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.
>>>>>>>>>> GAFFER RECORDS