Noise Magazine oct. 08 #7
Ten Stones Review and Interview
with David Eugene Edwards
by El. Denis
from French by Magali Surcin
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
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
NoiseMag #7 Oct
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.
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
Can you think of a funny anecdote about
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
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”?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Did you teach
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).
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.
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?
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
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.
pointed out something amusing: Jean-Yves and Pascal went from a left-wing
atheist who tore up Bibles on stage to you...
those are 2 different states of mind... (pause) I don't really know what else
to say (laughing)
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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
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.
title was “Heaven Up Here” and I have to admit I didn't remember they were so
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.