I'm particularly honoured to have the opportunity to feature this interview from Résistance vocalist Nathaniel Colas, conducted by Simon from THE LAMP OF THOTH... Of course, cause I like very much this french METAL band that mixes awesomely heavy and thrash with a very lyrical emphasis, leaded by the powerful and charismatic Nathaniel , but also because there's more than a palpable deep respect and complicity between both guys, which make some moments damned interesting.
Not so surprising when considering the top notch appearance of Simon on the 2nd album of Nathaniel's band and the originality that their bands display, in what we can just simply call METAL with guts, sensibility and a real sense of originality through very personnal artistic choices.
My first interview here last Spring was with Nathaniel, it was in french and my first like I said... ! So, this cool one definitely does him justice and gives you a great opportunity, if not done yet, to discover their excellent sophomore album "a tale of decadence" that has been recently finally released on vynil... If you like your Metal to be heavy, powerful and kinda weirdly epic, check out Résistance...
Hi Nathaniel, and Viva la Resistance!
N: Hey Simon! We love the Lamp! haha
Nathaniel, what is your history in the heavy metal music scene in general, and in Strasbourg and France. How did Resistance come about?
N: Wow, this is going to take hours to answer this one already. Well, being 13 years old in 1993, I of course got attacked by the metal virus with the bigger acts of the scene like IRON MAIDEN, S.O.D, SLAYER, CARCASS, DEICIDE, and BLACK SABBATH. Only later on I discovered that a thing such as the “underground” existed and then started to dive with my whole passion into it. As a student in Strasbourg I connected with other people and started to contribute with interviews and sometimes very harsh reviews in SKULL FUCKED zine. But this was too modern death metal and grind oriented for my tastes. I then started my own fanzine called MUTILATING PROCESS (whose name obviously stems from the excellent ASPHYX ep) and simultaneously I also did some interviews for the almighty VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE (online version), NIHILISTIC HOLOCAUST, BRUTALISM. It was between 2002 and 2004. A time when I also played some bass and sang with the French death metal horde BLOODY SIGN (recently laid to rest).
I also happened to do some drawings for bands like NECROVATION, RADEMASSAKER, BLASPHEMOPHAGHER.
In 2005 I joined the Strasbourg based headbanging machine called RéSISTANCE, after an attempt to joina doom metal band that in the end went nowhere. RESISTANCE existed since a couple of years already but never had a steady line up and nothing recorded yet. Obviously Florian (bass) and Joël (guitar) were first and foremost good friends. And as I joined the band, we started to mix our different influences in a big bowl and there it was, our sound was born (yet to be perfected, but still!). So we recorded our first demo, quite inexperienced, and to this day we try to get better and better on each new release. We stick to our guns as what fuels the band is our will to play the music that we enjoy, and we do not fear to change and progress, while incorporating some elements that might as well not be strictly metal, yet while keeping a strong metallic root!
Why did you choose the name? Is it an homage to the French resistance of WW2? Or are you just adversaries?!
N: Haha! Naaaah, that’s the question we get the most! Originally it comes from the French heavy/speed metal band KILLERS which recorded a track called “resistances”. There’s not such a historical link to our name. Obviously we’re not the only ones with this name, but we like it and think it represents well our way of thinking. We resist against clueless music and plastic people.
Introduce us to the decadent souls that make up your band!
N: Joël Bigeard: Six six six strings of depravation.
Florian Jougneau: Thundering frequencies and raspy backing vocal noise.
Marti Ilmar Uibo: Percussive torture, stone bashing and eerie voice of the dead.
Nathaniel Colas: Roaring decadence and lustful shrieks.
What I like about your first two albums is the seamless integrations of heavy metal styles, from the doom, to the metal, to the thrash – (and even some punk I think!) is this a deliberate mixture or a natural cohesion of your influences? Is their anything musically you would distance yourself from? I noticed your use of a hurdy-gurdy!
N: Actually, I’d say that it’s not totally deliberate. But we happen to discuss a lot about music and how we see it. I think that it is important to have a vision for the band. Even if that vision might not be totally clear. At least we know what we don’t want and we don’t fear to proceed to some experimentation. What we don’t want is something that might sound too sterile or calculated. We don’t want to stay trapped in the same formula over and over. I guess it’s not the safest way to play music, but at the same time, that’s what exciting in our eyes and ears.
Since the demo we use to include acoustic passages. On the first album Kalevi from BLOODY SIGN played some parts with his lute. On “a tale of decadence” we got Dimitar from BOYA/ LES VIOLONS BARBARES who put his gadulka (a traditional violin from Bulgaria) on an instrumental track. We definitely intend to keep these small instrumental pieces that add some instruments coming out of the pure metal world. We even used a Hammond organ on the last album… We don’t want to set any limits to our music, but it always has to sound strong, energetic and powerful, otherwise it wouldn’t be us.
We’re still forging our personality. I just hope we will never rehash what’s already been done. Yet the music has to always reflect what and who we are when we record it. It has to be sincere otherwise it cannot be. This is actually hard to describe with words. When we compose a song it involves a lot of “gut feeling” you know. It’s not like we already know how the final result is going to sound like. It’s a never ending quest.
Which are the most important French heavy metal bands historically, and why should we listen to them?
N: Well it’s not really heavy metal but more rock, still I definitely advise you to check out SOGGY, they were the French answer to MC5. An awesome forgotten jewel. The re-release is sadly sold out since a while, but it’s still possible to find some tracks on youtube.
The French progressive institution ANGE also was important in our not so rock’n’roll country. Their first albums released in the 70’s are pure gold. You should give a listen to “le cimetière des arlequins”! Insane!
Then when it comes to metal, one has to acknowledge that there was a boom with heavy metal bands in the 80’s. Often SORTILEGE, BLASPHEME, ADX, VULCAIN, DEMON EYES, SATAN JOKERS, etc are pretty much appreciated abroad (especially in Grece, Spain and Germany), but I think these bands can’t compete with H-BOMB. Now that was very good speed metal. Pretty brutal and “take no prisoners” attitude. Too bad they never really manage to make it. And of course KILLERS has released very good albums and still continues to do so.
About the more extreme fields of metal I’d recommend you the awesome
MUTILATOR (mid 80’s), that later turned into MUTILATED and then ABYSSALS. An essential band for every death metal fanatic. The MUTILATED demos were and still are considered as good as some early MORBID ANGEL stuff. Sadly no album was released.
Then MASSACRA (late 80’s) also used to play a very brutal style of thrashing death metal. Their three first albums are classics. Too bad they could not keep up the high level of sonic brutality on their following releases.
I also like CATACOMB (early 90’s stuff), with their very unique lovecraftian approach in the vein of early NOCTURNUS!
MERCYLESS (early 90’s stuff) also recorded some very good demos and 2 great albums before doing something completely different and not very interesting
From the more recent bands in the French metal scene, only a few are able to bring something unique and fresh on the table. I think of BLOODY SIGN’s “chaos echoes” third and last album that truly is pushing the envelope of a quite repetitive death metal scene.
RITUALIZATION is also definitely worth to check out with their bestial death/black metal. For the fans of ARCHGOAT, old INCANTATION
I’m not totally into their style but I have to recognize that DEATHSPELL OMEGA also manages to create a very unique brand of audio aggression.
For the traditionalist heavy metal fans I’d recommend LONEWOLF (in the RUNNING WILD vein) and HÜRLEMENT (screaming heavy metal).
Now about doom metal there’s RISING DUST (a good mix between CATHEDRAL, 70’s rock and PENTAGRAM), THE BOTTLE DOOM LAZY BAND (UFOMAMMUT meets SAINT VITUS) and OYABUN, as well as the more rock oriented SUN PREACHERS.
I hope it might help you to discover some cool frog eating stuff! Haha!
On your first album you presented us with a sterling cover version of Manilla Road’s ‘Necropolis’. You have also shared a stage with ‘The Shark’ himself! What are your views on covering other band’s work, and on meeting ones heroes?
N: Covering other band’s work is always interesting, because it is a new challenge. It forces you to think the music you play out of your ordinary way you compose within your band, if you see what I mean. For instance we like to cover “the uninvited guest” by MERCYFUL FATE, and it brings us a lot of inspiration because of its very rock oriented edge. Lately we toyed with pure rock stuff like JETHRO TULL’s “Aqualung”, SIR LORD BALTIMORE “kingdom come” and TASTE “what’s going on?”. To play these songs in the rehearsal room opened new doors to our approach of music. This helped us to sharpen our skills and sound. It was a needed step for us. Though we don’t consider playing these songs in the live sets of RESISTANCE, it’s more on a personal way to make our music evolve.
About MANILLA ROAD it was just amazing. I remember one day I told Joël (guitar) that we might have fun playing “Necropolis” in the rehearsal room, and we liked so much to play it that we put it on the album. Little did we know that one day we would share the stage with MANILLA ROAD, and that Mark Shelton in person would ask us if we would allow him to sing “necropolis” with us!!!!! We even befriended with the MANILLA dudes and so far have had the luck to do “necropolis” on stage with The Shark twice in our lives.
It feels good to meet your heroes when the heroes in question are nothing but passionate, dedicated and humble people. It makes you appreciate their music even more.
The only hero we know it is impossible to meet but that we feel the highest praise and esteem for is Rory Gallagher. RIP.
Your second album is a concept album based on Matthew Lewis’s The Monk. What attracted you to the ‘concept’ of a concept album, and why choose a minor classic of English Gothic literature, instead of one of the decadently spooky French classics such as Huysmans or Victor Hugo? Was it the Strasbourg connection?
N: The Strasbourg connection? What do you mean here?
Anyway. What attracted us to the “concept” of a concept album (haha) was the fact that I didn’t want to repeat myself with the lyrics. Plus we’re all fans of KING DIAMOND. So it felt natural to adapt such a theatrical piece like “the monk” in music. And actually it is not so far from the French literature. “The monk” by Lewis was indeed translated and adapted in French by the great Antonin Artaud which I admire quite a lot. He made some minor changes to the original English text and added more vice, more darkness to the whole.
What is the band’s approach to the song writing process – how did you manage to organise your ideas into the coherent whole the form of the concept album demands?
N: Well, first I had to read the book two or three times. Then, I took notes on every chapter. After a while I could finally separate each small story from the main story, and in the end I had to reorganize the bits in order to summarize the different plots in 9 different tracks.
What was interesting is that we knew in advance what would be the song about before we compose it. Hence we had already ideas about the mood, the colours we wanted to put into the song.
Since “the monk” is very theatrical I decided to cut the action in 3 main parts/acts like in a classic theatre piece from the 18th Century (the time when the story of “the monk” is supposed to happen).
The first part deals with Ambrosio (the monk) and his relationship to the poor Agnes, as well as his fall into lust and decadence with the help of the witch Mathilda.
The second part deals with Ambrosio’s fascination for the young and beautiful Antonia, and the way herades with Lucifer and kills the girl’s mother to get her.
The third and last part is the final confrontation between Ambrosio and Lucifer that tells him the horrible truth before he kills him.
It was indeed a lot of work only for the lyrical side.
Then about the music, it was also a big challenge. We wrote and arranged the songs until one week before we enter the studio. And the song writing took almost 2 years… Every single detail is worked and thought. We wanted to go further with the use of each instrument. I mean the bass and guitar for instance; they rarely play exactly the same notes at the same time. We were looking for depth in the sound and it took a while to find the good riffs as well as to work on the right arrangements. There was a constant dialogue between the music and the lyrics.
We also had to think about which parts would be sung by our guest vocalist, namely you my dear Simon! And I must say you did a fantastic job. Thanks a lot again for your excellent writing on the black mass.
I can say we are quite proud of what we achieved, because in the end we think the result turns out pretty good. At least in our ears! Haha!
How are you going to translate the concept of A Tale of Decadence live? Are you going to try, or will you rely of the strength of the individual songs?
N: Actually the fact that we worked on such a book opened my eyes on one thing. I just love the theatrical/narrative touch in music. I guess that’s why I’m a fan of KING DIAMOND, SLOUGH FEG, JETHRO TULL or THE LAMP OF THOTH. So you bet that these bands inspire us to when it comes to the stage acting. We won’t use any disguises or make up though. It shall be us but with a theatrical touch as in the live appearances of Lee Dorrian with CATHEDRAL, if you know what I mean. This is definitely going to give us a more distinctive touch on stage.
What are the best gigs you have played and why?
N: The one when we opened for MANILLA ROAD. It was a very special event and the birth of a real friendship.
We also played a quite great gig in Denmark at the METAL MAGIC FESTIVAL 2 years ago. I mean, when we arrived there nobody knew us, and the band that played before us attracted maybe 10 people (with half of them falling asleep). Then it was our turn to go on stage. It took us 2 songs before we realize the room was packed and the audience went crazy! I can tell you that many beers where shared after that, and that we look forward to playing again in Denmark in July.
Also in Southern and northern France we have many friends who go crazy anytime we play. It’s always a pleasure to play for them.
I am a real fan of unusual and eccentric vocals, and, if you don’t mind me saying so Nathaniel, your vocals are uniquely evocative of some screw loosed Gaelic madman, whilst at the same time being very powerful! What is your approach to the music vocally, and which vocalists do you admire?
N: Well at first I was trying hard to sing like a heavy metal singer with a high pitched voice and I quickly realised that it was wrong. I had to find where I feel the most comfortable. That’s why it’s a bit weird from time to time on “bang your fucking skull”. I’m sometimes hitting the wrong note or I simply don’t control my voice as much as I would have liked to.
I decided to take a couple of singing lessons because I didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes on “a tale of decadence”. And finally I am happy with my singing now. I feel much more comfortable than before I can hit some notes I would think were impossible for me. I can control my growls in a much more efficient way. In the end it is also what gave quite a lot of variation to the album. Now I can sing on a couple of different ranges without too much risk, and this allows me to sing with even more power.
Singers that I admire and like are Robert Lowe (SOLITUDE AETURNUS/CANDLEMASS), Paul Di Anno, Lori Bravo (NUCLEAR DEATH, RAPED), Janis Joplin, King Diamond, Keith Deen (HOLY TERROR), Arthur Brown, The Overtly Melancholic Lord Strange (THE LAMP OF THOTH), Brian Ross (SATAN/BLITZKRIEG, etc), Jello Biafra… The list is long. Generally I like singers with a good dose of feeling and a strong personality.
What was the experience in the studio like, when you recorded your second album, and how did it compare to the first? Are there any new techniques or ways of recording that were different to your first opus? Or is there a secret Resistance way to recording an album?
N: The one and only good formula we know of before the recording of an album is to fry an octopus in a camp fire with incenses and myrrh while chanting incantations to the almighty Ancient Ones! Ryleh, phtagYog-Sothoth!!! Is that a lovecraftian enough answer?
Bang your fucking skull”, our first album, was recorded in a very small studio in Karlsruhe (Germany) with only analogic machinery and a lot of ignorance from our side. But the result turned out to be quite fresh and spontaneous. Though, the mixing lasted for a quite long period of time, and the mastering screwed up a bit.
For “a tale of decadence” we went to a professional studio in Strasbourg for the recording and we went to Triptis (Germany) to do the mix with Patrick Engel known as AOD from HATESPAWN. We were well rehearsed and things went ok during the recording sessions, even though some things could have gone better. Maybe we will record the instruments with everybody in the same room next time, so it gives more cohesion in the end, when the players can see and interact directly with each other.
The mixing part was a good learning process. Patrick Engel used to work with bands like BLOODY SIGN, HELLISH CROSSFIRE, KATHARSIS, EXCORIATE… His attitude is very professional and dedicated. He always looks for the right sound that fits to the band. He has not a trademark sound like some other producers or studios. He’s there to serve the music, not his wallet. Even at night when he went home he would listen to the mix again and again. In the end we have a sound that we really enjoy. And we know that we want to work again with him for the future. There’s no question about that. It’s important to have someone who understands what you want to achieve musically. Plus Patrick is definitely a music junkie like me and we spent some great moments singing some KING CRIMSON stuff completely drunk after a hard day of work! I turned him into SOGGY and FLOWER TRAVELLIN’ BAND, he got me into obscure metal from the DDR era. It was very enriching on the human and musical levels.
What’s next for your fine musical outfit? Any plans for the third album yet?
N: As we don’t like to repeat ourselves we will certainly not do another concept album. Next time there will be different kind of songs, but I think we will keep the narrative way of writing songs. But so far we have not composed any new music. We’ve just got one new riff. That’s it. It took us so much to compose and record the new album that we don’t want to rush things. Inspiration shall come back step by step.
Lately I’ve been interested in a story about the last man decapitated in public by the guillotine in France. It happened in 1939, and it appears that there was a riot around the beheaded body… The women felt like soaking their tissues into the fresh blood so that they were ensured to have a good fertility. Crazy or what? Haha!
I find interesting to see that in our society, not so long ago the simple vision of blood brought the people back to the primal beast slumbering in each of us.
I think of writing a song about a soldier in the trenches during World War I. He’s stressed and disgusted by what he has to endure and choses the self-mutilation to escape from the front. But in the end he’s condemned to the firing squad and dies anyway.
These are the 2 first ideas I have at the moment. I have to think of other grim and bewitching stories where the human decadence and debilitating behaviours shall be portrayed.
Strasbourg is the seat of the Court of Human Rights if Wikipedia is to be believed! What maxims would you extol for the Court of Metal Rights?
N: The Court of Metal Rights? Haha! What an idea… I don’t know. I don’t really wish to see the metal I like to belong to any kind of dogma or institution. It would kill the few hints of creativity that already lack too much in our modern and sterile age of mainstream metal for plastic people. Let’s keep the chaos, the dirt, the filth. Seeds grow on manure, so does real music (or whatever artistic expression).
Now, enough of this nonsense – let’s talk beer. Last night I had a lovely pint of Winter Solstice seasonal ale in The Cricketer’s Arms in Keighley. What beery beverage has been warming Resistance’s cockles in this dark and dreary wintertime? I must admit, I am partial to the Belgian stuff, but there in Strasbourg, being so close to Germany and Belgium you must be swimming in some lovely ales! Or are you too addicted to wine to care?! Also, do you think wine and metal can mix?! I can’t imagine myself down the front of a gig holding aloft a Château Margaux, but that’s just me. Do you think it is right to judge someone on their taste in booze – or music for that matter?!!!
N: HAHAHA! Yes that’s a great question indeed. But I think that you might be mistaken on one point. Indeed Strasbourg is close to Germany, but in no way our average beers can match the level of greatness of German Pils. Still we have some smaller independent (or let’s call them underground! Haha!) breweries that purvey some fine beverages. I hope that next time you want to come to my place you won’t suffer from a terrific flu. Then I can fuel your soon to be prominent beer belly with some delicacy from my surroundings.
Alcohol is very traditional in Alsace, be it on the beer or the wine side (mostly the white ones). So it all depends on what you want to eat.
Thanks Nathaniel! Traditionally, the end of a fanzine interview is the place for the interviewee to rant, to rage, or to wish plagues upon his enemies: to tell us of his own unique perception of the beauty of the world, or to soliloquise one or all of the many roles a man must play, whether lover, beggar, bastard, fool or king. All the word’s a stage my friend, and the written thoughts of artists, musicians and poets the stage door. Here is your opportunity to wrent our thoughts asunder with some nugget profound – the Truth Nathaniel! – We want the Truth in all its eternal abstract glory – not this cruel earth of the foul senses, wherein everyman is Satan, and his tongue a loosed serpent making a mockery of our lofty thoughts! It is only with our ears in our hearts and our eyes in our brains that we can see the eternal road to Valhalla; light it up for us with the glory of your own unique and fruitful etymologies! Speak my friend! Unsheathe thy tongue like a sword; spill thy runes across this page like bibliographic blood, and conquer the souls of those who would descry you with thine own peculiar wisdoms…
N: First I admire your incredible sense for emphasis and writing skills.
Second, I might sound like the poor Brian of the Monty Pythons excellent film “Life of Brian”, but I cannot speak the Truth, for it is of a complex nature and everyone might as well own a mere facet of this philosophical idea. You are your own master. I will not dare to tell you that my “truth” prevails over yours. Though there are things I take for granted:
- There’s no use to take oneself seriously, though it doesn’t diminish the dedication and the passion one has for music.
- Death is certain life is not.
- It is a shame not to have heard of THE AGE OF TAURUS demo.
I wholeheartedly thank you for this very amusing and thoughtful interview. I wish we can bring plaguviolence and especially devastation on my homemade schnaps collection once you’ve decided to move your Masonic bottom to my haunted mansion.
a HUGE thank you to Simon and Nathaniel for this delightful interview, you rule guys \m/