Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Luiss. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Back to Where You’ve Never Been is the band’s first album in four years (Ed: MR’s review is here). How long have you been working on it? Is it all new material or is there anything from the days of Lazarus (or perhaps earlier)? And what kind of progression does it mark for the band?
Luiss Roux: Everything is new on the last album and it was all written after the Lazarus era. The songs are more straightforward than Lazarus. The idea was to clarify our message and make a simple and effective record. As the saying goes it’s harder to make things simple and the interesting thing on Back To Where You’ve Never Been is that we managed to keep the technical riffs but we used more traditional structures in terms of songwriting. It is a progression through an uncompromising will to get rid of the unnecessary and just get straight to our music’s core.
Jason: How did you approach composition for the album? Did you have an idea of how you wanted the album to sound or did that take shape as the tracks were being developed?
Luiss: As usual, Adrien (Grousset, guitar) composed most of the music back home. He just followed his instinct and wrote the songs as they would come to him. He also had a son during the composition process and it did have an influence on the songs because you can hear some kind of a lullaby feeling on some of the tracks. There was a definite intention to make this record a groovy one but things happened naturally.
Jason: The album title, Back to Where You’ve Never Been, is very intriguing. Can you tell us what inspired it and what it means in relation to the music? And is there a conceptual link across the album?
Luiss: To me it means that the only limits we have are the ones we set ourselves but it also deals with transition. We’re all in our thirties and since we do not make a living out of music it is hard to combine work, family and music. The album is very much centred on passion and it is stressing the fact that we should all be focusing on what’s truly meaningful to us. Like I said in the CD booklet, everyone has to define his/her own meaning of success. I want the listener to consider his life carefully and identify his strengths/weaknesses along with what’s going on deep inside his heart. I have a feeling my life is not entirely fulfilling because I have wasted a lot of time and I don’t enjoy my professional life apart of music so much… I guess we took a personal problem that we can all relate to and tried to make it more universal. The thing is that I was tired of writing pessimistic and negative lyrics and Hacride has always been about giving something positive back to the audience in terms of lyrical content. We are so much more than what we allow ourselves to be… I want to encourage our listeners to find out their true potential.
Jason: How does the band work to create the songs? Is it a collaborative effort or do you write individually? Do you discuss ideas about what you want of each track or is it an evolutionary process?
Luiss: Adrien composes back home and gives us the initial vision. Then we all get together and discuss the ideas, riffs and add our own personal elements with our respective instruments. It is a collaborative process and it goes step by step, song after song.
Jason: How do Hacride work to balance their creativity with their technical ability?
Luiss: We try to put the emphasis on the song quality instead of technicality and that’s why this album is easier to digest, I think. Like Fenriz from Darkthrone says, it’s necessary to unlearn your instrument at some point of your musical career. Some of our favourite riffs in metal are very simple… Like ‘Walk’ from Pantera for example, but of course we like it a bit more technical that! The thing is that we simplified the structures but we kept some of the tricky progressive riffs.
Jason: You and Florent Marcadet (drums) are the most recent additions to the Hacride line-up. What have you brought to the band?
Luiss: It’s hard to tell for me because I am the new singer… I’d say that I brought more aggression with my “screamy” vocals. I’m fucking pissed off all the time, dude! Flo Marcadet on drums added a nice dose of groove to the music. He is so influenced by hard core and R n’ B that he has to groove all the time. He is the most hip hop influenced drummer I have ever played with and he is very tight and steady. (Ed: You can read an interview with Florent Marcadet about another of his bands, Step In Fluid, here)
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork for the album? 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?
Luiss: His name is Alex Eckman-Lawn; he had complete freedom and was just influenced by the music. We chose this artwork because it puts the individual at the centre of everything. The symbols on the heart of the persona act as a battery pushing us further into life. It represents what keeps us going, passion in other words.
Jason: How did Hacride come to work with Indie Recordings? Why did you choose to work with them?
Luiss: A guy called Simon contacted us and he is a big Hacride fan. The guys knew him when he was working with Metal Blade. Indie is a very professional label and we believe they have enough international exposure to push us further into our musical journey.
Jason: Along with Hacride, some of the bands that I’ve reviewed and interviewed from France such as Klone, Lizzard, Trepalium, and Step In Fluid show a distinct 90s influence rather than the usual Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the like. Bands such as Tool, Deftones, Faith No More, Alice In Chains and bands of that nature (all great bands of course) are apparent influences. What is it about these bands and this era that you find inspirational?
Luiss: You are completely right and maybe it’s because we all grew up with these bands when we were teenagers in the early 90’s. I liked the freedom that these bands had… I mean they could sing with a clean voice or scream and nobody made such a big deal out of it. It was a free era with positive lyrical content about social issues and personal problems. These bands have a unique voice; they are so far away from the death and black metal circus! They are not afraid to go beyond the boundaries of metal and just explore music. It all comes down to writing good songs in the end.
Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?
Luiss: It’s a tough subject. On one hand I’m glad that music is so easy to get nowadays because it allows me to discover so much material every week. We are not limited by money issues anymore and it’s just a matter of how much time you wanna put into listening to music. On the other hand I miss the good old days of tape trading and buying records because it was exciting to wait and then you would take more time to listen and digest the albums. It was so much more than a list of mp3 songs and every detail made sense… There is too much material out there nowadays and many good bands too. It’s just hard and confusing to find your way around. Many bands just sound the same and there seems to be no real musical revolution. The worst part of it is the plastic “ez drummer” kinda sound… Everything sounds computerized and it lacks of human emotions.
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?
Luiss: A band survives by touring and getting help from social welfare! It is a good thing that we come back to limited packages and vinyl because a plastic CD sold for 20 Euros was an outrageous fact! I have bought so many of these and I feel cheated by the music industry and the government for imposing so much tax on CD sales… At least a vinyl is a beautiful object to collect and it feels great to listen as well.
Jason: In a recent interview with Midlands Rocks, Jørgen Munkeby of Norway’s Shining said that metal is recognised as an art form in his country and the government has special funds where people can apply for art related projects. Do you think metal should be recognised as an art form and be given such support? Is there such a thing in France?
Luiss: Totally! I have to agree with his statement. People don’t realize how many hours we put into making a record. It is an extreme form of art but it is art. It takes so much time and dedication to make and release albums nowadays. I think the government should sponsor us in France but it’s not gonna happen any time soon… Metal music has a bad reputation over here and the political elite just don’t get what we do. They just wanna get elected and they don’t do shit for nobody. It’s a fucking shame if you ask me.
Jason: What does the future hold for Hacride? Do you have any tour dates planned? Will we be seeing you in the UK?
Luiss: We just came back from India and we play in Barcelona in three weeks. We should be touring the UK in September and we are planning a European tour later this year. In the meantime we have to play Euroblast Prog Power fest, Motcultor Fest and a couple of other summer fests.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Luiss: Thank you for your interest in Hacride and keep suporting metal! I can’t wait to get to the UK and kick some asses over there. Get ready cause I’m a pretty intense and nervous motherfucker on stage! Cheers!
And you can visit Hacride on Facebook here