For how long has the band been around and how many records exist?
We've been around for 10 years now, and released 1 EP/DVD, 2 albums, 1 EP, 1 Split-cd and 1 demo-cd (there is also a live record with the Slackers but I don't think it can be considered as a record of our own)
I recently watched a documentary in arte about MADNESS and they played many shows in France. Is there a strong ska scene in France and for Carribean music in general?
Well, there are a couple of popular ska bands in France. But to be honest, those aren't the ones that are on radio or TV. Same with the scene: there are some promoters, some clubs, some festivals that book or try to book ska bands, but those are rare and do it for the cause, not for the money. Sure, there are some "ska" bands that are extremely popular in France… Madness is one of them, the rest of them are French bands, singing in French, and basically more "easy ska" than others.
The song "music has taken a backseat to haircuts" is a complain about the trendiness of today's music scene. Which things would you like to change or what do you want to create awareness for?
We do not want to change anything. Things are the way they are, and that's it. But it's a fact: today, bands pay way too much attention to the way they look, bands pay way too much attention to their popularity… and not necessarily to their music. The thing is that we find it silly that some bands follow the trend: when we started, back in 2000's, there were a lot of ska/punk bands. Years flew by and they stopped, because it wasn't "as popular as they wanted", and now those guys play in some trendy screamo/hardcore/emo bands. Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that playing in a screamo band is trendy. I'm just saying that's it's sad to stop the band you had because you believed the kind of music wasn't popular enough, and to start a band with a kind of music that is trendy.
Your lyrics are English and are you part of a minority or are there many bands that have English songs? In how far would you say that there is a language barrier for
A lot of bands sing in English in France. But we also have a lot of bands singing in French. I would say it's on a half/half basis.
As far as we're concerned, we decided to sing in English from the beginning, simply because we have a message in our lyrics and we want it to be understood
in as many parts of the world as possible. From the very beginning of the band, we played abroad at least as much as in France, so English was the obvious
language to use. Moreover, in our opinion, English is the right language when it comes to rock'n'roll. About the language barrier? The funny thing is that
the barrier exists only in France! We toured in more than 30 countries worldwide and it's great to have all those people coming to see us after a show telling
us that these or those lyrics mean a lot to them… wherever they're from. But, if we're talking about France, well yeah French are lacking the use of English…
They know English, but they're just not used to talk, read, write or listen to English due to a governmental policy of language protection:
word must be translated in the media, every movie must be dubbed in French, 40% of the music played on the radio must be sung in French etc.
As an English teacher at university, I got so many students who simply are afraid of using English whereas they know a lot of vocabulary or know grammar by heart…
That is where this language barrier comes from: French are not used to use foreign languages.
It was pretty sad to hear that the magazine Punk Rawk no longer exists, are there any print alternatives?
Absolutely not… And that sucks.
How did you get in touch with the trombone and trumpet player? Are the certain thing one must be careful with when playing these instruments?
The trumpet player, Yul, has been in the band since the very beginning of it, as he is one of the original members that created the band (Yul, Jay and myself Seb). Basically, it can be difficult to find a horn section. The luck we have as a band is that, when we started, none of us knew anything about music or played any instrument. Yul wanted to play the trumpet; he bought one, and played. Then about the trombone player, we were lucky to find one at the beginning of the band. After that, as we have a huge turnover in P.O.Box (for the reasons that this band is not our job), we had difficulties finding new trombone players, as this instrument isn't very popular. The main example I have in mind is our actual trombone player: he has been with us for a year and a half now. But we've been looking for one during 4 months, everywhere in France, and even in Belgium or Germany! Certain things one must be careful with when playing horns? Well, nothing more or less than for any other instrument.
You've played with Anti Flag, Mad Caddies, Big D and the Kids Table, The Slackers, The Skatalites, Against Me!, Burning Heads, Guerilla Poubelle, Les Caméléons and Skarface. Any exciting tour stories you'd like to share now?
We played with those bands yeah, among many others… Well, not really tour stories, but stories we share with 2 special bands to us. Big D and the Kids Table are really good friends. We met them about 7 years ago, as we were their local support in our hometown. We had fun, became friends; they brought us on tour with them in the UK, Germany, Belgium etc. When they're in France, they usually sleep at our place or so. We wrote that song, "Music has taken a backseat to haircuts" on the album "…And the lipstick traces" back in 2006, and we thought of Big D, one of the remaining ska-punk bands that has been doing the same thing for 15 years, guys touring non stop, dedicating their lives to that kind of music, and that deserve respect. We asked Dave (their singer) if he would be ok to sing on the record, he said yes, recorded in Boston, sent us the file back and we were amazed by the result. The Flatliners (from Canada) are also very close buddies. We met first through emails and stuff back in 2006 as we really love their music. Then we were touring Canada, and they show up at a show. We spent the whole night talking, sharing ideas. Then they signed on Fat Wreck Chords and came on tour in Europe. We did many shows together, it's always a great time we're having.
Same thing, we wrote the song "Going to the court" for the album "InBetweenTheLines", and as we shared so many things with the guys from The Flatliners, we definitely wanted them to appear on that song. Chris (their singer) said he was "honored" (I quote his words), recorded his part in Toronto, sent us the result, and we were amazed.
In the documentary I saw that you have a manager. What part of
business does he handle? Is he one of your mates or do you pay
him since you seem to play in front of large audiences in
No, he did not get paid, as we are not getting paid. I say "did not" because he's now the bass player in the band. He's a close friend, and he used to take care of the "dirty" job: booking, managing, driving, taking care of us on tour etc. But as I said, this band is not our job, so it wasn't his job either. We don't get any money, personally. For sure, the band gets money, but us, as individuals do not get any benefit from it, we don't get any cent of it. The general idea is that we don't want to make a living out of the band, because it enables us to do whatever we want, whenever we want it, and the way we like it… I mean, we never did it for the money and will never do. We travel Europe, we travel the world, and we adapt to the economic situations of the countries we visit. Our fees are different in Germany and in Ukraine, in France and in Romania… And we do it that way: music should be affordable, to everyone. We don't want music to be elitist, we don't want our shows to bring us money: we simply don't want to loose money on shows and tours. This way of thinking enables us to play all around the world: we get more money in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe, and that "more money we get" in Western Europe enables us to get less
You certainly have a message on your lyrics - are some members involved in organizations or political parties and isn't it time for the youth to form a movement like the pirate party in Germany but with a more intelligent agenda?
money in Eastern Europe. All in all, you German people give the possibility to people from Belarus for instance to see one of our show. How great is that!
We do have a message in our lyrics. We are aware that, having a microphone in hand and in being on stage in front of a crowd enables us to spread a message. But this is a social message: we are not politically engaged as a band, we are socially engaged. That doesn't mean we have no political conscience though, but we don't want to moralize people. We're just stating things for which we care, and let the people make their own opinion about them. However, we're all engaged if I can say in our scene: some of us work for webzines, some organize shows, and some others help touring bands and so on. We also released in the past series of samplers including a track from the bands who with we played: having the chance to tour a lot and in different parts of the world, we thought it would be a good opportunity for those bands we share the stage with to get their music listened by people in other countries as those 8 samplers were sold to 500 copies each, only through our distro. We did everything by ourselves: burning cds, doing the artwork, printing it, and assembling everything on a real DIY basis. So yeah, being involved in our scene is, for, us being involved in and organization.
Any famous last words?
Where the true detours force lies is not in moving away but in reaching a goal with more accuracy.