PRESENT YOURSELVES TO OUR READERS... WHO ARE PEST SOUND AS BAND MEMBERS?
Sylvain Dorange, keys, Frederic Guerin, drums, Franck Mahmoudian, bass, Neil Ovey, guitar and vocals.
WHEN DID YOU HAVE FOUNDED THE BAND?
Beginning of 2005.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE VERY FIRST BEGINNING OF BAND...
I made a home demo of some songs and was asked to play a few at a party.
Sylvain was there and expressed an interest. He knew Franck and suggested him as a drummer even though Franck didn't have any drums. I asked if he could play anything else. He said a little guitar so I gave him my bass. It's a right-handed bass. Franck is left-handed. But he turned it upside down and it sounded OK. Fred we met through a mutual friend. He and Sylvain are classically trained. Franck and I aren't. That makes for a mutual incomprehension that keeps things fresh. None of us know each other or spend time together outside of the group. There was another keyboard player at one point but that didn't work out.
WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR PREVIOUS RECORDING-EFFORTS?
There aren't any. Recording the LP was our first time in a studio.
WHAT'S ABOUT YOUR FOLLOWING?
A few promoters and journalists like what we do, so we get occasional gigs and write-ups. The people who come to see us come back - mostly friends, their friends, some drunks. It's slowly growing. We're getting some national press and a bit more exposure.
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTS IN YOUR HISTORY?
Probably the best thing that happened to us was that our vocal PA isn't really loud enough
to compete with us all playing loudly at once. So we had to create gaps in the music/reduce the volume in the chorus, things like that. Also each member of the group has carte blanche to suggest changes and improvements and we all accept that. If someone thinks that a certain part or melody should be axed: no bass for 4 bars, stop singing like a git, that no-one takes it personally. If it improves the song it's good.
ANY INTRODUCTIVE WORDS TO "76 KILOS LAUGHING"?
I think it's an honest representation of where we were musically when
we recorded it. We didn't know each other very well, came from different musical
backgrounds. There was a lot of tension. Some things were decided on as we did them. I think the group did a great job. I haven't listened to it in quite a while though. Looking forward to the next.
WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND?
Asymmetric rock. Pretentious enough to scare off the kind of people who probably wouldn't like it, and avoids questions about Oasis.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO HAVE STEVE ALBINI AS YOUR PRODUCER?
Well, he wasn't the producer, the group was. He's an engineer. His job is to listen to what you sound like and reproduce it as accurately as possible on tape. He's got a genius for that. The original idea was for us to go into a local studio. But we wanted to record
quickly and simply, live takes, and we were told we couldn't, that each instrument would have to be recorded separately. The computer was the boss. There was no way we would be allowed to record unaffected guitars as it would reflect badly on the studio. We were told 2 months at least to do an LP. It was a nightmare. So I got in touch with Steve's studio to see if they might know of a compatible studio in France, but soon realised that doing it anywhere else would be a false economy. The LP was recorded and mixed in less than a week and it was the most pleasant, stress-free experience you could hope for. Another thing Steve is great at is removing all the mystery from the recording process. It was just like recording in my bedroom. Except that someone else makes the coffee.
IT SEEMS THAT VELVET UNDERGROUND IS A STRONG INFLUENCE FOR YOU...
I like disparate elements coming together to form something original. That first Velvet's record is a perfect example of that. Lou Reed’s songs, Nico's voice, John Cale's touches. There's something dirty and joyful about it. I really like the drumming too. I think Lee Perry was the biggest influence on our record, though. His way of approaching a song with scissors.
ANY PARTICULAR CONCEPT CONCERNING THE ALBUM?
To be as honest as possible in the widest possible sense, and don't try too hard. Bukowski said that genius was the art of taking something complicated and presenting it in a simple way. I like that as a guiding principle. Also your own life has enough drama and stories in it for any songs that you might ever need to write. And they’re you’re stories. No-one else has them. That’s original material right there. You don't need to hide behind any personas or invent any lies.
WHAT'S THE MOOD OF IT?
My wife says it sounds frustrated. I like sexy and nervy. She says frustrated.
THE MOST SALIENT ASPECTS OF YOUR NEW ALBUM?
That it's sexy and nervy. Not frustrated. At all.
WHAT'S ABOUT THE FEEDBACK?
It's been positive so far. But then I would say that wouldn't I?
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SOUND?
The starting point was that we should sound like a machine. That each element was essential, no instrument more important than another. I think that if you allow everyone to express themselves freely, you’ll end up with something unique. It won’t sound quite like anyone else because you aren’t anyone else.
We're playing at the Printemps de Bourges Festival nest week and have a
bunch of meetings/people coming to see us. We'll see what comes out of that.
YOUR LIFE'S PHILOSOPHY?
Wish for what happens.
THE FUTURE OF THE BAND?
There are enough songs for another couple of albums already written. But as we only get together when we feel like it, so it might take a while. I might do a solo thing as well. I think if we keep getting interesting offers we'll keep going.
ANY LAST REMARKS?
Well, it’s 9 in the morning, I don’t feel too profound. Let me get another coffee and have a think. No, nothing. Sorry about that.