Von Pariahs

Théo Radière


photo by Bruce Gonzales

 

Nine years after their appearance at Fontenay Le Comte, and while giving birth to their new album, Von Pariahs seems that finally, with matured desires, managed to use their fury into a constructive way. Though, all these years the Nantes six-piece remained on the underground, perhaps for its own good. Never being into pure rock element, the french band was always composing music so liberally and gave out two albums with varied productions and sounds. The third album “Radiodurans”, is out now via Mus'Azik label and was mixed by Aaron Cupples (Civil Civic, Tropical Storm Fuck, The Drones etc.) after being passed between the ears of the neo producer Eric Pasquereau (Tiger Paper, The Patriotic Sunday, The Holiday Colony).

The two producers did not hesitate to push the group out of their set limits, forcing them to transfigure all the ideas they were carrying as their constant pop image, to a more punk but modern sounding outcome. As Théo Radière tells us in our conversation: “the 'modern' way of mixing and the fact that we used a lot fewer cymbals in drums patterns, makes everything sounding clearer”. With a touch of madness like in songs as “Communication” and “Drinks”, Von Pariahs give to their sound increasingly insane energy, a clear desire to roll in an experiment with unknown results. These naive melodies and the strange distortion is pop music but so heavy muddled that sometimes you can’t say if that was made on purpose or just part of an experiment.

“Radiodurans” is an accessible and generally catchy album that is difficult to pigeonhole in any concrete type of rock music. Art rock and post-punk are some that could come in mind but the important thing here is that the band fully understood that it is better to dig their own path, than to fall behind others. Besides, with their third album proved themselves that no music “Pariahs” can survive this world but bands with great ideas and ambitions, like them.

Read our chat with Théo Radière below...
 


Radiodurans by Von Pariahs (out 18/10/2019 via Mus'Azik)

 

 

The Basement: Hello guys! Thank you for this interview. Who are Von Pariahs?
It’s quite simple: Von Pariahs is an independent band composed of 6 childhood/teenagehood friends from the countryside in Vendée, France. We lived somewhere we only had a few possibilities to fill some time when not at school. Either we could do mechanics on scooters, go swimming in the lake in summer, or lock ourselves in a room and play music until we are blue in the face. Guess which one we chose?

 

The Basement: How you met with the rest of the members and how you formed the band?
We consider that we started the band at 2 in 2005 in its first iteration which was called Fat Pandas: Guillaume, the drummer, and I who plays the guitar. We were 16 years old at that time and had a few other bands together for 3 or 4 years. Soon, we chose to expand the project with more musicians. That’s why another guitarist and Sam came in. Sam, whom I knew since he arrived in France, from Jersey (GB) at the age of 9. We met at the holidays camp in our village, and he was my neighbour. When Fat Pandas began, I asked him if he would be keen on singing with us. I thought it could work since our main influences were English and it was his mother-tongue. I didn’t know if he actually could sing, but it turned out that he could, luckily!

Then, at a gig, we spent the night playing music with Hugo that was in “one-of-the-other-bands-playing-that-night” and Guillaume told me: "I think we found our bass player". So he came at a rehearsal and never left the band since that day. Then we decided to make our sound evolve and asked Romain, a guy we knew from teenage binge-drinking nights in the parks from the city near our village, to play synths with us. We were 6 at that time, but the other guitarist left the band, and we decided to bring Marc-Antoine in and changed the name of the band to Von Pariahs. It was in 2009.

 

The Basement: What is the meaning of “Von Pariahs”? Tell us the story behind your name.
It’s about being a Pariah to your own. And also torn between things: Von meaning someone noble in German, and Pariah being the cast that is not even a cast since Pariahs are considered less than any other living element in the Indian social ladder. We always felt put apart, musically, and particularly when we began in Vendée where our friends wanted to listen to festive music or punk hardcore, but wouldn’t really understand or like our dark indie rock sound.

 

The Basement: I recently came up to your music through your new record "Radiodurans". This is the third one and a more wild one than your last I could say. Tell us more about the making of it.
We worked with a producer for the first time: Eric Pasquereau from bands Papier Tigre and Patriotic Sunday, two great acts from Nantes - the city we now live in since 2013. He pushed ourselves beyond the limits we knew, and our music too, as a consequence. We began by spending 1 year making songs. Then he arrived in the process and we listened to all the songs and began working on every single one (20 in total), trying to make them sound like nothing we knew. It took us 2 years more. So that makes it 3 years. We recorded only 14 of them, and chose to put only 10 on the best tracklist we thought for the LP… I think we went further than we ever did in the creating process, and our Pariah-ish personality really went through the songs and sound thanks to Eric and the time we took, never minding the consequence on our bank accounts. That’s an album we made while choosing to do things in parallel with the band to earn money, so that our music won’t be affected by any capitalistic thoughts.

 

The Basement: “Radiodurans" is, in my opinion, a more clear sounding LP, with less noise. Who made the production and what were the changes you made comparing to “Genuine Feelings” of 2016?
Aaron Cupples mixed the whole album. He’s one of the two guys in Civil Civic and we asked him to do it as soon as we discovered that he mixed half of the first album of Tropical Fuck Storm, which was one of our greatest discoveries in 2018. He made Von Pariahs sounding the most modern way it ever sounded. He’s a great technician who also has a very peculiar artistic feeling which matched perfectly with what we wanted. I think your feeling comes from his “modern” way of mixing and the fact that we used a lot fewer cymbals in drums patterns, which makes everything sound clearer. Especially compared to "Genuine Feelings", our second album, where we intentionally used a lot of cymbals to shape a wall of sound with the guitars. Also, every instrument’s part is the fruit of a big thinking. We took almost two times more time for this album than we did for Genuine Feelings which was made and recorded all by ourselves in a very DIY way. I even mixed it - which was one of my worst choices since I worked on it for almost 4 entire months, asking myself when I would become crazy. In our first album, "Hidden Tensions", we were sounding a little more vintage, which makes the whole thing sounding a little less clearer maybe.



photo by Sylvain Alcayna
 


The Basement: Can you musically categorize yourselves? We can listen to a post-rock band playing also some revitalised punk sounds.
I think we made three very different albums that interpreted rock music in three different ways. On "Radiodurans", we tried to make what we thought could be the most unexpected and modern rock music nowadays. Our pop roots are still here, but we pushed them the further we could to try and sound like something we haven’t discovered/heard yet.

 

The Basement: What have you been listening as teenagers? What are your influences?
We all listened to things like Disiz la Peste, Sniper or Linkin Park. Things that were huge when we were 12, 13 years old. But we also liked a lot to discover new bands that were not known by our friends. Old punks like The Undertones or The Stooges, new punks like Jay Reatard. Arty rock like Talking Heads or Television and baggy sound like The Stone Roses or Happy Mondays. We were also following indie rock bands like The Strokes or Arctic Monkeys.

 

The Basement: Do you know any indie rock bands from France doing similar work like yours? How do you consider yourselves in the french music industry in the next few years?
I think with this album we achieved to find a sound, an identity, that is not clearly defined for now and I don’t see or hear any band in France doing similar music to us. But there are a lot of great bands and they are all digging their own way/sound. The most “arty-sounding” of them are Papier Tigre, Spelterini, Binidu or Mïet. The coldest are Frustration, Structures or Rendez-Vous. The most psychedelic-sounding are Oiseau-Tempête or Mikaell Peels. The most “indie-rock sounding” are MNNQNS or Happier. The darkest and heaviest (in a non metal way) are Psychotic Monks and the punkest are Johnny Mafia, Lysistrata or Triceps. The popest are Born Idiot, Inuït, Lenparrot or Voyou. The... garagest are Strange Hands. There is a huge musical scene in France and a lot of amazing acts, but honestly, I don’t know where we stand in all this. I think this job is up to the journalists! ;-)

 

The Basement: Please explain to us the meaning of the song “Drinks”, I think it my most loved from “Radiodurans” and radio-friendly also!

- Here's Johnny, what can I do for you, my love?
- The usual!

I love this dialogue. :)

It’s about a man, who is lost in a loosing-spiral and crushed by the system. He’s been fired from his job, cheated on by his wife with one of his friends and drinking is his solution to escape from reality. Cheers!

 

 

 

The Basement: How's life in Nantes, no one lives abroad? Do you make a living through music?
Life in Nantes is pleasant for a white male from middle-class who doesn’t look too far at what other people are dealing with. For the others, it’s maybe a little better than in other cities in France, but still a kind of a pain in the ass. And it’s not getting better. As far as we’re concerned, we stopped hoping that music could make us earn enough money to live, and started looking at other jobs to fill the fridge. A big chance is that we have a great formation centre as musicians. And we can learn almost any job without spending money on the formation. So we all have other things in parallel.



The Basement: What are your thoughts about the refugee issue that Europe has to face?
Humans can be very stubborn and resilient. Knowing that the people who want to come here have nothing to lose and are almost two times more than we are in Europe (taking the African population into account, but you can add a lot of middle-east population to that) and that it’s not gonna decrease, how can we think we can stop them from coming here ? A sea won’t stop them, so what could? We have to find a room for them and learn to know them as they learn to know us so that we can live with each other respectfully. The fact that most of this immigration is coming from countries which are now politically unstable because of some of the European countries’ policy they want to come in, should be enough for us to help them! Are we finally gonna be a tiny little bit responsible or not at all? This is not going to stop, so we have to adjust to this issue instead of trying to fight it. Because this fight - despite the fact that it is unfair for the refugees - is lost in advance. We are killing and humiliating people and humiliation are very dangerous because it is almost always the beginning of huge conflicts/wars.

 

The Basement: What are your plans for the band? Playing any gigs this period?
We have a few gigs until Christmas in France, then we begin the “big part” of the tour at the beginning of 2020. The dates will soon be available!

 

The Basement: Make a wish or a statement
Come to our shows. :-)


The Basement: Thank you so very much, it was a pleasure talking to you. Good luck with your wonderful new LP! 


 


photo by Sylvain Alcayna


 

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