Posts Tagged ‘Sousbock’

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).

 

 

 

 

 

When I visit a fellow musician’s studio, I’m sometimes surprised and scared by the strict, almost military tidiness where any trace of life seems to have been removed.
My musical environment is full of heteroclite objects that have, at first thought, no close relation to music at all. Well, I assume they have, like it or not.

One may ask (and some daring visitors do) why the hell I need a モヤっとボール on my keyboard, if an old chopstick on my sheet-music stand has really the power to make me play at a higher level and if my old Hello Kitty pick truly makes me a better guitarist. And the answer is invariably yes. Yes, a chopstick, a Kitty pick and a モヤっとボール, if they don’t necessary replace hours of practice in terms of virtuosity (something that’s stranger to me anyway), surely have the power to shake the magma of my inspiration and lead me to produce something more exciting, dangerous and slightly more outrageous than if I had been forced to create in a clean, white and neat room.

モヤっとボール

Those rock-star’s little helpers also include the fluffy chair, the warm strong black coffee or the 70° shot of absinth, the old outdated heavy wooden synthesizer bought during my high-school days, the bass guitar strings coming directly from Ôita-city or the painting of Breughel (well, it’s a copy) facing me every time I sit.

Some rude pals come and say “Hey Snowcat, you collect so much stuff. Why don’t you collect experiences instead? Uh?

Because the stuff that I collect is an experience in itself. Amen.

I love stuff that is soaked in history, memories and obscure meanings. Practical people see it as stuff, things that waste useful space, while I see and feel it as a connection with something bigger. And I love it.

Mardi Gras

Actually, I was born on Mardi Gras day. Yes, I guess it’s (a part of) the explanation.
Objects quickly pass from the status of mere stuff to the more responsible one of gris-gris, or lucky charm. Which explains why I need them around. They connect me. They bring me luck and inspiration, since they came from strong experiences. Gris-gris, not stuff.

Yellow & Pink Voodoo Dolls

I was born on Mardi Gras day, and that very moment influenced dramatically whatever happened since that day. And mostly for the best.
I can’t explain better than in music. I asked my gris-gris to take me somewhere once again, and two songs came straight out of it.

May you live the experience as strongly as I did. Listen to the single in streaming and if you want to own it, buy it through CD Baby or Bandcamp (more expensive but the complete artwork is offered as present). And in a matter of days it will spread its evil spells on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, Deezer and other music online supermarkets. Welcome to Mardi Gras Station!
G.S.

ps: the single features hallucinated contributions of Sébastien Bournier from Sousbock and Renato Ronchetti from Cinnamon Lilly.

LINKS:

http://cdbaby.com/cd/gillessnowcat2

https://gillessnowcat.bandcamp.com/album/mardi-gras-station

 

Midrone

There’s a special breed of music lovers, the unbelievably desperate nostalgic of some work I did two hundred years ago, the Tales Of Acid Ice Cream record. Seasonally there’s one or two of those neurotic misfits who appear and contact me any which way to ask “But Gilles, why the hell don’t you release anything like Tales Of Acid Ice Cream?”. Then they say how cool it was, and quickly emphasize on how ‘uncool’ is my music now (fucking hell, those poor things…). In early stages I tend to try to raise an argument but it usually proves useless. They think ToAIC was the real shit, and everything else coming after is undoubtedly rubbish. Let it be.

Jamon

The quickest way to get rid of those time-distorted unfaithful fans is to send them to either old Belgian New Beat vinyl records or in case of desperate persistence, Midrone, a project led from Spain by a French guy converted to Museo del Jamon and other guilty Catalan pleasures.

He’s not a complete stranger to the Awaken world, since besides carrying out a part of the acid heritage he’s also a collaborator of the Sousbock experience. Therefore this shouldn’t be a surprise to know that on Midrone’s 5th album there’s a drummer named Sébastien Bournier.

Sousbock

Not that Midrone would be a complete clone of the old Awaken stuff, far from that, but hell there are some notes that no one could really say they don’t strike a chord on them. Yet let’s be honest, on 5 records and unexpected ripples on the leader’s Bon-joviesque face, Midrone slightly moved away from its original influences, to synthetize a sophisticated pop that has, for the worse, some modern elements that sometimes embarrassingly follow the James Blunt / Ed Sheeran footsteps (gosh…) with its typical ‘ooh why did you go’ tear-jerking disposable rubber ballads. But for the best it has the romanticism and delicateness of the most captivating of Anthony Phillips plentiful discography or early 80’s neo-prog now forgotten acts. Not bad for a band that has only but a little substance to offer on the rock’n’roll side. Midrone’s regular geeky lifestyle won’t catch anyone’s eyes with crude stories, which might hopefully leave more space for the ears to get something more captivating than the bland shit pouring out on the radio these days.

Good boy

Storm Over has its share of fine moments, meaningful melodies and well-cooked arrangements (“Dany”, “It’s Over”) that make the purchase worth the pennies it costs. Even the dull seconds (the scary start of “Bitter Smile” or the Ed Sheeran bad smell of “Gone In The Night”) are just what they are: seconds. Midrone has the rare talent to give each song its own life. He can use a Mellotron without making it sound like a retarded prog parody (“Storm Over”, what a catch!), wink at Gino Vanelli fans (the beautiful “Food For Thoughts”) and even trying to make us dance (“Stranger In This World”, the only tribute to the old Midrone by the new Midrone), nothing really seems out of place. Even the cheezy Disney-like “Flying Lullaby” with its Prince Charming-meets-Princess piano and all the birds and the trees and the bad witch becoming good kind of shit is kind of cute, in its own way.

Storm

Storm Over is about storms all over the place, with another look at strong winds on “A Storm Must Have Come”, an almost funky, at least almost up-tempo, fake horn-driven with drummer Bournier’s crazy snare drum-roll that were last heard by the New Kids On The Block back in 1991.

nkotb

I sometimes freeze at some of Midrone’s hard-to-explain choices, like the “I Don’t Know The Words” that starts like a mainstream 2010’s tearjerker that fills MTV playlist, then gradually turns into an eurock anthem with hammer-like drums and a wall of acoustic. Not my favourite, but it’s still quite good considering the album comes from the country of one of the lousiest places in the world, the brainless attraction Ibiza.

Midrone demonstrated again that he could release good stuff with enough personality to avoid the trap of parody, except maybe on the final track, “Before The Storm”, that sounds like a passionate artist willing to show the whole world that his main influence is Genesis –with or without Phil Collins. Come on…

Storm Over is a good album that has, unlike previous Midrone album, a real unity and strong enough moments to be memorized and enjoyed as such, whatever the background is. A musician’s approach rather than a rock album, but a musician’s album that has enough to convince those who don’t give a shit about chords, tempo and time signature.

Midrone has no website but a fucking social media page (here), yet it shouldn’t prevent you to get its music on regular shops like Amazon and iTunes.

乾杯、

G.S.

 

 

 

 

 

Sousbock’s close collaboration with visual artist Frank Bizouard led to an interesting idea, to release a video based on the full new album, “Et Puis ?”.
Unlike other conceptual movies released from rock albums, this is a more contemplative, almost meditative relation between illustrations and each song.

More about this album has already been written here.

“Et puis ?” has just been released. Yeah.

Ah, forgot to tell you, it’s the new album from Sousbock.

You know Sousbock, that French band playing what they call depressive rock, featuring several lads that already gave your ears what they deserved on several Gilles Snowcat / Awaken records: Sébastien bargio Bournier, Nicolas NikoZark Leroy, Julien Trust No One and Marco Mariani.

Et puis ?” also features your favourite Snowcat playing some magic keys here and there, great songwriting and solid playing, a clear production (totally un-Snowcat in a way) and the usual stunning artwork from Franck, who is to Sousbock what Mark Wilkinson is for Fish or, well… Roger Dean for Yes.

Sousbock, "Et puis ?"

You can download the thing here and while you enjoy listening, thank Seb (he’s the Grand Leader / dictator) the following way (quote Seb):

Et si ça vous voulez pour une raison ou une autre me remercier, il y a deux façons de le faire : la première : me mettre un petit message pour me dire ce que vous en pensez (en bien ou en mal), la deuxième, faire un petit don à l’AFA pour soutenir la recherche contre la maladie de Crohn. http://www.afa.asso.fr/

(end of quote)

Nota 1: a very special ahem… collector edition featuring a missing song was released at first but soon replaced by the whole album. Sousbock created the un-bonus track!

Nota 2: according to the artwork credits, it may be the last Sousbock album ever. Gosh, please beg them to change their mind (actually the Grand Leader’s mind), since [even though the salary for session musicians is not even enough to buy a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau] it would be a shame that your beloved Snowcat would lose his every-three-years part time job.

Video News 2103年8月

What time is it? Ask a Japanese top model. Also featuring: Sousbock, and Gilles Snowcat’s art gallery in Beppu.