Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hello!
This is an exclusive interview that Tom Barman (leader of dEUS) gave me for spin fm , and that you may not have heard on air (which is a pity, because it's good... well I hope so!). Don't hesitate if you have any questions about this interview, which took place on October 8th.



-Spin fm :
So how does it feel to come back on stage with this new album?

-Tom :
We're having a lot of fun. The recording was quite painful, as you probably heard or read it. It was hard (he sighs). So now that we are getting used to play it and that we have fun with it, and that we're making some good stuff, I think... it's getting really pleasant!

-Spin fm :
How come the recording of this album was such a hard work?

-Tom :
It had been six years (since their former album, "The Ideal Crash" was released) and I had underestimated the fact that if you spend a long period without recording an album with a band, there are a lot of doubts that get in your head. This is the first reason. The second one is that people left the band in the middle of a recording or in the middle of a tour, last year, when we were playing some gigs is some festivals. There were personal stuff, mixed with artistic, musical stuff. It was all of that at the same time!..

-Spin fm :

You did some gigs recently. How do you feel about these?


-Tom :

Fine, fine! As I said it, in a tour you always need to play every day during a whole week, in order to reach a certain ... level. Since Orléans, the show just before the one in Paris, I have a godd set list, and since this venue, I don't think we did any show that was less than good.. So everything's alright.


-Spin fm :

Concerning the composition, I wanted to know if you spend a lot of time working on details, because your songs are not always structured in a simple way, and one doesn't like it immediately, one has to hear it again and again before one begins to like it. How do you compose your songs?


-Tom :

It's always been this way. The thing is I don't have any idea myself of what catches people's attention or doesn't! The only thing I can say is that we don't do forty tracks and choose 21 of them, like some bands usually do. We write twelve songs and put eleven of them on the CD, and there is one that is not as good, or that we don't like anymore, or whatever... But you know... I always believe we wrote the “hit single of the year”, and people say they like it only after hearing it for the 200th time, you see what I mean! (he laughs) I always believe I'm doing something very “accessible”.. sometimes we make some dark stuff and people say “oh I love it!”, so... you never know. I think all rock and pop musicians would say the same thing : there is no rule, there is no “formula”, there is no secret. You do what you like and then you just hope people will take the time to listen to it. But it's true that in dEUS, we like to work by “layers” of sounds, so there are a lot of instruments, a lot of little things... some “microproduction”... That's it. If you give your time to music, I think it brings you a lot of things back...


-Spin fm :

So the whole thing is working on “layers”?...


-Tom :

Yes but there is always a song at the origin. You see, “Bad timing”, the first song of the album, I play it alone, on the radio, acoustic. I don't make it last seven minutes. So there is always a song underneath. But stuff like “Stop/start nature”, the third track, which we played during the sound check in here, these are more DIY things, you see... I like both of them : very natural things, which already exist in an acoustic version, and on the other hand, very structured things.


-Spin fm :

Who produced your last album?


-Tom :

We produced it ourselves.

-Spin fm :

Ok. And what is the influence of the choice of the person who produces the album? Be cause “The Ideal Crash” was produced by David Botrill, who also produced albums of another band I like, that is called Tool...


-Tom :

That is a good question. I always wanted to work with a producer because I consider a producer as a “satellite perfectionnist”, someone who can be the fool instead of you, paying much attention to details... “Fool” is not the right word, but someone who can get on your nerves, who can tell you “well that has to be better”. It's a good thing to have someone who is not part of the band do that. But in fact I was the one who was doing that and it was a bit dangerous because I had 2 roles : I made the music myself and I also criticized the others. So it's a bit hard. On the other hand, you can have a sound that is much closer to what you want because there is no one between yo uand the music, no producer who insists on details, who does things by himself, who changes a sound while you're having a sandwich, whatever!... and you just have to say if you like it or not when you come back!... There are bands that don't like to work with producers. I like both (working with or without a producer). It was really hard to do it myself. But I didn't do it on my own : the band was also involved in this work. Idon't know... with a producer, you always get his personal sound, even if he tells you “I will respect the sound of the band”. The more people there is between you and the music, the more the music has the chance to be influenced by them.


-Spin fm :

So that is the reason why you decided to produce your album on your own?...


-Tom :

No it was supposed to be produced by Craig, the guitarist, who left the band. But I felt he was satisfied too easily with what we did. He didn' want o change things I wasn't satisfied with. I was always saying “no it's not finished yet”. We had arguments about that. And then he left, and we had no one to do it, so I decided to do it.


-Spin fm :

In the time between your two last albums, you directed a movie. It seemed to have been a hard experience too, that was really important for you...


-Spin fm :

It was hard because it is hard to make a movie but it was a wonderful experience. I have been to twenty festivals in the world with this movie and I had a lot of fun. By the way I showed it this afternoon in Toulouse and it was nice. There were a hundred people, people asked me questions. It didn't have a lot of success here in France. We had a shitty distribution (people have not worked seriously on it). We will release the movie again. But it's not a very commercial movie. It lasts two hours, there is no story, characters talk Flemmish. It's not exactly the new Spielberg production, if you see what I mean... But it was 100% positive for me. And I will do other movies.


-Spin fm :

Does cinema influence dEUS and its music?


-Tom :

It has always influenced me, not only because I made a movie. I think there is at least one track on each dEUS album, that deals with a cinema related thing : on “The Ideal Crash”, there is a track called “Magic hours”,which is an expression that is used in film-making; “Put the freaks up front”, that is someone who works with George Lucas... hum... “Dream sequence” : sequence is a word linked to cinema... yes cinema has always inspired me.


-Spin fm :

And does it work the other way : does music influence your film-making activity?


-Tom :

Cinema is a musical thing. Cutting is very close to music. Cutting is rhythm : it works or it doesn't, it's too long or too short and that is a musical thing. So yes it has influence too. Absolutely.


-Spin fm :

After cinema and music, are you considering new forms of expression?


-Tom :

No. I like to go in a bar and have beers. That is an form of expression too! (he laughs) .. With my buddies! ... No that's all.


-Spin fm :

In the period between the two last albums, did you have different musical influences? Because six years is a very long time...


-Tom :

I listened to much old stuff like the song-writing “masters” : Bob Dylan, etc. And in the same time I listened to much electro. I had a DJ activity for five years. I still do the DJ if I'm asked to. So ... much electro stuff, that has nothing to do with pop and rock. But I mainly explored the “cratf” side, for this album, or for the tracks I brought (because as you know it, I don't write everything, I write half each album and the rest is made in jam, or it's co-wrote... But we wanted to have an album that is cool to play live, an up-tempo album, because “The Ideal Crash” was quite a slow- of mid-tempo one. And when you tour for a year, you want to go “one, two, three, four!” and just play loud. Ans that's what is going to happen tonight. It's going to be quite rock and up-tempo. But there will also be ballads, intimate and calm things, because that is also what we do.


-Spin fm :

Yes there is a harder, heavier sound on the new album...


-Tom :

Yes! Yes that's what we wanted!...


-Spin fm :

How do you feel about the bands that have much success this year, like Franz Ferdinand? Do you listen to them?


-Tom :

You know, each timme we are recording an album, there is always a new trend. This year it's Franz Ferdinand. I remember when we were recording our first album “Worst Case Scenario”, it was Oasis, and for our second one it was Beck. I like it, I think it's cool. I am not going to buy it but I loved the first single by Franz Ferdinand, “Take me out”. I think the last one is a bit too common, but it's cool. I've been listening to current musical trends again for a year. I follow the new releases again. For four years, as I was saying, it was only electro or Dylan. I didn't care about the rest. I was a bit fed up with pop and rock. But now I like Interpol very much, I like Anthony and the Johnsons, which is a magnificent record. What else is there?... Oh yes the new Mark Lanegan is wonderful! Bubbkegum. It's already a year old. I don't know if you know that... He's the former singer of Screaming Trees, a grunge band of the 90s... And he made a record on which PJ Harvey sings, Josh Homme plays guitar... Check it out : it's called Bubblegum, it's a chef d'oeuvre.


-Spin fm :

There are a lot of Belgian bands that have success now, like Soulwax, etc. Do you feel that happened thanks to you, that you are the precursors? And what are the links between all these Belgian bands?


-Tom :

We know the members of Soulwax. We have their former drummer. Yes absolutely... Precursors, that's what all the journalists say. That's cool but we could have had success after other bands instead of having it before them. That's not a thing we claim for. We don't care about it. It's cool for these bands, it's cool for Belgium and it's good that they become famous outside of Belgium. But already in the 80s, there were a lot of very interesting Belgian bands : there was Arno, etc. Of course there was not as much infrastructure as now. We had the chance to sign up in the UK so our album was released everywhere but in the 80s it was not that simple... It's cool that it's now this way. And it's cool that they talk about us too.!


-Spin fm :

Is there a particular musical direction that you want to explore, now?


-Tom :

It's different with each album. With this on, we want to play quite heavy in our concerts. But writing songs will always be my first love. When I take a guitar, I don't play a riff : I play A minor, I play calm stuff... I'd like to record a completely calm album, one day, with or without dEUS, I don't know. A disc you can trust, I mean that it's not going to scream when you put track five, you know... Like a Nick Cave album, an acoustic thing, with strings, something very beautiful, with which you can fall asleep. I'd like to do that one day.


-Spin fm :

So it wouldn' be with dEUS?...


-Tom :

I don't know. Our story has been so changing, and it will still be in the future. I try to have fun in the present time and not to think too much about the ones I will do the next album with... Because otherwise people will leave the band again!... (he laughs) I was in Magnus with CJ Bolland. It was not well distributed here in France either. It's quite an electro thing. It was good. It was fun to do it. But it cost me so much effort to make dEUS work again that now I am going to keep on with dEUS for a while. We are not going to wait another six years to release a new album... It would destroy my mind!...


-Spin fm :

Last question before leaving you : what do you do during the last hours before a show?


-Tom :

It's different for each person : yesterday I had a quick nap, I think I'll have one today too. I have myself wake up an hour before the beginning, otherwise you're still asleep on stage!... Most stay really calm, read a book in a corner of a room, at the hotel, or watch a dvd in the tour bus. And there are also some little rituals : I like to have the band members only for myself half an hour before the show. Not even girlfriends or whatever : everybody out! These are little rituals I find important. Otherwise if you talk too much before the show, then you have nothing left to say on stage. I already made this mistake, and I learned from it. But everybody has his own rituals, you know. We've been doing this for a long time now, most of the time it's quiet before the show... and don't drink too much , too!


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