Hello there, thanks for answering my questions. How are you?
Everything seems fine … thanx.
I'm wondering, how were the reactions on the album, I mean this isn't the most accessible album ever…
Despite its impenetrable face, ‘Tectonics’ has got pretty good feedbacks so far, both in the music press and on the internet, especially in the U.S. But encouraging reviews are one thing, sales figures are another: P.H.O.B.O.S. is not a touring band, and I’m aware we’re in a time of massive downloading and CD-burning. Moreover, the album was not put out to please the masses or the average metalhead, and “accessibility” is not a criterion when I’m composing. But It seems that some people are waiting for something radically different in the metal and industrial fields, and this release may be an answer to their expectations.
I already had your demo and it was quite a surprise that the band progressed a lot. What do you think is the main difference between the demo and the album?
At the time of ‘Proto’, P.H.O.B.O.S. was driven as a standard metal band, with several musicians and defined functions. The will to experiment was already here, but in terms of composition only. The sound parameter of the mCD was not taken as seriously as it was for ‘Tectonics’, where atmospheres rely a lot on production. ‘Proto’ is raw metal, executed by humans with their limitations, whereas “Tectonics” is an industrial metal blast, without boundaries in sound. Although all P.H.O.B.O.S. material and lyrics have always been written by the same person, ‘Tectonics’ is more self-centred and introvert, textually and sonically speaking.
You originally started out as a band, but the story of P.H.O.B.O.S. seems like a survival of the fittest for you are the only member left. What's the reason for this and where did they all go? And how do you manage to keep the band going on your own?
P.H.O.B.O.S. is my conception of what musical creation should be. I am very open-minded regarding music, and experimenting and mixing distant genres must be natural when you call yourself an artist. Lots of musicians tell you the same, but when it comes to action, they stay locked in their comforting landmarks and styles. I endured this behaviour with my former partners, especially drummers with a metal background, and I finally had to replace them by machines, which “know” what slow and heavy mean. All my collaborators had to leave progressively, for relationship reasons (I must admit I am not the easiest person to work with …), and, above all, because of their lack of vision. Not necessary my vision, but a personal commitment in music as art and challenge, not as spare time fun. All I had were players waiting for my ideas, and parasitical traitors for not being able to admit their non-creativity. I don’t know what these guys are doing today, and I don’t give a fuck. Too much time was lost already. I hear powerful and insane sounds in my head, and human beings are too restrictive for this task, compared to the possibilities of technologies. Being the sole member of the project for a while now, I’ve proven myself that I can put out music as a “one-man band”. This configuration may be unusual in the rock or metal scene (in spite of some illustrious examples like Bathory, N.I.N., or Burzum), but is quite common elsewhere: Look at Tricky, :Wumpscut:, or Scorn. Why should music be created only by bands ? Another stupid prejudice…
How would you describe your music yourself? And do you have a concept or general idea with the band? If I'm not mistaken there is something that binds you with Nietzsche, right?
For ‘Tectonics’, I was really bad tempered with the several line-up changes and by the lost efforts. The result was a very slow, angry, dark and droning record. I think this is the trademark of P.H.O.B.O.S., but I don’t want to categorize it precisely under a genre or concept. I just found out that the geological/volcano/lava, etc. themes fitted well with this specific album sound and with my own feelings, but they will not necessarily appear for future productions. Besides, I feel close to Nietzsche thoughts about moral, force, religion, will to power, among others, as well as other radical writings spread by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, or Guy Debord. But my music is not the place for over-intellectualism with philosophy as a main idea.
So, is there a special goal to achieve with your music?
Although the means are complex, my goal is quite simple : to design the heaviest and most intense music to surprise myself, be it metal, doom, industrial, ambient, or whatever. I want to reach a kind of trance or altered state through low and dirty sounds. Then another process is to transmit this sonic matter to the listener for his own disturbance. P.H.O.B.O.S. has nothing to do with rock’n’roll, and the visual part of it must take form in your mind only. People who need to see music as a live thing or on a fucking screen will not understand, but that is the way it is.
I am wondering how you create music like this. Can you give us a little insight in the way you work? And what are your main influences and inspirations?
There are many ways to compose my material: Starting from a guitar riff, or a droning bass, or samples edited out of these instruments or other noises, or a programmed rhythm on my sampler. Then these ideas are looped and I try another sound idea to come and fit into the pile. Then I stack up other layers, again and again. This can explain the density of the ‘Tectonics’ sound. Words and subject come afterwards, according to the track mood. It is not an exclusive way to work, but it was an efficient modus operandi for the album I think… This method is rather influenced by the work of industrial/electronic artists (Techno Animal, early Swans, early Neubauten, Download, Black Lung, etc.) than by metal bands. As far as guitar parts are concerned, I’m into every kind of metal for years, and my riffs inspiration comes from here, ranging from thrash to extreme doom, that I slowly deconstruct. Then, to summarize my process, tracks mainly rise out of technological experimentation, rather than jamming or rehearsals.
How did you get in contact with Appease Me…/Candlelight? I was rather surprised to see P.H.O.B.O.S. releasing an album with these labels which are pretty big, while I thought your music wasn't meant for a wide audience…
It is true that music like mine has been confined to confidential and specialized labels so far. But I think bigger record companies felt that stagnation in mainstream metal could kill the genre, and some of them dare to launch their own subdivision to bring more experimental projects to a wide audience. Appease Me…, is the one for Candlelight, and with an elitist view on extreme music, they look for artists that widen the metal field with quality and originality, and develop them through PHD. When listening to ‘Tectonics’, they found out that P.H.O.B.O.S. stuck to this frame and I got signed. I must add that being in touch with one member of Blut Aus Nord made things easier to reach their label.
As far as I'm concerned you only played one show in Holland, but you claim not to like playing live and never to do so, what is the story with this?
Even before playing that show, I didn’t really feel it, but the experience had to be carried out to strengthen my position. As explained before, I consider my music as a mental trip, not an entertaining show. In the metal or rock format, there is this need to liberate some physical energy and to prove a so-called musicianship on a stage (“see how I’m strong and look evil, I’m the master tonight” kinda ego trip). P.H.O.B.O.S. has nothing to deal with that: It has simply to be heard and felt, the best medium being a powerful amplification system (forget mp3s via computers…) and good headphones. I listen to a lot of electronic/industrial music, or black metal, and I don’t need to imagine a playing band to capture the deepness, the spirit and the power behind the sound.
Last but not least I'm wondering, the French scene (whatever style) has never been more interesting than it is now. Can you recommend us a few great acts? And what have you been listening lately yourself?
Well, I don’t think we can talk about a French scene as we talked about a Floridian death metal scene or a Bay Area thrash metal scene years ago. We have some good bands or artists here, but in miscellaneous genres. For my taste, I can quote DeathSpell Omega and Blut Aus Nord in black metal, Magma in jazz/prog, or Mlada Fronta in electronica. Otherwise my play-list at the moment is crowded as always: Buried At Sea, Hyatari, Lightning Bolt, Om (my favourite release for 2005), Abandon, NoEvDia stuff (Funeral Mist, Ondskapt, etc.), Hocico, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore, Jarboe, Khanate, etc.
OK, these were my questions, thanks for answering them again. And feel free to add something I might have forgotten…
Thanx for your curiosity and your support. See you on tour (just kidding…).