Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Noein were formed in 2007 out of a number of other bands (Aïdos, Krahan, Mémoria, and Greenwald, according to your Facebook bio). Can you tell us about how the band formed and what it was that drew you together to form and start writing as a band?
Cindy: We all played in different bands at the time we met, and we played some shows together, I replaced a guitarist in Sylvestre’s band for a show, and we all became quickly very good friends. About the same period, our bands were having difficulties and most of them stopped, or changed musicians, so it was completely natural and obvious for us to start playing together.
We still have the same bands we listen to a lot: Meshuggah, Soilwork, Strapping Young Lad, Mnemic, Arch Enemy, Gojira, although maybe their impact is a bit less present now as we get a better grasp on our own music.
Jason: Your first release was the 2010 EP The Initial Tale and we’ve just seen the release of the band’s first full-length, Infection Erasure Replacement. How have Noein evolved since the band’s inception?
Cindy: Well we evolved quite progressively as the opportunities came by: first we shot a music video that helped us be known in our area and be programmed on a festival there, along with Trepalium, amongst others. There we met their sound engineer who told us he’d like to work on The Initial Tale, and the boss of that festival became a very close friend, and our manager and he released the EP. That was a big step for us at the time! Then the EP got very good reviews on several webzines and magazines and we got chosen as the French metal band to go play at the Metal Batlle at Wacken! Another huge step! And we continued evolving through big shows (Gojira, Sepultura,…) until we released the album, and we hope it’ll continue this way!
Jason: Infection Erasure Replacement is an incredible debut (Ed: Jason’s review is here). What was it that you wanted to achieve with the album?
Cindy: Thank you very much for the great review! The album is an achievement in itself, we realized with the EP and the shows like Wacken that something was possible, and the album was the obvious following step. Only we had the experience from The Initial Tale, and the mistakes we made on it, so we wanted the album to be as perfect as possible, and we’re very happy with it!
Jason: Can you tell us about the concept behind the album? And how did this concept affect the writing of the album? Did the concept and the lyrics affect how you approached writing the music or vice versa?
Cindy: We had the idea of that concept when we shot the music video for Chrysalis in 2009; we wanted to tell a story through the video, and we got the idea of a human being awakening right after it was artificially created by a commercial corporation. We felt there was a lot more to do with that story and it was completely coherent with the industrial and electronic part of our music. Then we wrote the EP already following that concept, and the album is the continuation of that story. Thus everything was written as a whole, and the lyrics and music influenced each other.
Jason: Who writes the lyrics? And where do they find inspiration?
Cindy: Jenni (vocals) has a lot of ideas she writes down in French and then she works with Adrien to write the lyrics in English, all inspired by our story. Our external inspiration is Science-Fiction movies and novels, like Philip K. Dick, Asimov, George Orwell, etc…
Jason: The album title is made up of three instrumentals placed equally across the album. What does each of them mark or signify?
Cindy: Each of the instrumentals is a step throughout the story. ‘Infection’ means that the society was infected to the point that people don’t think by themselves anymore and are all controlled by the corporation. ‘Erasure’ is the result of a massive war between awakened citizens who try to rebel and the corporation using clones to fight for them, everything ends and everybody dies after the corporation releases a kind of monstrous and devastating weapon. ‘Replacement’ is an open door for what will come after this disaster; it’s our way to say that the story is not finished and that this infected society, after being erased will be replaced. This should be told in the next album.
Jason: You’ve obviously spent a lot of time working on the album. Is it all new material or is their stuff on there from the 2010 EP or even before then?
Cindy: We spent a lot of time working on it because we all wanted it to be perfect, we didn’t want to release quickly something that we’d be disappointed with shortly after. We had some songs ready since right after the EP was released and that we’ve been playing live a lot; the rest was written progressively between 2011 and 2012. So it’s all new material, considering the EP. And we’ll continue writing stuff as inspiration comes, we are currently working on two songs that we hope we can soon play live.
Jason: Band’s début albums usually consist of material that has been played live for a while and so have evolved within that setting. How have the tracks evolved since they were started?
Cindy: As I was saying, that was exactly the case for some songs, but not all. And actually, most of the songs are being arranged during a certain time until everyone in the band is happy with it, and then, from the moment we play them live, we don’t feel the necessity to change them. So the three oldest songs on the album did not change since we began playing them live in 2010.
Jason: How does the band write? Is there a main writer or do you all bring ideas to the band and then jam them out?
Cindy: Nico is the main writer of the band. He’s very creative and inspired and has a little home studio allowing him to record pre-productions with a programmed drum line. He sends them to us, and then we say what we like and what could be better, and we can suggest changes. Sylvestre then rewrites the drums and Jenni and Adrien work on the lyrics and the voice patterns.
Jason: Noein are a very technical band. How do you work to balance your creativity with your technical ability?
Cindy: Again, it’s all on Nico’s shoulders, apart from being very inspired and creative, he’s also very technical, and every new song is quite a challenge for us to play! But that’s what makes it even more interesting!
Jason: There are a number of bands on the international scene for whom English isn’t their first language yet choose to write in English. Why do you choose to write the lyrics in English?
Cindy: I don’t know about this proportion for the other countries, but in France, the vast majority of the bands write their lyrics in English. It’s a combination of things, it allows us to be listened to abroad, which would certainly be more difficult if the lyrics were in French, but the main reason is that the English language is a lot more rhythmic and melodic than other languages. French is more poetic, but it doesn’t sound the same at all, and it is very difficult to create voice patterns in French in metal. Some bands succeed in doing it, and it’s admirable, but honestly, English is the language of Rock!
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork for the album? How does it relate to the music?
Cindy: The artwork illustrates how humans are being artificially built in a factory, we wanted it to be perfectly consistent with the story we were telling, and it worked.
Jason: Who’s the artist? Why did you choose to work with him/her? And how much direction did you give him/her in its creation?
Cindy: The artist is Hicham Haddaji of Strychneen Studio, he’s worked for a lot of bands such as Trepalium and Outcast in France but also Shining (the Norwegian band) and SepticFlesh. We all looked on the internet for talented artists to do the artwork, and we all loved his touch a lot, we asked him if he wanted to work with us and he accepted. Hicham is amazingly good and understood instantly what we wanted. We sent him a text with the story we were telling in this album, and the first visuals he sent us were perfectly relating to our concept. Then we exchanged a lot to do some changes and get to this result. We were really impressed with the quality of his job.
Jason: The French scene has been given a lot more attention in recent years (Gojira are perhaps the most popular of French bands and Noein have played with them on occasion) and Klonosphere are working hard to bring a lot of bands to the world stage. How did Noein come to work with Klonosphere? And why did you choose to work with them?
Cindy: We had heard about Klonosphere for long time. With his previous band, Adrien played a show with Klone in 2006, so we knew that Klonosphere was doing good things. Then we met Trepalium at a festival and worked with their sound engineer who is also very close with Klonosphere people and bands. The following year, we played again at that festival along Klone, and then we talked with Guillaume who created the label to see if it would be interesting to work together. He was very interested and we trusted him to do a good job on the album. Gojira has opened a big door for French bands to be known outside France, which was very difficult before, and now a lot of great bands go play abroad. The French tour with Klone and Trepalium opening for Gojira is a very good example, another band who’s becoming very successful abroad now is Gorod, they toured in US and in Japan recently.
Jason: Bands are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, particularly in an age where sales are down because of illegal downloading and bands are releasing limited digipacks, vinyl editions and packages in an effort to counter this. How does a band survive in such an era?
Cindy: We never knew a better era; we’ve always known this time when it is actually almost impossible to make a living out of music. Considering that, we all have jobs that allow us to put money in the band and record an album, promote it, etc… We are realistic about it, we know it will always cost us more than we’ll get, and everyone is ready to make sacrifices to continue with our passion.
Jason: With the impact of illegal file-sharing on music sales, as a young band releasing their debut, do you have any concerns about survival in what seems to be an increasingly difficult market?
Cindy: We are aware that we don’t release an album to make money, but to spread our music and play shows; that’s what we do music for. And as long as we have enough money to continue to record songs and releasing albums, we’ll continue. And from what we see, the Metal market is not the one who suffered the most in terms of sale, a lot of metalheads like having the physical object; it’s a community of collectors, more than in other music currents. The other problem is that it’s become so easy for a band to record something and put it on the internet that the market is overcrowded now. It makes selling albums and playing shows even more difficult.
Jason: What does the future hold for Noein? Is there more music in the pipeline?
Cindy: There is more, as I was saying we’re working on some new material. In the future we’d like to do as many shows as possible; we have a project for a new music video; and eventually a new album!
Jason: Are you touring in support of the new album? And will we be seeing you in the UK any time soon?
Cindy: We are actually working on a tour in October and November, and some shows are already booked for next year. We also have some plans for the UK, we’d really love to come there, apparently some people have heard about us in the UK and several albums have been shipped there, so it’d be great to come play there!
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Cindy: Wow, usually French interviews ask for one closing word, now several words? That’s gonna be tough! Haha! No seriously, thank you very much for the review and for the longest and most interesting interview we had to answer! We certainly hope to see you all at our shows when we come play across the Channel!