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Jérôme and Guillaume from the French doommonger Eibon explained us about the peculiar way they recorded their new EP and the relation between painting and music.

Interview with Eibon.
1. Eibon started in 2007, bringing together musicians from rather varied backgrounds. How do you then choose a general guideline, music-wise? Do you look for some kind of consensus, do you come up with a bunch of common references to serve as a frame, or does a leader have to stand up and impose his vision on the rest of the band?

Jerôme: The project was born from the will of Stephane and I to play together again after our first experience together in the early 90s, in Garden of Silence. We had in mind a fairly accurate idea of the music we wanted to play and the first Eibon album, although obviously a lot of work went into it, was composed rather spontaneously. The compositions were taken care of by Stephane and Maxime, the numbers were arranged in rehearsal, and the lyrics were written in a collective kind of way. Whether in Garden of Silence or Eibon, the guideline has always been to play the music we enjoy as listeners. The idea was to mix all our influences, from traditional Doom to Hardcore.

2. Did your six-year career (and without any changes in the line-up - I think) affect the way you work together? One can imagine that, with the band progressing, the ambitions become clearer and higher too, and that at the same time, everyone in the band is trying to bring more personal inputs…. In short, this way of working, has it become easier or more complicated?

J: Well, there has been a line-up change as Guillaume joined us as second guitarist shortly after the recording of our first full-length 'Entering Darkness'. Fairly quickly, Guillaume participated naturally in the writing and arranging of the songs, and as we have a rather democratic view of things, the process naturally takes a little more time, but we've always thought it was some kind of fair price to pay to be even more creative.

3. Eibon takes its aesthetics from Sludge Doom, developing an atmospheric and progressive approach of the genre which, however, avoids any kind of Postcore canvas. Your music keeps the dark, angry edge of Sludge. What do you find particularly attractive in Sludge compared to Black Metal, whose raw sounds still affect your music? And what would be the similarities between these two styles?

J: We've never thought of positioning ourselves in relation to any particular style. Our unique goal is to compose the kind of music that we want to listen to and play. Personally, parish rivalries about genres and labels leave me cold and I don't want to enter these endless debates. A label can help to locate a band in a marketing perspective, that is especially true for listeners who do not know us. We, as a band, have no problem with that but as a matter of fact, it has no effect on our work. Rules and codes of the various sub-genres that you can come up with to describe Eibon's music (like "blackened Sludge Doom") do not come into consideration as part of our creative endeavour.
Guillaume: Oh, no one in the band is really asking himself about the various styles that can get mixed in our songwriting. We just want to make the music that we would listen to. Rather than choosing a style over another, I think the idea is to keep a radical approach to music. To make riffs follow each other smoothly and ultimately to remain consistent with the images that are in us.

4. Eibon craft some very dark music whose visual illustration is a direct reference to the war, the Great War, the ugly bitch, 14-18. This introduction brings me to two sub-questions:
1. Why did you choose this topic?
2. How do you portray, music-wise, a concrete and specific reality such as this war? Isn't it more restrictive in a way than to tackle more common themes that have fewer connotations (like, say, misery, nihilism, alcoholism, social alienation ... many subjects traditionally addressed by Sludge)?


G: Well, in fact, the WWI theme came to us rather late. We had this vision of a landscape or a battle scene on a passage to round off a track, at the same time we had found the painting by Otto Dix and it's actually during recording that we added the samples.
But you're right that hints to the First World War were already present on the cover art of 'Entering Darkness', in fact we just developed that aspect of things a little more on 'II'. So that answers a little your second question, as it was not preconceived at all, so you can not really say that it is restrictive. And on a side note, I do not consider these idiosyncratic - so to speak - subjects to be 'common': I guess I see what you mean, but we all have in the band songs that we love and that are built around those themes ... It is probably in those themes that we have found ourselves the most at some point in our life, hard to go past, given the musical universe in which we evolve. If you accept that it is what comes out of our collective rehearsal sessions, you can only live with it and go on.

5. This new album, simply entitled "II" is a rather special musical experience: You have recorded this diptych in one live take (if I understood correctly, this is one unique take for the two tracks) - why and how? Did you rehearse a lot, did you enter the studio with just a rough scheme, did you make a lot of takes to pick the best one at the end? People usually perceive this effort as your most "visceral": I guess this is the main reason, no?

G: Indeed, there have been a lot of jam sessions during the process and it may be what gives the album this "visceral" side, but there's also a lot of work to sort through these improvisations and to keep the best parts. We would have enjoyed recording lots of improvisations and releasing the result in an acceptable shape, but one day in the studio is so expensive, we cannot afford that. Actually, it's just that we recorded all the instruments together, at the same time, as if we were in concert or rehearsal. We just rehearsed a lot, even going so far as to play both tracks in concert when they were not finished, just to warm up and be ready. Both songs were written entirely before we entered the studio, nothing was left to chance.
J: We wanted that 'live' feel in the delivering but not necessarily in the tracks' structure. However, the songwriting was almost exclusively composed in improvisational sessions. This is how you get consistent compositions with more spontaneous playing.

6. In these recording conditions, can you end up with a truly satisfying result or do you see some parts, passages where it could have been better, with more 'feeling' etc…? It must be very exciting and frustrating at the same time, right? Are you going to try that kind of experimentation again?

J: We decided to record the album that way even before we started writing songs. Like other bands before us, we were struggling hard to recreate the energy of our live performances in studio. The end product gives me satisfaction because it is the result of several factors that have been kept under control throughout the process of composition: the arrangement, the way the different instruments sound and the overall consistency as well as the control over the playing. All that to actually achieve what we had pictured throughout the whole process.
G: With that initial way of proceeding, all flaws gain importance. I think Sylvain Biguet (who took care of the sound) has corrected a few with software but some are still there.
Talking about 'feeling' sounds always a bit strange to me, because, after all, you can't say to someone "you should put more feeling in your solo!" What should he do then? Close the eyes, frown and open the mouth? Valid questions are more down to earth: " Am I ok and is what I play useful to the song?", that's all.
The experience was actually quite exciting, there was a lot of pressure, we did not know if it would be good or not, sound- and perfomance-wise.
We are very happy with the final result, but we worked so long on these two tracks that we are maybe even happier to be done with it than anything else!
Not sure, however, that we'll try that experience again, it's really a lot of work and anxiety. We all wanted to do it, we did it. Now there may be other ways to explore.

7. I noticed a clear split between the two tracks; I mean, there are two approaches, two different "colours", the first song is doomier, heavier, more atmospheric, the second is more aggressive, the influence of BM is strong on this track, it's more dense, almost suffocating. How do you justify this choice? What kind of emotions did you want to transmit (it is difficult to connect the music to the lyrics that I have not seen)? And sub-question: why, so far, have the lyrics never been printed in your albums' booklets?

J: We've never had the desire to compose two tracks that would sound so radically different like you say. I think these two numbers build a coherent whole because of their general mood and arrangements. And if we do not print the lyrics it is simply because we think it would add nothing to the listener's experience.
G: There is no choice, it came like that. It is always the same, the music to go along with the mental images ...
If the second track is more Black Metal it's just that the best riffs we came up with sounded like that. On a side note, I don't think it sounds so Black-ish. We wanted to convey surprise, urgency and violence towards the end of the song but in the parts before, there are hallucinations, expectation, etc.. Everything is connected with the cover art, in fact: a painting by Otto Dix. It's the key to understanding the album. There is everything in it and every detail is important, from Horror to a dreamlike sensation. The small patch of sky in the upper left which gives the impression that one can escape, and then the place of some other elements that gives the impression of an endless circle, a whirlpool of which one is prisoner. We can only move from one element to another to finally go back to the starting point and so on.
And also, you realize that if you are looking at that landscape, it's because you're on the right side, everything's fine. You can go back to your obsessions and hear the bugles that praise honour and the beauty of sacrifice.

8. This is very interesting! This very direct connection between painting and music. So, what - you look at the picture and you let yourself be overwhelmed by feelings that become a source of inspiration to compose? How did Otto Dix' painting influence you, concretely?

G: I think it came in when preparing the second track: we were stuck, we didn't know exactly where to go. And then Max talked about that painting again, about what story it inspired in him and we decided to proceed to a next step. But the interpretation that we can make of it, in relation to the music, mainly took place afterwards.
I would have liked to know how to use an external source of inspiration as easily but we aren't that far yet!

9. You signed with Media Tree Recordings to release a cassette of Entering Darkness coupled with the self-titled EP. What benefits do you see in this format? Has it become the last refuge of True metalheads after the hipsters went crazy about vinyl (or you do not ask yourself these stupid questions, which I'd understand!)?

J: Media Tree had initially contacted me to release 'ED' in tape format. It is we who suggested to also include the EP. To be quite honest, his request came as a real surprise, but we are quite satisfied with the final result.
G: I feel that it is rather the opposite, the hipsters who want to be even more hipsters go back to tape format ... the guy just offered to press the album like that, we said yes, just to see, and proposed to add the EP to it. I do not know if it will interest many people but for once, somebody wanted to release and you're not spending time looking for a label ...

10. A real stupid question to make a break: What are the last five bands you've listened to the most?

J: During the last 3 months: Rome, The Lonely Bears, Charon, Goblin & Anekdoten
G: Something like: Leviathan / Lurker of Chalice, Danzig, Burzum, Black Sabbath, Integrity ...

11. Each time I hear a sample in a song, it kind of always amuses me to imagine the time spent to find them, to choose the right ones etc… Some less obvious samples work really well with the music. What role do they have? What kind of new dimension do they bring to your music and where do the two or three excerpts we hear on "II" come from?

J: Since the start, we had the common desire to propose the richest experience possible. It seems to me that the use of samples are part of that idea. This certainly comes naturally.
G: I think the samples are there to illustrate the visual approach to our music and to give more flesh to the atmosphere. I do not know if there is another possible answer than "because it sounds good." Here on this album, the samples are consistent with the kind of concept that revolves around, but, for example in the song "Venoms of Solar Dust" (featured on the first album, the split with Hangman's Chair), the sample in the middle has no link with the lyrics; in "Entering Darkness", the samples are just there to add some style to the atmosphere. Like Buzzov.en who use at least one sample per song, I don't think they need to have a specific meaning, it just sounds a bit weird, like the music . All samples in "II" come from the French film "Les Croix de Bois" (The Wooden Crosses), based on the eponymous novel by Roland Dorgelès. One of the best films about the First World War, I think. "À l’ouest rien de nouveau" (On the Western Front) is also very good: this is the same story, but seen from the German side.

12. I know a little about Stu from Aesthetic Death and he is a charming, passionate and very honest guy. What is your relationship to him like? Does he listen to your albums in the early stages or does he receive the finished product and it's a make it or break it affair?

J: We have him only listen to the songs when fully completed and if we have the opportunity to record high-quality demo. We know that we have his full trust on our ability to consistently follow our way.
G: We see it as lucky to work with Stu, he has the qualities you say, indeed. He is not at all intrusive, we keep him updated about our progress, our projects, deadlines. He only gets something to listen to when we can produce an acceptable demo.

13. After this massive, very dark diptych, where will Eibon go? Will you keep on radicalizing your sound, bringing more Black Metal? I confess that I'd love to hear some Industrial vibe coming in, which would nicely echo the mechanical horrors of World War I (I make this point because there is in "II" a long ambient passage where you actually can feel the industrial rust and it works very well within the context).

J: It is too early to talk about the direction that Eibon will take.
G: I confess that it is too early to say.

14. Who chose that painting of Otto Dix as cover for "II"? This is an artist I've known for a long time, he himself went to fight on the front at the beginning of the war and brought back images of nightmare ... Do you fetch influences from cinema, photography? Are there fertile bridges between these arts and your music?

J: I discovered this particular painting after seeing other Otto Dix works. His artistic approach is obviously echoing his personal life, all matching perfectly with the theme around which this disc revolves. It is true that pictures in general, mental or real, are an important element for us in our writing process and it sometimes help us to resolve tricky situations.
G: From my point of view, what we do is just try to find out how to put in the same song, a riff "forest" and a riff "war" after a riff "snow" and without throwing in a riff "Metallica"!!! Yes we have all known Otto Dix for quite some time, I remember having discovered this painting in a History book in school. It is Jerome who suggested we use it, it seemed a no-brainer...
We are all inspired by visuals that affect us, yes. I said earlier that the imagination and the images that come to us when we play certain passages are very important to us.

Photography doesn't have a great influence on the other hand, finally, truth be told, I don't know much about it, except Eugène Atget and August Sander...

15. Some trivial questions to gently end this interview

-Who would you want to meet?
J: Christian Vander.
G: hm ... Celine?

-Your favorite view?
J: The "Aiguille du Midi".
G: The mountain.

-The biggest taboo that you have violated?
J: One day, in a synagogue, I found myself on the girls' side.
G: Expressing opinions that are punishable by law.

-Your favorite book?
J: American Pyscho.
G: As time goes ... / Brassillach

-Your favorite film?
J: The Clockwork Orange
G: L'Ange Bleu

Well, that is it, thanks a ton for your comprehensive answers, guys!

J: No problem. Sorry if we happen to repeat ourselves, we answered individually. Thanks again!


Band Site


Visit the Eibon bandpage.

Interviewed on 2013-06-26 by Bertrand Marchal.
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