Hacride interview (02/2010)
|With:||Adrien Grousset & Benoist Danneville|
Hacride is a French band that definitely deserves attention. Their last album, Lazarus is a deep and powerful journey. This metal evening at The Bikini was the perfect occasion to learn a bit more about the members. I hope you'll enjoy the honesty and sympathy of the composer/guitarist Adrien and the bassist Ben. Let's travel a little with them…
When you started with the band, did you have a very set image of what you wanted to do with Hacride? Because you all had other musical projects, so how did you meet each other, and decide to start a band…did you know exactly what you wanted to do?
Adrien: Not really…we had a lot of different influences. Like you said, we were in others bands. Olivier (the drummer) and I were into neo and thrash metal. He had a little more experience because he was in a black metal band, and did studio. Sam was and still is in a band that changed its name, it's called Scar. Then we all met together
Ben: In fact, we had friends in common, we were partying together…and we found it interesting to gather ourselves and see what would happen.
Talking about those influences…when you began with Hacride, you wanted to do something completely new I guess?
Adrien: Yes. In fact, we wanted to do something different than everything else we already made. We didn't want to do the same thing obviously. I think that every band want to do so. Then, there wasn't a main purpose, it went step by step.
With the chemistry between the four of you?
Yes that's it.
In your opinion, are there some particular difficulties to form a metal band here in France? Do you think you made through more barriers?
Sam: You know, we all are metal fans. We didn't say to ourselves that it's hard to form a metal band. We wanted to fight in a certain way, to become important from the beginning. We always tried to do it well, peacefully, to do it for the music, and for us. It was important for us to like what we were doing, and to propose something new, if we can call that new…to push things forward at our level.
Adrien: But it's true that to have a metal band in France isn't the best thing you can wish! France isn't a rock country..we know that because we tour a lot in Europe and we can see that it's easier outside. We tour as much abroad as in France. Here it's still something quite denigrated, devalued, and finally demeaning. It's clearly not simple. French bands have to make more efforts.
Sam: We definitely don't have a rock country…During the tours we can clearly feel that it can be a real culture elsewhere. In UK, Germany…
But it can make you particularly proud to gain some popularity in a country where it can be even more difficult…
Adrien: Of course, but you know we did a lot of road, and we did a lot of things that others bands don't always have to do to be successful. It can be very frustrating.
Sam: Sometimes we say that if we were born in another country, with the same band and the same music…we wouldn't be in the same situation. If we were Swedish…
But you know I don't really think that Sweden is much more rock than here…they have a lot of bands but don't have a real rock culture either…
Adrien: Yes, but they maybe help more the musicians…Musician can be a real status. Here you are "intermittent". So either you do it and you accept the conditions, or if you want to live your art differently you don't have any support.
Sam: Here when we ask you "what's your job" and you say you're musician you answer us "yes, ok, it's your hobby, but what's your job?"
Ok, so after this joyful introduction (laughs), let's talk about Lazarus…In which state of mind did you begin the recording? And what do you feel when you finally hold the completed album in your hands?
Adrien: Before recording you are euphoric. And after you cry. (laughs)
Sam: We were very prepared before getting to the studio. We made a pre-production of it. For Lazarus we wanted to create an almost finished record before the studio. Adrien composes the music and as a result we had that record that you can listen to and tell "damn I wish I was playing on that stuff!"! So we already have that image before getting in the studio, and we have been able to really concentrate on the technical aspects, the people working on it with us, the means to get at the same level as the compositions.
Adrien: The studio generally doesn't stress us. We are able to manage it. It's a certain rhythm of work. Even with the deadlines, the pressure of money, the pressure of time, we're working with this certain kind of way that is less stressful. The pre-production allows to really pay attention to the details and to take that time. It's the most interesting part because it's the more intellectual and it's better than just play some drums parts again and again during one day for example.
Ben: We couldn't work this way.
And once the CD is out, are you completely satisfied with it? Can you listen to it at home? Are you still searching some faults or on the contrary, are you not able to listen to it any more? Is it still the time to enjoy it?
Adrien: No I don't think so. (laughs)
Ben: No, the time has come to have the opinion of the public, to see if their vision about our music change compares to our old work.
Adrien: When an album is out, one must know that we're into it for about 2 years. So when it's out, it's a relief, but we obviously want more!
Ben: We want to tour, we prepare it, and we want to be one step further than the vision that people have about us.
So you don't listen to this album (laughs)
Both: no (laughs)
Ben: It can happen with the vinyl one.
Talk about Lazarus to someone who doesn't know your band and your previous work.
Adrien: well, I don't know…I would say it's a kind of journey, quite extreme sometimes. A very open and progressive music. I would say that we spent a lot of time to do it, that we are musicians for about 15 years and we put all that we could inside.
Ben: The journey has to be tried.
And do you think that you have a particular public for this album? Or it can be appreciated by any metalhead with a big M?
Ben: I think it can seduce a metalhead of course, but Lazarus has more chance to be appreciated by a little more open panel of people that is interested in metal or not. It's not consensual but less aggressive at first plan.
Adrien: But there is a lot of information. It's not an album made to headbang. We've never had that as a purpose. We are not metalheads, we are musicians above all you know? So it can be appreciated by musicians as well, those who are not necessarily attracted by double pedals and big riffs at 280bpm.
It's a bit my definition of progressive music…It's not always about technical aspects…
Ben :Yes of course, the progressive music has changed its face those last years. At first it was band like Dream Theater...
Yeah, but now it also became a kind of "catch-all" term. Every time music is a little strange it becomes "progressive"…
Adrien: We definitely agree with you, I think we have the same vision of it. For me progressive is not just Dream Theater. It's Tool, or even Muse, Radiohead, the last Mastodon, Shining…Those kinds of bands that try new things, and make things go further. And it's not always the case with the pure Metal where you can easily find the same sound, the same riffs.
And you can headbang while listening to it (laughs)
Ben: But it's not a bad thing!
No of course! It only depends on what you're searching for in music.
Ben: Exactly. We would feel too frustrated and limited if we were only doing music to make people move.
Adrien:Yes, because we would be in the entertainment side, and we're not so much in that position. We prefer making people think. If we can.
It brings me to another question: what feelings to do want to transmit? What you feel is of course very personal and we can feel very different things while listening the same music but…what kind of feeling inspire yourself and you want to communicate? You talked about wanting to make people think…
Adrien: The "make people think" sentence comes from a guy who made us play. We were playing with bands more violent and I asked him if it wouldn't have been more logical to make us play with some more similar bands. And he said word by word "I'm also here to educate them". It was a bit pretentious but I think I get what it meant. We're not into simplicity; we're more into bringing emotions to the audience. So it can be hope, or more macabre emotions. We have a large panel of emotions to transmit, because we tell a story that goes through different steps and we want to express all that. For us, an album represents two years of our lives so it includes up and downs. I think we all agree about that; it sums up a big part of our lives… So we're here to talk about that, and we use our music to transmit what I call "the inexpressible". What we can't say with words. We use our music to project something and ask "do you understand?"
Ben: Music generally provokes emotions. Like you said earlier, technical or not, we have to touch people with some emotions...Then people understand those or not, maybe because they didn't ever feel the same. During a concert, we try to create this journey. We also try to make them move a little, to have fun, because a concert is also there to enjoy it and forget some bad times.
Adrien: We are here to invite them into our bubble. When we're on stage, when we create music, when we're in a studio we are happy. On stage, we are in that bubble, and the more we can make people enter into, the more we're happy. That's what we try to do. We try!
Ben: Everyone can not follow us in his journey or this bubble. In the same way, we can sometimes speak to somebody and never understand each other.
About the live show, does Lazarus "surprise" you in a way? Some things that you didn't expect that way? Or does it is very worked in details to give exactly the same music in live?
Adrien: I see what you mean…It surprised us because it's very energetic.
Ben: At first we didn't know how people were going to react.
Adrien: It has a more "in you face" side. That what friends of mine told me after seeing it live. It's rawer than expected. There have been some changes. Some stuff we make more raw, and some ambient parts we make even more ethereal. In fact, everything has to be exaggerated, because we don't have the same sound and effects.
And about the choice of the songs? How do you select those for yours live? Because an album is an entity with a concept, and I guess it can be difficult to mix different albums and songs…By the way, have some of them been easier to set up during the recording and as a consequence are privileged for the concerts?
Ben: First of all, we had some songs from the previous albums that we were almost obliged to play. For Lazarus, we made some tests. Some songs that are good on the album weren't that good during rehearsals. We were worried about the first song of Lazarus as well, because we didn't know if the 15 min would be well integrated. But everything got packed; the choice was been made easily in the end, depending on which emotion we would like to create, cos each song of the album has an identity. The most difficult is from a technical point of view, because our songs can be tuned differently, so we had do put together some songs not to change instruments all the time while keeping coherence.
And you keep the same setlist every time?
Adrien: It depends on the time we have. Some people have already said to us "why are you coming back with the same setlist?" but when you're always touring, you don't have the choice, because it would mean changing a lot of things. We have some samples, our drummer plays with click and if we want to change a track, we need to change everything else and we would need at least one week to prepare. But you know, the setlist doesn't make the whole thing. We try to approach our show differently. We are sometimes surprised by some songs: some of them can really appear even better during some gigs.
Does it happen to not feel well a concert?
Ben: Yes. In that case, we often feel it from the very beginning. We can feel that something is wrong and then we can eventually fix it. But we also have some good surprises thanks to the public.
Adrien: Sometimes it's not easy but…we're not complaining. (laughs)
From the outside we always see the pretty things that often are completely false. It's always interesting to see things from the inside and to have your point of view. It must be difficult to mix your musicians lives with your work and stuff like that. We could thing that once you begin to hear about a band, the members are stars and win a lot of money...
Adrien: And it's not he case (laughs). Being a musician is a bit the culture of poverty.
You don't make a living from your band?
Adrien: No…in France, very few bands can. Hacride is a small source of income. It's obviously our goal but today nobody lives from the selling of CD's, so we really have to tour a lot.
Ben: You always have some "career plan": next album it will be like that etc but you don't get that easily to your ideal…
And you can't control everything…
Ben: Yeah, and you have some opportunities that needs to be taken in the right moment. But I think we've always been quite lucky, we always could go further, to make better. We feel that we're moving forward, and it's already a great thing. We know a lot of really good bands that add to stop everything.
Adrien; we don't have too much problems to tour in Europe, to be headliners. We can't complain, we're still a young band. We would like to go even faster even though things go quite fast.
Ben: You always need and want more! We're living a dream.
And you have the chance to have strong support from the critics.
Ben: We were a little worried at first, because as we said, Lazarus is a kind of journey, you can take it or not…
Adrien: And we've taken big risks…concerning the production that is more rock for example, and concerning the perspective itself, and finally it has paid! We have been quoted "best French album" or in the top 10 in several magazines or webzines.
Ben: We could have fallen in the same way!
Adrien: And we have good feedback from bands we're listening to, we communicate by email, they know our band even if they didn't always listen to our work they know our name and it's already huge for us. It gives hope!
Ben : We really need to believe in what we're doing.
I think it's very important! The passion is THE thing that doesn't fool the audience. Even if some bands become successful without a real passion…
Ben: Yes, you need passion, and you also need to have a good entourage, to make the good choices and take advantage of good opportunities.
Adrien: You were talking about the bands successful without passion, but I think those ones won't last. If we become more know one day, I'm sure we'll be here to stay because we have such a great passion for music. We are honest with people and we don't sell lies. Music is in our souls. Every morning I take my guitar and play for hours and people can feel that. They're not stupid. The bands that doing that for the image, for fashion won't fool anybody very long time…
Ben: People can see and feel such things.
Two words about the concept? As a future psychologist, the Lazarus Syndrome could not not interest me! Who find the idea?
Adrien: The name "Lazarus" was suggested by Ben!
Ben: The concept, the lyrics have been imagined from adjectives, feelings that we wanted to create for each song. I discovered this syndrome and I found it quite appropriated. The word "Lazarus" came to my mind and I found it rather strange, intriguing…You know, I still have the poster of "Amoeba" at home, and every time we need to get a new artwork or title I look at this poster and I try to imagine what it will represents once it's done. I really like that concept of a simple word.
Adrien: The concept of a key word. We try to really communicate with our singer Sam, and he really wanted to draw his inspiration from the Albert Camus book, "The Stranger". He wanted to describe the psychological evolution of a character that lives normally but progressively realises while walking through his life that he's into fake thing. As a result, he's searching for some kind of "Awakening" (the penultimate song) to access a certain truth. The Lazare syndrome treats about this kind of metaphoric resurrection from the death with a new and different vision of your life. Some people took that from the religious side, through the awakening of the faith, which wasn't our case even though we can find a mystical aspect in the music of Hacride.
Yes, mystical isn't necessarily religious…we could say spiritual?
Adrien: This is it. A spiritual aspect to the music and lyrics that we can find in Lazarus from the beginning "To walk among them" to the very end "My Enemy" we try to describe the psychological evolution of our character.
And it's well done. I let myself thinking and leaving in my thoughts and what I found very interesting was the fact that this syndrome, that really exists, can be found in a closer way in our everyday life. These days, we are as much frightened by life as death!
Exactly. And we really felt that concerning the song "to walk among them" during our first promotional day in Paris for Lazarus. We took the subway and you were looking at all those people, all together everyday and nobody's talking, everyone is in its bubble…We really felt like this song at the moment. It would be so much easier to improve those moments to talk to each other…but they are locked and keep being stuck to their mp3 player…
Maybe they're listening to Hacride?(laughs)
Ben: So we can really definitely find this concept in our lives. The subway thing is just one example.
Adrien: It's true. When you stop a moment what you are doing and start looking around you, you can see all this swarming, all those commercials…and you can easily ask yourself "what am I doing here?, those people are crazy…and I'm a part of it!". We talk a lot within the band, during the tour for example, and we ask ourselves what message we want to share and it's a little be that: try to press pause a little, and look at around you. Lazarus talks about that: you wake up and say "something's going wrong".
It's very interesting, and it's good to mix it with metal music. Metal is definitely not just noise…
Ben: But beer is good! (laughs)
Ok so to finish, since it takes a long time to do an album, have you already have one foot in the next one? I don't ask you to tell me secrets but I guess it's working in your minds…
Adrien: We can say that…
Ben: we talk a lot these days, again this afternoon. We would like to make a gift to Lazarus, we're talking about things and others to do justice to it…
Adrien: About the next album, I don't think it will come out before a little moment…because it should be even more ambitious than Lazarus, so it needs more work (laughs). But it's in progress.
Ok, so we will waiting for that (laughs). Thank you very much!
Thank to Jessica for the accreditation and to Craig for his super fast proofreading.
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