system ? Are they used to modify the sound of the drums or to activate loops ?

I use pure data (puredata.info) to program our live sets or recordings. The drum sensors and foot switches are brought into pure data using a Teensy micro controller to play and manipulate sound files, synthesized or live audio. The audio is triggered in real-time, there is no click track, it keeps the performances expressive. The program counts drum hits in some sections, waits for button presses or is even allowed to behave randomly in some sections of songs.

The relation between man and machine is a theme running though « Boy man machine ». Would you say that this album is a concept album and, by extension, do you see DROSE as a concept band ?

It’s OK to call it a concept album I was attempting to describe an entire idea. I am not sure DROSE is a concept band.

A very dark, anguished outlook on the relation between man and the machine emerges from your music. Is this just a theme to expand on artistically or can you also see political and ethical implications  ?

Some of the ideas or tales of the songs are parallel with political or sociological happenings but it was not a direct intent. boy man and machine are a closed system, each effecting the other and representing thoughts, feelings, situations or experiences.

I heard you met Julien Fernandez of Computer students while he was on tour with his former band, Passe-montagne, and you were involved in setting up shows in your city. Can you tell us the story of your relationship with him ?

Julien was traveling with his band Passe Montagne. I believe it was 2009 or 2010 summer. My band Toads and Mice hosted Passe Montagne and The Conformists in Dayton Ohio. We were all friends instantly, it was a great time.

I hardly know anything about the musical and artistic scene in Columbus, Ohio. How does a band such as yours fit in with the local scene ?

The Columbus Ohio music scene was very hospitable to DROSE, I am grateful to everyone who has ever came to a show, bought something or shared.

I’ve been told there’s a new DROSE album in the works. How do you approach this new recording and what do you expect from it ?

That’s true! This material has a different sound but it’s the same DROSE.


>>>>>>>>>> DROSE


« L’enfant, l’homme, la machine »: une interview de DROSE

La musique du trio américain DROSE est un ovni à bien des égards. C’est une sorte de métal industriel lent et déconstruit, où les field recordings des sons mécaniques d’une usine – celle-là même où travaille la tête pensante du groupe, Dustin Rose – jouent à jeu égal avec les instruments et semblent parfois leur imposer leur cadence immuable dans un mimétisme homme-machine qui est la source même de l’inspiration de DROSE. Que ce soit sur l’objet-disque singulier publié par le label Computer students ou lors de leurs performances live méticuleuses, la rencontre avec ce groupe ne laisse pas indemne. Après en avoir fait l’expérience lors de leur concert à Urgence disk (Genève), j’ai décidé de prolonger la rencontre en envoyant quelques questions par mail à Dustin.

C’est la première fois que vous tournez en Europe. Comment ça s’est passé jusqu’ici ?

Super bien ! On a été très bien accueillis et il y a pas mal de monde aux concerts.

Le nom DROSE laisse supposer que Dustin (Dustin Rose, NDLR) joue un rôle central dans la création de votre musique. Est-ce effectivement le cas ? J’ai lu que vos morceaux commençaient avec des parties batterie mais pouvez-vous nous en dire un peu plus sur le processus de composition ?

C’est vrai et les morceaux partent généralement d’une idée à la batterie. Les parties batteries sont absolument fondamentales dans notre musique, donc c’est avec elle que je commence. C’est facile d’explorer différents paysages sonores à partir d’un élément rythmique solide.

La création de paysages sonores est une partie essentielle de votre musique, dans lesquels un sens de l’espace sous pression et l’utilisation de bruits de machines jouent un grand rôle. Est-ce-que c’est ça qui vient en premier et vous devez ensuite trouver des manières de recréer ces sons durant vos concerts ?

Je collectionne des sons intéressants quand il m’arrive d’en rencontrer et je vois ensuite comment je peux les utiliser. J’ai construit le matériel nécessaire pour incorporer ces parties dans nos concerts. On est capable de reproduire n’importe quel son en live.

En particulier, j’ai remarqué que la batterie était équipée de capteurs durant votre concert à Genève. Pouvez-vous nous en dire plus sur ce système ? Est-ce-que vous l’utilisez pour modifier le son de la batterie ou pour activier des boucles ?

J’utilise Pure data (puredata.info) pour programmer nos sets live ou nos enregistrements. Les capteurs sur la batterie et les footswitchs sont ramenés vers Pure data par un mico-contrôleur Teensy qui active et manipule des fichiers sons, préparés ou joués live. Les sons sont activés en temps réel, il n’y a pas de click, pour garder le côté expressif du live. Le programme repose sur la batterie dans certaines parties, sur des boutons qu’on presse ou peut même s’activer de manière aléatoire dans d’autres parties des morceaux.

La relation homme-machine est un thème qui court tout au long de « Boy man machine ». Dirais-tu que ce disque est un concept-album et considères-tu, par extension, DROSE comme un groupe-concept ?

On peut dire que c’est un concept-album dans le sens où j’essaye de faire le tour d’une idée. Je ne suis pas sûr que DROSE soit un groupe-concept.

L’impression qui ressort de votre musique est celle d’un regard très sombre et angoissé sur la relation entre l’homme et la machine. Est-ce pour toi d’abord une thématique artistique ou y vois-tu également des implications éthiques et politiques ?

On peut faire des parallèles entre certaines idées ou histoires racontées dans nos morceaux et des faits sociologiques ou politiques mais ce n’est pas directement notre intention. L’enfant, l’homme et la machine forment un système clos sur lui-même, où chacun des éléments affecte l’autre et représente certaines pensées, sentiments, situations ou expériences.

J’ai entendu dire que vous aviez rencontré Julien Fernandez, du label Computer Students, alors qu’il était en tournée avec son ancien groupe, Passe-montagne, et que vous vous occupiez d’organiser des concerts dans votre ville. Pouvez-nous raconter cette histoire ?

Julien était en voyage avec son groupe Passe-montagne. Mon groupe Toads and mice avait invité Passe-montagne et The Conformists à Dayton, Ohio. On est immédiatement devenu amis, c’était un moment génial.

Je ne connais presque rien de la scène musicale et artistique de Columbus, Ohio. Comment un groupe comme le vôtre est-il perçu et quelle place occupe-t-il dans la scène locale ?

La scène musicale de Columbus s’est montrée très accueillante vis-à-vis de DROSE. Je suis reconnaissant envers toute personne étant venu assister à un concert, ayant acheté ou partagé notre musique.

On m’a dit qu’un nouvel album de DROSE était prévu. Comment approchez-vous ce nouvel enregistrement et qu’en attendez-vous ?

C’est exact ! Les morceaux ont un son différent mais c’est bien le même DROSE.

>>>>>>>>>> DROSE


« We are a successful band. » : an interview with USA Nails

USA Nails on tour with friends Dead arms. USA Nails : Steven (left, 2nd), Tom (left, 3rd), Dan (right, 3rd), Gareth (right, 2nd) Dead arms : Alex (left, 1st), Steve (left, 4th), Dan (right, 3rd), Nic (right, 1st)

Love has only been growing for USA Nails with each album and the last one, « Life cinema », is no exception. Their own brand of virulent post-punk infused noise-rock – or whatever you feel like calling it – getting more frontal each time, more stripped to the bare essentials and yet remaining open to experimentations and a variety of atmospheres. The news that they would hit Geneva last June was therefore received with great enthusiasm and the chance to have a chat with them was seized. This interview was a particularly enjoyable moment : each member giving thoughtful answers, often building up on each other’s idea to expand their own thoughts. You could feel Dan, Steven and Gareth are pretty serious about what they are doing and make a very strong (punk) unit – Tom being a bit more on the listening side at the beginning, understandably being the latest addition to the band. Yet jokes would pop in constantly – none of the laughs mentioned in this interview are faked. Meeting USA Nails in person definitely made me want to dig dipper into their underground world and I hope this interview will make you want to do the same.

You’ve just released an album called « Life cinema », is that because you think that life is a bit of cinema ?

 Steven : Yeah, it’s just about the way people present themselves, their lives and how they want to portray them. It’s very strange, but I find myself doing it as well even though I don’t want to.

Social networks are difficult to avoid today for a band. Is that something you do with pleasure or more of a chore for you ?

Steven : We just treat it as a bit of a laugh, I guess. Instagram and stuff like that, it makes us laugh.

Dan : We never really post anything serious apart from gig information and stupid pictures.

Gareth : That’s how we want to present ourselves, as idiots ! (Everyone laughs.)

Steven : I work with children as well and now parents post pictures of them from when they are born and at every stage of their lives that are gonna be traceable when they’re old, if this technology is still there. You’ll be able to scroll back the pictures to the day you were born. Your whole life. That’s very spooky.

What makes this record special for you ?

Gareth : One of the things is that this is the first album that Tom plays drums on. All the songs we wrote with Tom so we kind of started afresh and worked out a new dynamic between the four of us. I think we ended up with a record that is maybe more melodic than the previous one, maybe there are more choruses in it – not through any conscious decision but that’s kind of what has come out of us being in a room writing music together and what has worked for us this time. I think it’s still very much USA Nails; a bit silly and a bit noisy. I feel we have honed our song writing though, I think it’s a more cohesive record and conceptually as well, I think it ties together nicely because of the things Steven said like life lived through screens and stuff like that. Yeah, I’m quite pleased with how the thing came out…

Steven : I think we got better at putting less bits in songs as well.

Dan : More space…

Steven : Yeah, starting having more of a feeling, rather than « What’s the verse ? What’s the chorus ? Oh, it needs a third section, it needs an outro. »

So, how would you define the perfect song ? What do you look for when you try to write a good song ?

 Steven : Well, this is tricky. If I knew, I’d probably be famous ! (Laughs) Less is definitely more. We’re not trying to be virtuosic. Oh, I don’t how to articulate properly ! It has to have a certain energy.

Gareth : To be focused… I think when you are more ruthless about what you leave out, it brings the important parts of the songs more into focus, it doesn’t muddy the view of the main feel of the song. We all know when we are in a room and write together when we’ve locked in something that is pretty good. Usually some sort of melody or motif and then, well recently, we just look at developing that one thing as opposed to adding in another bit and then another bit. It’s more about just thinking about different ways of approaching this one theme.

Do you consciously try to try new things ? Something very original or something that you’ve never done before ?

 Gareth : Yeah, on every record, I’ve used a new tuning on my guitar because it forces me to think differently about how I approach constructing my parts – which becomes annoying when you go on tour playing songs from previous albums because you need to either work them out in the new tuning or bring two guitars as I have to do now. But it gets you out of your comfort zone, you have to think differently.

 (At this point, Gareth has to concentrate on his answers : Ben, the singer of Nurse who will play first on that night is doing sound balance and his repeated desperate shouts are covering our conversation. « Is he locked outside ? », Dan comments, and everybody laughs.)

I’ve read that you were composing songs pretty quickly and pretty spontaneously, is that still the case today ?

 Everybody : Yeah.

Gareth : We’ve all have experiences of being in bands where we were taking a long time to write songs but in USA Nails it has always been : trust your instincts, go with your first thing and see what happens with it – as opposed to overthinking a simple idea. Maybe it will come out crap in the end, but we can just ditch it and move on to the next thing if so.

So you can see virtues in not trying to think too much…

 Gareth : Yeah, now I find it difficult to do the longer writing process. I’ve joined a new band and they write the more normal way and… sometimes it’s kind of boring. I just want to say : « No, that’s fine, that’s fine ! » It’s Steven who’s the person that really taught me to let go and stop being precious about little things. Steven will always be the first person to say : « This song is finished.That ‘s fine, we don’t need to do anymore with it. » and he’s usually right.

So it’s a confidence thing to be able to say « What I did is good and I don’t need to search for more » ?

Steven : It also depends on what you want to get out of it personally. In bands I’ve been in the past, we used to practice every single day and agonize over « If you’re playing this chord, I need to play a chord that isn’t a major chord it’s got to have this weird shape in it and if you’re gonna play on the beat, I’m gonna play off the beat or I’m gonna play in triplets. » Everything was agonized over, every single note. To the point where you were doing a practice where the drummer would just keep going over the same drum fill and these six hours of practising would be just trying to get the drum fill at the start of the song exactly where you want it to be and I would be just going « Blam… blam… » (Mimicking playing the same note over and over again – Ed.)… I can’t be bothered ! What’s the point ? That’s not fun ! It should be quick… and achievable. And the quicker you do things, the more fun it is, well, I find, anyway. The quicker you have something new to play, the more excited you are.

Gareth : Yeah and I guess moving quickly allows us to try new ideas. Our first songs were quite straight up but I think we quickly moved on to some weirder sort of ideas.

Dan : Our first songs sound so different. Even on our second album, there’s definitely a progression. That first album Steven just did vocals and it was just you and Stu on guitar who provided all the riffs. I guess it was naturally going to change… wasn’t it ?

Gareth : Yeah, it was written and recorded very quickly. It almost feels like it is a different band. Some people still really like that record. I do, but I think what came after is more… us.

I guess what you were saying about the difficult writing process also has to do with the fact that punks often haven’t learned music formally so they’re learning how to create music in the same time that they actually create some music.

 Steven : I guess it has to do with how you view yourself : as a musician or as someone using a thing with strings on to make a sound…

So how do you consider yourself ?

 Steven : I’d say halfway… exactly in the middle ! (Laughs) My previous band were all highly skilled musicians. They went to music colleges and formed a band just to get big and then I joined them afterwards. I’ve learned a lot of music theory playing in that band but I don’t want to know it. (Laughs) I find it’s a hindrance. Sometimes, I’m trying to play this weird chord and then I’m like « No, just play on octave, that’s fine. »

Your guitar sound is quite distinctive, very fuzzy.

 Steven : On records, it usually comes down to discussions with the guy that records – Wayne – about how it’s gonna sound. I had read interviews with the guitarist from Pissed jeans and I bought all the same equipment that he had. I liked how his guitar sounded so I bought an Epiphone Sheraton. Also it was affordable. I’m not really into expensive equipment. I own a couple of nice basses but I work for a living, I can’t afford to buy guitars all the time.

Do you think it’s possible to do something new in punk music ?

 Steven : I think bands like Girl band do. I guess you take elements of other things, don’t you ? They sort of stripped the rhythm out of it, started using guitars to make noises instead of just Da-da-da-da-da (He hums some sort of nondescript chord sequence. – Ed.) and using dance beats. Yeah, I think it is possible but, I don’t know… if it’s always necessary to do something new.

Gareth : I don’t know if we do ! (Laughs)

Steven : Yeah, we don’t do anything new !

Gareth : Punk is a very broad thing, it’s hard to pin down exactly what it is anyway. Ultimately, if you’re using guitars and distortion, you’re automatically referencing decades of music before you’ve played a note. So in that respect it will always be referencing what’s been done before. So it’s hard to say what is new.

Tom : I think as synthesizers become cheaper, you see a lot more integration of that in the kind of DIY scene. Electronics across the guitars, : there’s a lot of bands that are doing that kind of things so that’s were things might go. It mixes the studio with the live performance aspect.

After all these years, records and touring, do you find that you’re getting some kind of recognition , some kind of success ?

 Steven : I don’t know if that’s the name but it’s nice to see people around when you’re playing a gig. In Paris the other day, people were like falling over each other.

Dan : It’s nice to see someone you don’t know wearing your shirt, I guess.

Tom : It’s nice to see your record selling, when you had no idea if it would at all (Laughs).

I mean there are connections between the DIY world and the bigger music world – festivals, magazines – do you often get notices or invitations ?

 Steven : We don’t really get much of that.

Gareth : The label that we put the first two albums out with (Smalltown America. -Ed.) quite liked spending money on PR so we got a little bit of press but… it’s all just kind of fake, isn’t it ? It’s only because they paid for it, that’s why we got national magazines and stuff, it’s not that any of these magazines were genuinely interested in what we were doing. But for me, success is having fun and I think we are ! We get to play fun shows, we get asked to play good festivals…

Steven : We get to travel… We get to go on holidays for free, basically. We’re sat in a room, drinking booze.

Gareth : And it’s all as a result of doing something that we do for ourselves. We’re just exploring our own creative impulses, we don’t write music to enable us to sell millions of records. We write music for people like you and to enable us to visit places like this and meet people and have lots of cool experiences so, yeah… I think we’re successful !

Success seems a bit of a random thing. Why is this band successful and why is this other band not ? Sometimes, it just seems there is not space for everybody.

 Steven : There is a way of getting big. You have to broaden what you do…

Gareth : That word can be used in a derogatory sense, but if what you do has a broad message, a lot of people can agree with or can get on board with, then it’s gonna appeal to large groups of people…

But you wouldn’t do that consciously, trying to broaden your music and make is accessible…

 Gareth : No, I’d feel a bit dirty but some bands sort of capture what’s going on at the moment. They can encapsulate something that a lot of people can relate to, some sort of fashion trends or political ideas, and they sweep everyone up with them with that.

Tom : It has to do with how much money you put in it as well.

Gareth : Oh, that helps, yeah !

Tom : I was rehearsing with what turned out to be a pop band, and the first gig was just a presentational gig, the booking agent was there, the lawyer was there. They were just getting all the people that they wanted : « Come and have a look at us and do what you want with us. » And that worked ! Now they’re getting huge. I opted out because I thought this was rubbish music but now they’re up there doing huge things.

Gareth : Do you regret that ?

Tom : I did a little bit then but I don’t now. I prefer music being a passion as opposed to doing it for the sake of launching your own career. But what I enjoy is the process. The hanging out, the rehearsing, the gigs… The process is all.

Gareth : You have to enjoy every aspect of it. If you hate rehearsals then that’s gonna come through. I enjoy every aspect of it. I love getting together in the week in a room and see what happens. It’s really exciting. I love going to the pub beforehand…

Tom : It’s more interesting when it’s something you’re passionate about. When you’re not passionate about it, it’s not about people interacting with the songs or you interacting with them, it’s more about you being the performing band to entertain them.

I believe you do the artwork of the band yourself…

 Gareth : The album artwork was done by our old drummer, Matt. It was nice that we could get him involved even if he wasn’t going to be playing on the record. He’s done the artwork for three of the four albums. All of us sort of chip in tee-shirt designs. Danny has designed the artwork for some of the EPs, some of the tapes that we’ve done. Steven has done a bunch of tee-shirts. I tried to do a design for a tee-shirt recently but nobody was really into it. (The others are laughing their asses off. -Ed.) I don’t really have a flair for it but… thanks for trying ! That’s OK. I’ve done a couple of tee-shirts but they’ve been pretty lame.

Dan, I really like the artwork you’ve done for the tapes (Work work work and Sell sell sell on SAD Tapes. -Ed.) I wanted to ask you what or who inspired you graphically…

 Dan : Me and my old drummer Matt, we clicked a lot and shared similar tastes. I like to spray a lot and screenprint at home. As for artists.. Nothing in particular. There’s this one book I have from my Mom from the seventies, just a book of illustrations. There’s no cover to it. It’s my favourite thing I own. I’m constantly looking at and drawing inspiration from that. I’m just always drawing : faces, hands and weird shapes. That’s it, really. No more to it !

What I like is that it’s very coherent with the music…

 Dan : Yeah, Steven and I started SAD Tapes – which stands for « Steven and Daniel’s Tapes » (Laughs) The idea was that Steven can record the bands and I print and create some artwork. To be fair, it’s been mainly USA Nails and Dead arms… but we’ve done Bo Gritz, which I fucked up – but they were kind enough not to complain. Steve records everything on a four-track. It’s like the love of demos, you know ? When you listen to a band’s demo and you love it, and then you listen to the same song on an album and you don’t love it cause it doesn’t have the same… urgency or whatever. I think « Sell, sell, sell » is my favourite one. There’s a lot of weird faces and strange shapes… Yeah, I think it worked quite well. Hopefully, one day we can do more. It’s not a business, it’s just another creative outlet that’s attached to the band.

Steven : Matt, our old drummer, is really into lo-fi recording and so am I. There’s often a debate as to whether we should record all our stuff like that, so we just occasionally do some lo-fi recording to scratch an itch that we have. Our albums are still recorded in a recording studio and I think it’s probably a good idea to do both. The songs (On the two tapes « Work work work » and « Sell sell sell ». -Ed.) were still written quickly.

Gareth : We knew that these songs would be recorded on four-tracks and, I don’t know about you guys but, when I was writing my parts, I was consciously thinking of the limitations or the differences in sound when recording like that.

Steven : It gives you a chance to do things that stylistically you wouldn’t normally do. There’s this song where Dan sings – he doesn’t really sing, it’s more spoken-word – it leans a bit towards the sound of The Fall, I guess.

Gareth : Yeah, more post-punky. Some people really like that.

I know the « Work work work » tape is some people’s favourite recording of USA Nails.

 Dan : That’s cool. We got Creative industries from this tape and we put it on the new album.

Steven : And it sounds completely different. On the tape, it sounds more like a pop song.

Dan : It was for nothing. It was just for us when we had no drummer. (« Work work work » is recorded with a drum-machine. – Ed.) Tapes are cheap to produce. So we thought let’s do a tape.

Steven : It was after our tour in America and all the bands that we played with were just selling tapes. None of them had records.

Dan : Tapes are big in the states in the DIY scene. I didn’t realize that before.

Steven : I’ve got a real love of that format. As a kid, that’s what I listened to music on. I guess people older than me listened to music on vinyl and that’s why there’s such warmth for vinyl. But me, I like tapes, I like the aesthetic, the size, the strange compressed sound. Not many people buy them I suppose, so they are more for trading.

Dan : We’re not making any money from it but it doesn’t cost the band , apart from their time.

Will you do any more in the future ? With what bands ?

 Steven : Probably just us ! No, it’s tricky – well not that tricky, I just don’t like many bands.

Dan : You must make sure you get bands that are not that precious as well, that have the same sort of mentality. You’ve got to be very clear with them about what the whole thing is about. You know, we’re recording on a four-track.

Steven : It’s not going to sound like you think it’s going to sound. You have to go into it with that mindset. Everyone is in this one room playing, I can’t hear how it is going to sound. It’s not two rooms where I can go play the guitar : « Oh yeah, that’s a good sound, let’s move the mike a bit. » No, you just play, that’s it, it’s done. Don’t keep going ! (Laughs)

The cool live pictures have been taken by Marie Mauve Photography at the gig in Paris mentioned in the interview . Thanks a million, Marie !

There’s a video of the gig at l’Usine that’s been made, go treat yourself and watch it here.

>>>>>>>>>> USA NAILS

>>>>>>>>>> SAD TAPES


Blame it on math-rock : an interview with Dead arms

Last June, Dead arms visited Geneva as part a Euro tour with USA Nails. Full-on hardcore garage-punk assault with by charismatic singer Steve « General Waste » at the front of the action. Before the gig, we sat down with Nick (drums), Alex (guitar), Dan (Bass) and Steve (voice) to get to know more of the story behind the noise.

(ERRATUM : there are two mistakes in this interview, first, it’s Alex who lives in the States, and second, Nick is Nic. Sorry for that !)

Can you introduce us a little bit to your band ? When did you get together ?

Alex : It’s been 8 years, this is our second album. We’re from London in the UK. We did one album in 2015. I think it’s our third tour in Europe.

Nick : The band started in 2011 with a different drummer, Wayne Adams. But he was too busy with other projects, so before the first album he left. I was overseas and I came back and joined. That’s when we started to play more shows and finished the first record. We’ve just had a bit of a break cause I moved to the states. So we actually recorded our second album a year and a half ago.

Live action at l’Usine !

How do you manage the band with you living in America ?

Alex : Well, she moved to the States last February and we haven’t done anything since. It’s our first shows for over a year.

Wanted to ask you about your scene in London. I went to the Shackewell arms to catch a Death pedals show (Alex looking pretty pleased. -Ed.) How active are you in this scene ?

Nick : Pretty active ! Steve and I and another friend of ours started putting on shows back in 2008. There’s a label called Rip this joint and that’s how a lot of us met each other. We probably met Dan that way as well. Basically I was in another band with Steve’s best mate and we were getting put on at terrible shows in London and we didn’t really know where the scene was, so we just decided to put our own shows on instead and then we just met all those great people !

Alex : When we started Death pedals, we were struggling to find anywhere to play a good show and then we met these guys who were doing these Rip this joint shows every months and they were the best shows ! So that’s how we all met ! A lot of people came together from different bands and it was good fun !

Dan : We were working in a pub together (I think Dan is talking of Alex but not sure – Ed.) – I bumped into you when you were really drunk, coming back from one of the shows ! And you said : « Come to the next one ! »  and I did !

Steve : There were bands like Silent front, who were already part of a scene, they were more experienced and when they got involved, they mentored us a little bit through the early stages. But then it just grew and grew and grew and then more and more bands got involved and more bands came out of it. Death pedals formed out of this scene that became a birthing pool for new projects. People would swap through bands…

Nick : I guess over the last few years, we’ve all been a bit busier with other things – jobs and families and things – so we’ve been a bit less active putting shows on.

Dan : Yeah, but there’s more new, like, associations. Younger people went to the shows and then started doing their own thing. It’s really cool.

People here tend too think that the scene is getting older and complain that there are not so many people at the shows. What’s your experience of that in London ?

Nick : We were talking about that in the van. I think going to shows – and punk shows too – has become more popular recently. People seem to go out to gigs as a social thing again. At the time when we first started putting on shows, nobody young were doing that but actually in London,it’s really big again. You know, if you put a show on on a Friday or Saturday, it will be full. People will come. I think the scene has expanded and lots of scenes have kind of merged together.

Alex : And the punk thing seems to be bigger in the UK than it was 10 years ago. Now the noisy shows are popular, 10 years ago they were not popular.

So how do you explain that evolution ?

Nick : No idea ! Maybe it’s the internet, the social media…

Steve : You’ve got some bands, like Idles, that are getting bigger and bigger making quite noisy punk music and young people see that and they are getting into it more. I’ve lived out of London a few years ago and in Kent, the scene is very much young, it’s 18, 19, 20 year old kids. They are setting up their own venues, their whole almost mini-DIY industry. They’ve got records shops and venues and it’s attracting an awful lot of cool bands. It just seems that some bands, like Metz, do well and play all over the UK and everybody seems to be responding to that.

Alex : I think the politics at the moment is such a mess, people want to see bands that have something to say.

Steve : Yeah, when we started putting on shows, a lot of bands didn’t even have vocalists, it was all instrumental stuff.

Nick : It was all quite technical. Math-rock was really popular.

Steve : But nobody seems to be particularly angry. But the last ten year have changed that.

Nick : Yeah, people want a bit more of an experience than just people wanking on guitars.

So you think math-rock was responsible for the lower state of the scene ?

Nick (laughs) : Eeeeeh… No, I think it was just a big fade. I guess music genres are always going in and out of fade.

Steve : Death pedals were the first band to come out and not be a math-rock band. Oh my god, a new band that isn’t math-rock ! I was so excited ! I think a lot of bands formed because of Death pedals. It’s been a big thing !

British bands seem to be quite good at that noise-punk sound, is there any particular reason in your opinion ?

Steve : I don’t know. Maybe, we’re fed up with being thought of as wishy-washy indie. (Laughs)

Alex : I read an article about how noise-rock was really taking off in England because it suits our sense of humour and shit weather ! Britain is a dirty country and we all love it and hate it ! This article was talking about that and I think it was right. I think it will only go bigger and bigger.

Also, British bands have a really strong vocal identity, the voice is pretty much at the front and the accent being very strong…

Steve : It all started in the streets and I think Idles is kind of the continuation of that. … but I always thought that, in Blur, Damon was quite mocking the accent…

On purpose ?

Steve : Yeah, it’s self-deprecating, it’s the British sense of humor.

Coming back to the scene, what are the bands that you really like at the moment ?

Dan : I was having this conversation with Gareth (of Usa nails. – Ed.) driving in the van, and for me, it’s this band called Bo Gritz. I think they’re the best for me at the moment. I can’t take my eyes off them when I watch them live. They’re up there for me.

Yeah, we don’t hear so much about them…

Dan : They need to come and play Europe.

Steve : I really like Modern technology. Waynes Adams told me about them, I put the record on and I was like : « Oh, my god, that’s exactly what I like. » They’re the best thing I’ve heard in a long time !

Nick : One of my favourite band – they’ve been for several years but they’ve just put a record out – is Petrol girls, a punk band originally mostly from London. They’re on tour with War on women and they’re just fucking brilliant. They’re doing really well and rightly so.

Alex : There are so many bands… Grey hairs is one I really like. There’s a band called We wild blood. They’ve played their album launch last week and mybe that would be my tip if you want to check a new London band out. If you want a tip for a record label, check out Hominid sounds records. We released our album with them and there’s lots of cools bands there.

Steve : Also, Human leather ! When you see them live, it’s just brutal. The singer has the greatest voice.

Obviously you are releasing music and touring in a DIY network, what’s good about it, in your opinion ? And what’s not so good about this network ?

Steve : None of us are young men or women anymore. I’ve got a full time job, kids, so this is a bit of freedom to do what we do. We have that freedom to decide when we do it and how we do it. Play what we want to play and where we want to play. Turn down the things that we don’t want to do. For us it just works, cause we’re not full-time. It’s about us. We’re a little family. That’s cool.

Sometimes, when you listen to some bands, it seems like having two lives…

Nick : It is having two lives ! I play in another band back in London as well and I work sometimes seven days a week in a hospital. It is exhausting. It’s really nice to have not so much pressure on the music. Like Steve was saying : picking and choosing when we want to do stuff. It needs to be fun, it needs to be something that we enjoy doing. Otherwise : why would I use all of my holidays ?

Steve : It makes it all the more special. I wouldn’t want it to be a chore. I wouldn’t do it if it was a chore !

So what’s the negative aspect of it ?

Steve : I guess if we played more, more people would hear us and we’d do better. Obviously bands become successful because they tour and gig a lot. But you know what ? We’re at a level that’s quite nice for us. We’re doing all right ! I would never had thought that we would tour Europe and it’s our third time !

Alex : When we started this band, it started as a bit of a joke ! Eight years later, we’re still doing it !

The joke is still going on ! (Laughs)

Nick : Yeah, we like repetitive jokes !

Steve : You must wait for the final line of that one !

You have a song called « Apocalypse Yow ». What does David Yow represent for you ?

Steve : It’s various things. When we had reviews of our first album, people likened us to Jesus lizard and I was like: « really ? » I liked Jesus Lizard but I wasn’t a massive fan. It wasn’t a band any of us listened to heavily and said this is how we are going to play our music and I still don’t think we don’t sound anything like JL.

Alex : I see the similarities now, it took me a little while.

Steve : I think we sound like Cows more, the AmRep band. Anyway, that’s one part of it, the other part is the band Big lad that Wayne produces (ex-Shitwife – Ed.), they always have really good song titles. And so I was messing with things in my head and I came out with Apocalypse Yow : « Yeah that would be funny ! » Then I watched the film « I don’t feel at home in this world anymore » where he plays this crazy character then I started using some of the words that he uses in the film and it became the lyrics of the song. It is a bit about being famous, I guess. How famous people have to deal with fame in different ways. In the old days they would just be on TV once in a while but now everybody is all over the place and it stops people being interesting. You don’t get interesting famous musicians anymore because they’re too worried that everyone’s gonna find out about their sordid secrets. And politicians are the same. They are hiding now. Well… I just put together a lot of nonsense in my head ! (Laughs)

>>>>>>>>>> DEAD ARMS

« Beautiful underground » : an interview with Evan Patterson of Young Widows

Noise-rock outfit Young Widows retraced their own footsteps this spring during a ten days tour across Western Europe. Their show with Hex in Geneva was a chance to catch Evan Patterson and ask him a few questions. The banks of the river Rhône, the light sunshine and breeze – although I realized afterwards it made the recording somewhat tricky to transcribe -, that was the perfect setting to talk past and present of Young Widows, and other things.

I think the last time you played Europe was 2009 – quite a few years ago – how has the tour been received so far ?

It’s been fantastic. We had no idea what to expect, we haven’t released a record in five years. Reception was great, crowds were incredible… This is my fifth time in Europe in the past two years with my solo band, Jaye Jayle, and some said « Why don’t you bring Young widows back ? » and I said if you ask us to come back, we will come back ! But if you don’t ask, we’re not gonna come. They (Nick and Jeremy, the two other members of YW – Ed.) have families, it’s hard for them to take the time. So it kind of happened through me seeing all the promoters and meeting people. So yeah, it’s been a great trip so far.

With all of you being very involved in dfferent projects, what’s exactly the status of Young widows these days ?

The state of the band right now is we mostly just get together to rehearse to perform shows. There are some songs from our records In and out of youth and lightness that we are playing on this tour that we haven’t played in eight years. So relearning those songs was a process that needed a certain amount of rehearsals to be able to perform them…

Is there a particular reason why you hadn’t played these songs for so long ?

Ha… That album was a weird part of my life, a time that I don’t particularly want to think about. Most of the performing songs were not on that record because they were more enjoyable and less emotionally touching. That’s why we hadn’t played those songs for that many years. With our last album Easy pain it was more a more straightforward concept. A little more story telling and a little less personal… And I find it more enjoyable to make music that way. As you get older, you look back and you don’t feel the same way you did ten years ago. Making the songs a little less subjective and a little more objective, it’s exciting to me.

Each of your records is quite different from the others. How is it for you to build the setlist ?

It’s not difficult. We take three songs from Easy pain, three songs from In and out of youth and lightness and then songs from older albums. It’s like going though the ages. They work really well together. Starts off very strong and then it gets more atmospheric and personal and then the teen years. It’s the reverse chronological way…

The deep reverb that you are using is very characteristic. How did it become such an integral part of your sound ?

Yeah, I kind of have fallen in love with this ping-pong slapback sound – everytime I say « ping-pong slapback », I wanna slap myself ! (laughs) It’s the sound of the stereo amplifier I always use – with Jay Jayle or Young widows. That very fast slapback makes the guitar sound like nothing else I’ve ever heard. It’s so full and so thick. It has a texture in the way that the notes play one on the another. It just speaks to me. I love playing accoustic guitar at home and I love not having any effects on my guitar when I write. I never write with effects. But then when we get together as a band, all of a sudden it just fill that void. And I guess there’s just something about reverb and bending or pulling a note, the dissonance that it creates,… I find it very beautiful.

I was wondering if bands like Hoover had been influential in that respect ?

Oh, Hoover is a huge influence ! I saw Hoover when I was 13 years old. Being older, I realize they were like the krautrock band of the DC scene. So repetitive and minimal !

Quite underrated as well !

Very underrated ! Regulator watts and Abilene… all of Alex Dunham’s bands I was a huge fan of ! His style of guitar playing was a huge influence on me when I was in my twenties. Especially Regulator watts ! That was such a fantastic band !

I’ve read that you’re writing all together in Young widows. I was wondering if that had evolved over the years…

Well, it has evolved towords us writing more together. At the beginning, I used to bring more songs to the band and have more direct ideas. And then it turned into a thing of more jamming ideas. Honestly, for a lot of the songs, we just go with nothing. We just show up and just start playing and just see what happens. I like that process but I’m kind of more on the side of composing songs now more than I ever have been. Especially with doing Jaye Jayle. I come with specific ideas of this happens here and this happens here. That’s how a lot of In and out of youth lightness was : specific ideas and then lots and lots and lots and lots of playing one part for many many many practices to figure out what we should do next. That’s generally how I write music.

Did having your solo band allow you to do something different with Young widows ?

Absolutely. That’s what resulted in Easy pain. The songs The guitar, on Old wounds, or Right in the end, The muted man and Young rivers  on Youth and lightness aren’t very different from what I’m doing with Jaye Jayle. I have a place to put all those ideas with my solo music now so Easy pain was like : OK let’s go over the roof and crush this building and see what happens !

Is that the meaning of the title « Easy pain » ? The fact that it was easier to bear than the previous one ?

Somewhat… (Evan is throwing a quick glance around.) It had also to do with doing a lot of drugs. Kind of destroying and abusing yourself. How easy it is to do that and how you don’t even know you’re doing it when you’re doing it.

In three days, you’re going to play your second album, Old wounds, in its entirety at the Roadburn festival. Why does it get this special treatment ?

I’m not sure.. My guess is that when this record came out in 2008 maybe there wasn’t a lot of music happening and it seems that that record has been important to a lot of people. You know, a lot of the time, what I do when I write music is introducing people to music that I love. And I feel that I’ve done that with making the music that I’ve made. It was introducing people to Jesus Lizard or Drive like Jehu – bands that influenced me to start playing music. And even still with Easy pain, I want people to hear that record and see clearly that I love the first Today is the day record and I love Am rep music. And even with Jaye Jayle, there’s all this incredible underground music that people need to hear and be introduced to.

You’re talking about the way people receive your music. It seems important to you…

Hmm, it’s not that important, actually. I’m not that worried about how people receive my music. I’m not a nostalgic person. I don’t listen to all those bands that influenced me to make Old wounds and it’s a bit strange to play a record that’s ten years old but I appreciate what it means for people.

What about reviews of your records ? There were mixed reviews of In and out of youth and lightness…

Honestly, I don’t read them… It’s what I wanted to make and that’s all that matters. I don’t make music for the critics, I make music for myself. It’s a struggle to just keep making music as a form of art because it’s not the mainstream successful route and I’ve never been worried about that. I love music. It’s not a thing like once I’ve made this amount of money, I’m going to stop. I’m going to keep making music until the rest of my life. Wether anybody hears it or appreciates it is second. It doesn’t matter.

Your bass player sings on « Delay your presssure ». He has a really good powerful voice…

He does, yeah… He sings back-ups on lots of songs but it seems he didn’t feel like doing more. Actually, I remember Kurt Ballou saying when we recorded Old wounds that if he sang more there would be no frontman and it would be a thing like Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto of Fugazi !

What about the current political situation, with all those populist leaders like Donald Trump getting more and more audience all over the world ? Do these uncertain times have an influence on your writing ?

Honestly, it doesn’t. There is a place for politics and art but it’s not what has influenced me to make art. I used to listen to political songs and now they don’t mean what they used to mean…. I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people… There’s always so much you can do and you just know how you live and how you feel and the respect you have for all of humanity and that’s a political statement in itself. But if something went really wrong, I’d be there for sure…

PS By the way, of course I also asked Evan if Young Widows had new material and he said they had a few but rehearsing and writing time was so sparse that the possibility of a record was unlikely in the near future.

Cover photography : Zoltan Novak


>>>>>>>>> YOUNG WIDOWS

« Viser le système nerveux central » : une interview de Brutalist

Né sur les cendres de Knut, Brutalist n’aura sorti qu’un seul disque, tiré à 50 exemplaires dans la plus grande confidentialité, avant de cesser toute activité. Mais la musique qu’on y découvre – sorte de métal répétitif et déconstruit – est si foudroyante qu’il était impossible de ne pas chercher à en savoir plus sur l’histoire et les dessous de ce projet intrigant et éphémère. Roderic (batterie) et Adriano (guitare, editing) ont répondu à mes questions. Merci à eux.

Sur quelles bases, avec quelles envies ou directions musicales, Brutalist est-il né? Etait-il dans le prolongement de Knut ou y avait-il une volonté de s’éloigner de cette identité?

Roderic : Dans un premier temps il s’agissait pour des rescapés de Knut de prolonger le plaisir de jouer ensemble en explorant de nouvelles voies, abstraites, répétitives, hors des chemins précédemment balisés. L’arrivée d’Adriano avec son esprit dérangé a donné l’impulsion pour pousser le bouchon toujours plus loin. Au final, Brutalist et Knut entretiennent un cousinage très lointain.

Adriano : C’est Tim qui m’a proposé de rejoindre le projet en chantier au moment où Commodore s’arrêtait pour de bon, alors qu’on était en train de composer de nouveaux morceaux. Je pense qu’il y a vu la possibilité de réunir nos univers dans la mesure où Commodore allait dans une direction plus radicale et expérimentale.

Etait-ce un choix de former un groupe instrumental, sans voix?

R : Avant qu’Adriano ne nous rejoigne, clairement, car aucun des trois autres n’utilisait sa voix dans la musique (ou très occasionnellement). Cet élément nous aurait aussi inévitablement assimilés à des esthétiques dont nous voulions nous éloigner. Par la suite, l’idée d’essayer des approches vocales singulières a été envisagée, sans se concrétiser.

Adriano jouait la guitare dans Commodore avec Tim, mais il mène également des projets de musique bruitiste/électronique. Quel est son apport dans Brutalist?

R : Fondamental. Sa perspective détachée du passé/passif de Knut et son envie d’exploser les cadres ont contribué à faire de Brutalist cet objet non identifié. Et on a le sentiment de s’être arrêtés aux balbutiements.

A : C’est vrai qu’il y a eu toute une phase de recherche durant laquelle on a enregistré beaucoup de matériel que je ramenais chez moi, après les répètes, pour trouver des bouts d’idées ou de nouvelles directions de morceaux. Et il est vrai qu’à un moment donné je me suis amusé à éditer ces sessions de façon totalement intuitive. Un peu comme je le fais dans mes projets parallèles, plus orientés autour du matériau sonore et des techniques de musique concrète ou électroacoustique. Du coup, cela nous a permis de trouver une autre façon d’explorer la composition et de s’affranchir d’une méthode plus conventionnelle.

Le brutalisme, c’est un mouvement architectural qui affectionnait particulièrement le béton. Est-ce que ce mouvement – ou tout autre mouvement plastique/visuel, d’ailleurs – est une source d’inspiration pour vous, ou est-ce juste un clin d’oeil au caractère relativement tendu et massif de votre musique?

R : Les deux, probablement. Cette idée de sculpter le son comme des blocs, de travailler la matière sonore de façon plastique (versus écrire des «riffs») nous a guidés sans doute inconsciemment en partie. Plusieurs membres du groupe ont une pratique dans des disciplines visuelles (dessin, graphisme, vidéo) et cela, couplé à un intérêt pour les musiques expérimentales, concrètes, électroacoustiques, a pu jouer un rôle. La conception d’un arsenal de pédales d’effets a été en soi un chantier permanent.

Brutalist a sorti un unique disque, qui a été enregistré sur une période de plusieurs années. Pouvez-vous nous présenter ce disque: comment a-t-il été conçu et que représente-t-il pour vous?

A : A la base, il ne s’agit pas vraiment d’un disque, mais plus d’une empreinte ou du témoignage de ce qu’a pu être le groupe durant son existence chaotique. Quand nous avons commencé à enregistrer avec Vincent Hänggi (H E X), c’était dans le but d’avoir un support de travail « propre » en essayant de capturer l’énergie live de Brutalist et de se rendre un peu mieux compte de ce qu’on essayait de faire. Sur les cinq morceaux live enregistrés, on en a retenu trois («Piton», «Cobra» et «Trabajo»). Après un premier pré-mix de Vincent, on a trouvé qu’il manquait du matériel, que certaines prises n’étaient pas abouties. On a refait certaines parties et ajouté quelques overdubs pour concrétiser ce qu’on avait vraiment en tête. Lorsqu’on a pris la décision commune d’arrêter le projet, on s’est replongés dans nos enregistrements et edits «de travail» et on a trouvé cohérent de les rassembler sur un même support pour les diffuser autour de nous de façon physique et digitale.

Le premier morceau, «Piton», avec ses structures déconstruites et heurtées, évoque certaines compositions électro actuelles. Est-ce que la musique électronique est une source d’inspiration pour vous?

R : Si c’est le cas, c’est totalement inconscient. Cela dit, la musique électronique au sens large (historique ou actuelle) fait partie du spectre au même titre que la musique industrielle, le metal, le free, le kraut et tout ce qui vise le système nerveux central.

A : Oui, je rejoins l’idée que c’est totalement inconscient. Ce morceau a été spécifiquement composé sur la base d’improvisations et d’edits totalement intuitifs, pour être totalement recomposé avec de nouvelles parties. Peut-être que le côté répétitif et minimaliste de la batterie évoque cette idée.

Même interrogation pour le jeu des guitares dont les lignes entrelacées et dissonantes rappellent un jeu jazz ou free – est-ce que ces musiques font partie de votre univers?

R : Pas dans une approche érudite, concernant le jazz, mais on a tous vu tellement de concerts et écouté tellement de musiques au cours de nos vies qu’il est possible que cela laisse une trace. Est-ce que Zeni Geva ou Krallice sont jazz? On ne peut pas nier que l’école «noise» scandinave des Noxagt, MoHa, Staer, Ultralyd, Monolithic a eu un impact sur Brutalist.

D’ailleurs l’improvisation joue-t-elle un rôle dans la musique de Brutalist ou est-elle totalement écrite?

R : L’improvisation a tenu une place de plus en plus importante et aurait dû, à terme, devenir prépondérante. Le travail de création de bruit en répétition / édition sur ordinateur / réarrangement en groupe, par aller-retours, a produit des résultats excitants.

A : Oui, clairement. Ça a fini par devenir le leitmotiv : improviser, enregistrer, éditer, ramener des idées, tout déconstruire à nouveau et recomposer. Le plus dur a été de trouver un juste équilibre entre ce qu’il était possible de reproduire et ce qui n’était pas à notre portée et qu’il a fallu repenser plus simplement, parfois en allant à l’essentiel.

Plus généralement, quelles sont les musiques ou les courants qui vous passionnent aujourd’hui et vous semblent ouvrir des voies nouvelles?

A : Plus que des courants, pour ma part se sont surtout des artistes doués d’une certaine vision, une certaine démarche. Ce qui me touche aujourd’hui est plus orienté vers la musique improvisée et l’expression de démarches radicales qu’une certaine scène ou un certain genre.

R : Ça fait tellement longtemps que je navigue entre les trucs les plus abscons ou extrêmes et des musiques totalement accessibles que je m’y perds. Certains champs réputés novateurs tournent en rond et se parodient, alors que des trucs a priori archi rebattus sonnent super frais sans trop qu’on sache pourquoi… Tant que la musique aura cette magie, cette capacité d’imprévisibilité, mes oreilles resteront ouvertes.

Le premier pressage CD de ce disque est maintenant épuisé, y-a-t-il des projets de repressage ou la version numérique restera la seule disponible?

R : Ce pressage s’est résumé à cinquante exemplaires essentiellement diffusés dans l’entourage. Après avoir laissé reposer ces sessions pendant près de deux ans, on a trouvé qu’il serait peut-être bon de finaliser le témoignage enregistré de Brutalist. Pour nous-même avant tout, histoire de conjurer un sentiment d’inachevé. La version numérique reste disponible et nous ne sommes pas à l’abri de la proposition d’un label motivé pour un pressage vinyle, qui sait?

La pochette du disque est plutôt énigmatique, pouvez-vous nous en dire un mot?

R : Ha! L’origine est un peu énigmatique et surtout assez inavouable. Union légitime, mélange de fluides à concentrations variables, influence de Fenriz …ou Peter Liechti. Promenons-nous dans les bois pour faire n’importe quoi.

A : C’est totalement inavouable et en même temps très banal… à l’image de ces morceaux et de ce projet qui s’arrête abruptement…

Aujourd’hui, des festivals proposent des affiches colossales tandis que la fréquentation des petites salles baisse régulièrement et de très bons groupes jouent devant une poignée de personnes, qu’est-ce que cette situation vous inspire?

R : C’est vrai, le monde semble contaminé par une festivalite aiguë, tentation de l’événementiel et de l’éphémère «pop up» au détriment des programmations patiemment échafaudées, de saisons audacieuses visant la cohérence à long terme dans de petits lieux aux identités fortes et aux publics fidèles. L’exemple parfait à Genève est la Cave12, antre de toutes les musiques expérimentales, hors cadre, tous genres confondus. Admirable, mais au prix de combien de sacrifice financier et humain?

Je crois savoir que l’arrêt des activités du groupe est lié à des problèmes d’audition de votre batteur, Roderic. On ne va pas se mentir, ce style de musique fait mal aux oreilles et à la longue engendre des pertes d’audition sensibles – vous qui êtes dans la musique depuis longtemps, comment abordez-vous cette question?

R : Acouphènes plus que perte d’audition, résultat d’années de martelage sans protection suffisante. A méditer avant qu’il ne soit trop tard, car il existe des protections sur mesure très efficaces.

A : On ne l’aborde pas vraiment. C’est au coup par coup. Je ne connais personnes autour de moi qui n’ait pas connu des périodes d’hyperacousie, surdités temporaires ou dommages irréversibles suite à une pratique musicale intensive ou après certains concerts relativement fort, avec ou sans protection. Malheureusement on est tributaire du hasard, comme pour le reste.

Même si Brutalist a cessé ses activités, je ne peux pas m’empêcher de vous poser la question de l’avenir. Avez-vous d’autres projets en cours? Et peut-on espérer une suite vous réunissant? Un grand merci!!

R : L’avenir, l’avenir, y en a-t-il seulement un? Brutalist s’est éteint, le reste suivra. En attendant, certains ont repris des activités musicales dans des domaines très différents, avec plus ou moins d’implication, parallèlement aux impératifs et engagements de la vie.

A : Tim a rejoint Mandroïd of Krypton pour remplacer leur bassiste. Christian continue de façon ponctuelle son projet drone Ignant avec Didier (Llama / ex-Knut), quand le temps le permet. Roderic a rejoint un projet «pop indie» qui lui permet de continuer à jouer de la batterie. Pour ma part je continue mes pérégrinations sonores, surtout orientées autour de l’ordinateur. Seul et aussi en duo, dans le projet Left Bank, associant des principes et techniques de musique concrète et électroacoustique en temps réel. Un disque et une k7 à tirage limité sont prévus avant cette fin d’été, ainsi que quelques concerts ponctuels en Suisse.

Merci Rad-Yaute pour l’intérêt !

>>>>>>>>>> BRUTALIST

« Dernier drapeau » : une interview de Last Flag

C’est presque par hasard que j’ai découvert la musique de Last flag. Seulement quelques titres disponibles sur internet, metal atmosphérique très carré, mais avec quelque chose de haletant qui accroche l’oreille et donne envie d’en écouter davantage. Il n’en fallait pas plus en tous cas pour que je leur envoie quelques questions, histoire de faire connaissance avec ces nouveaux venus de la scène annecienne.

Comment s’est formé le groupe ? Quelle était l’idée de départ ?

Le groupe s’est formé en 2016, on avait tous eu de précédentes expériences musicales suivies de pauses plus ou moins longues et l’idée c’était de se remettre à jouer de la zik. On a commencé par quelques reprises histoire de se remettre dans le bain et d’apprendre à se connaitre musicalement. Rapidement une atmosphère commune s’est créée, et on a commencé à bosser sur nos compos.

Votre nom fait plutôt old school (Black flag, Anti-flag…) Quel est donc ce « dernier drapeau » que vous brandissez ?

Les drapeaux sont des signes d’appartenance forte entre les Hommes, à la fois unifiants et déchirants. En règle générale, ils permettent de mettre en avant «l’autre», ou de se distinguer de celui qui n’appartient pas au groupe. L’idée c’est que le jour où il n’y aura plus qu’un seul drapeau, c’est qu’on aura enfin réussi à s’unir.

Vous avez fait plusieurs concerts récemment : c’étaient de bonnes expériences ?

Carrément ! On a eu la chance de jouer sur la scène du club au Brise glace, à Cluses sur la scène de l’Atelier, et à Genève au « Scene ». Se confronter au public nous a permis d’avoir un autre regard sur ce que l’on fait et ces expériences nous ont vraiment soudés et motivés pour continuer à bosser, notamment sur l’enregistrement d’une première démo 3 titres qui vient de sortir sur notre bandcamp !

Une question pour Sylvain : je trouve le chant sur votre morceau Conflictual vraiment intéressant avec son alternance parlé/crié. Comment s’est-il construit ? Quels sont les chanteurs ou chanteuses que tu apprécies ou qui t’inspirent ?

Le type de chant devient évident selon les émotions que l’on essaie de transmettre, je dirais que plus c’est intense et plus c’est saturé. Après, chacun met sa patte sur les idées au chant, heureusement sinon on aurait des passages très (trop) surprenants !
Côté influence et inspiration, je dirais Phil Anselmo, il est capable d’aller du bluesy au true black avec toujours beaucoup de sincérité et avec le sens de la mélodie. Puis Sam Carter d’Architects, qui a un chant saturé très expressif et touchant. Et Anneke Van Giesbergen qui a une voix de l’espace, très aérienne.

Histoire de vous connaître un peu mieux : si vous deviez chacun sélectionner trois albums parmi ceux qui comptent le plus pour vous, ce serait lesquels ?

Sylvain (chant) : « Follow the leader » de Korn, « Bloodflower » de The Cure et « Dangerous » de Michaël Jackson
Yoann (guitare) : « Americana » de The Offspring, « Infest » de Papa Roach, «Opposites » de Biffy Clyro
Baptiste (basse) : « Californication » des Red Hot, « Des visage Des figures » de Noir Désir, « Come What[ever] May » de Stone Sour
Justin (batterie) : « Snot » de Snot, « 10 000 days » de Tool et  » The Shape of Punk to Come » de Refused

Jouons un peu au jeu du copinage – ou pas – : quel est le groupe de la scène locale que vous appréciez le plus ?

Il y a de bons groupes, vraiment et dans des styles variés. The Buffalos & Pipedreams avaient une vraie identité et présence locale, dommage qu’ils aient arrêté. Dans d’autres styles, Howling Beards (avec qui on a eu plaisir à partager le plateau de l’atelier), l’Orchidée Cosmique ou encore Jungle Julia sont des groupes que l’on affectionne

Quels sont les lieux de concerts locaux que vous appréciez le plus ? Quelle est votre dernière claque ?

Sylvain : ?
Yoann : Le Brise, même si la prog n’est pas toujours celle qui me convient le plus. C’est une incitation à l’ouverture. Un peu plus loin, le transbordeur propose une prog plutôt sympa.
Justin : Ma dernière claque (qui remonte un peu maintenant !) c’était No one is innocent à Château rouge pour l’album PROPAGANDA. C’était propre, efficace, le son était vraiment terrible, ça faisait un moment que je ne les avais pas vus, et on peut dire que j’ai pris une bonne claque !
Baptiste : J’aime beaucoup les scènes alternatives de Genève où l’on tombe fréquemment sur de très bons concerts ! Dernièrement The Ocean à l’Usine m’a bien scotché.
Sylvain: Le Brise Glace bien sûr. J’ai vu Demi Portion, un rappeur qui a roulé sa bosse avec une super technique et très sincère.

Est-ce que vous aimez lire à propos de la musique ? Si oui, quoi ? Fanzines, webzines, magazines, sites, blog, bouquins ?

Sylvain : Radiométal, Métalorgie et Rhinoferoce !
Yoann : Je suis attaché au papier : Guitare part, guitar xtrem et d’autre histoire de se tenir au courantet de geeker un peu sur les tests de matos. Grosse consommation de lecons, astuces, tests et d’avis sur Youtube, Audiofanzine etc… et les articles de Radio Metal également.
Baptiste : Assez peu de mon coté
Justin : On est des enfants d’internet, on a grandi avec ça ! 🙂 Donc oui pas mal de presse en ligne, des tutos, des vidéos, tout ce qui peut nous aider à avancer dans notre musique, mais un bon magazine papier sur les chiottes, ça reste une valeur sure !

Votre musique est assez proche du post-hardcore ou du hardcore, est-ce que pour vous c’est principalement de la musique ou est-ce que vous sentez proche de la démarche indépendante ou politisée de certains groupes ?

Notre musique et pour nous avant tout un exutoire, la démarche politique n’est pas prédominante. On parle avant tout de ce qui nous touche, mais effectivement, ces sentiments sont toujours plus ou moins connecté avec des décisions politiques, donc avec la force des choses on s’en approche.
De plus, chez nous, tout est fait maison, on enregistre et on bricole tout ça avec les potes. Donc indépendant, on ne peut pas faire mieux ! 😉

Et sinon, que pensent vos mamans de votre groupe ?

Aucun d’entre nous n’a été déshérité pour le moment, c’est peut-être bon signe !Gilet jaune ? Rouge ? Vert ? Bleu ? Rose à paillettes ?

On serait plutôt gilet vert, l’urgence pour nous, c’est une vraie réponse face au défi climatique et une remise en question de la place des hommes dans leur environnement. Mais dans l’esprit Last Flag, plutôt du dialogue et de l’écoute plutôt qu’ajouter encore des signes d’appartenance nous divisant davantage.

En supposant qu’il y ait un futur, que pourrait-on attendre de Last flag ?

Avant tout du bon son, de l’énergie, des bons moment partagés entre nous et avec vous !

>>>>>>>>>> LAST FLAG


« Doing it together » : an interview with Videoiid

French and Swedish threesome Videoiid played Annecy’s Bistro des Tilleuls last December. Their set was a noisy, ear-splitting affair for sure and yet the memory of it is crystal clear, like one of those moments where everything falls naturally into place. After the gig, I met with Arvid (guitar), Sara (guitar) and Frank (drums) in the back room of the bar. Surrounded by whisky bottles, we had a little chat. Here it is.

So, what did you think of the gig tonight ?

Arvid : I think it was the best gig so far !

Frank : I think so too ! We have a new set and two of the new songs we played for the first time at the gig before this one, in Paris. We’re really happy with this new set !

Sara : We wrote the new songs in Brussels, three days ago…

On tour ?

F : Yeah, one morning we had a bit of time and wrote two new songs.

Pretty quick !

F : I think it took us two hours or so. They’re pretty easy but they work !

Talking about your music with a friend, we were saying that it sounds like it’s quite rythm-driven. Do the drums come first in your way of writing ?

F : No, only for one song. All the other songs start with guitar ideas. Also because they write songs when I’m on tour with another band.

Coming back to the history of the band, how did it start ? How did you meet ?

S : I posted a message on this Facebook group of musicians in Göteborg saying I was looking for people to start an experimental music project. I mentioned Suicide and Swans, I think. I got two separate answers, first Frank and then Arvid. We met and discussed. While Frank was on tour, we rehearsed and I got back in touch with Frank saying things worked pretty well and would he be OK to rehearse with us and he was fine with that.

F : Of course ! It went super fast. After the first rehearsal, we already had two songs, working on a third one. Second rehearsal : we basically had the first EP ! Well not quite but it went really fast !

How do yo explain that ? Do you have some really clear common ground ? You mentioned Swans but you don’t sound like them…

S : And neither like Suicide ! (Laughs)

F : Even if we never mention it, the common ground is early Sonic youth, Arab on radar, US Maple, that kind of stuff.

S : No wave…

F : Yeah, no-wave, noise…

For sure I was going to ask about Arab on radar because it’s mentioned in almost all the reviews. I swear I didn’t read them before writing mine and then I realized I had been writing almost word for word what everybody else had written !! (Laughs)

F : It’s great ! If everybody says the same thing then maybe it’s true !

I found interesting that the reviews said that the influences kind of came through clearly but also that is still sounded fresh and spontaneous and natural…

F : We never talk about how we want to sound. We bring our own ideas but we never say « I’d like the guitar or the drums to sound like that ». At the end it sounds a bit like this or a bit like that but it’s never been an intention.

S : We have a very open-minded approach to each other’s way of making music. We’re really supportive of each other’s music making. It’s a really creative environment to be in.

F : The idea is that anyone can try anything.

S : Exactly !

F : If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but at least we try !

Starting a punk-rock band today can be quite daunting in the sense that so much has been done before by so many great bands. Is that scary for you or not a problem at all ?

F : It’s not scary in the sense that we never wanted to do something that nobody had done before. I just want to play music that I consider to be good music with them and have fun. I don’t consider that we have to be super original. If it happens, it happens, but if someone comes up and says this songs sounds like this other song, well, whatever ! We don’t try to copy on purpose but we don’t try to sound super original on purpose !

A : I think our set-up kind of makes it easier for us. Two guitars and drums, that’s not as common as the typical bass – drums – guitar.

F : And we don’t try to create a bass sound. Often when you see this kind of set-up, the guy is playing on a big bass amp or a baritone guitar. But we have no bass and we don’t care !

Frank, I’ve read that you moved to Sweden to become a full-time musician…

F : Yeah, I quit my job in France and thought that what I wanted to do was playing music. And if I want to play music then I don’t have to stay in Lyon ! Sweden wasn’t my first choice but I finally ended up there and it’s even better than what I thought. Music is really a big part of the culture. It’s super easy to find a practice room, to make contacts, to find venues. And there are shitloads of bands – super good bands ! When I arrived in Gẗheborg, I rented this room and thought I was going to stay for one or two months, but then I was like « Oh, fuck it ! It’s so awesome, I’m gonna stay here ! » (Laughs)

You’re touring in a DIY network, do you find that this is a good way to tour as a full-time musician ?

F : For me, it’s the best way. With my solo project, Sheik anorak, I played some bigger venues and festivals and I have to say that DIY – the way we’re doing it right now – is my favourite way. When you play bigger venues, you don’t really meet people and I have the feeling that, especially for the music we do, I’d rather play smaller venues for 30 or 40 people who are really into it than on big stages in front of thousands of people who are basically waiting for us to be finished to see the band after. Basically, it’s what happens. I mean, until you are big and have a name, playing bigger places doesn’t make sense to me. It feels you’re in-between. Too big to play the small venues and not big enough to be the headliner. Being the constant opening band for bigger acts, for me, it’s not interesting at all. I’d rather stay in this DIY scene and enjoy the touring, meeting people, make contacts and have a good time instead of being more professional and doing it as a job.

So you don’t see it as a job…

F : No, not at all. I’ve been doing this for so many years but if someone came and said this DIY thing, playing for 30 or 40 people every night, it’s gonna stay like this forever, I’d sign directly ! I love it !

Do you manage to live from it ?

F : Yeah, sometimes it’s pretty tough but I kinda like it… More money would be nice but more money is more concessions and I don’t want to do it. I’m glad the way it is now.

About the EP : I think it was released on tape. Whay did you choose that format and how do you consider the actual object on which the music is released ?

F : We have different opinions… (Laughs)

S : Well, I’m a PhD student and I do my research, among other things, on record collectors so I know that there are at least some people who find value in the physical object ! Walter Benjamin wrote about the aura of the art object – or the withering of the aura but that’s a story for another day. I personally collect vinyls myself and I think a lot of people like to have something tangible to hold and touch when it comes to music. To have a tape and pay money for that, not just for a download code, makes a difference I think. And Ben Sanair did an amazing artwork…

Can we have a different point of view, now ?

A : I usually just listen to Spotify… It doesn’t matter as much what I’m listening to.

F : I used to have lots of vinyls – I also have a record label (Gaffer records – Ed.) – but for some reason I lost that interest in the object. I was paying a lot of attention to details, I love 7’’ and 10’’ and I did these series of 7’’ with different colours, black transparent sleeves and stuff. As a label I would still want to do that but as a person I don’t care anymore. I sold all my vinyls. I just listen to MP3 and Spotify. Now if I want to support a band, I would buy a tee-shirt but I won’t buy records anymore. I don’t like records anymore.

Is that a way to be simpler in your way of life ?

F : I just realized I didn’t need this anymore but it’s completely personal. Maybe because I don’t have the money anymore (Laughs).

And that’s where my recording device decided to stop, for some reason. There was a little bit of talking about music websites, fanzines and books, unanimous appraisal of the Skull defects being the one cool band to come out of Göteborg you had to listen to and then Frank expanding on how old school skateboarding gave him the original inspiration to play music. Streets on fire rules ! SST style ! For more information on the guy you can check this interview (in French !) published in 2012 but lots of information still relevant today.

>>>>>>>>>> VIDEOIID