Woven Hand, Noise Magazine oct. 08 #7

Ten Stones Review and Interview

with David Eugene Edwards

by El. Denis

translated from French by Magali Surcin

woven hand review
Initially, “Ten Stones” had the disadvantage of being released after the dark, precious Mosaic (2006). This reviewer is very partial to dark chiselled jewels (and will always prefer Nick Cave's elegiac, crooning “No More Shall We Part” over an electric Grinderman, yes sir, that's the way it is, what do you mean “you big softie”?), so it seemed like “Ten Stones”, heavier and more aggressive, would remain a rough diamond to be cast aside in favour of our comfort zone. The comfort zone being the Woven Hand that we know ; familiar, warm and gloomy territories... Please, let us hold on to the mournful ditties that have been haunting us for the last 2 years (“Truly Golden”, “Dirty Blue”, “Whistling Girl”) or longer (“Blue Pail Fever”, “Bleary-Eyed Duty”, “Story and Pictures”). But that was just the first impression...

Then you play it again, and you get a flashback of Lanegan's latest album (“Bubblegum”), unexpectedly energetic in comparison to his most introspective discography. You find yourself stunned, thinking “Woven Hand's new album IS excellent!”, and that's it, you're hooked. As dynamic as it is, “Ten Stones” remains contemplative (with the melancholy “Cohawkin Road”), dark (Edwards' voice being one of the factors) and elaborate (the ethereal “Iron Feather”, with the piano and sound effects). True, the medieval sounds are out, and the album is heavier, but the presence of hymns (in the case of a band like Woven Hand, you could hardly call them “hits”, and yet the album was obviously created around the prospect of live shows) is undeniable, like the excellent “Not One Stone” or “The Beautiful Axe”, and they simply won't get out of your head. Eventually, “Ten Stones” stands out as Woven Hand's most diverse album: it is suffused with the reverence and darkness which they got us used to (in spite of what our first impression led us to believe), although those atmospheres do clear for a while and make way for several catchy, country songs, very reminiscent of 16 Horsepower (“White-Knuckle Grip”, “Horsetail”, “Kicking Bird...”) as well as a peculiar Sinatra moment (a cover of “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars”). Incidentally, Pascal Humbert, a former member of 16 Horsepower, played the bass on the album, having played on stage with Woven Hand for the last few tours.

To conclude, you may hold on to a particular fondness for the first, darker Woven Hand albums ; they still invite you to curl up in their warm darkness, just like when we were kids and improvised makeshift tents with the bedsheets taken from our rooms (“Let's say we were cowboys and Indians from Colorado...”) ; but listening to “Ten Stones” is like peeping out of the tent one morning and discovering you've been parachuted in the middle of the desert... for real. Ten Stones is like the wind on your face and the sun that burns your eyes at first, because you had grown so used to the twilight, but it also brings a sense of freedom and a whole new range of subtleties...          

 

 

NoiseMag #7 Oct 08    

 

Interview by El. Denis

(“Back-translated” from French)

  woven hand noisemag

A rare breed

 
There's a Canadian saying that goes: “you won't find a dove in a crow's nest”. A lovely saying indeed, but one which doesn't apply to the very pious David Eugene Edwards and the bands he played with, as lovers of dark, gothic music hold both 16 Horsepower and Woven Hand in high esteem, in spite of his rather devout lyrics. Behind the deeply mystical music, influenced by rock, folk, gypsy and native American sounds, there is a guitarist and singer, the son of a rebellious father (who broke away from his religious community to lead a life revolving around drugs and motorbikes) and grandson of a preacher. A romanesque ancestry often mentioned in the press, especially since it led the young boy, who regularly attended his grandfather's services, to witness many funerals (allegedly one every week). He smiles and says “It's true, but I've also attended many weddings and baptisms. Still, I guess I've buried a lot more bodies than most people, and it must have had some impact on me, whatever the impact...” Raised in the Christian faith, Edwards grew up to become an atypical artist whose work is a clear reflection of the combined heritage of Christian spirituality, country music and the punk and new wave bands which he loved as a teenager (the Gun Club, Joy Division...)

Every one of his releases is an event in itself: first with 16 Horsepower, and today with Woven Hand, whose new album, “Ten Stones”, sounds heavier and more aggressive than ever, and less gloomy. Have no fear though: our virtuous man retains a sort of mystical melancholy, trimming his luminous feathers with a few appropriate dark touches... In the colours of a bird of ill omen.

 

Can you tell me about the analog recording of Ten Stones in Philadelphia?

Yes, we recorded in Clarksboro, New Jersey, it's just outside Philadelphia. We recorded ourselves live, on tapes, which we hadn't done in years, mostly because computers are very convenient, but we wanted a different experience. We recorded most of it live, with the band and a few guests: Daniel Smith, who recorded us, played on a few tracks, and Emil Nikolaisen, from Norwegian band Serena Maneesh, helped me with the equipment as well as with the recording, and he also plays on a few songs.

 

Did you feel some pressure when you went from digital to live recording?

We did a bit, we had a lot of tapes, but you have to be ready. You can't erase what you've done and replace it with something else. It's very different from what you can do with the computer, you have to be completely operational... So we just played live, and let things fall into place by themselves.

 woven hand interview

Do you think this process required a certain level of maturity from the band?

Yeah, we had to make sure that everybody knew and mastered the songs (laughing). Everybody had to be good and ready, but there actually wasn't a lot of trial and error: we recorded a few tapes and it was over.

 

Can you think of a funny anecdote about the recording?

Gathering all these people in one room for the recording was a funny experience in itself! We just really had a lot of fun, we made each other laugh when we were playing. The worst thing I've done was for “Kingdom of Ice”, I wanted to create the impression of a galloping horse. So I went to the back garden and picked up all that junk: big sticks, small tree stumps, metal pieces, and put all that into a big bucket, and I started jumping on it. We set a microphone outside and I stamped my feet to the rhythm of a horse, we recorded it and put it on the album.

 

Do you still collect old instruments: banjos, accordions and hurdy-gurdies?

Hm, I'm not a collector actually. Those are instruments that I use, it's not as if I had a spare room at home where I could exhibit a whole bunch of useless toys. I couldn't afford it anyway (laughing). I use all the instruments I have, even if it's a 1820 banjo, for instance: I use it as if it was new, which is a bit tricky actually. I use it on tour and record with it because it has a unique sound.

 

When I heard the first few words on the album (“the night owls hold a candle to you, I see you're a hummingbird”), I thought that you were showing your hand right from the start, and that the record would be once more strongly influenced by the theme of birds, which you seem to cherish.

Yes, I often use birds as symbols of what's going on in my life. Peacocks, for instance, are recurrent. They were often around when I was a child, and they always looked very mysterious to me, and nearly frightening. Peacocks, owls, hawks... I find birds fascinating in themselves, and beautiful, they are wonderful creatures and I think they work well as symbols for many different things, so I use them a lot. Peacocks remind me of my wife so I often use that symbol to evoke her in my lyrics... Birds are symbols of freedom and spirit. But I also mention other animals. To me, they are interesting creatures, they give me something to think about and sing about. There is something abstract about those lyrics, like a photograph in which the union of colours matters just as much as the subject in the rendering of the feeling expressed,  it matters as much as clear intentions.

 

On this album, you covered “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars”. I heard that you loved Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (who respectively popularized and wrote the song) and that it was a present for your wife. Was it a surprise?

No, I had planned it for months. Emil Nikolaisen is a great fan of Jobim's too and a very good bossa-nova guitarist. So his collaboration fitted in perfectly. The bossa-nova guitar, the vocals that grow more and more intense... we really had fun recording it and injected our own feeling into it.

 

You have a few covers under your belt (Joy Division's “Day of the Lords”, The Gun Club's “Fire Spirit”, Bill Withers' “Ain't no Sunshine”...) Is it important to you to make the song yours?

No, it actually depends on the song. Most of these are songs that had been covered many times, but I wasn't really thinking about that and I didn't listen to the other versions. I knew that the song had had some success, but I wanted to do it for personal reasons... And I didn't question it, I wasn't trying to stand out. I had the will to do my best, for myself and for the way I pictured the song, and do it in such a way that it wouldn't sound like a copy, but like a truly personal interpretation.

 

You mentioned Emil Nikolaisen of Serena Maneesh. How did you meet the Norwegian shoegazers?

It was with 16 Horsepower, it goes back to our first tour in Norway. Emil came to see us play and we talked after the show. We have a lot of connections, both musical and spiritual. We had mutual acquaintances too. We immediately became friends. Whenever we went back there, it was an opportunity to spend a bit more time together. Eventually we were in the frame of mind to work together, whichever way that would be. When Serena Maneesh toured the US I played with them, just so we could spend time together. I actually played solo, it was more like an excuse to hang out with them. There was no strategy behind it, like “let's bring each other's fanbases together”, even if it may have helped them, because in some parts of the US, people came to see me without knowing Serena Maneesh. They're famous in Norway, and they're popular in New York, but otherwise it was a rather confidential tour. Anyway, Emil came to the studio, he played on several tracks and last summer, we played a festival that he organized in his hometown in Norway. Another opportunity to spend time together...

 

Do you still listen to your old records and are they like postcards reminding you of the people you used to spend time with or the state of mind you were in?

Not on my own initiative but only when my son, who's a great fan, asks me to play... pretty much all of the Woven Hand records, actually! (laughing) Apart from that, I don't listen to them. Because once I'm done with an album... Well, I do listen to them when I'm making them, I'm listening to them constantly when I'm working on the songs, it's very demanding. Then we play the songs live... And that's the point: for me, it's the live experience that matters, so I don't really look back on what I've done... And if I do, I rarely find it pleasant: I think “I should've done this or that”, and I don't like to hear myself sing, you know what I mean...

 

Can you tell us how you came to choose the titles “Ten Stones” and “Not One Stone”?

Basically every song represents a stone, and you also have the idea of weight, since it's a weight unit. Indeed, this album is heavier than our previous records. But beyond this implication, the album title refers to the title “Not One Stone”, which is a quotation from the Bible. I use the idea of a church based on the faithful, not on buildings. The Church has nothing to do with whatever men build with their knowledge and learning, what they do for their own sake. What matters is what God created, more than what man created. Human creation will not endure, and this also applies to what I'm doing, my own creation. Writing songs isn't that important, but what matters is what God communicates: man's pride and creations will not last.

 

As a matter of fact, the new album is more straightforward, heavier and aggressive...

I have to say that the previous records were studio stuff, well polished and produced. In fact, it's pleasant to experiment with things I'm not able to play live or when I play the song spontaneously, abstract things with the sound and with the way the songs develop, it's interesting to build different spaces within one song... On the previous albums, I usually ended up playing many instruments myself: the bass, the drums, everything. It gave me the impression that I was more involved in the atmospheres and less... solid, if I may say. On this album, other musicians played their parts and they all bring something, their personality. It's closer to what Woven Hand is on stage: something rather aggressive. That's what we wanted for this record.

 

About your previous albums, more focused on sound experimentation, more introspective and with a more polished production... They were all recorded in Bob Ferbrache's studio in Westminster, Colorado, which is located, if my information is correct, in his mother's basement, between the washer and the dryer... Is it true?

Yes, that's right. We do the recording either in the laundry or the bedroom, or even in a big press... Different places around the basement, basically. It's not a big sophisticated thing... Well, the material is, but not the place in itself. But the studio where we did the recording this time isn't so different: it's Daniel Smith's (the label's boss) parents' basement (laughing). So we're used to that... I've experienced classier studios: with 16HP, we recorded in the A&M studios, the sort of place that costs thousands of dollars a day or I don't know how much, with high-tech people hovering around you, and couches. I know all that... But this time, it was a way to focus on the music. I love to be close to my family and the people who care about me and my music.

 

Speaking of Bob and Colorado... There's a large local scene (Jay Munly, Slim Cessna's Auto Club...)  and some level of friendly emulation between these bands...

What people call the “Denver sound” is a group of people who grew up more or less at the same time and played together at different times. Most of those bands are made of people who either played or lived together... And we have influences in common too, because we grew up listening to the same bands. Which created similarities in our sound, in connection with our childhood, the fact that we went to church... Many similarities. Then we grew older, each followed their own path, and we started playing with other people, but some things remain, in our basic approach to music. And I think people are sensitive to that, that's what they recognize as the “Denver Sound”. But it's the same story in many cities, as soon as you have a group of people with experiences in common. There's the Seattle sound, the New York sound, etc. Those scenes probably attracted more attention because they are metropolises, they had more key-places and bigger audiences. OK, Denver has grown a lot bigger since we started -it was really small back then-, but it remains limited.

 

By the way, can you tell us about the music and bands that influenced you?

I grew up in church, so gospel is the type of music I was first exposed to. My grandfather listened to Johnny Cash, my father listened to Buddy Holly, Hank Williams. My other grandparents were more into bluegrass, that's what I listened to when I grew up. I was also influenced by Native American music, because we have Indian blood on both sides, and have always been influenced by this music. Then, when you go to school, you meet people and that's how I discovered rock'n'roll and then punk, and Joy Division, the Gun Club, the Birthday Party: European influences, basically. There was folk, as well, it's always been with me: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan. From there you follow the roots and get to blues, and you also discover folk from the old continent: Celtic, Scottish, gypsy music... All sorts of traditional music, I've always been interested in that. All that along with heavier music that I used to listen to, they all combined to create the music I play.

 david eugene edwards interview

 Is Native American music easily available in the US? Are there specialized radios?

I used to listen to small independent radios that would play a bit of everything, “world-music” of all nationalities, traditional music from everywhere in the world. I've always been very interested in that, I've always listened to that kind of program. I'd also build up my own bit of culture, go to the library and borrow African music, Russian music, etc.

 

You covered a Gun Club song with 16HP, and it's obvious that Jeffrey Lee Pierce had a big influence on your vocals...

Probably, but it wasn't intentional. I love his band, I don't know... You'd have to go back to my first bands, my first experiences with the Denver Gentlemen... In those bands, I was just a musician, I didn't sing. I did happen to do a bit of singing but I didn't have to until 16HP. I had to sing, and to write lyrics. When I started, my most significant experience was singing in church because I used to be in a kids' choir or something like that. I think that the way I sing was influenced by all the different styles of music I've listened to, and sure, the Gun Club has been a strong influence, like it's been for many bands, but it's never been the only one, nor has it been deliberate.

 

I was actually thinking of 16HP with this question, because now, your vocals are less demonstrative, they're deeper and softer. What do you think?

When I was playing with 16HP, I was quite young, for one thing (laughing). And my voice has changed a lot through all those years of singing... My tone has transformed, it's become deeper and... ruined (laughing), rougher. But at the same time, I have more control over what I feel like singing and the way I pitch my voice, it's easier to get there. And I think it went hand in hand with the fact that I've matured as a musician and as a person in order to... achieve a genuine attitude. I can't sing some of the lyrics and some of the songs any more because I feel like I'm a different person. And it's impossible for me to go back into certain songs, lyrically, and feel comfortable with them, I can't. So I don't play them any more.

 

Which songs, for example?dee interview

Hm, early 16HP songs, there's a few of them. I couldn't really give you titles now, but my point of view over certain things has changed, I've grown up a bit and what I used to sing was a bit immature.

 

Speaking of your path as an artist, you did start as a drummer, didn't you?

I did, I played the drums in a rock band when I was very young, we did covers of AC/DC or Motorhead, things like that. Then my taste in music evolved but I was still playing the drums. Then I got interested in folk and took up the guitar, I learned to play old country songs. Once I started the guitar, I never really went back to the drums. But whatever the instrument, the guitar or the banjo, I play it with the mentality and training of a drummer. I play more rhythmically than any standard guitar beginner. I've always been self-taught, I never took guitar, banjo or accordion lessons: when I love an instrument, when I'm attracted to the sound of it and feel like playing it, I pick it up and I instinctively try to produce a sound that I like. So I don't play it properly. And I don't think I can still learn. But the result is that my sound is very personal.

 

Did you teach yourself everything?

Yes, so I can't read sheet music and most of the time, I couldn't say what chord or note we're playing. I play by ear, intuitively. I couldn't jam with another band or anything like that. I can play the music that I've created, but I can't go too far away from it. I guess I'm a very, very specialized musician (laughing).

 

It's funny, because when you met Jean-Yves and Pascal and you started 16HP, you ended up playing with more experienced, “professional” musicians, then?

Yes, Jean-Yves is undeniably an accomplished drummer with jazz training, and Pascal was just as experienced. Both of them were quite professional. I often have the impression... that I don't know what I'm doing (laughing). When I play with people, they have to accept me for who I am, you know what I mean, and they have to learn to play with me. Many of my songs are very simple, and I use a lot of open chords because it makes things easier for me, it's more convenient when I sing and play at the same time. So the songs are not complicated.

 

To see things from your perspective -for an outsider who hasn't written, sung or played your songs-, is probably not easy...

Yes, it must be complicated because I did it my own way and found my own solutions.

 

Speaking of Jean-Yves and Pascal, we had an interview with Theo Hakola in our previous issue, and he was talking about how 16HP started after Passion Fodder split: they were away from home after they followed him to the States, they had no money and no band, and had to work on film sets, and you met while you were building the sets, is that right?wovenhand interview

Yes, I met them when I was working for Roger Corman, who's the king of B-movies, most of his films go straight to video. We met on the sets, Jean-Yves was often my boss, he was the set designer, Pascal and myself were just carpenters. At the time, they played with Passion Fodder and I played with the Denver Gentlemen, and both bands split for different reasons. So the three of us decided to play together.

 

Did you like Passion Fodder?

I've never really listened to them, to be honest. I must have heard them but it didn't make an impact... But there must have been similarities in what we liked, where we came from and that's what brought us together.

 

Theo Hakola pointed out something amusing: Jean-Yves and Pascal went from a left-wing atheist who tore up Bibles on stage to you...

(laughing) Yes, those are 2 different states of mind... (pause) I don't really know what else to say (laughing)

 

Sure, there isn't much to say, it's just that it's a funny course... which surely shows great open-mindedness. By the way, it's a well-known fact that you are a Christian artist. In this regard, do you sometimes restrict yourself artistically?

What do you mean?

 

I don't know: do you ever hesitate before writing passionate lyrics about your relationship with God for fear of being accused of proselytism by listeners who do not share your views? Or before writing dark lyrics for fear of having the other camp criticize you for discrediting the Christian faith?

I'm always worried about how things will be interpreted (smiling). Because a lot of my lyrics are rather abstract, many images that I paint with the music are abstract, and listeners can infer many different meanings and significations, whereas reality is very different. But I have no control over the way people will react. I don't have to temper myself, I don't censor myself. When I said that there are things that I don't feel comfortable with any more, I meant that they're things that I created in the past and they don't reflect me any more... In the present, I don't restrain myself. Of course, I'm serious about what I do, I don't just open my mouth and let it all out, I think about what I write and what I sing, but I still let it come to me naturally. And if there's something I'm not so sure about but still want to convey, most of the time I'll do it in a more abstract way. Because it precisely is a reflection of my state of mind: uncertainty, a mystery. On the other hand, when I have other ideas, and they're clearer and more certain [the end of that sentence is nowhere to be found in the magazine]

 

I know that in the States, there's a whole “Christian rock” scene, with radio stations and stores. I was wondering if those people support Woven Hand or if the band is too dark and weird for them...

Well, you have to put things in perspective... There is an established Christian scene, with radios, tv stations and its own formula... It's actually a business just like any other, like heavy metal or classical music... just like all other musical styles when they develop a formula to be applied: you're affiliated with a particular scene or universe, so you have to do things in such a way, present yourself in such a way, and sing in such a way... For me, it's a business like any other and it's not my world. I don't think of music in those terms, I find it boring. Some people in those circles appreciate what we do but generally speaking, we're not really accepted there. But it's not just the so-called Christian scene: we don't belong to any music community. It's not something we wanted, it just happened. It's in the nature of our work.

 

In any case, it's amusing to see that Woven Hand transcends all barriers: when you see the crowd in a Woven Hand show, most people would have completely different convictions, but when they hear a song like “Winter Shaker”, believers, atheists and agnostics all sing along, including the “hallelujah”... It doesn't matter to them, because the emotion and the music prevail over the message...

I'm so grateful to our audience, because it's made of all sorts of people, especially in Europe. We have 3 generations of listeners! The young, their parents and the grandparents, they all come to our concerts and they all enjoy themselves, God only knows why. We have fans from the gothic community, the black-metal, punk, alternative country communities... I really feel this diversity as a blessing: we are not confined to a specific scene, and it gives me a sense of freedom. And I actually think that most people feel the same freedom when they come see us play: they don't have to behave in a certain way or be certain people, everybody's free. Music is for everybody and I'm happy about that.

 

Speaking of your fans: do you have more in Europe or in the States?

Many more in Europe! It was the same with 16Horsepower: early on, we did better in Europe. For some reason, our music gets a better reception, so we spent more time there, touring etc. We had a loyal audience quite quickly. Of course, we toured the States with other bands, we had quite a few opportunities, Morphine gave us a lot of support for example, they took us along with them on tour in the States quite often. Then 16Horsepower also toured with Nick Cave, which helped promote us... Woven Hand isn't really a band that gets a lot of airplay on the radio or on MTV, yet those are important channels of exposure if you want to make it here. The country is so big, word doesn't get around so easily... Although the internet is progressively bringing some change and makes it easier for new bands. For us it was more difficult back then, we had to spend more time on the road... Well of course it's not all that different in Europe, but I think that word of mouth is more efficient there. Woven Hand wouldn't be a band you'd see a lot on tv or hear on the radio in Europe either, but I think people are more curious, more willing to listen to new things and go discover bands on stage. Generally speaking, art gets more support in Europe, both from the public and the government. So much so that organizers are not solely concerned with the need to make money with a concert, they're more interested in programming things they like, and they can afford to. In the States, a band is booked because they will attract as many people as possible, and sell as much beer as possible.

 

Speaking of touring with Nick Cave, I heard that 16Horsepower had had the same management as the Bad Seeds...

We did, that's what gave us the opportunity to tour with them in the States. We still have mutual friends and connections, we have the same road-manager for example, which means that when they come back to Colorado, we'll go see them play and we'll have a good time. I wouldn't go as far as saying that we're friends, but we toured together, we hire the same roadies, etc.

 

In Europe, conditions are better for touring too: you get a warmer welcome, and cities are closer to one another...

There are many advantages with European tours, the situation is more pleasant for us. We have a tour bus, whereas in the States we couldn't afford it and we'd have to do the driving ourselves. We couldn't really take people along, so we'd have to do everything ourselves, which isn't so bad, but... See, when you've been doing that for 15 years, there comes a time when you have to be able to make a bit of money to live on, for your family. Anyway, I can't spend all my time touring and always being far away from them. European tours are more interesting and reasonable in that regard: I'm on tour for 3 weeks over there and then I go back home for a month. In the States we'd have to be constantly on the road to be able to make a bit of money. It's impossible for me... If I was single, I'd be touring constantly, like many bands who manage to get by and live like that -that's the only way, anyhow-, but it's not the case. Anyway, we have an audience in big cities, on the coasts -San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago- but inland, or even here in Colorado, it's a different story. There was a time when we reached a peak of popularity with 16Horsepower, which meant that a lot of people here lost interest in us. We'd become too big for them, they'd seen us play in front of 20 people and then, we were starting to play for bigger crowds and it annoyed them. When I started again with Woven Hand, it found it difficult in Colorado.

 

Really? That kind of attitude is disappointing: you didn't change, you didn't tone down your sound to be more successful...

No, we didn't do anything! It's something that you can't control. Actually we never expected that, we didn't think we'd become successful, to be honest. You play, and people come. It's a good thing, but if they don't come, never mind, you still play. There is some sort of defiance in Denver: “Oh you're big in Europe, good for you. But we'd rather go see another band”. It's a political thing, in a way, if you know what I mean, and I don't have the time or the energy for that, it gets on my nerves. Nor do I have the desire to win those people over again at whatever cost. When we play, we play small venues, with little promotion. Our friends come, and that's cool, but it's true that it has nothing to do with our concerts in Europe.

 

No man is a prophet in his own country...

Yes, but I don't really like the term “prophet”, but the expression applies in our case, in a way.

 

As a fan yourself, did you ever lose interest in a band or to get frustrated because they became big?

Not really, no, I'm always happy when a band I love makes it. All the bands we love were smaller when they started... Bands struggle to make a living with their music... Woven Hand helps me be aware of that. And when I support a band, I won't wish for them not to make it. Finally, I love music for specific reasons that are in no way...

 

...social?

Exactly, I'll always love the music that appeals to me, regardless of styles or how many people  listen to them. Things have changed a lot over the last few years in the music industry, especially with the internet and MySpace. New behaviours have emerged in independent music... people don't want any more rock stars, because they are the rock stars, if you know what I mean. There are no more rock stars, which is a good thing, it's not a problem and I understand that point of view. But I think that it's the reason why people think, when they are confronted with a band who plays medium to big venues: “no, that's too much, I'd rather go to a small venue see a band play for 20 people, a community of musicians, rather than a band who's doing well”. And I completely understand, but at the same time, I think this attitude can become a bit caricatural, and just because a band is successful doesn't mean it's bad (laughing). Often, it's true. And things that are very popular often are for the wrong reasons, in my opinion. But every now and then, and fortunately, some bands become famous for the right reasons: because they're good. And people are sensitive to that, God knows why.

To get back to 16Horsepower, we had a bit of success, we started touring. And people reacted to that: “Oh ok, they're big in Europe, let them do well over there, and we won't go see them here”. So when 16HP split and I started Woven Hand, people didn't really want to give us a chance. It was like a comeback, and it was as if they had decided to turn their attention to other bands, which is fine by me, but... Of course we have our fans, those who want to see all of our concerts, who will always be here. But we can't play all the time, financially and for other reasons, we can't. So we can't play so often in the States, and we do play small venues. And I don't really feel like rallying a new generation of fans, I don't have the desire or the energy. On the last tour, I sometimes played in front of about 20 people. But I'm more interested in that than in wasting my time with promotion, trying to attract hundreds of people. If people want to come and it gets bigger, that's good, but I won't try to push it.

 

A beautiful declaration of independence to conclude the interview... No, there's one more thing I wanted to say: a few days ago, I played Echo and the Bunnymen's second album, and strangely, it reminded me of your vocals and music. Were they an influence?

Echo and the Bunnymen is one of the most amazing bands I've had the chance to hear.  It's a fantastic band, well... they did stuff that I find really... awful (laughing) but they always counterbalanced it with something rougher, and these guys are so creative, their sound is truly unique. So yeah, it's a fantastic band, their sound is fantastic and of course the vocals are terrific. His voice is very beautiful, he's a great singer too so I'd say that they had a strong influence on me and what I've done in the past. I listen to them now and again and I think they were, musically speaking, ahead of their time. I don't think they get enough credit or tributes: their talent is only half-acknowledged. And they're still good, I saw them not so long ago and they were doing well.

 

The album's title was “Heaven Up Here” and I have to admit I didn't remember they were so good...wovenhand

Yes, they're really good, I still listen to them sometimes when the fancy takes me. It's like New Order: early New Order is fantastic, I listened to their first album again yesterday. For me, it's timeless, of course there are some effects, some things that were new at the time but are outdated now, things that remind you of the 80's. But more generally speaking, their music is timeless. 

 

What are you listening to these days?

These days, a lot of Antonio Carlos Jobim. As I have children, I listen to a lot of music for kids when they're home. David Bowie is recurrent because my son really loves him, and we listen to his records from pretty much all of his different periods. There's also Six Organs of Admittance, I listen to them a lot, as well as Om, which I love: I'm constantly listening to them at the moment.

 

Om! Great, did you like Sleep, their previous band?

Hm, less. Sleep was cool but more into the rock cliché, maybe, well I don't know... Om speaks to me a lot more.

 

It's more free and spiritual... Have you seen them with their new drummer?

Not yet, no, they don't tour a lot in my region but they will. With a bit of luck we may play with them on stage one day.


 

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