Los Angeles’ underground rising star Brick Bosso, the project led by MindFree and Ska’n’Bones keyboardist Keith Walsh, has started an unexpected transformation recently. A transformation that could be compared to a worm becoming an 80’s star, while skipping the butterfly step.

In a short lapse, Brick Bosso released two full albums, showing an impressive boom of inspiration. I decided to do a joint review, since they are somehow linked in the process. Brother albums? Sister album? The artwork being in both cases created by graphic artist Liliane Avalos, one may think it’s the case. Nonetheless, they are completely different from each other and the main link between them is precisely that very transformation, that sometimes separates a good record from a great one.

Phase 1: The worm.

1. Blues Song Don’t be misled by the title: this ain’t no blues song. The organ intro leads to a typical Brick Bosso, almost Beatles-esque, traditional pop song. The ska feel is still obvious in the choruses, while only suggested in the verses. A dramatic bridge brings a nice twist of mood. Keith Walsh’s voice is sometimes close to break, without reaching the point of no return however.

2. Everyone’s Hoping For A Great Answer A noisy intro brings promises, kept by a truly great guitar riff, courtesy of Anthony Feliciano, with energetic organ responses. Again, Brick Bosso doesn’t shy away from English pop in the bridge, that smartly features a short quote of ‘What A Wonderful World’. Brilliant song.

3. Looking For The Perfect Plaid Always that ska feel, with a more poignant bass line and intriguing synthesizer topping.

4. Literature Foreshadowing the next album “80’s Star”, “Literature” navigates into the 80’s new wave abundance of synthesizers. Beautiful mood. Though a bit short, this is another gem.

5. Under Control The crispy guitar is a signature of Brick Bosso’s past productions. Interestingly, Walsh sings like a teenage Ian Curtis. Deep, dramatic, yet lighter than our late Joy Division singer.

6. Not Quite Right Now if that’s not a children song, what is it? The double voice adds some (unwanted?) humour. Pleasant without being what I’d call absolutely essential.

7. Bully Walkie Talkie The vocoder makes this “Bully Walkie Talkie” easily memorable, though somehow less captivating than other tracks on this album. It can be the perfect single. The 90’s-sounding synths are an odd choice in my opinion.

8. Mouth Monster Oh, now that’s quite rare: a piano intro, smooth and almost romantic. The light swing and Mellotron-like strings make it irresistible. Singalong comes without even trying. Great infectious track.

9. Miss Begotten That could have been a good tune from the Korgis, who also carried on the Beatles pop spirits and took it to a more sophisticated level. Nice bass, to say the least.

10. From A Worm To A Butterfly A new wave-infused intro and a catchy chorus make this “Worm” a potential single and possible stage favourite.

Phase 2: the star.

1. Perfect One may immediately think: that’s another typical Bosso song. But there’s something new: the real and sincere smoothness of synth. The out-of-tune bells coming out of the blue are quite beautiful.

2. Wicked What a captivating song! Full sound, quasi-hypnotic electronic snare, funny voice FX serve a tasty arrangement. Not to forget the cool synth bass.

3. Enhanced Brick Bosso breaks the speed limit with a fast song that starts with a heavy brass synth intro, before leaving space for synth bass and some rock piano.

4. Eyes Everywhere (Okuloj Ĉie) Anyone remembers the Esperanto language? I love the heavily echoed drums, the again Beatles-esque parts, and the superb atmosphere thanks to the synthesizer. Cool synth solo but I’m less enthusiastic about the guitar solo, that I find too self-conscious, if it makes any sense.

5. 80s Star Strangely the least synth-oriented song of the album, considering the title, this is the most natural, organic, and should I say least 80’s-sounding? Pay attention to the lyrics!

Keith Walsh: ’80s Star’ is an ironic song because though I never became a star, in fact my music career went very wrong, while at the same time several of my lovers and bandmates did become huge 80s stars. That coda you refer reflects my lifelong wish to have one of these projects record and release one or more of my songs.”

“In addition to the irony, the concept of ’80s Star’ portrays the dialectic of fame, how someone can reach the heights of fame and fortune, but then in middle age find him or herself with financial or romantic problems. The entire album is about the ups and downs of stardom, about love, despair, and redemption.’

6. Woe Superb hypnotic synth intro, echoed drums and low voice: “Woe” is Tangerine Dream meets Joy Division.

7. All We Are The butterfly visits the IQ / Yes territory with another great riff, followed by a haunting whistle synth.

8. 8 Billion Beautiful People Wasn’t the hippie movement born in California? Obviously it’s still alive in this hymn to human kind. Some might think of it as a cynical view, others might find it sissy, but as a song it’s a great way to close an album. Brick Bosso’s transformative album. That great album.

Keith Walsh: ‘8 Billion Beautiful People’ is a sincere song celebrating the value of every person. Sure, it’s idealized, as there are people with flaws that make them irredeemable. The song is also kind of a hippy song, celebrating peace and love. I would say it has a spiritual meaning–it’s meant to provoke thought about seeing the good in others.”

Controversy If you visit Brick Bosso on Bandcamp (https://brickbosso.bandcamp.com), you’ll notice a different track listing, with the song ‘Lucky Magic (Metroid)’ being part of the album, while on Spotify it’s a separate single. Actually, Keith Walsh doesn’t hesitate to poke at people who hurt him, whether it’s an employer or his former fellow musicians who he worked with just before they hit it big with Berlin (the band, not the city). If you think ‘Lucky Magic (Metroid)’ bears some resemblance with Berlin’s ‘The Metro’, you can’t be more right. We asked Keith Walsh to explain the reason why.

Keith Walsh: I deleted ‘Lucky Magic (Metroid)’  off the streaming distribution of the album except for Bandcamp because it’s a sound-a-like of the Berlin song ‘The Metro’ and includes soundbites from Berlin members. There’s some legal protection for things like that but if my old friends in Berlin asked me to take it down, it’s easy on Bandcamp, but on Spotify, Apple Music etc I would have had to recall the entire album. However, ‘Lucky Magic’ is available on all streaming platforms as a single.’ (They’re soundbites from VH1 Bands Reunited featuring Berlin, from about 2004. Samples are Terri Nunn, John Crawford, David Diamond and unknown narrator.)

I like to include a naughty song on every album. My first was ‘Here Comes Mr. Faketapes’ ‘The Hyper Supermarket’ (about a former employer) was a recent one, as was ‘Mouth Monster.’ And another was ‘Leaky Connections. These songs are messages to people who have hurt me in some way. ‘Lucky Magic’ is my newest and most naughty song experiment so far.

Brick Bosso. Photo by Anthony Feliciano.

Brick Bosso. Photo by Anthony Feliciano.

“From A Worm To A Butterfly” and “80s Star” were released within a mere 2 month lap. Is it that you had a sudden, unexpected blast of inspiration, or was it carefully planned? Can one be the volume two of the other, in a way?

Keith Walsh: It was actually four months, but yeah, I had some reservations about releasing actually three albums in 8 months (Birds and Believers was released on the first day of spring, Worm to A Butterfly on the first day of Summer.).Part of it was definitely being inspired to write, and making an effort to write more, but a major factor was having fewer distractions because of the global quarantine.

 

Aren’t you afraid that releasing two albums so close to each other in time would spoil their promotion? I mean, people usually love to get used to a record, and wait a year or more before the next one comes out.

Keith Walsh: Yes, I had some reservations, but promotion and marketing is something I worry little about. My main concern is just to create something good, and to have it heard. I don’t have the patience required to wait before releasing something, once I have a collection of 8 or 10 songs that are ready to go.

 

Both albums are rather short, from 27 to 30 minutes, which can make them fall into the EP category. Do you think that people are tired of 70-minutes long albums that became the norm since the CD arrived?

Keith Walsh: They’re short, but they have at least 8 songs each. It’s more about my short attention span than any concern about people’s preferences. It’s probably a lack of planning that stopped me from putting in an extra verse of chorus for a guitar or keyboard solo that would stretch the songs out a bit. In MindFree we have plenty of solos, and as a result the songs are longer.

 

With the “80s Star” album, you seem to take bold steps in experimentation (I’m talking about the songwriting), yet staying into a pleasant melodic mold. Have you consciously changed your songwriting approach? 

Keith Walsh: It wasn’t so much a conscious change as it was just letting things happen. I used to think very actively about using a ‘intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/middle 8 /outro’ structure, but lately, and especially on 80s Star I’m relaxing a bit and just letting the songs happen. Part of that comes from not wanting to do the same thing over and over again.

 

The cover artwork of both albums has been designed by Liliane Avalos. How did you meet her and how do you guys collaborate? Is she inspired by your music?

Keith Walsh: I approached Liliane after seeing her work on the Facebook page of a friend, Cirilo Rios, aka CD Rios, who also recorded and is mixing MindFree’s debut album. In fact, her artwork inspires me to perform better. I asked for her work on 80s Star before I was done, and then was motivated to finish sooner than I might have. Her work on both albums is so, so good.

 

Mostly with “80s Star”, your sound is less ska, warmer, more into synthesizers. Is your work with MindFree allowing you to loosen up a bit and explore different universes?

Keith Walsh: Playing with Mark and Moe in MindFree definitely changed me stylistically, because of their different influences. “All We Are” has a progressive rock riff that I wouldn’t have even tried except that these guys gave me confidence to try something more complex. Moe has played jazz, world music and rock, Mark is into prog, indie, and everything. We have a lot in common musically, but it’s the differences that helped me grow. The fact that the songs are more synth based is partly just a stylistic choice, and partly because keyboards have always been my main instrument. A few years ago I was learning guitar and was writing everything on an electric or acoustic, but felt, especially on 80s Star, that an abundance of keyboards was appropriate.

 

“Woe” starts with beautiful hypnotic synths, before segueing into a more typical Brick Bosso mood. Have you ever thought of letting yourself go and create some techno instrumental music, à-la DJ?

Keith Walsh: Someone recently suggested I could make some money doing music for meditation and massage music. I said ‘I have a friend named Gilles who does that.’ As for DJ and instrumental techno, I haven’t thought about it much. I think “Eyes Everywhere” is the closest to that techno sound. But this ties into the previous questions, part of why I’m exploring new sounds is because of all the new synths the latest releases of my DAW have added. Another part is just wanting to break away from bass/drums/guitar/organ/piano and try new things, partly because I didn’t want to repeat myself.

 

Do you construct the songs as ideas arrive, or do you first record demos?

Keith Walsh: I usually have a melody or a theme in my head that I can build a song around. Then I’ll sit at the piano and create some chords, verses and choruses, for the songs. The demos are just recordings I do on my phone. This is also so I don’t forget what my inspiration was. Then in my DAW I flesh out the song and do the arrangement.

 

Are there unreleased songs from these two albums? If so, why aren’t they released on the albums, is it a matter of not suiting the concept, or simply you don’t feel they’re good enough?

Keith Walsh: There might be a couple fragments that haven’t developed yet. “Under Control” from “Worm To A Butterfly” is something from 2016 or so, but I didn’t feel that it was strong enough. Then in 2020 I added some parts and now I feel it’s one of the better ones. Same for “Wicked” and “Enhanced” which are from 2012 or so, and show up on “80 Star”. I rummaged through my hard drive and was able to mix them and add parts, as well as add new lyrics (for Wicked) that I feel made them something worth listening to.

 

Are songs from these two albums becoming live material for MindFree?

Keith Walsh: So far, “All We Are” is the only one that MindFree is doing now. We played it at rehearsal today and it’s sounding awesome.

 

About MindFree, is it a reference to some 70’s seminars like the EST training or Mind Dynamics, that so many artists loved to join?

Keith Walsh: MindFree comes from the title of a song that Mark wrote, one of the first ones we played after getting together. It’s a song inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, not about one of those inspirational programs at all. But definitely we try to be inspiring and positive in our music and message, and don’t mind that our band name could be thought of that way. The name MindFree is definitely meant to have associations with positivity and inspiration, something we all believe in and try to live every day.

 

The listening corner

Brick Bosso on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6UFTEtXrJ9asWWv6MvD45B

80’s Star special: https://brickbosso.hearnow.com/80s-star

Liliane Avalos: https://www.lilianeavalos.com

MindFree: https://www.facebook.com/MindFreeBand

Ska’n’Bones: https://m.facebook.com/skanbones

You’ve Been Unboxing Gilles Snowcat

Posted: September 22, 2020 in News

You've Been Unboxing Gilles SnowcatUnbox Gilles on CD

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Unbox the artwork (free)

Do you really know Gilles? Have a peek at his world at www.gilles-snowcat.com

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BRICK BOSSO, Birds And Believers (2020)

Brick Bosso 2020

The underground Californian scene is as boiling as ever, with Brick Bosso’s brand new album Birds And Believers.

Brick Bosso’s apparently light Californian tone hardly hides some more socially ambitious lyrics, going from a playful look to the retail world (the up-tempo piano-driven The Hyper SuperMarket) to the story of homeless person on Walk Away, a Hollywood Boulevard vs Downtown LA-inspired song, emphasizing on the thin, very thin line between the fortunate and the unfortunate in our society. Walk Away shows welcomed fragility in Brick Bosso’s voice, making the song surprisingly emotional. The presence of a vocoder doesn’t spoil anything, quite the opposite.

Social issues has always been ska’s speciality, should we remind you that Brick Bosso is heavily into the genre? The opener Storks And Vultures with its driving beat and 60’s organ, is rather reminiscent of Bosso’s previous release Ska Time.

However the range of influences is wider here, like Hollywood Heroes, a delicate piece that slightly reminds me of Bruce Wooley’s Camera Club English Garden album, if anyone remembers. The heroes here are not who you’d think they are, Brick Bosso picturing the people dressed up as superheroes and cartoon character on Hollywood Boulevard, trying their best to make some money.

Brick Bosso seize the opportunity to tackle the apathy of politics on the ska-punk I Don’t Care At All, politics that he depicts as being theatre of the absurd.

The protest songs influence is even more obvious on the quasi-dylanesque Secular Song,  sung with a camp voice and a more flamboyant style.

The mysterious Spazzmatazz is drifting away from ska, led by a driving bass and some almost chanted ‘It could happen to you, it could happen to you’. Brick Bosso invites his old friend and musical partner Mark Abbruzzese.

With the irresistibly melodic closer Birds And Believers, Brick Bosso unleashes the poet within and pays a tribute to the Monkees’ Daydream Believer.

Available on Bancamp: https://brickbosso.bandcamp.com/album/birds-and-believers

Ah the trendy cardiac coherence technique! More and more ink is used to boast its benefits and equally comment on its controversies. Scientific facts or snake oil? Yours truly didn’t only use this exciting buzz to jump on the bandwagon, but to lead the convoy. Meet « Cardiac Coherence In C Minor » by Nekokawa Hypnosis.

How to use it? After the bell has done its cute 5-seconds countdown, you start to breathe-in with ascending notes, and breathe-out following descending ones. All that during 5 minutes, and then you feel good. Why? Because.

Now however cool that sounds and feels, if you have a history of cardiovascular troubles, you’d better pay a visit to your cardiologist, ask him if it’s OK for you to enjoy Meet « Cardiac Coherence In C Minor » by Nekokawa Hypnosis. And if he doesn’t get it, send him to where to get his own copy of it: https://gillessnowcat.bandcamp.com/album/cardiac-coherence-in-c-minor

Cheers
G.S.

More about Nekokawa Hypnosis: http://www.nekokawahypnosis.com

And Nekokawa Massage: http://www.nekokawamassage.com

Is Brick Bosso new hype of 2020’s Californian underground? With its song-based psychedelic, adventurously raucous rock, bringing melodies back in a world where it now only belongs to some sophisticated acts, this mysterious project suddenly reveals a new side of its talent, adding to that a connection with the raising glories of West Coast ska: Ska’N’Bones.

If Ska was popularised in the late 70’s, early 80’s, thanks to the boldness of the well-named band Madness, the origins of this genre date long before that. It was, in a nutshell, the 1950’s precursor of reggae, which whom it shares rhythmic similarities. Some say ska is reggae on vitamins (or any upper substance), while it would be more logical to see reggae as ska on weed.

Here comes Mr Ska Time, real tapes and real ska.

From the first notes of “Leaky Connections”, you know it’s Brick Bosso. And you know it’s ska. The good news is that Brick Bosso doesn’t pastiche ska; he lives it. To the bones. (pun intended)

You distinguish the unmistakeable trademark of Bosso, that almost Lennonesque acid in the voice and guitars, the sometimes surprising chords change (“All Of These Dreams”) that remind us that there’s a very competent musician behind the project.

Brick Bosso going ska isn’t a surprise when you dig deeper in his blurred identity: it happens that the common ground with Ska’N’Bones is hard to deny.

It may take a private detective to dig under Brick Bosso’s mystery, yet the man himself wasn’t too reluctant to answer our almost innocent questions.

You joined Ska’N’Bones sometimes after you had already launched your Brick Bosso career. Would have “Ska Time” have existed without becoming part of Ska’N’Bones? Or was a ska album already a plan of yours anyway?
Brick Bosso: I had created two Brick Bosso [https://brickbosso.bandcamp.com/] albums before Ska ‘N’ Bones assembled, which, when we finally released Smally Fingers then played live, inspired me to write songs in the Ska style for a third album. All the fun of reuniting with old friends plus the energetic mania of Ska music motivated me to create Ska Time as a spin-off of Ska ‘N’ Bones.

How different is your writing approach of ska with the two projects?
Brick Bosso: Having the parameters of a Ska beat just made it easier to formulate the tunes. I had already conceived of “Leaky Connections” as a kind of manic new wave song, so when I was finishing it to present to Mike and Jon, I added the Ska beat which motivated and propelled me. A good beat always helps, and this period of writing for Ska Time was lots of fun because I had been re-infected with the Ska bug.

Will the “Ska Time” album bring live material for Ska’n’Bones?
Brick Bosso: We’ve already performed “Leaky Connections” live and I hope that there will be others.

With “Housing Crisis”, you blur the boundaries between ska and reggae. How would you really differentiate the two styles?
Brick Bosso: As I understand it, Ska was created first in Jamaica of the 50’s, then was adapted to become reggae at a slower tempo to make it cooler for the dancers in crowded clubs. This story could be totally apocryphal however. The best of both genres are concerned with issues of social justice, though there are obviously examples of cool love songs in both.

For sure, “Housing Crisis” is the gem of the album, with its reggae-infused skank and intriguing synthesized brass. It also brings a more socially assertive lyrics on the table.

Brick Bosso: I’m aware that as a white man my reggae creds require of the listener a bit of suspension of disbelief, but the issue-the high cost of housing, which is a literally life-threatening reality all around me in California–seemed like a natural topic for a reggae tune. And the melody as I was writing it fit the slower tempo, so I went with it. Reggae did catch my ear as a child, but when the second wave of Ska arrived around 1979 –The Specials, Madness, The English Beat and Selecter — my head exploded. The combination of social justice issues, romantic discontent, and fun upbeat mania was the perfect mix. It was off the charts fun and still affects me in a ways no other genre of music does. And yes, I think that having Reggae as a vehicle almost cries out for social content. When writing housing crisis I very intentionally created it almost as homage to those great reggae artists from Jamaica I first heard in the 70s. I think it shows most in the synth brass arrangement and the drum sounds. Social content is not necessary but Ska and Reggae do beg for it.

Another tune is called “(I Wanna Be) Legitimate” and despite its title, doesn’t raise any question: it only confirms that Brick Bosso is legitimate in the ska world. To the point of leaving Ska’N’Bones behind, as just a stepping stone? The closer “Bye Bye Bones” may make us wonder. Still, Bosso corrects that ““Bye Bye Bones” was written in an extended period of inactivity between the first Ska ‘N’ Bones single and the recording of four additional songs for our first EP. My imagination went wild, as it often does, and the resulting song is a speculative, humorous look at my concerns about not hearing anything from my pals in the band, because they were all very busy with other gigs. Funny fact: the sound bites at the beginning and end are excerpts from recordings Mike, Jon and I made as promos for Ska Parade on Dirty Radio… I’m not going solo–Brick Bosso is a separate project but is not exclusive.”

40 years after the early 80’s ska boom, Bosso and Ska’N’Bones might be the twins that will renew the genre.

Brick Bosso, “Ska Time”, available on Amazon, CD Baby, Apple Music, Bandcamp and Google Music.

 

In a few musical events where I’m sometimes testing a live version of a few of my new love songs after dark, I had the pleasure to meet Juliett Novak, who was performing for a very similar reason.

In a world where humility is overrated, overused and as fake as it can be, musicians tend to become over cautious and afraid of any hint of ambition. Therefore it’s quite refreshing to discover someone like Juliett Novak, actually a Slovakian singer-songwriter now based in Belgium. Juliett makes no excuse for being there and her mindset is rather uplifting for whoever listens to her music.

From top-notch production to soulful songwriting, the songs she provides are showing her strong, ambitious and shining nature with no apologies.

Her single “Work It Out” is available via her website. It’s a captivating piece, haunting with a melodic hook that stays in your head. The site allows you to listen to other of her pieces, and although an album would be a better way to get into her universe, they’re all worth your time.

Juliett’s site: https://www.juliettnovak.com

An article about Juliett: https://www.tunedloud.com/2018/07/11/juliett-novak-pap-pa-rap-confirms-her-growing-status-as-a-songwriting-and-performing-artist/

 

Dear all’n’all

with the utmost logic, the massage music from Nekokawa Massage led to explore deeper in the altered states of mind and there we go, Nekokawa Hypnosis was born.

You’re into self-hypnosis? Don’t search any further, Nekokawa Hypnosis offers you two audio that do wonders for the saturation of your auditory senses during Betty Erickson-like inductions. More explaination on the site, this goes without saying!

Oh you’re not into hypnosis? You might want something different, like a new song? Got one for you. It’s fresh and live, played at the Super Direct radio show last January. It’s here: https://gillessnowcat.bandcamp.com/track/youve-been-drinking-my-limoncello-live

Yeah, there’s limoncello and some after dark lullabies around. Just in case…

G.S.

 

 

Music wasn’t that bad in 2008. I mean commercial music. You could turn on the radio or TV and listen to some good things, Timbaland, Kanye West, Nelly Furtado, Lily Allen, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, that was fresh air compared to the boring 90’s. Hey, even Oasis started to release something that sounded meaningful in 2008…

And “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” from yours truly. Gosh, it’s been 10 years. So the high-powers decided to give it a remaster test. Pass? Fail? Let’s dig deeper.

How does the remaster of “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” stand out, compared with the original version?
It’s like listening with HQ loudspeakers after 10 years of earphones, to give you a metaphor. It’s the same album, same sound, but different, enhanced. Like a gramophone with a new stylus.

Why did you choose to remaster “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” instead of any other of your records?
I found I still had the original masters, that were actually cruelly lacking mastering, also it’s its 10th anniversary today, and despite its lo-fi sound, it’s a fans’ favourite, so why not cleaning it a little?

Did you remix the songs as well?
Not a slice. The multi tracks have been long deleted and there’s no way to remix the songs, even if my life depended on it. Which is good, since I don’t want to fuck up with history anyway.

Are there any bonus tracks from the “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” sessions? Any demo?
No. And no. There’s the original bonus track that you get if you’re a good girl (or good boy) and download the album instead of lazily streaming it. There’s a demo or two somewhere, they might appear someday in a “Rare Grooves” collection album, or not, I don’t know.

What makes “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” so special?
There are some powerful energies involved in its making, back in 2008, and you can feel them when you listen to it. It’s a soulful record, it has its own kind of groove. Its dysfunctional for the better, should I say…

What gave it this lo-fi mood?
Some experimentations went bananas.

Is “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” a concept-album?
Yes and no, it has a unity for sure, and some underlying stories that connect the songs, so you can say there’s a concept behind it.

Who should never buy “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)”?
It’s surely not for everyone. It’s quite libidinous, booze-infused, things could go berserk sometimes, so if you just love clean acts, don’t bother buying. It’s like an exclusive club, you need to pass a test, and if you love “This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo)” you’re in.


* This Mouth (Nhạc Cho Em Mèo) 10th anniversary remaster *

In a time they call the 70’s and 80’s, the hype of the hypes (and the pot of gold for record companies) was supergroups. It was the brief union of members from various famous bands, or solo artists joining forces to make promises or at least an album.

Usually, supergroups were one-album wonders, despite their best of intentions. The reason was that you couldn’t expect huge egos to cohabitate in the same studio, dressing room or stage for too long before destructive fights, political matters and lawyers making grey hair defending angry record companies.

You might (or not) remember Paice Ashton & Lord, Captain Beyond, GTR, Asia, The Firm, The Power Station, Arcadia, or more recently Super Heavy. Only a few have survived, although a closer look at their line-ups clearly shows that only one member carries on, surrounded by anonymous underpaid session-musicians.

With the access of technology made easier and cheaper, one-man bands have become the new trend. If it saves from ego-driven fights, being the leader of a one-man band is quite a ‘lonely at the top’ situation, and sadly not even at the top for most of them. So without much surprise, a new kind of supergroup just started to show, which is the union of several one-man bands to form a multi-man band. Isn’t life a cycle, after all?

The first of these new supergroups is the power-trio named Lunear. Sousbock (Sébastien Bournier), Qurtis (JP Benadjer) and Midrone (Paul J. No) may not be as famous as Duran Duran, Genesis or Deep Purple who were a regular basis for supergroups in glorious days, but they’re all three established projects in their own fields.

Not exactly being fresh chicken, they have a common ground, which is a search for some musical perfection, leading to extremely high-quality records. Moreover, their collaboration hasn’t started with Lunear: take Sousbock’s “Lune & l’Autre” in 2009, you’ll hear Paul J. No and JP Benadjer giving a helping hand to Sebastien Bournier’s greatest musical achievement ever (only him could argue about it).

Here the equation is a bit different, since this supergroup is supposed to be, ahem, a democratic unit (don’t laugh please). When you know how rock bands and democracy don’t make very good matches, you may wonder how they could manage not to rip each other to threads. Well, they could and as result, there’s a superb album called “Many Miles Away”.

To give you a hint of the quality the band could reach, let’s say that if 1973 was represented by “The Dark Side Of The Moon” and 1985 by “Brothers In Arms”, 2018 should be the year of “Many Miles Away”. Top quality sound, fabulous songwriting, sophisticated music yet melodically captivating, a huge variety of songs that keep a unity all through the 50 minutes of the album, well, it doesn’t get better than this!

There’s a natural flow, constant inspiration, there is something that happens each and every second, each and every note carries its load of wonders, there’s actually not a single weakness, not a hint of dullness, nothing that comes in the way. “Many Miles Away” is close to what we’d expect from a perfect album. This is high-class sophisticated rock, the songs that Muse tries but in vain to write since their debuts.

Although the Lunear lads don’t try to hide their influences, the music never sounds like pastiche or a tribute. Sure one can spot a glimpse of this, a spoonful of that, yet it never spoils anything more than it should. Everyone will find a link with their favourite music anyway, so it’s rather pointless to analyse furthermore.

On the flip side, the lyrics rather fail to excite me. Knowing how a great gifted lyricist Bournier is with Soubock, I expected more than this mundane 40-something existential concerns, that will touch the heart of 40-something rat-racers in quest of life’s questions. “Slam the door, hit the road, leave everything behind, change your life (…) Time to follow your heart”. Come on, guys, really???

To understand a bit more about Lunear’s democratic structure, Seb, JP and Paul kindly answered a few mildly disturbing questions.

– Compared with Sousbock, which is your approach in songwriting with Lunear?

Seb: Well, it’s really not the same thing because in Sousbock I’m responsible for everything. I’ve had some collaboration within Sousbock that went the same way as for Lunear: I wrote lyrics and someone sent a music back. That was mainly the case with Lunear. I had lyrics and Paul would send songs back. Sometimes I had lyrics and musical ideas. Paul had musical ideas too. Almost finished songs but with no lyrics nor guide vocals and I just had to sing my lyrics over the music. That is a really fun way to write. And a bit worrying too because you hope that the others will like what you did. I can say that lyrics came first for Lunear. Or that existing lyrics were paired with existing musics. But I didn’t write lyrics for a specific music. In Sousbock there were no rules. Lyrics or Music, or sometimes both at the same time while writing and improvising…

Paul: I know that It’s a question for Seb, but I’d like to add that Seb’s lyrics fits perfectly with our kind of moods and music. As a singer I had no problem to sing them, and as a composer, they were very inspiring.

– Do you think that it’s easier to collaborate with other musicians since you have your own projects (Sousbock, Esse) to ease your ego?

Seb: I don’t know. But it is *really* a good thing to forget your ego and work to achieve something that will please three people instead of one. It’s really good to say things like « ok I’d really love to sing this one but your voice is better for the song, so do it ». And Paul has an amazing voice, that’s why he is our lead singer! At the end the music is the winner. It’s all for the music. It’s all that matters. And I think, because of that, it’s the best album I’ve been involved with and it’s no coincidence that I’m so proud of it.

– JP joined the band later. Did you and Paul start the project as Lunear, or were you thinking of a new Midrone album, or even a Sousbock record? Or did you start from a blank page?

Seb: One day, after working on each other projects for many years we just said « hey, let’s make an album together! ». We didn’t start from a blank page. We had lots of unused musical ideas, lyrics and even almost finished songs that we thought could fit in well. But we wanted to make a new band. So that was not Midrone and that was not Sousbock either.

JP: Sousdrone.

Seb: Or Mibock 😉

Paul: Midbock could be a fine name ;-)) What I feel great about those songs is that I really believe that none of us would have been able to do such an album without the help of the others. Even JP who arrived late in the process laid his magical touch on all the songs. A song like “Fresh Start”, which was the first we wrote with Seb, gained a lot after JP’s input.

– JP, Paul and you have worked together on several projects, including Sousbock. It seems that you are three ingredients than can produce different recipes. Do you feel there are more possibilities for you 3 working together on different kinds of projects, or have you already reached the limits of your collaborations?

Seb: Time is the limit. Really. And Money. And Distance. Otherwise, I’m up for anything music wise.

JP: As Prince said: « Time is a trick ». And don’t forget that the spice has mutated over four thousand years, we can use the orange spice gas which gives us the ability to fold space. That is, travel to any part of the universe without moving.

Paul: You can see that JP is a Dune fan 😉

– Knowing that most of influences came from you and Paul, if a second album has to be released, do you think that JP will bring his own set of influences, which include some more funky stuff? He’s known to be a huge admirer of Prince and David Bowie.

Seb: A second album will be released! That’s a scoop for you! I’ve already written the lyrics for 9 new songs and we’re really excited about it! Now we’ll have to write the music. And it will be new because now JP will be here from the beginning. I don’t think he will propose funky stuff to us, because I don’t like that and I think that our goal is to please the other two guys in the band. We’re not going full Tony Banks on the other two and forcing them to play and record things they don’t enjoy 😉

JP: And I love funky stuff but I can’t write some things like that. I never wrote any funky song… Maybe one title for PolarSun had a little funky taste (“Michael Collins”), but that’s all.

Paul: I’d love to do some funky music!! Sing in falsetto!! But let’s face it, it’s not the style of music we can produce in Lunear. When we finished the album, there was kind of a private joke. Seb saying that after the release he will leave the band, but JP and me always saying we’d love to try to do another one, with or without Seb… I guess he wrote the lyrics that fast just in case ;-))

– Amongst you three, who’s the biggest bastard?

Seb: That would be Paul, obviously 😉

JP: The idiot bastard song…. it would be a great song title. Oh wait !

Seb: Marillion has this song: “Built-in Bastard Radar”. I think we need one!

Paul: I don’t like that Marillion song… I’m definitely the bastard. I’d love to be the bad guy like in all good movies…

– Is it a rumour that Paul J No asked a plastic surgeon to make him look like Jon Bon Jovi?

Seb: Can we agree that when it’s true it’s not a rumour?

Paul: Plastic Surgeon??? Gosh… I’d love to be like Jon Bon Jovi at his age… Even if that’s not my cup of coffee.

– JP is obviously very strict about production and quality. When he joined the project, did he feel he had to fix a lot, or was he pleased by what he already heard?

JP: There are some re-takes, but it was overall pretty good when I arrived. I hope we will reach another level on the next album, including in the recording phase.

Seb: Well… He had to record all guitars and bass because on the demos they were played on a keyboard with guitar and bass sounds. That was a big thing to fix.

Paul: I have to admit that every guitar and bass that JP recorded was far stronger than the ones I recorded on the demos. JP is impressive. His work on the mix of the album is just brilliant. Sound is neat, clear. Powerful. I hope that with number 2 we’ll be able to maintain that level. I learned a lot from him and I’m sure we’ll reach a higher step on our next record.

– Does it make sense that Paul J No is a fan of Yes?

JP: Definitely maybe

Seb: You were keeping your best situation, an answer to yes. And don’t forget that the yes needs the no to win against the no.

Paul: The problem is that not only I’m a huge fan of Yes. The main issue is that my favorite Yes is the YesWest with Trevor Rabin.

– The songwriting on Lunear is impressive. Would you consider writing songs for other people, as a team?

Seb: Why are you asking? Do you need songs for your next Snowcat album? Seriously, I love to collaborate with others but I don’t know if I can write for others. Writing is not that hard but it takes time and energy. We don’t have enough time and energy for our own projects so…

JP: I dream about making film music.

Paul: I’d love writing for other artists. With or without my mates of Lunear. I don’t have enough ego to be a strong frontman. I’d better be a man in the shadows. I would have loved to see my songs sung by great singers…

– Why those Spanish people need to write question marks the reverse way? Was it easy to talk with Paul, who now lives there?

Seb: ¡ No ! Or… is it « ¡ Yes ! » ???¿¿¿??? Is it ?¿?

BONUS: as if wasn’t enough, why don’t you take the Lunear quiz right now?

What the ‘J’ of Paul J. No stands for?

  1. Jamon
  2. Jamón
  3. Jamòn
  4. Jamôn
  5. Jovi (from Jón Bón Jóvi)
  6. ¡?¿! (from Museo Del ¡?¿!)
  7. All of the above
  8. None of the above, or maybe one or two (from Museo Del Above)
  9. All of the below
  10. Jenesis
  11. Jene Simmons (from Jene Loves Gezebel)
  12. As above, so below
  13. Find here

Lunear on the web: http://lunearmusic.com/

 

Sébastien Bournier, singing drummer and drumming singer

Sébastien Bournier, the singing drummer, had a dream. A strong, obsessive dream. He wanted to take group pictures. Stupid group pictures. With a pose. Like any decent 80’s hair-metal band.

Satan Jokers

Years passed and someday, suddenly, he took the plunge, called his good friend J-P Benadjer, gave him a camera, and said: “Come on, JP, take group pictures of me”.

JP took the pics, gave back the camera to Seb, who went to the photographer having the film developed.

J-P Benadjer, fractal photographer

When he came back home, he called JP, panicked: “JP, I think there’s a little problem with the pics”

“Yeah?” said JP.

“I’m alone.”

“So?”

“Well, these are group pics”.

“Ah, true. Never thought of that”

“What should I do?”

“Get a friend, bring him her and I’ll take more pictures.”

“JP, you’re a genius.”

“I know.”

Seb took his old but strong 1982 Citroën LNA and hit the road to Spain, where his old pal Paul J. No was making a living as a more or less official Jon Bon Jovi doppelganger. His hard earned pay check was however dilapidated in satisfying his deeper vice, drinking jamón soup till he dropped, every night, in his favourite Museo del Jamón restaurant.

Seb found Paul sniffing his 45th spoonful of jamón fat and boldly asked him if he wanted to join for group pictures. No said yes.

The two friends hit the road again, PJN having to deal with Seb’s recurrent joke: “Why didn’t you study medicine? You could have become Dr No!” Paul never knew if he had to laugh, sigh or simply keep quiet. He opted to laugh, which happened to be the wrong choice that just made Seb very confident in his storytelling, and remember the road is long. Many, many miles…

Paul J. No, affirmative serial jamónizer

Back to France, JP was asked once again to shoot what became a duet. “Lovely, lovely”, he said after the 457th cliché taken, “you look like a modern version of Modern Talking. Doubly modern.”.

“No”, said Seb.

“You called me?” said No.

“No, No, I meant I don’t want to look like Modern Talking”.

Modern Talking

“Me neither”, said No.

“You need to be three”, JP revealed.

“…or no to be!” laughed No, who revealed the source of his musical guilty pleasure.

“On s’est promis, oh oui, d’être toujours des amis ! ”, gladly added JP.

“I don’t want to be mistaken for the 2B3”, cried Seb.

2 Be 3

“Don’t worry”, said JP, “the risk is, let’s say, quite low.”

“So let’s bring Snowcat on the group.”

“No”, said No.

“I don’t want to take pictures of Snowcat”, mumbled JP.

“And I don’t want Snowcat on the pics!”, added Seb.

“So why you asked?”, wondered No and JP.

“Hey, we need someone here, no?”, defended Seb.

“You called me, Seb?”, asked No.

“No.”

“Yes, you just did it again.”

“Oops”, britneyspeared Seb.

“What if JP became the 3rd member of our group?”, suggested No.

“Yes but who will take the pictures then?”, asked Seb.

“We can call Snowcat…”, innocently offered JP.

“Or simply use the timer of my iPhone X and do the shooting that way”, completed Seb.

A band was born. And then there were 3.

The pictures went viral. In no time, Seb, JP & No had become the new idols of South France, Spain and Catalognia del Jamón. Girls were sleeping in front of the house, money was flowing, life was good.

JP expressed his happiness: “We have a great band, wonderful pictures, faithful fans, free cocktails and a swimming pool. What else do we need?”

“An album, maybe?” replied No. “We haven’t played a single note of music since we formed.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea”, complimented Seb. “I’ll be the drummer. And you both, what you want to be?”

JP admitted that bass would suit him well, and No chose the keyboards.

“We need a guitarist”, reminded Seb.

“I know a band that became a trio and it’s the bassist who played the guitar”, said No.

“Well, he tried”, thought a realistic JP.

(Some bass players should have remained bass players)

Once it had been decided that it’s JP who would play the guitar, our newly formed band locked itself in a studio for four years, called themselves Lunear and offered the world their first album, a long-playing called “Many Miles Away”.

Listen to the album here: http://lunearmusic.com/listen/

Visit the website to get to know the three lads: http://lunearmusic.com/

What is the strange relationship between Lunear, Sousbock, Qurtis and Midrone? Read the review in this blog very soon (once it’s written actually).