Greetings Vaeronh, how are you lately? How's your life in Paris after the recent terrorist attacks, do you feel less secure? How is your daily life affected by the recent developments in France?
I believe the best posture against these kind of attacks is to change nothing about the way we live. These few ball-less bastards will never manage to prevent me from drinking, attending concerts or enjoying the life I've chosen. The title “A Boire et A Manger” actually totally fits my point of view on that. Just enjoy life while you can, regardless when it will end. I don't embrace fear, I leave it to believers.
You've just announced A Boire et A Manger as being the title of your upcoming full-length album to be released on the 16th of January. I saw it has a direct link with the album cover. What's the story behind it? Why "to eat and drink"?
“Il y a à Boire et à Manger” is a French expression meaning that something possesses several significations. When referring to a liquid, it means it is pretty thick and opaque with many different solid ingredients. It is also used to express pejoratively that something has both good and bad things in it. Thanks to these different meanings and because of the fact that PN's themes mainly deals with materialistic topics, this rabelaisian title fits perfectly the album. There is actually à boire et à manger in this album.
For the cover art you worked again with the artist Cäme whom you worked before for Nom d'une Pipe!, it seems you're getting along very well. Do you think he somehow manages to capture and express the essence of Pensees Nocturnes through his works (it seems so to me)?
I would not say he is really into PN but Cäme is able to adapt himself to a project and even to suggest a lot of ideas. I think he understood the spirit behind PN and together we've managed to end up with a great lay out that fits perfectly to this album. There is a lot of exchanges between us during the making of the artwork which make it possible to be both eccentric and faithful to PN's spirit.
The new album was recorded again at Le Studio de la Pipe, which I guess it's your personal studio, a home studio. Or is it a real studio, with other customers, too? What equipment have you used? Is there anything special you need in order to record your music?
Le Studio de la Pipe is indeed my “personal studio”. There is nothing special about it except the fact I'm the only one using it, whenever I want. That goes usually from 4 to 6 in the morning.
And since we're talking about that, what instruments have been used for this album?
Like “Nom d'une Pipe!”, to sum up I would say that I switched from the violin to the trumpet and the trombone. However there is not that many instruments different from the other albums. I wanted to try to keep a relative homogeneity through the album and thus avoided the use of exotic instruments. Therefore I've mainly used the accordion, jazz instruments (brass, wind and the piano), and usual metal ones.
I saw you have 2 guests, Hazard (Way to End) and Vestal (Merrimack, Anus Mundi). How did they contribute to your new album? Did you need their input, or was it more because you wanted to have them "on board"?
There is actually nothing special about it. Hazard and Vestal are two friends I asked to sing in A Boire et A Manger in order to vary voices through the album. We know well each other and the recording was pretty instinctive between us. We've managed to mix their voice with mine and the result is quite natural.
The Metal scene and especially the Black Metal scene in France is extremely effervescent nowadays, but how do you see it? Do you consider Pensees Nocturnes as being part of it, or do you, as many others, reject that your music has ties to this genre?
As in other countries, only a few French bands produce music worth spending time on (like KPN, Diapsiquir, Reverence etc...). Others are worthless, even if they are French.
I put music before side issues (country, musicians, artwork...) and generally speaking I prefer to judge bands on a case by case basis and try to avoid cataloguing as far as possible. I don’t really try to fit to a style and what I’m used to listening to follow the same rules: I’m not led by any kind of chauvinism, only the way I feel the music and its spirit.
Can you please tell us a few words on the lyrics aspect of the new album? What's the concept behind it?
A Boire et A Manger is a wandering in an old and quaint Paris full of jazz and circus references. There is obviously plenty of plays on words and allusions to the Black Metal scene or political, social matters. True music lovers will also recognize many references to Jazz, traditional or classical music. It is the logical continuation of “Nom d'une Pipe!” with maybe more consistency.
Ceci est de la Musique, your album from 2011 is already a cult release since it was released in a very limited format of 60 copies as an answer to the constant free download of music against the artist's will. Do you feel anything changed in the meantime, do people start paying for the artist's work?
It's no that much a problem of money than a problem of respect. The minute an album is released, one can find it anywhere on the Internet, in every forms possible, without regard to the artist's opinion and will. Therefore I chose not to release “Ceci est de la Musique” publicly. This choice is the only freedom which remains to musicians today. The fact I chose to share “Ceci est de la Musique” with my reliable friends only is an answer to this web world in which music right belongs to every owner of an Internet connection. It's also a way for me to say that my integrity and my freedom is more important to me than fame and success. However, it seems that a small group of fans follows PN now and with “A Boire et A Manger” I wanted to try to release a small amount of copies for them. We will see if it's worth it or not.
Nom d'une Pipe! was released by yourself, how well it sold so far? It wasn't a particularly well received album, like for example Vacuum or Grotesque were, why do you think was that? How do you see Nom d'une Pipe! now, almost 3 years since it was released?
It has not been well received because it is simply an album difficult to receive. PN isn't a basic and easy music to get at the first listen like most bands that sell a lot are. It is not make to bang your head while driving or drinking bear with friend. But don't misunderstand me, I don't mean to disrespect basic Death, Black Metal or new “Post black stuff” since I come from the same scene and I also get drunk during festivals with others. But PN is not meant to be put in the same box. I try to put a little more thought in it and I guess most metallers are not the right audience for this music. Meanwhile others don't get what metal is all about so PN is kind of condemn. But I'm not going to fight against it with big promotion or distribution.
Vacuum is today the most appreciated PN's album whereas it is also the one I've spent the less time to produce. There is not that much into it except basic Depressive BM and I consider it as forgettable. But most people prefer it to others. There is nothing to be added.
For A Boire et A Manger I guess you has total artistic freedom since it was again released by yourself. Do you care for what listeners think of your music? Did you have any opinion from a listener that made you think or change anything in your music?
I've hardly heard something relevant enough to push me to change anything. Too few people go into details and can say anything precise enough to be pertinent. Reviewers today have almost no culture, technical skills nor vocabulary to express something useful whether in a positive or negative way. I would say that only a dozen reviews among the hundreds received on previous PN's album have retained my attention. We should favour quality over quantity when talking about critics but that's not in any label interest.
The only outside eye I actually find worth listening is my music mates I've been working with since years in other projects: I trust them enough to share freely.
I know A Boire et A Manger will be released as Digipak CD, will there be anything special about it? How will you manage your distribution? How important are CD sales nowadays in regards to digital sales for an act like Pensees Nocturnes?
There will be no distribution nor promotion for this album. I will only press a few copies of A Boire et A Manger for fans who really want it. The only way to get it will be to contact me directy. With time I've understood that sales have nothing to do with the music's quality. Only hype makes them happen and I don't want to be a part of this system. People who really get PN's music will come here by themselves. I don't want them to be sheep like others and to have to take them by the hand to explain why PN is so awesome.
I guess Pensees Nocturnes will never be a live act, but in an ideal setting how would you imagine a live gig?
Well I'm thinking about it right now actually. What is sure is that it would be something original with less instruments and effects. I indeed don't see it as a mp3 running with metal over it but real instruments played with a real metal band. Thus to be playable, I need to reduce the number of instruments and to adapt songs for live. But it is something pretty easy to achieve, the difficult part being actually to find the right musicians for it.
In the end please tell us, are there any new regarding your other band, Way to End, it's already almost 3 years since the latest album was released?
We had trouble finding a drummer during the last two years. The problem is not solved yet but we have some clues to be able to play live again. By then we will record our next album during sprint 2016 in order to release it during the year. Hopefully we will be able to play live to support it on the scene this year.
Thanks a lot for your time and answers!
Thank you for your time.
Interviewed by Adrian