Wednesday, July 10, 2013

... in the muddy path of Doom : Interview with STONEBIRDS

Here is another reason to put your hands on brand new release “Kreiz-Breizh Sessions”! Let me remind that this split-CD of two really marvelous bands from Brittany was released a month ago by Stangala and StoneBirds. And as you already have read our interview with Stangala and were enlightened by Steven and Tom who took a break from their sacred psychedelic meditations, let’s take a look onto the way how StoneBirds fly! Sylvain (bass) and Fañch (voice/guitar) are here to spread a word of Doom and Rock! Sit down comfortably, let’s take a ride!

Hello man! Let us start this interview with StoneBirds presentation and after that turn to some details of your musical searches. You’re from north of France and though it’s not a surprise but that do connect you with a world of stoner and desert rock music? Does this music have something special for you? Something that you gladly represent in your songs and shows…
Sylvain: We’re not really from what we French people call the North, we’re from Britanny. The link between our location and stoner rock is not obvious at first sight, Kreiz-Breizh (where we live) is in the middle of nowhere, a very green place but a pure desert as well, no one wants to live there except farmers and their cows. Thinking of it, maybe that’s why we started Stonebirds as a desert rock band.
This music is meaningful to us, some of us listen to it heavily and grew up with that particular sound, but to me personally it’s no big deal, I’m not really into desert rock, more into sludge/doom or stoner (just to speak about this kind of music) .
On stage we just try to be as honest as possible and share good time with the audience, we don’t have any attitude/make up/whatever, just three guys playing rock and drinking beers with people.
Fañch: We’re not French we’re BRETONS !!!!!

There’re a lot of bands today who write good heavy tunes with that retro vibe, some of them are bloody famous. A day before I visited Red Fang show for example, and you know – they have a handful of great songs but on the other hand they have tracks with nothing special. Stoner rock doesn’t sound like genre with a wide choice of fantastic variations, but I would like to know your opinion man.
Sylvain: Haha, I think it’s a real problem in this music family, a lot of bands are in search of THE sound and spend hours in search of the best amp or effect they can find, but they don’t take enough time to write more than three or four good songs in a LP.
I think they’re wasting their time, if you’re actually able to write tunes that are great, how can you be happy with an album full of “empty” songs ?
I’m not saying that all of our songs are perfect but we try to be proud of our records and we don’t hesitate to put some tunes aside if we’re not satisfied enough with it.
Fañch: I have pretty much the same opinion on Red Fang but I can't  agree with you about stoner, there's a big gap between Monkey3 and Orange Goblin, but for me they both play stoner.
I suppose there's still no band able to mix Monkey3 style and Down riffs in one song but stoner music shows a wide range of variations: psychedelic, doom, sludge, drone, desert rock... all of this is part of stoner music.

And where do you see StoneBirds from that point of view? Where’s band’s place in world doom rock scene?
Fañch: As you said, doom rock... It's really difficult to answer, the line between doom, stoner and sludge can be very thin. I would say that Stonebirds plays stonoom or doomer, something like that.
Sylvain: Hmmm, maybe you can say that we mix desert rock with sludge elements, we try to be heavier than in the past but we keep a positive vibe in our tunes (in appearance...) and for our place in the doom rock scene, well… we should be the kings of it within one month or so.

We can suppose that some countries have some musical features – England gave a birth to original doom metal and a lot of other stuff, USA looks like a motherland of stoner and desert rock, Italy is famous with it’s progressive scene. What’s about France? The oldest band which I know is Northwinds and it seems a bit sad for me for they are still not such famous as they’re worth.
Sylvain: That’s a tough one. I can’t see any particular style that came from our country, but if you consider other musics… think of Erik Satie, Art Zoyd, Pierre Boulez, Pierre Henry, Pierre Schaeffer (hey that makes a lot of “Stone” name hu? “Pierre” means “Stone” in French...), Henry Dutilleux, Edgar Varèse, Claude Debussy, etc etc, in other words, the experimental, contemporary scene is/was very strong here.
For Northwinds, I must admit that i didn’t even knew them before we shared the stage in Bressuire. They made a great show. I really dig their music! What’s funny is that I talked about them to a friend of mine with whom I used to play in the past, and he told me that with his former band he played with Northwinds bassplayer... everyone is connected in the end!
Fañch: Northwinds is the oldest doom band in France (and one of the best). We also have a good noise scene in France, just listen to Marvin, Le Singe Blanc, Pneu… you won't be disappointed. We had a good psychedelic/progressive scene with Ange, Magma... As Sylvain said, there’s no real amplified music culture here, France is more into looking at its glorious past, classical and acoustic music.

I don’t like noise bands Fañch, so I’ll better hold my hand. What is the core of stoner / doom rock music for you? And how does it reflect in your songs?
Fañch; Fucking groovy feeling, low tuning, THE fuzz and kickass riffs…mainly, then I would add hypnotic parts and drugs and alcohol. I remember now I tried to make a lot of hypnotic riffs in "Slow Fly", like in "D.F.D.K." song for example... In "true stoner songs" (just in my opinion, I don't want troubles) like in "One Inch Man" from who-you-know, there's always something in the groove that makes me feel like a snake crawling in the desert or the sea tide coming and going endlessly. That's one of the reasons I like this music so much. I don't try to create this feeling anymore with Stonebirds, even if some songs from "Slow Fly", like "Cosmos Rider" live version, make you feel that way. Today I’m digging more and more sad and anxious feelings, I'm joined the dark side of force.
So as we are a stonoom or doomer band, we mix all those ingredients, groovy riff played low with a fuzzy/smoke-like sound.  

I remember a live report from Anthems of Doom show; I read it onto Temple of Perdition. You play there with Northwinds, Stangala, The Bottle Doom Lazy Band – already great set! But I was surprised with fewness of public. Damn, it’s unfair man! What the hell?!!.. Oh, sorry, that is a question indeed.
Sylvain: This kind of show is ordinary, we’re playing stoner, sludge etc., these are not very popular sounds, even local metalheads don’t really know this kind of stuff and they don’t always love it, so we’re used to play in front of small audiences.
But thanks to our singer voice, even your mother, his mother and your little sister can attend to one of our shows and love it (of course they have to drink one or two triple fermentation beer before that). Yeah, that’s an answer !
Fañch: I think that if the gig took place in a bigger town, more people could have appreciated the good sets we heard there, but once again, that’s France. If your not playing in a big, broadminded city, like Lille, Nantes, Paris and other places like that, you may have some difficulties to fill the venue.

Did you face any difficulties writing and recording your first full-length album “Slow Fly”? How fast was StoneBirds musical conception born?
Sylvain: I let Fañch get this one since I wasn’t part of the band at this moment, I just recorded bass at home one month after I joined them.
Fañch: Nope, no difficulties to write those songs. I was very influenced (way too much for sure) by Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. I'm always a bit ashamed when talking about this album. I'm not fully proud of what we did on it, there are good songs for sure but there's always something wrong in the tunes and the whole mix is crap. It was my first recording experience as singer too, I’ve started to sing during the recording sessions and I think I really improved my vocals since then.
We rent a house to record it and we did all by ourselves. The band was born for less than six months when we started the recording sessions. I was very eager to finish this album and that's my problem, Breton people are well known for being stubborn. Today I consider it more like a life-size exercise that we needed at this moment than an actual album.

What were main ideas which you did want to put in your songs? And can you say that you have fulfilled your plans perfectly?
Fañch: I can't remember clearly what were the main ideas for this album but one thing is sure: we just wanted to make desert rock while smoking weed as much as we could.
We tried to mix the first QOTSA albums, for the raw riffing, with the Lullabies to Paralyse atmosphere. 

I know that StoneBirds’ last news is releasing of powerful split-album with
mighty Stangala. I’ve heard only one song of your from ”Kreizh-Breizh Sessions”, it’s named “Game Over” and I’ve noted that your sound became heavier and a bit sludgy. Does this song characterize your new
stuff well?
Sylvain: By the time we’re answering you, the whole split is freely available through Bandcamp ( so you can have a better idea of what we’re doing now.
I think there will always be a “desert feeling” in StoneBirds sound, but now we’re exploring other ways to create our own music.
I do love slow songs, and as we do care about our sound (yes, we are posers too...) we became heavier just like you said, we now know better how to use our amps because we begin to know what we’re looking for and how to make it happen. And yes, we love it FAT !
Fañch: Game Over is a good example of how we sound like now, more sludgy, rawer… There will always be a desert rock part in some songs but we tend to dig our own way to create Stonebirds music.

Men how did you meet Stangala? And do you share their vision of mushroomed and extravagant doom rock?
Fañch: We were picking mushrooms in a forest near Quimper and we saw them having a huge acid trip, a very bad trip in fact : they were raping korrigans (small creatures from the forest, like leprechaun), as we were defending korrigans honor, we had a rock fight with them during days until we finally came down. I really like this band, "Boued Tousek Ha Traou Mat All" is one of the best doom rock albums I ever heard and I'm sure I'm not the only one. We are very close to them now, we shared a small tour together in may (here's the report from the tour I like their vision of doom rock, I share it in the global way but we are quite different from them as they come from the woods, whereas we come from the fields...

Does the band already have plans to record next full-length work and do few gigs to support the ”Kreizh-Breizh Sessions” release? Would you like to be a regular rock band? You know… it’s American style I guess – live fast, die young and so on…
Fañch: We are now looking for a record company for the "Kreizh-Breizh Sessions" release on vinyl, we already had a tour with Stangala to support this split-album but the promotion never ends, we play it live as much as we can and that's a real pleasure. I'm now in a intensive composition period, something like 20 tunes on the way and more to come for a future LP before a "Kreizh-Breizh sessions vol.2" release!

Thank you for the interview mates – it was interesting to talk with you guys! I hope that this publication will help StoneBirds to fly up higher to a Doom Top! Good luck!
Sylvain: I’d like to thank you Aleks, really, i think it’s the first interview with real questions, i’m happy you came to us with it. Thank you dude.

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