« Au coeur de la machine Girl band » (Banque alimentaire, 12 fév.)

Lorsqu’on demande quel groupe a apporté du nouveau dans la musique punk ou affiliées ces dernières années, un nom revient : Girl band. Après Idles et Viagra boys les années précédentes, le festival Antigel prouve une nouvelle fois qu’il ne tire pas à l’aveuglette.

Après une plateforme sur le lac Léman, c’est au tour de la Banque alimentaire genevoise d’être investie par Antigel. On pensera ce qu’on veut de cette pratique mais le vaste entrepôt et ses alignement de dizaines de casiers de nourriture fait un cadre atypique et intéressant au concert. Devant la petite scène montée pour l’occasion et son arche blindée de projecteurs se presse un public impatient – assez dense, mais c’est pas la folie non plus. Faut dire que faire venir le groupe de Dublin pour un unique concert faisait grimper le prix de l’entrée à un niveau pas forcément accessible à tous.

Les quatre membres de Girl band montent sur scène et lancent la machine sans autre forme de procès, plongeant immédiatement le public dans un univers de tiraillements, cisaillements, de grondements et tensions contraires à nul autre pareil. Seule la batterie, binaire, millimétrique, aux accents dansants parfois directement empruntés à la techno, constitue un repère vraiment stable. La guitare entretient une relation très compliquée avec l’idée de mélodie. Fracas, gerbes, étincelles, vrombissement seraient des mots plus adéquats pour qualifier le jeu sidérurgique d’Alan Duggan, véritable artiste de la pédale d’effet. La basse est aussi en proie à des déraillements permanents aux forts relents no-wave. La gorge serrée, le pétage de plombs au bord des lèvres, Dara Kiely scande ce chaos organisé de ses jérémiades lancinantes, ses imprécations de prédicateur à bout de nerfs.

Témoin ébahi de cette mécanique partie en vrille, on ne peut que reconnaître qu’on est tout simplement face à des génies de la noise. Mais bizarrement, par moment, l’ennui n’est pas très loin non plus. La tension est uniformément haute, des passages planants, parfois sans batterie et où Dara Kiely s’essaie à chanter, font retomber la pression plus qu’ils ne la modulent. La mécanique de Girl band est faite pour crisser violemment. Le concert ne donne pas l’impression de décoller totalement. Le contact avec le public est assez minimal et Girl band quitte la scène sans cérémonie. Ovnis de la noise, à prendre ou à laisser.

Toutes les photos sont de Amdo, merci à toi. (On peut en voir d’autres sur la version Rictus de l’article.)

>>>>>>>>>> GIRL BAND

« 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

« William Burroughs Haute-Savoie microtour – jour 2 » (Jars, Cutter – Bistro des Tilleuls, 23 nov.)

Suite de nos aventures au pays de la noise. Après une première soirée haute en couleurs – et comment ne serait-ce pas le cas avec les gais lurons légèrement cramés de Dewaere ? -, fatigués mais euphoriques mais attention sans autre drogue dans le corps que l’adrénaline et l’endorphine, on file vers Annecy et son fameux Bistro des Tilleuls.

Là-bas, les choses se lancent doucement. Les Russes ont du retard. On admire les travaux réalisés dans l’été qui optimise l’espace de scène. Jars arrivent. On fait connaissance, on mange et on fait les balances. A peu près en même temps. Matt, qui nous accueille, trime comme un dingue. A la fois au bar, au son et au service. Il est déjà 21 h 30. Les Russes ont l’air trop sympa. Le public est là. C’est cool.

On ouvre la soirée avec Cutter, devant un public déjà bien compact, puis c’est au tour de Jars de monter sur scène. Repérés sur un ou deux webzines et sur la foi de quelques morceaux, on est bien curieux de voir ce que ça va donner.

Jésus, y’a certainement pas de lézard. Jars, c’est le power trio par excellence. Formation rapprochée, combative, qui maintient un feu nourri jusqu’à ce que tu tombes à genoux.

Leur noise-rock sale et lourdingue évoque irrésistiblement quelques figures du genre : Big black, ou Jesus lizard pour les arpèges torves, mais aussi parfois des trucs plus rock mais pas moins énervés – Nirvana période Bleach, pour être précis. Et cette voix rauque gueulée en russe qui en rajoute encore dans la rage crue. Les groupes qui chantent dans leur propre langue ont quelque chose en plus, pas en moins. Enfin, certains.

Le public massé devant la petite scène est immédiatement ultra réceptif. Pogo, chutes diverses et variées, mouvements de foule plus ou moins contrôlés. La salle est sombre, moîte et méchamment houleuse. Soir de gros temps. Sasha, le très sympathique batteur blond, rayonne derrière ses fûts. Il nous fait un show pas possible à base de grimaces maniaco-euphoriques et cogne comme un damné. Plaisir d’offrir, joie de recevoir.

Ce qu’offre Jars, c’est un set intense et punitif, mené d’une main sûre, qui s’achève dans un chaos de larsens et de hurlements. Ce genre de groupe authentique et sincère, qui sera pour toujours hors des radars, ne se croise que sur la route. Fallait être là. L’excellente interview réalisée dans l’arrière-cuisine du resto confirmera pleinement cette impression.

Affaire à suivre, sans aucun doute.

Les chouettes photos sont de l’ami Olive et de son site LowLightConditions.

>>>>>>>>>> CUTTER

>>>>>>>>>> JARS

 

« William Burroughs Haute-Savoie microtour – jour 1 » (Dewaere, Cutter – Le Poulpe, 22 nov.)

Retour sur un weekend un peu spécial. Le concert du lendemain – avec les russes de Jars, report à venir – était calé depuis un moment quand Greg nous propose de jouer aussi la veille, avec Dewaere, ce groupe breton qui a sorti un des disques les plus explosif et rafraîchissant de l’année dernière. Wow.

Avec le terme « noise » ou « noise-rock » sur l’affiche, tu as toujours un peu un doute sur le nombre de gens qui va  répondre présent, mais il y avait déjà un petit public – beaucoup de têtes connues, forcément – quand on a commencé.  On en dira pas plus si ce n’est que, avec les chouettes conditions de sonorisation du Poulpe, ça a vraiment été un bon moment pour nous.

Dewaere, c’est une formation classique guitare/batterie/basse/chant, mais il ne faut pas longtemps au public maintenant plutôt dense pour se rendre compte que Maxwell, le chanteur, est quand même quelque chose d’assez spécial. Grand échalas nonchalant qui, avec sa veste sur le dos, donne toujours l’impression d’être passé là par hasard. J’ai vu un groupe de punk jouer et je me suis dit que j’allais venir foutre un peu le bordel avec mon incroyable chant de crooner débraillé – ce qui est à peu près la façon dont s’est vraiment passé la création du groupe, comme on le verra dans l’interview réalisée après le concert, à paraître bientôt-mais-pas-tout-de-suite.

Mid-tempo sans repos, basse vrombissante, ferrailleuse et une guitare avec un je-ne-sais-quoi de 80s. Mais je sais pas vraiment pourquoi tout le monde ne cesse de répéter « noise-punk » à leur propos – ou alors punk à la Buzzcocks, oui. Dewaere écrit de vraies chansons. Avec ce chant improbable, c’est un cocktail à peu près parfait que sert le groupe.  Une formule gagnante et une vraie découverte pour ceux et celles qui étaient là. Joli choix de programmation du Poulpe.

Et ce n’est que le début, comme on le verra bientôt.

 

>>>>>>>>>> CUTTER

>>>>>>>>>> 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

>>>>>>>>>>> COMPUTER STUDENTS

« 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

>>>>>>>>>> COMPUTER STUDENTS

« La meilleure façon de perdre ses amis » (DROSE – Urgence disk, 17 nov.)

C’est peut-être bien que je dois traîner dans ces musiques depuis trop longtemps, mais si il y a un mot qui me tient en haleine, attise chez moi une curiosité fiévreuse et me pousse vers tel concert ou tel disque, c’est celui de déconstruction. Le rock en morceaux, mis en pièces puis remonté à l’envers et fourni sans véritable mode d’emploi si ce n’est celui que ton cerveau construit. Ou pas. Allez comprendre. Par contre, entre les réactions génées du type « C’est particulier… » et les soupçons d’élitisme, on est d’accord que c’est certainement une des meilleures façons de perdre ses amis. Mais bon, faut avoir le courage de ses opinions de temps en temps.

Quoi qu’il en soit, la première écoute de l’album Boy man machine du trio américain DROSE a été un choc, redoublé par  l’annonce de leur venue à Genève. L’organisation de ce concert assez peu médiatisé aura connu quelques péripéties : d’abord annoncé à l’Usine, il avait été pressenti un moment à l’Ecurie pour finalement se dérouler à Urgence disk.

La petite salle/bar de la boutique plutôt remplie est encore à l’heure de l’apéro et du concert qui a eu lieu juste avant, d’un tout autre style quand les américains arrivent et lancent le set presque aussitôt. Bruits répétitifs. Mécanisés. Domptés. Leitmotiv industriel de la musique de DROSE. Noise-rock suffocant. Eclatant par spasmes. Semblant se débattre contre le règne de la machine, lutter contre son propre engloutissement. Le groupe ne comporte pas de bassiste, mais le son est absolument massif, même avec des protections auditives (et valait mieux).

La silhouette frêle de Dustin Rose et sa voix cristalline, spectrale -à vrai dire assez difficilement perceptible dans le mix – contraste avec la lourdeur et le fracas qui l’enveloppent. Scandée par la batterie minimaliste de John Mengerink, la musique de DROSE développe un vocabulaire qui lui est propre – même si on peut penser à la première période des Swans – et un sens de l’espace sonore et du silence assez impressionnant.

C’est la tête-chercheuse Computer students qui a reédité leur album mais, si on m’avait dit que c’était un label comme ECM, ça ne m’aurait pas plus étonné que ça. De la même manière, on les as vus dans cette microscopique antre qu’est Urgence disk mais qui peut dire dans quel sorte de salle ils passeront dans 5 ou 10 ans ?

Un certain nombre de personnes quittent la salle au fil du concert, déroutés par l’étrangeté ou rebutés par le volume sonore. Pour les autres, les tenaces, l’expérience sonore est au rendez-vous. Au final, une expérience typique de l’Usine – celle d’être une poignée de personnes dans un lieu improbable assistant à la performance d’un groupe singulier.

Bien sûr, un jour il y aura un petit malin qui aura tout compris et qui viendra nous expliquer qu’on a vu un groupe de slow-indus ou une foutaise de ce genre – exactement comme le jour où j’ai découvert avec stupéfaction que certains rangeaient Don caballero dans une petite boîte qui s’appelait math-rock ou Heroin dans un machin appelé screamo. On s’en fout, on sait juste qu’on a vu un putain de groupe qui vit intensément sa musique et qui ne ressemble nul autre.

Et on ne veut rien savoir d’autre.

>>>>>>>>>> DROSE

GIG ALERT ! : William Burroughs Haute-Savoie microtour

Avec Cutter, on aura le plaisir de jouer deux fois ce weekend. Cette petite pub, c’est pas tellement pour nous – quoique, hé hé – mais surtout parce que ce sera avec deux très chouettes groupes – Dewaere et leur noise-rock lyrique explosif, Jars et leur post-punk noise hargneux – et dans deux supers endroits (les deux meilleurs du coin ?) : le Poulpe et le Bistro des Tilleuls.

>>>>>>>>>> DEWAERE

>>>>>>>>>> JARS

>>>>>>>>>> CUTTER

>>>>>>>>>> LE POULPE

>>>>>>>>>> BISTRO DES TILLEULS

Videoiid, « Sovtek zoo » EP

On peut dire que cette deuxième sortie du trio franco-suédois Videoiid s’est faite dans la plus grande discrétion. Pour tout dire, je ne crois pas avoir vu passer une seule chronique mais il faut préciser qu’il s’agit d’une cassette réalisée, il me semble, à l’occasion d’une tournée en Espagne. Un nouveau guitariste est d’ailleurs venu prendre la place d’Arvid – lassé par les tournées, justement – auprès de Sarah (guitare, voix) et Frank, alias Sheik anorak (batterie, voix).

Pour le reste, les trois titres de cette cassette sont dans le droit fil du premier enregistrement, à savoir une noise virulente et dissonante sur laquelle plane le spectre d’Arab on radar. Peut-être même que ces trois morceaux gagnent encore en cohérence et en efficacité, avec des structures à la simplicté toujours plus assumée – un morceau = un riff poussé vers son autodestruction – et des voix particulièrement bien posées, que ce soient les vociférations aigues de Sarah ou les incantations détraquées à la Eric Paul de la voix masculine.

Nécessairement discret au milieu des nombreux projets qui occupent ses membres, on devrait avoir des nouvelles de Videoiid dans pas trop longtemps, vers mars. La cassette risque d’être bien usée d’ici là.

>>>>>>>>>> VIDEOIID

« 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