29 Dec 2021 - Thorsten
Day Six for our #VoSInterviewMarathon with #9days9reviews France has a very thriving black metal-scene as well as some amazing post-rock and post-metal acts – one of the post-metal bands mentioned most frequently is Year Of No Light from Bordeaux who released their awesome record Consolamentum just in time for their 20th anniversary as a band. As we wanted to get an interview by the guys, Thorsten has been on their heels for some months and we are proud to present you the result: An interview with guitarist Jérôme Alban who displays the typical humor one can often encounter when talking to French bands while at the same time giving short yet profound answers.
When Pelagic Records announced an amazing box-set for the complete YONL-discography and simultaneously announced the release of their new full-length Consolamentum (you can read our review here) the post-metal world was going nuts for it seemed like a perfect fit. Everyone who was lucky enough to hold the final result in his hands can only approve how this not only seems but also sounds like a match made in post-metal heaven.
But not without much further ado – let’s dive into what Jérôme has to say:
Year of No Light – the name already sounds monolithic – and there is even a historical fact to it: the year 1815 with a gigantic volcano eruption making the very strong one from 1814 even worse and resulting in a “year without summer”. I know that Three Mile Pilot inspired the name but did you know about the historical “event”?
No, we were just fan of the band and the title of the song inspired us.
How do you imagine a year without any light? Which consequences would it have on mankind?
It would be a fascinating and dangerous event. The kind of event where it is better to know how to use a shotgun. The consequence would certainly be the explosion of tanning salons.
What would you miss the most apart from, obviously, the sun?
Twilight, and of course dawn after the party.
When looking at the historical “year without summer”, a natural catastrophe resulting in many disastrous consequences for everyone – is the name of the band intended to sound so misanthropic?
No, we’re not really a misanthropist. I think the idea of a world in darkness is rather something potentially fascinating. We chose this name for the mental images it provokes, for aesthetic reasons.
Now, Three Mile Pilot – how influential was the band on the sound of Year Of No Light?
It’s a band that we like a lot like many other bands from San Diego (Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, Swing Kids, Black Heart Procession …) but it’s a band that has not influenced us musically.
Which other bands had an influence on you?
Neurosis, My Bloody Valentine, Darkthrone, Death, Sonic Youth, György Ligeti, Neu!, Jeff Miles, Kanji Saariaho, Nina Simone, Asunder…
Basically, your band consists of two trios – the guitar trio and the rhythm section/multi-instrumentalists trio. How do both trios write music together?
We fight, we wrestle, we do Mixed Martial Arts then if it turns [into an] orgy we keep the song. It’s really very difficult and that’s why we take a long time to release records. But it is a process which also makes the personality of the band.
Having two drummers is unusual, another famous band who had that was Kylesa. How often do you really use both drummers in the same song as both also play other instruments? Do the two of you really split the drumming duties among yourselves?
In reality there is a drummer and a person in charge of the arrangements and the orchestral and percussive elements.
It always strikes me about the drumming that you do not use it in order to create some form of “tribal drumming” like for example Neurosis do live on stage. Why not?
Neurosis does it much better than us, we just try to have a more orchestral approach.
How difficult is it to play in a band with your brother, Johan and Bertrand?
It’s difficult to have two brothers in a band but Bertrand is really the worst, just kidding; but we are still lucky that it is not the rhythm section otherwise it would be a chaos of drugs and hysteria.
Really interesting about YONL has always been the guitar work – also on the new record – where you use the three guitars in very, very different ways. Do you always say “okay Pierre, you always play the crescendos” or “Shiran, you always play the dark riffs”?
Shiran plays heaviness, Pierre plays time and I the dog in the game of bowling: Shiran is the master of bass, death metal and demonic melodies, Pierre has a bright sense of riffing and opens the underworld. For my part, I make sure my guitar doesn’t sound like a guitar and I spread all melody and reverb to make it all unreal.
How important are aspects like tuning and effects to you guys? Especially to the guitar players?
That’s the key for our Tone. We play in drop c and Shiran Drop A, we use a lot of effects like reverb in a fuzz in an overdrive in a delay in a reverb. Layer of effect!!!! We play sedimentary music!!!
Who does what in the band?
Pierre brings lots of riffs, he’s a very riffing person. Shiran adds more death metal with composition. I compose some tracks, with an orchestral vision, when I come with a demo, it is very advanced stuff. Mathieu too, but he is a more synth-composition person. Johan and Bertrand bring some stuff and they are very involved with gestion, PR-com and any relation with our booking agent. And together we give birth to the final shapes of the pieces.
Now, what is really interesting about your discography are the multiple splits you did with several other giants of post-related music. With which other band would you like to do such a split?
Sordide from Rouen could be great and our great friends, Stef Miomio, mighty Boubi and Xabi XXX who play in MONARCH AND THE GREAT OLD ONES!
The split with Thisquietarmy stands out to me a bit, because he doesn’t belong to a metal-related genre but is more on the drone side of things. Who asked who? How did that experience influence you as a band?
It was simply a great experience with a great friend, each split give us the opportunity to experiment new stuff.
You’ve mentioned that for you, there is a red thread going through most of your albums. Could you explain that a little bit?
It’s because it’s all about communism…. (sorry for the bad joke) No in fact we have a complicated relationship with modernity and we perceive it as a kind of threat. This sensation filters through our compositions. We are not reactionary, we are simply worried humanists.
Ausserwelt – Tocsin – Consolamentum. When looking at those titles it becomes clear that you like to play with languages and words. However, do you really think Consolamentum is a record to bring peace? To make everyone feel loved and “consoled”?
We play dark music but it’s all about love and art (and drugs and guns a little). What better place to find light than in darkness?
If there really is that red thread going through your discography – how far ahead of the new record Consolamentum are you already in the timeline or storyline?
Kiss of death/death of kiss stage, Covid against French kiss….
Your music has been strictly instrumental for a long time now. Is the time of a constant, fixed singer in YONL over?
Yes I think but we will invite singers from time to time.
Do you think that changes the way you write music?
Several attitudes to post-metal or post-rock-song-titles can be seen in several bands: For some the song title needs to really explain the song and for some the title can also contain completely misleading ideas or even humor. What idea of song titles do you follow?
We like to work just as well with very long and abstract names as with very short names that carry a lot of meaning.
Vampyr - you wrote a soundtrack for that old silent movie by Carl Theodor Dreyer. How did that come along? Did you all want to do Vampyr straight away or did you have alternatives? Was it important that it was a complete silent movie?
Yes it was the specifications, but our first choice was Dreyer’s Jeanne D’Arc.
Vampires are some of the most interesting creatures in literature ever because they can easily be perpetrator and victim within the same character. Do you consider them like a mirror for mankind?
Yes, all monsters or demons are a mirror for mankind, it’s a very creative and spiritual way to talk about humanity.
Do you have a fable for these movies? Old horror movies? If so, what are your favorites (apart from Vampyr)?
I love old horror movie but I[ also] got a deep love for John Carpenter movies (and music of course).
Which movie would you like to work on next? Or was it a once-in-a-lifetime-experience?
Maybe some experimental documentary.
What was the best live experience you had?
Maybe the Saint Vitus in Brooklyn was one of my favorite live experience, playing live is very important for us, the live set for Damnation Fest in Leeds was a blast!!!
What is the next concert you are looking forward to – as a concert visitor? Who would you like to see?
Somme pieces from Tristan Murail or Samir Amarouch, Krypts from Finland or Fuoco fatuo from Italy.
You have worked with some great labels in the past. And now you are on Pelagic Records – how did the collaboration happen?
They contacted us and we got a good feeling. we like the way they work
Last regular question – you took quite a lot of time before you released a new full-length. Eight years! How did that happen? How long will we have to wait next time?
It’s because we are lazy bastards and a very dysfunctional band, we have lots of new tracks but it is gonna take a lot of time before everybody can play those tracks.
Now onto our quickfire round.
Black Sabbath with Dio or with Ozzy?
Black Sabbath with Dio AND Ozzy, John Bonham on drums and Kevin Shields on guitars
Boeuf Bourguignon or Bouillabaisse? Raclette
Wine or Beer? BEER!!!!!! (German beer of course)
Big music hall or intimate club? Intimate club with backroom
Hellfest or Roadburn? HELLBURN ROADFEST!!!!!
Guitars or synth? Sweeping on synth and arpeggio with guitars
Analogue or digital? Anal log
Vinyl or streaming? Vinyl!!!!!
Touring or Writing/Recording? Writing
Doom or Post-Metal? FUNERAL DOOM!!!!!
Thank you all for doing this, all the best and thanks for your time
THANK YOU Thorsten!!!!!!!!! And sorry for the delay.