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.
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?
- Jovi (from Jón Bón Jóvi)
- ¡?¿! (from Museo Del ¡?¿!)
- All of the above
- None of the above, or maybe one or two (from Museo Del Above)
- All of the below
- Jene Simmons (from Jene Loves Gezebel)
- As above, so below
- Find here
Lunear on the web: http://lunearmusic.com/