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Publié le 19/01/2011 à 15:19
Édité le 19/01/2011 à 18:48

Dillinger Escape Plan - Q&R

In October of 2010, The Dillinger Escape Plan were one of the few American bands to do more than one gig in France. In Paris, kick off of the tour, Ben, Liam and Jeff gathered to talk about Option Paralysis, DIY career management, Team American and naked pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Greg just posted a Facebook update saying that the show tonight* would be like the bomb attack threat Paris is going through right now. So we can expect mayhem tonight right ?
Liam : I thought it was a reference to the first scene of Team America instead of a real threat. They must be excited we're here. Or mad !
Ben : One time we've been to Japan and one of the people from our station has been arrested, just in front of our eyes. And he did a statement making fun of that which was not was not exactly appropriate. But I think this one is actually of pretty good taste,
Liam : It's in taste with us.
Ben : Y'know, Paris and France in general has always been one of our best crowds so there's gonna be chaos.
Jeff : Maybe they saw the picture of me where I'm naked in front of the Eiffel Tower. I'm probably on CCTV somewhere.
Ben : But we're super excited about France and playing in Paris. That would the first show of our European tour.

what were your impressions during Warped tour ?
Ben : It was interesting, it was not really our crowd but that's the point of it for us.
Liam : Here we're playing for the fans. Over there we played for the potential fans. And it's good if you want to expend your boundaries.
Ben : Sometimes you need to play in front of different people. We've been a band so long that a lot of our fans have grown up, and we try to keep bringing new people in.
Liam : Most of our fans can't come to shows at two in the afternoon anyway.
Ben : Every now and then we have to try to put ourselves in a little bit of uncomfortable circumstances to keep ourselves stimulated. So these shows put us in the situation where we have to fight for a new kind of crowd. But even playing during the day is weird for us. Sometimes at 12 in the afternoon.
Liam : No production, no lights, none of the things we typically use on our shows. But it gives us a vibe.
Ben : It's all real, it is what it is.

Getting uncomfortable seems to be the point of this band, isn't it ?
Ben : Absolutely. And even from the point of view of the fans. To get them a little uncomfortable.

How Mike Garson (Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie) ended up playing piano on the very surprising Widower
Ben : We got to know him through the Nine Inch Nails, he was playing with Trent Reznor. He expressed an interest in actually playing with us so we were very thrilled about that. Originally I wrote the piece on piano, it was basically constructed using it. And then he had come in to kinda play on some other things that didn't have piano. He didn't listen to any of the music, he just came in and said "let's record a few takes and see what's going on". It was great to show him the chords and have him kinda improvise and jam on it.

But do you actually play the piano onstage when you play Widower ?
Ben : Yeah, and tonight's the first night we play it live.

Talking about softer songs, would your stage presence be less intense if your song were not that extreme ?
Ben : I can't say I don't play in any other bands. But we do have a lot more dynamics in our songs. Songs like Widower are not necessarily as aggressive and chaotic as the earlier stuff that we did or some other stuff on this record. But to us it's the soundtrack to our lives. We can't imagine living without it, really. It's like the air we breathe. So it's got lots of ups and downs, different types of dynamics and emotions. For us we feel as passionate about the songs that are less aggressive as we do about the songs that are aggressive.
Liam : It's a different kind of intensity, it's a different kind of presentation.Some of the other songs slice you in the eye and this one sort of punches you in the gut.

I'm really interesting to know how you write such intricated songs. Do you sit around and go like "I'm gonna play this riff for three and a half beats, then big riff during a bar and then back...
Jeff : ... You just wrote our next song (laughs) !
Ben : (pause) We write mainly like any other band write...
Liam : ...Except we but we do it better !
Ben : Obviously the music is not like any other band. Usually one person starts with ideas, but the difference with us is that we try to write in different ways. Widower started on piano. Some songs like Room full of eyes started out on a computer, because I often write on a computer with programmed drums. We definitely try different creative avenues to be inspired, and spark the beginnings of what would become our songs. But probably similarly to what other bands do. We eventually get in a room and jam.
Liam : Hardly ever does it start with us jamming, as a band. It's not like "hey guys let's jam and see what happens". There usually is a direction, some sort of goal. Some transitions happen when you sort of jam it out, but the main ideas of songs seem to be something that we come into practice but not developed at practice.
Ben : I think the thing that differentiates us from other technical bands is that we don't rule out any possibility for writing, whether it's on computer, starting with drums, piano or guitar. But we also know that there has to be energy and emotion in it. And the part of us playing and jamming to see if it works in the real live context is really important for us.

So who among the Dillinger usually has the best ideas ?
Ben : None of us otherwise we would be in a much bigger club (laughs) !
Liam : The gold idea was like "hey we have this great music let's make it fast and noxious (laughs).
Jeff : Yeah, "let's make music that hardly anyone can understand". Who's idea was that ?

Stage-wise you've worked with a French company for the light show. How did it come together ?
Ben : We've always been, since day one, tried to incorporate things to our light shows to increase the dynamics and the intensity of the show. Buying lights at the store, turning them on and off ourselves. Even blowing up things on stage. We were never lazy about our shows and we always tried to stand out.
With time we moved up to the next level and one of our friend, his name is Thomas, he's an engineer and a musician, called us to work with us. He came with different ideas about the visual elements of the show. We definitely don't have just lights. A lot of it is interactive and we change it up from tour to tour. We try things and see if it works or not.

You're always walking around on stage, moving a lot. Even though you play quite expensive instruments like PRS guitars
Jeff : The better part of an instrument, the more beating it's going to take. It's way better than the guitar I used to play in this band, and it's the guitar I played before joining the band. So to me it makes no difference. I'm lucky enough to get some free ones, so it would be a lot different story if I had to pay for each and every one of my broken guitars. But you can't let those things hold you back, money's just money.
Liam : You're not looking at it like it's a handful of money. It's just a piece of wood with strings on it. And it deserves the beating.

Ben you're also managing the band, which is very demanding time wise.
Ben : Everybody is putting a lot of effort in this band but I'm definitely working on the band all the time and I like it ! I like having my hands in it. We like being involved in every aspect of the band, I'm not sure if it's the best decision, there might be better options but for now it worked well. It's just a matter of finding people to work with you that have your best interests in mind, which is difficult. It's like any family. You can't really trust anybody, except your family.

Do you feel some kind of frustration when you spend a whole day managing your band instead of actually being creative ?
Ben : All the time I feel that way. That's the biggest negative point, not being as creative as I would like to be.
Liam : I can't speak for you but maybe you get onstage thinking "thank God at least I got to enjoy this part now".
Ben : But I naturally gravitated around that environment when I was growing up. I never cared about being the best guitar player in the world. I don't sit around playing guitar all day, I live a life and I do other things that inspire me to play. I don't sit around working on licks or learning other people's song all day. If I did that there would no be any Dillinger Escape Plan the way we know it.
Liam : It's better to be the most heared guitar player than the best guitar player.
Ben : I always wanted to have the best band, not being the best individual. So I always think holistically. And part of this band is being professional on your instrument. But it's not the only part.

In a recent interview Billy said that The Dillinger Escape Plan sounded better with him behind the kit. That's a young and confident drummer you have here.
Ben : Yeah he brought like a young excitement, a fresh excitement to this band. Not only he filled the shoes of a drummer he admired, but he took the band to a next level. So for us it's really exciting.


*Interview made in October of 2010

The Dillinger Escape Plan on Myspace
Crédit photo : Piet Goethals

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Publié le 26/12/2010 à 12:32
Édité le 26/12/2010 à 15:08

Top 10 de 2010 by Pierre

Promis, l'année prochaine je ferai le top 11 de 2011. A la bonne vôtre, digérez bien Noël et soyez en forme pour le 31. Skål !

1 Bring Me The Horizon - There is a hell, believe me I've seen it; there is a heaven let's keep it a secret
Jeunes, ils le sont. Mais les Anglais de Bring Me The Horizon ont une étonnante maturité, quitte a botter les fesses des fans de Slayer lors de l'édition anglaise du festival Sonishpere. Enregistré en Suède, l'album est un flot continu de riffs écrasants, servis par une production certes un peu too much, mais assumée comme telle. Outre manche, Bring Me The Horizon remplit des zéniths. Ce dernier album les amènera loin. Bien plus que beaucoup de critiques ne voudraient les voir évoluer.
Myspace Bring Me The Horizon

2 Deftones - Diamond eyes
Deftones signe un retour très attendu après l'accident de voiture de Chi, remplacé depuis par Sergio Vega (ex Quicksand). Diamond Eyes est l'un des albums les plus aboutis de la discographie de Deftones, avec peut-être l'exception de White Pony. A la fois incisif et mélodique, il met en valeur les côtés les plus métal de Stephen Carpenter et les côtés les plus pop de Chino Moreno. Un album qui fait l'unanimité.
Myspace Deftones

3 Kvelertak - Kvelertak
Poulain de l'écurie norvégienne Indie Recordings, Kvelertak sort un premier album complètement ravageur. Entre punk et black metal, sludge et hymnes épiques, le sextet s'affirme de plus en plus en dehors de sa patrie d'origine. En France, le groupe a notamment ouvert pour Converge. A surveiller de très près à l'avenir.
Myspace Kvelertak

4 Ihshan - After
Troisième volet de la trilogie débutée en 2006 avec The Adversary, After donne une grande leçon d'authenticité. Finalement très prog, cet album inclut même des traits de saxophone, prouvant l'ingéniosité de l'ancien leader d'Emperor. Ecrit chez lui en Norvège et mixé en Suède par Jens Borgen, After est un incontournable de l'année 2010. Un chef d'œuvre qui complète à merveille The Adversary et angL.
Myspace Ihsahn

5 Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare
La mort de Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan n'a pas arrêté le gang californien. C'est Mike Portnoy qui enregistrera l'album, suivant scrupuleusement les parties écrites par leur défunt batteur. Finement dosé entre un rock catchy schizophrène et des ballades envenimées, Nightmare est un meileur album que l'éponyme de 2007. Il met les californiens sur les rails pour devenir l'un des plus grands groupes.
Myspace Avenged Sevenfold

6 The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
Option Paralysis est loin d'être un autre album de The Dillinger Escape Plan. Pas de titres plus softs juxtaposés à des bâtons de dynamite, mais un album qui fait tour à tour appel à tous les aspects du groupe. Mais ne vous y trompez pas, l'écoute n'est pas plus facile pour autant. Très dense, Option Paralysis s'inquiète peu des convenances actuelles, une attitude punk extrêmement revendiquée depuis les débuts du groupe. Avec cette fois Billy Rymer derrière les fûts Option Paralysis est leur Mona Lisa à eux.
Myspace The Dillinger Escape Plan

7 Keep Of Kalessin - Reptilian
Obsidian C. est l'un des plus grands compositeurs de sa génération. Et même si Reptilian est un album qui est relativement sous-estimé, c'est l'un des plus beaux de l'année. Très ambiant, jouant de chœurs et de claviers pour créer une ambiance froide et atmosphérique tout en restant l'apôtre d'un black métal direct, Reptilian se joue de sa production en carton pâte pour faire voyager. Frissons garantis.
Myspace Keep Of Kalessin

8 Karnivool - Sound Awake
Karnivoll sort un peu de nul part. En fait, d'Australie. Après avoir joué sans succès avec le Néo métal, le groupe revient avec un album adulte, qui assume son côté prog. De bout en bout, Sound Awake explore par petites touches les claviers, les riffs imposants, les lignes de chant lyriques et les refrains lancinants. Un must.
Myspace Karnivool

9 Watain - Lawless Darkness
Le retour des vilains nordiques ! Lawless Darnkess réaffirme la singularité des Suédois : une violence détonnante éclaircie par des ambiances mélodiques et épiques. Les timbrés du nord, qui nourrissent de nombreux mythes, prouvent une nouvelle fois qu'ils sont très bons à ce qu'ils font.
Myspace Watain

10 Noïd - The Ever Expanding
Seul album français à se démarquer et coup de cœur personnel pour en avoir suivi les étapes de fabrication du début à la fin, The Ever Expanding donne une nouvelle mesure du quartet normand. Le meilleur est à venir, surveillez-les de près et soutenez-les !
Myspace Noïd

Ont loupé (de peu) le top 10 : Hewitt, Electric Wizard, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, The Eyes Of A Traitor, The Damned Things...


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Publié le 05/10/2010 à 15:44
Édité le 07/01/2011 à 17:08

Hewitt - Sacred Heart

French are often considered as over thinking people. Or dirty. And romantic. That's as far as it gets. Hewitt are most definitely a dirty band, but forget "over thinking" and "romantic". This is straight-in-your-face metal, something France didn't experience for quite a long time now. New metal just disappeared there and deathcore didn't hit the country yet (did it?). A little late on the trend, you'd say. Hewitt is probably a pretty good transition for anyone waiting for a rising deathcore band.

First album "Sacred Heart" digs into the roots of metal as well as in the latest subgenres like metalcore to create what is to be called a damn efficient album. The production is a little bit tight, especially on guitars, but as a whole, it sounds like a 10 tons hammer. One who listens won't feel that much ready for such a rush of heaviness, hooks, catchy choruses and a massive amount of screaming. The pace of the album is truly amazing; only one or two songs calm the rhythm the band took on this first musical journey. The thing is that there's no big surprise around the corner, but the structures of the songs go constantly from riff to riff, creating an homogeneous feeling, even though there's a lot going on under the surface. So brace yourself people, for Hewitt are a band to keep an eye on.

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Publié le 11/08/2010 à 13:11
Édité le 07/01/2011 à 17:10

Bring Me The Horizon - Suicide Season

It's been two years since Suicide Season is out, and Bring Me The Horizon have proven that they are worth the listen. Whatever the Brits look like, whatever annoying comments on how they're not metal have been made, Suicide Season is a straight answer to their detractors: BMTH are heavy as fuck.

The tunes are not as technical as on Count Your Blessings, but the guitar riffs, for they are much more like bass lines than powerchords, create a musical synergy that turns BMTH's deathcore into something easy to get to. There are still moments like "No need for introductions...", where you need to buckle up before getting slapped in the face by over a minute of grindcore and hooks, but the whole album contains a shitload of heavy and catchy riffs. Not to mention the downtuning, which gives enough depths for Oli Sykes to use a little more space on the vocals than previously. From screaming to growling, the singer enhanced his voice range, for the best.
"Chelsea smile", the longest song of the album, is probably the symbol of what BMTH intended to do on their second record. It combines powerful vocals, hooks, crushing riffs, an overwhelming break, and orchestrations on the bridge. Five minutes of pure adrenaline.
I personally can't get enough of Suicide Season. Probably the best way to grasp how metal is evolving around 2010.

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Publié le 08/07/2010 à 17:04
Édité le 08/07/2010 à 17:04

Noïd @ Mondo Bizarro

Fact : the Mondo Bizarro is quite an historical place. Fact : Noïd already played there more than a couple of times. So what then ? Well they did not just play as good as they usually do, they reached another level.

Big show are great, aren't they ? You stand in front of a PA of the size of a freaking building. You're at least 30 meters (yes, Canadian people, I'm on your side) away from the band. There's a big set up on stage, fireworks, big lights and everything. Question : would the band be as good if there was not all this halo of entertainment ? Hmm ?

Well, if you have to figure whether a band is good or not, get yourself in the position of watching the aforementioned band in a club. And you'll witness. Late June was the occasion for me to see if Noïd were growing or not. And they are.

In such a club where there's no light show, little room to fool around, and where you need to survive the heat, Noïd made quite a good impression. The new songs are stunning, going from quiet to intense, from anger to softness. And if it's not some kind of Dillinger Escape Plan show up there, the fact that the four of them play and sing doesn't low the quality of the show. It was a "finished already ?" type of gig, an hour of pure energy. The kind of show where you go to the bar afterwards with a big smile on your face.

So yes, Noïd finally made it to a new level, probably thanks to extended rehearsals in march. And it's about time ! They deserve it.


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Publié le 16/04/2010 à 14:05
Édité le 16/04/2010 à 14:05

Lamb Of God en interview - Making Of

Making of

Cette interview, c'est deux billets de train Rennes-Paris, cinq heures de préparation et des cours à présence obligatoire loupés. Tous les membres de W-Fenec ont des activités professionnelles (ou étudiantes pour ma part) et c'est parfois difficile de conjuguer les deux. Mais rencontrer quelqu'un comme John Campbell ne se refuse pas, surtout quand un label comme Roadrunner pense aux webzines et a compris que la promotion de leurs groupes passe aussi par ce réseau.

S'il y a une règle à connaître quand on a affaire à des artistes, c'est qu'ils sont la plupart du temps en retard. Il a donc fallu prendre son mal en patience sur les canapés en cuir blanc (!) des bureaux de Roadrunner. Tous les journalistes espèrent que l'imprévu se mêlera à l'entretien, il n'y a rien de plus chiant que de se retrouver avec une interview que tous les autres auront. L'imprévu étant ici le moment où John aborde le départ en pleine tournée d'Howard Jones, chanteur de Killswitch Engage. Toute la préparation de l'interview consiste donc à être capable de rebondir sur n'importe quel sujet et à s'adapter à n'importe quoi : artiste remplacé à la dernière minute par un autre, temps écourté, artiste complètement ennuyé par le simple fait d'aligner une réponse etc.

«Tu sais ce qui serait bien là ?», demande-t-il une fois les présentations faites. «Whisky ?». «Ah non, ce sera juste avant le concert. T'aurais pas un joint à dépanner ?». Dommage. L'interview est vivante, John est très «gestuel», mime beaucoup de choses (ce qui ne rend pas facile la traduction à l'écrit).

L'interview se termine. Le temps des photos. Exercice particulier. J'ai pour habitude de commencer par là, ça détend l'atmosphère. Mais là, oubli complet. Fin de l'interview donc, John me demande où il peut trouver les meilleurs falafels (l'échoppe à côté du Roi du Falafel dans le Marais non?), je manque de ne pas pouvoir l'aider. Avant que je lui demande encore une minute pour faire quelques clichés : «fuck that, let's take a picture together. We'll ask the lovely girls of the office». Et voilà l'histoire. Humain le bougre.

Plus de dix heures de travail ont été nécessaires pour traduire, écrire, mettre en forme, relire cette interview. C'est le prix d'une certaine qualité de contenu, même si on peut toujours faire mieux. Et parfois deux mois s'écoulent entre l'interview à proprement parlé et la mise en ligne. La faute aux études.

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Publié le 15/04/2010 à 16:24
Édité le 07/01/2011 à 17:23

John Campbell's interview - Original version, uncut.

Lamb Of God were in Paris in February, ready to crush the Bataclan. , The band got bigger (again), with Wrath, out months before, hitting #2 at the top 200 Billboard. In the Roadrunner french office, there's a lot of press. So here I was, sitting on a white leather couch (!), waiting for my turn to chat with John Campbell.

On Wrath, once again, you did not chose a metal producer...

Not a typical metal producer, no. His name is Josh Wilbur. We've worked with him before. He was mixing on some live stuff, he actually did some studio engineering on Sacrament. We knew that he was very capable and that he would get along with with the band. And when it came time to start these discussions, he immediately said : "you guys already have some songs written, why don't I come down, totally free of charge, to do pre-production on five songs, and if you want to use me after that, great, if not, I'd understand". That's what he did and it worked great.

Did you chose him on purpose ?

Yes because if we'd used a typical producer, we would sound like everyone else. And we don't want to sound like everybody else. I think it helps to have a definitive sound, to not do what everybody does, basically.

Is it some kind of way to keep control upon the outcome ?

No because I think that any producer who's going to work with us is going to have... Let's say that we would not be an easy band to work with (laughs). We're very thick headed and it wasn't until we started work with Machine (on Ahses of the wake) that we let a producer come in and help us write. Anyone before that, there's no fucking way we would let them, their opinion didn't matter. So we continued that process with Machine and with Josh also.
We are a band that has actually controlled a record label, and I speak of Sony and Epic. We're new ones on Roadrunner, and thank God we are on a label that knows something about fucking metal. They respect us as artists and don't interfere with our work.

Sacrament could have been considered like a lucky shot at the time. Is Wrath a way to prove that it actually was not ?

I think each and every record dumps the previous, I think we put out the absolute best thing at the time. And that we learnt from the mistakes that we made. From the very beginning of this band in 1994, our goal was just to do better than we did before. I guess it gets more difficult as the records get better and better.
If you take all of our records in chronology, each one makes sense, you can hear where we got better. Better song writing, better producing, better performing. I think it's been that way from the beginning, so I agree yes but it's even bigger than between those two records.

Wrath made it #2 on the Billboard. That's pretty big.

But the music industry has changed dramatically. That is great and awesome, we would be on the top 200 I'm sure, but we wouldn't hit number 2 if people were buying records like they bought pre-Internet. I don't know if we would have been as highly placed. I think we still would have sold more records than we have before, and commercially been a success and continue to build because what we sold was a great number for us. But number 2 used to be up here (miming) and now it's down here (miming).

Do you consider that Lamb Of God is an established metal act ?

I don't think I can deny it anymore, I think we are actually an established metal act.

Feels good ?

Strange, man. I mean, we're friends who drank beer and were like "hey man let's do some fucking heavy metal. Tu tu tu tu.. (air bass playing). Oh let's play at this party it's gonna be great". We've been doing this to have a good time, sitting drinking constantly and playing music.

Who doesn't like LOG ? There's kind of a consensus around you. `

I think it's partly because we're nice guys and that we toured with almost every metal band known out there. And a bunch of bands that you never heard of. We're not trying to piss people off, we're there to play some music and have a great time. If you're into that, come the fuck on ! The headliner in some tours would say "you have to sell your t-shirts at the same price that we sell our t-shirts. And our t-shirts, well they're going to be 45 bucks". We don't do that. I don't think there's any rivalry amongst the bands except friendly rivalry. But I think there are bands who still sell more than we do (showing a Killswitch Engage record).

The singer just left the south-american tour, any idea on what could have caused his departure ?

There could have been circumstances, which could have been physical with himself. We've been on tour with people who had to drop off. I will not go into too much detail, but severe family problems like they are the only person who someone would listen to back home. Practically with a gun to their head. Shit like that happens.
You don't get any sick days in rock'n'roll, you can't call and say "oh, hey I'm not feeling too good", this kind of comedy. If somebody disappears like that, something very fucking serious is going on.

You actually turned Metallica down when they offered you the opportunity to tour with them, because of the recording process. How did you deal with this ?

It sucked that this opportunity came. We already planned the recording sessions and here comes this great opportunity that says "do this instead". We did what we had to do. And it was not the best thing to do to turn Metallica down for a fucking tour (laughs). But thankfully things worked out as they needed to and we eventually toured with them for four months.
It wasn't an easy decision but once the decision was made it was easy to go on. We needed to have the record written, rehearsed, recorded, released. There is the business aspect of things. That is like setting a bunch of dominos. And in the middle of it you've got this call and you are like "Ah, fuck, I'll be ready in, like, four months".

Chris Adler emphasised on how touring with Metallica was a learning experience.

Every tour that we've done, we learnt something, from the very beginning to where we are now. What we would have learn from the Metallica guys is that regardless of where they are and the levels they have achieved, they're still a class act. They are definitely incredibly nice down to earth dudes, who take time out of their day to come to their opening band and say "hey buddy how are you doing ? Oh you want to grab some drinks later ? Because I think we're gonna all get dinner and drinks after the show tonight. Here's the address, just show up". They are completely awesome friendly dudes. Pretty nuts. It may not be specific lessons learned, just watching how they organise their day to day life.

And once again you brought Gojira on tour with you, and Metallica. You two bands are linked somehow.

I think Chris Adler has a lot to do with getting Gojira noticed by American record labels. I don't think very many metal bands get a lot of exposure in France. French metal bands probably have to go be successful somewhere else before. And I think that Chris Adler specifically was very instrumentally making that happen. And we took them out on tour, playing very large places, so we got them a great audience to play in front of. And we did this knowing that they are a great band, that they are going to succeed, and that they are there for the same thing as us : to play ridiculously amazing music and have a great time.

Do you feel that it is because of LOG that Gojira's known now ?

Not at all. We gave them an opportunity, that's all we gave them. And they did what they did. Because they are great.

Lamb Of God is surrounded by a halo of bad luck as far as touring goes. Does it get better ?

Not really (laughs). And who knows what's gonna happen next. Shit gets lost flying. All of a sudden here you're in Italy and you don't have a fucking bass to play. Shit like that would happen. It doesn't matter if you're in Europe, it doesn't matter where you are. The only thing you can do is to prepare to do whatever you can. Being resourceful helps for sure in this job.

How hard is it to be a professional touring musician those days ?

It is difficult. But how hard is it to wake up in the morning and commute through shitty traffic to a shitty job, where you really don't give a fuck about what you're doing at a desk, pushing the pencil around, get back in your car, commute back to your home. It's a difficult life but it's a fucking great job. The opportunities that we have are amazing. We make a lot of sacrifices, being away from family and friends. But we'll tour this year in new countries like China, Singapore, Malaysia... so there will be difficulties surrounding, but that's pretty fucking cool. And plus in my job when I do well people scream to me, clap, and show their titties, it's great.

Do you make a better living since the incredible commercial success of the band ?

The record sales do not relate to the artist getting paid. A record company gives you an advance, let's say a nice way to get a loan, to record. A percentage of each cd sold is going back to that loan. All it means is that money gets paid back. What I do for a living, which is touring and selling merchandising is the way the band makes money in these days. And I'm not trying to hide the fact that I do well.

Our colleagues from Metal Hammer started a campaign for metal to be officially recognized as a religion in the 2010 census. Your opinion on that ?

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. But maybe you're not asking the right person because I think that religion is the root of all evil. And all religions should be illegal. So in my opinion that's a terrible idea. It's completely nonsense. There are hungry people in the world. Don't waste your time making metal religion and do something that helps somebody.

Thanks to John, and Christine from Roadrunner.

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Publié le 11/11/2009 à 17:02
Édité le 11/11/2009 à 17:02

Porcupine Tree Interview - Richard Barbieri - English version

Porcupine Tree was in Paris on the 13th of October. As a fan, I couldn't miss the occasion to chat with Richard Barbieri (keyboards) about the new Porcupine Tree album.

Hello Richard ! How is it going ?
It's going well, we just finished soundcheck. The previous shows have been amazing, it's sold out everywhere, it couldn't be better ! We're very excited about tonight, it is really a fantastic venue. We played here once before, I think we didn't sell out but tonight's different. It's a beautiful historical place to play.

Robert Fripp (King Crimson) is going to play tonight. It's kind of an event !
Yes it is, it is ! I hope that the audience will appreciate because they usually talk over his music.

You two bands did collaborate before, did you prepare anything special for this concert ?

Yes we have but no, we don't play on each other's material on a live show. Just having Robert here is very special. He's definitively an influence for Steven, who is a big fan of King Crimson. For me he is an influence for the other music that he played on, like David Bowie. I don't know too much about King Crimson.

The Incident, your latest album, came out recently.
And we are very proud of it ! I think it's a very challenging piece of music, not easy for people to get into it. It is very experimental. But playing it live is really enjoyable, there are many dynamic changes. It's a beautiful piece to play.

This is a 55 minutes piece of music, it might be quite challenging to play live !
It's difficult, it involves a lot of concentration, but we rehearsed it.

How long did you rehearse?
Only five or six days. A lot of bands rehearse for weeks. But we rehearse at home first, so most of the work is done when we start the rehearsals.

What kind of approach did you develop for the recording of The Incident ?
There are two kind of writing process. Most of the material is written by Steven, and he brings it to the band. Then we arrange it, play on it. But we also spend some time as a band, in the studio, and write material. It seems we found a balance between the two. Usually, it ends up with two thirds of Steven's material and one third of the band's.

I heard that Steven wrote pretty much everything before starting the group sessions, is that correct ?
He wrote pretty much all of The Incident track, yes. But there is another disc on the album which comes from the band sessions. And there are two or three pieces within The Incident comes from the band session as well.

Did he arrive to the group sessions saying "well guys, here's my 55 minutes song" ?
Well he did, and then we change it around a lot. We've completed the song with something else.

The Incident is a whole song, but separated into 14 tracks...
Yes, there is a lot of tracks, but it's not the way we recorded it. We actually separated the all song into five sections, with all the same tempo, the same type of key. But not every track is a song. It's quite funny because you think some tracks would develop in songs but then they stop (laughs). It's quite weird, because it's not expected. When I first listened to it I thought it was really challenging, and that's why I found it interesting as well. You can find a beautiful chorus and want it to last longer, but it's gone (laughs) !

Why 14 tracks then ?
That's a question you have to ask Steven at some point. I really don't why this separation is like that. There is probably a different concept and so on. But I can understand. It's quite possibly lyrical. But the interesting thing is that it doesn't follow some kind of a plan. There are some strong ups and downs, it's soft and hard, there are some melodic moments. Very interesting to play live indeed.

On the second disc, we find one of your song, Black Dahlia.
Yes I wrote the music. I had that piece written already and I brought it to the group sessions. We started to play on it, we added an extra chorus. But it pretty much stayed the same. Steven came back one hour later and he had the lyrics. You see, when we're working in the studio, we would be in different rooms sometimes, somebody would come with something, then somebody leaves to work on his own and comes back with new material, it's a very intense process.

Would you say that the solo album of Steven influenced in a way The Incident ?
Honestly I think no. I mean he would probably say yes. But to me The Incident is 100% Porcupine Tree. It sounds like the best f Porcupine Tree. There is a little a bit of all the albums we made. His solo album sounded a lot more different, different styles, and more experimental properly.

What's your view on synths within Porcupine Tree ? Do you build some kind of a base for guitars, or layers ?
Well it's a very difficult question. With synths you can perform any kind of function. With the guitar, drums, or bass, you know what sounds like, you know the limit of the range of the instrument. With synths you can play lower than the bass and higher than the range of a cymbal. You can play melodic sounds, strange sounds. So to me the possibilities are much more than if you had one instrument obviously. What I try to do is to find the right approach of the space, some times it doesn't need keyboards, then I won't play, but my role is about textures and the ambience.

So you would not consider yourself as a virtuous keyboardist like Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) can be ?
Oh no ! I'm the complete opposite (laughs) ! I don't want to play fast, and I'm glad I can't. You see, there is no reason to play fast (laughs) ! If you play something really fast on the keyboard, the sound has to be very very normal, so that you can hear the repetition of notes. So what I do when I work with synths is not to play one hundred notes but the right note at the right moment, with the right sound.

Pretty much all the previous concerts, included the one tonight, are sold-out. How do you welcome this commercial success ?
It's fantastic ! You know we've been worked a long time, and did a lot of touring. Things seem to change quite a lot. I don't why, I really don't know why. People certainly believe that we believe in our music and that we're not trying to be commercial, to please anyone. Maybe that's because people like it, I don't know.

It seems that more and more young people are into Porcupine Tree, which is not the kind of music you expect young people to listen to.
Yeah, it's really amazing. The young would rather listen to Muse, even if they are pretty progressive. Or Radiohead. It's possibly because they see us a little bit cool (laughs) !

The new website of the band features a tour photo blog, is some kind of a way to enable the fans to go backstage ?
Yes we have some help to run the website, because we don't really try to do much. We're kind of lazy with things like that. But the new website is a lot better. There is more pictures, more talk, more news, gossips. Once in a while a great shoot is posted online, and that's a very good way to keep the fans in touch with us.

I heard that a live dvd will come soon ?
Yes in spring, march or april. It looks fantastic, it's really high quality. It's like 16 camera shoots and it sounds really good. It will be a complete document on the Fear of a blank planet tour. It's taken from two concerts, in Holland. It's once again a really beautiful object.

Well, thank you for your time Richard !
You're welcome, it was a pleasure !

Huge thanks to Christine of Roadrunner Records, and Oli.

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Publié le 02/09/2009 à 22:17
Édité le 02/09/2009 à 22:17

Interview of Thomas Eriksen, English version

Evrything started when I saw "Metal : A Headbanger's Journey", this truly amazing documentary on metal directed by Sam Dunn. And Thomas Eriksen happened to be one of the people interviewed about Norwegian black metal. A couple of e-mails later, I was in his office, getting some insights about Norway and the black metal scene.

How could you describe the Norwegian society in a few words ?

It's a society full of contradictions because on the one hand you have some very strong ideas about history, which come from rural society in the 19th century, but also from the Vikings. On the other hand, Norway is part of globalisation and has been influenced by a lot of impulses from everywhere. Like every other European society, we live with these contradictions. So people try to find a way between, we might say, change and continuity, or past and future. And it has a True Norwegian Black Metal - Photograph by Peter Bestestrong romantic nationalism, which is very different from the French one and the idea of the republic. It has a very historically rooted national identity, which makes very difficult for Norway to adapt to the present age. There is still a lot of resistance in Norway against the European Union, one of the only European country who doesn't see the point of joining the European Union because of the fear of loosing its independence. As opposed to Sweden and Denmark, which are two of the oldest states in Europe and go back to middle ages, Norway is one of the youngestIt only became independent in 1905, and only a generation from that, the country was occupied by the Germans. So there is a very strong sense of vulnerability. And you can attach this to black metal and its very specific sense of uniqueness and nature worship.

Most of the metal music is about rejecting society, its rules and pressures. When it comes to black metal, musicians tend to express a sort of proud, of nature or history.

It's very strange indeed. I haven't followed that scene very closely but in periods the black metal community was very opposed to Christianity, which symbolises the mainstream in Norwegian culture. You see these extremely pale people with long died hair, dressed in black clothes. And you see those people skiing outside the city, which is very unusual.

What was the ambiance in the late 1990' in Norway ?

I'm not sure if you can explain that by looking at society as such, because it was pretty much the same as everywhere in the world, in western world anyway, with discussion about multiculturalism coming up in a big way and an increase level of legalisation and nationalism.
Back in 1994 it was the Olympic Games, which was in Norway a celebration of nationalism, in a big way. A total misunderstanding of what the Olympics were supposed to be about. They thought it was about celebrating their own country, not about the idea of dialogue between cultures. During the same year, there was a referendum about membership in European Union, so nationalism exploded, in a very frightening way in my opinion.
Regarding the black metal people, there was violence, church burnings, murders, people got killed, others went to jail and so on. I think they saw themselves as a counterculture, a more authentic counterculture, reacting to the decadence and the superficial aspect of Norwegian society.

At that time, there have been trials. One of the most famous is the one of Varg Vikernes. During the all process of justice, do you think that the music, and not only the music, was condemned ?

I think the music played a part here. It's difficult to say exactly what part, but it played a role. There was an association between violent music and violent people. This music was considered as the expression of the brutality of people. But on the other hand some would come out with the idea that people involved in violence weren't able to distinguish between the play acting side of black metal, the Alice Cooper dimension of the music, and reality. Forgetting that you're actually playing a part, a role, as in a theatre, where you could express some of your suppressed emotion. That's the way we use art in western societies. And to most black metal fans that's perfectly something that you can distinguish, between the kind of emotions you can get at a concert, and the way you behave at home. But not for everybody. But the music was clearly part of the general attitude, that this was a dangerous music.

So yes, the music was condemned. I'll tell you something : I sometimes speak with people in the foreign affair ministry, and they're interested in what anthropologists think of Norway's image abroad, how can we improve Norway's reputation in other countries. Whenever I got the chance I tell them : what is the major export of Norwegian culture ? It's not Ibsen, it's not folklore, you know this kind of ridiculous romantic stuff, but it's black metal. Which makes some young people in Italy taking Norwegian at University, in order to be able to understand the lyrics and so on. But that kind of message doesn't go down well, it's not seen as part of the official Norwegian culture. So that's an ambivalence, despite of the fact that some of these bands are really quite famous outside of Norway. Which doesn't really exist here you know, there aren't any Norwegian popstars. It's not like Sweden, which produces popstars al the time.

What is the place of Christianity in the Norwegian society ?

Norway is a very secular country. But 25 years ago, on the Friday of Easter, which was the most sacred of all days, it was illegal to serve alcohol, and it was not allowed to dance. So we still have the notion of the religious origin of Easter. But that's not the way to celebrate now. I go up to the mountains every Easter with my family and there's dancing music, True Norwegian Black Metal - Photograph by Peter Bestehard liquor all around. So I see your point, this is quite secularized. It could a cause of some sort of crisis of identity among black metal people, because they build their identity very much on opposition of Christianity. But when Christianity is no longer making itself followed in the big way, it becomes hard for them because, where is the enemy ? And Christianity has become very welted out. There's a state church which is Lutherans, barely Christian.
So it must be difficult for them. And when they started to burn down churches, it was kind of a self contradicted thing to do, because those people were committed to a certain idea of Viking pride and Norwegian history, and in some case it's blood and race, about the purity and the Arian blood, and that sort of thing. But these churches are the symbol of Norway glorious past, they don't really represent Christianity anymore, they represent a proud part of history.

Do you mean that Norwegian only adopted the symbols of Christianity ?

No, Christianity was powerful and people were Christian. And there are still pockets of fundamentalist Christianity around, especially along the coast. Really old fashion people, who don't even have TV. They are like fundamentalist Muslims. And they are obsessed with sex. That's a problem with Christians and Muslims, they can't think of anything but sex, and how to prevent people from having sex. So you have that as well. But it's a cultural minority, you don't find those people in the cities, Oslo, Bergen and so on. Faithful Christians have become a cultural minority. For example, the Great Cathedral in Trondheim which was also a symbol of the grandeur of the past, is considered as a cultural symbol, not a religious one.
Secularization happened very fast since the end of World War 2. Christianity was still quite powerful in the 50' and 60'. I went to school in the 70', and you had this sort of preaching. We were supposed to be Lutheran Christians. This changed around the late 1980', where that kind of thing became impossible because of an ethnic minority who was not Christian and because a large number of Norwegians didn't actually care about religion.

In what extent the Norwegian press played a role during the late 1990', about black metal and satanism ?

Around Satanism, black metal and so on there was some kind of moral panic, which was quite amusing because there was two places in the world where you have these ideas about Satanism and there were rumours about sacrificed babies, of courses associated with black metal or death metal. But there was no evidence anywhere, no baby missing. This idea of bloody pagan rituals, associated with a subculture, created a moral panic, but totally undocumented. And that kind of moral panic lasted for a couple of years and then disappeared because there was no substance to it.

Did the tabloids build up the opinion ?

Absolutely. France is such a civilized country compared to that : France Soir is not like that. We have kind of the same thing like The Sun or The Daily Miror, a sensationalist press. They played an important part in building this opinion, but the speed of the information is quite fast. And a lot of Norwegians hardly remember the obsession with Satanism and black metal of the 1990'.

Take a random Norwegian person. What would be his or her reaction to black metal now ?

That's an interesting question. You know I play in a band, we play soul music in a big band. And we have a rehearse room in a building where there are several bands, most of them are probably 30 years younger than us. And most of them play some kind of extreme hard rock, or death metal, or something like that. So we hear them, they play very loud, they scream. Sometimes I talk to them when we meet in the corridors. I use to joke and say : "so you're going to burn churches ? ". And they answer : "no we play in churches we are Christians". So you have also that kind of attitude. But for an average person, black metal would seem very aggressive at once.

Would they feel this aggressive music as an aggression ?

No, probably not. You know there was a TV comedian who made fun of these people in the 1990', a character called the Baron Blood, with a lot of make up and so on. And he said like "you know, I am some times afraid of looking to myself in a mirror because I get scared". You have also that kind of cartoon attitude. And it's certainly why most people see black metal as largely harmless now, that it's a musical subculture.
And if you take a look at this sociologically, it's very interesting to see. I have a colleague, who's much more knowledgeable than me, he's also a musician and an anthropologist. He studied the eastern part of Oslo, the place where you find working classes, and there were quite a few people into black metal in the 1990. And he said that these people were the smartest kids, the brightest kids. But with a very strong need to rebel. But what do you rebel against in this permissive liberal society ? That's a problem. So maybe a generation ago, they would have become hippies, Maoists. And 10 years later they might have become punks and so on. But the only sort of niche that was open to them, which have not been occupied by the big brotVarg VIkernes, late 1990s.hers and the parents before, was Satanism and black metal. So that's how they found this subculture identity.

Do you think that a Christian black metal band is a contradiction in itself ?

You know as Christian people always use to say, "we mustn't let the devil have all the good music". So that was the justification for Christian rock. Because rock was a sort of sexual music, a dangerous thing for Christians. But then they realised that if you want to appeal to young people you need that. So yes Christian rock in a sense is a contradiction because Christians are really afraid of sexuality. And even with death metal. If you look at the history of the genre, you'll find some strong ideologies, antichristian really often. And the symbolism is also very strong, through album covers but also through band names. . But that's the way of postmodernism anyway.
But then again, it's mostly like jazz, which was associated with black culture. But there was a lot of white jazz too, and probably with racists musicians at the time. In this kind of society there is a lot of mixtures which are possible. Very surprising things which are possible. Muslims into black metal, I'm sure it exists too.

Now that black metal is represented at the equivalent of the Grammy Awards here in Norway, do you think that black metal lost its ability to shock?

No, I think they are quite good in this county at keeping a subculture image, in fact a bit too good some times. Because most of ordinary Norwegians are hardly aware of the existence of this scene. There is a sort of gothic, dark sub-genre of rock music which is highly accomplished at a technical level. I mean listen to the albums, these musicians are truly incredible ! And it's not very well known. It's a subculture, and one of the most bounded one.

Do you think that Norwegian Black Metal would have been so famous if there was not all that violence ?

It's a very interesting question. A sort of thesis question (laughs). I don't think that they saw it that way at the moment, because some of them were truly dedicated to evil, or what they saw as evil. I'm not a specialist but I can tell that some of these bands are very good, but there is something very unpleasant. This sort of Germanic ideology, not necessarily explicit.

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Publié le 28/06/2009 à 17:38
Édité le 28/06/2009 à 17:38

Fieldy's Interview

Fieldy I've read your book from the first to last page. Can you describe to me the writing process, how you've been collecting memories?
We've been through a lot of my past, and it's not easy because I tried to remember and It took a lot of work, almost a year and a half. I didn't want to do it because it was so much work, digging and digging, even dig up tour books and all the dates and the stories. Digging up photos. It was a lot work.

Was it a painful process?
Not painful but it was kind of sad to look at how I destroyed some friendships. And sometimes friendships don't repair. Some people that used to be my friends are not my friends anymore, because of what I've done. Some people built up walls. And you know if you spend 20 years building a wall, it's gonna take another 20 to turn it down, you can't just do it overnight.

Are you prepared to spend 20 years to destroy that wall?
Yeah I'm bringing it down. But you know it just takes patience. It's only been three or four years, so it's gonna take some time. Whether it doesn't work good, as far as walls are not turning down, I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Was it important for you to wait for your book to be out for your bandmates to read the letters you've written to them?
I don't think it's important, regarding what I wanted to do. It didn't matter if it wasn't in a book, I could have put it out on anything, internet, whatever. It's just the way I wanted to do it in my heart. And that's what I did. There's nothing wrong about sharing some love.

You've been experiencing some strong changes on a personal level. What was the reaction of your friends and family?
Some people are quicker forgivers than others, so everybody was different, and still is. It's still a working progress. And it just takes time. For example my wife is a forgiving person. She was quick to forgive and it's not the same with everybody that I know.

Why did you choose to work again with Ross Robinson for the upcoming album?
I think we've been doing this for at least 16 years, if not more with demos we've done before KoRn. And working with Ross, it's about 18 years. So now that we're older it almost felt like we're teenagers in a garage again, go back and being raw. We're not recording but we still do preproduction in a garage. We're old but young kids again. And having Ross it's like a family reunion. It feels like we're back in the day.

Is it something you wanted, going to a raw kind of sound?
Yeah! I mean, the drums aren't mic dubbed, me and munky are playing on two little practice amps, and it almost feels like, you know, when we first started up. That's all we really have. But now that we've done all that with the big recording it's just to go back and strip everything down like we were starting out a band in a garage.

You're touring in the middle of the recording process...
We were home for almost a year, it was just to get out of that you know, out of the routine and come clear our heads. It's almost like a vacation to be right here. We have almost a month left and we're going back in the studio, and we'll be ready.

Do you still consider KoRn as a New Metal Band?Fieldy - Bataclan
We never fitted with any title as long as we've been around, but I'm comfortable with the name New Metal. I don't really care because it seems to be the closest. I'm cool with that. I don't care.
You know we've been on a tour in 1999 called "rock is dead". People have been saying that rock is dead, metal is dead. but here we are still playing huge crowds! How can it be dead when you play in front of 80,000 people like we did last week? It was metal you know.

Your life change seemed to turn you in a more calm and peaceful person. But on stage, you rock it. Where does the rage come from now?
(Laughs) You know we go on stage and I hear that music that makes do me what I do. I'm just true to the way I feel, I can't help it. We play a kind of aggressive music you know and I like to go crazy on stage playing KoRn music. Other people may be different, I just can't help it.

In your book you describe touring with KoRn as a moment when there is no communication within the band, not even before the shows. How's it now?
It's a lot different today, I mean when we hang out we hang out in dressing room a little bit. We probably get along better today than we ever have in our all music career. Like we're happy to see each other when we get to hang out, when I'm not doing interviews (he stares at me).

You're working on a song to gather money and help Chi's family. Tell me a bit about this project.
Yeah I'm putting together a song and we're gonna give all the money to his family. I have a bunch of musicians involved with it. Ray from Korn, me on bass and Jim Root from Slipknot on one part of the song. And on the other part of the song I have Clint Larry from Sevendust. Tomorrow I should have Morgan from Sevendust, Munky, the drummer from Disurbed. There is Dave from Machine Head too. There'll be more and more, and I'm gonna finish the song by the end of the month.

How did you met Chi?
Back in the early day, we both had demos out, and we've been doing shows in small clubs in Sacramento. We heard about this band and we really liked it. We met and we all became good friends. We started to play shows together, and since this day we've been tight.

Was it worthy on a personal level to put this book?
You know the hardest part was not to put out a book but not to write another one. Because I'm not there in my life anymore where I was when I put that book out. I wanted to keep going because I kept going through new seasons in my life. So it's like you want to do another one to tell who you are in this part of my life, how you handle this or that. I started to write a little bit and I'm taking a break right now, because I'm writing music. I'm actually working on a bass album, it's gonna be instrumental, jazz soul and funk. That should be done in like two weeks.

Huge thanks to Sébastien Paquet, Oli.


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