Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with We Insist!

Straight outta' Paris, France comes one of the most unique and invigorating bands to happen upon the Ripple offices in some time. Combining rock with punk, a little alt this with a little metal that, throw in some jazz and you have the avant sounds of We Insist! Cozy on the red leather couch, Etienne Gaillochet, drummer and lead vocalist for the band, has been kind enough to join us and talk about the art of making music.

First off, I have to say that Oh! Things Are So Corruptible is one of those albums that has grown on me with every subsequent listen. It’s a remarkable and varied musical endeavor. How did you go about putting together such a musical odyssey?
I don't know. It's long story. We all come from very different backgrounds and we've been playing together for almost 14 years now. We discovered very slowly that our band could have its own personality.
And, we've been working at it. I guess something has happened, that's how we are, it's a lot of work and a bit of luck.

In recent months, I’ve noticed that France has become a breeding ground for some of the most head turning and experimental music. It doesn’t seem to matter if the music is metal, alt-rock, pop, or whatever, the French have cornered the market on creating music from a different mindset than the rest of the world. Have you noticed a difference in the way music is created in your homeland versus the rest of the world? Is there something in the water that makes the French musicians more willing to take chances and try something different?

No, I do not see anything like this in France. Germany is just as good. There's a lot of very intersting bands in Italy, too. I agree that there are many good bands these days (in Nantes or Lyon) but I would say that the crash of the music business and the explosion of internet have created a new generation and new ways of making music. Most of the bands I know record and play live for music's sake. I think young rock or indie bands don't worry about the market anymore, they make music. They never know how many records they're gonna sell. We're in very thriving period.

How do you approach songwriting to make your music so left of center?

We always want to surprise ourselves. We're taking our first ideas of riffs or song, and we bend or twist them for a month in rehearsal to make them the way we like them to be, we add some complimentary guitar lines, try not too fall into the easy vocal line that the riff could be asking for. For example, rhythm-wise we try to make a 4/4 not sound like a 4/4 or a weird time signature sound like a very simple thing. Same with harmony...

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

Too difficult of a question. I'd love to answer it but we've been trying for years now, unsuccessfuly. It's rock the way we want it to be, or the way we've taught ourselves how to do it.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

A good sound, good songs, action on stage, energy, power, like everyone else, we're doing it our way and try to be ourselves as much as it is possible in public.

I'd also say that as overloaded as our stuff can be for a first time listener, we always try hard to keep it understandable. There has to be a good balance in the structure of a song and a melody. We don't run away from hooks. We don't break EVERY groove, our music just has to be constantly moving.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

As I said before we're doing it for music's sake. I could be a bit more honest...

After all these years, we managed to stay together and have our name out somehow. Some people know us and think our music is interesting and it's good. The best reward would be to keep growing and to become one of those bands that lasts forever and still has something to say on stage or in the studio (musicaly speaking of course). Yes, this brutal business is really hard. But hey... We're still there and we have a beautiful new album done, ready to be released. It's called The Babel Inside Was Terrible

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

No idea... Hope it'll be better than it is today.

Do you pattern any of your writing style after that of your "heroes?"

No not at all. We run away from them. Kill the fathers.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, and Simon & Garfunkle, the first time I ever hear Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.What have been your musical epiphany moments?

God this is so hard. And so different for everyone of us.
You mentioned Simon & Garf in fact we've been listening to the Live at Central Park loud as hell in the van during our last tour in Germany and with so much pleasure. No one of our freind on tour with us expected to listen to this shit.

If I have to name two band in the past few years : I'd say Medication (of Devin Ocampo) has been something very important to me, for many musical reasons, especially the drumming and the song writting. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum as well seemed to be something I was waiting for when I first heard it.

We, at The Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to visit?

Souffle Continu 20/22 rue Gerbier 75011 Paris
& Gibert Joseph which is a much bigger but also a very good record store in Paris.

Are there any words of wisdom that you’d like to pass on to the Waveriders?

To speak with someone esle's words "Information is not knowledge, Knowledge is not wisdom, Wisdom is not truth, Truth is not beauty, Beauty is not love, Love is not music, Music is the best."

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