Interview with Fred (Guitars). November 2004.
1. Hello ! What has happened in the camp of BLOCKHEADS since the release of your last album in 2001 ?
Hello, quite a lot of gigs from here and there, a new bassist has joined the band, and we have many projects for 2005. Apart from this, we’ve composed some new tracks, and there are plans for split releases. To be honest, there’s no scoop in particular.
2. Where does the name BLOCKHEADS comes from and what does it exactly means? Is there a link with close-mindedness, or maybe with the cities?
Blockheads: literally « Pickax Head » by extent it links to imbecile, stupid, close-minded… it seems to me the name comes from some 70’s’ skateboards…
Yes a link with close-mindedness can be envisaged in the music we offer, that’s to say: totally into that…Unidirectional, without compromise, without alternative, for Grindcore it can also be seen as an acknowledgement.
There wasn’t really any search for a meaning, when the band started in 92, it sounded good, so the band kept the name at the time. But when we think about it now, that’s cool, we like its quite obtuse side, finally that IS Grindcore, to remain on your position and to revendicate it, including in when you face evidence.
3. On a musical point of view, it seems to me your first recordings were more Grindcore, almost pure Grind! While on the following releases some old school Hardcore and crust influences appeared. Do you think pure grind (Total fast blasts and primal riffs) are musically too limited so that one can play this style for a long time without the appearance of boredom or any lack of creativity? Many are the bands who, after grindcore beginnings, used new influences, or simply played anything else…
That’s clear various influences appeared as the years came, but it evolves quite a lot as the line-up changes (the new musicians have different tastes), it brings changes and since we find it efficient… we don’t bother. Concerning the Hardcore influences, we almost do not use it anymore, but it happens this kind of riffs is the right one in a new track, this kind of break is useful to boost the power and then blast in the following. We structure the tracks so that it can be the most efficient on stage, and sometimes this kind of riffs are obviously the most efficient. But it’s a minority. If we wanted to play HC, we would do that, but it’s not what we want. We don’t want to bother on the fact this riff sounds too much « like this » or « like that ». It comes as it comes, final point. Concerning the Crust riffs, it’s something else, we all listen to Crustcore (more or less, some are much more into this than others…), we like it a lot and it fits well our search for energy! But it’s also only an element of our music, if we wanted to play pure Crust, we would focus on that, but it’s not the case. If we had the time, I think we’d play in a crustcore side-project in the vein of Disblocked, or something in the Crust as fuck kind of shit, but it would be clearly disassociated from Blockheads ! But well, one can’t do everything, and we regret that!
what you are previously talking about, it’s clear the good old Grindcore
isn’t composed of complicated riffs, but if we were playing only
simple riffs of this kind we would be fastly bored… and I think
there’s no more creativity in this matter. This said, we do not
spit on the bands of this kind, and we have quite a bunch of nicely
primal riffs to burn the steak! The problem is a matter of dosage
and location in a song. To try diversifying the style in which we
evolve is interesting. But then it’s always the same speech: are
you supposed to always bound yourself to what you always did, without
any evolution, or do you try to make things move? Well, I have already
given the answer for Blockheads, but all of this isn’t taken much
in consideration by the musicians, because we compose the tracks
the way we always did, that means we keep the best from a rehearsal
without bothering too much on the why and the how, as long as it’s
4. Are you attracted by the really metal kind of extreme metal (understand: the kind that wasn’t influenced by Grind nor Hardcore, nor by the foresty keyboards…). Such as morbid old school Death metal or Thrash metal the old way? Apart from Grind, what kind of music are you into? In your opinion which ones do influence the band on a musical point of view?
Are we attracted
by old school death… in a majority: No. We were in the 90’s, at
the time of the first Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Pestilence, Obituary
releases… We were listening to that! We happen to listen to Death
metal when we hear some, but we wouldn’t run after that. Concerning
Thrash metal, apart from our drummer (Nico), no. The other musicians
do not listen to thrash apart from few exceptions such as SOD, Slayer
and few others…
5. BLOCKHEADS now exists since a couple of years. Did you notice numerous changes in the way the band works? I know some bands (once alcoholics) who rehearse more seriously than in the past and use some 8 tracks and 16 tracks recorders to tests themselves, while it was more chaotic before! Did your way of rehearsing or composing changed during the years?
No, there were nor real changes, apart from the fast we’re more busy without our jobs and families as life goes one, but we keep on playing in the band since it’s a passion, and we like to see each others to drink few beers, play grindcore and discuss about gigs. When we can’t rehearse on weekends, we are sad. On the contrary, it’s clear or vision of the band has changed, it’s what the guys who come to see us said, but it wasn’t a conscious decision. We would have never imagined the band to become so big, it wasn’t the goal, it’s only a friends’ band, nothing more. Some changes occurred, for example we can’t accept to play a totally shitty gig, well not much… it sometimes happens! The band members have changed, so has the way the band works… but we are recording ourselves in the rehearsal room since a long time, to verify every riffs fit well between each others and it will be efficient. It’s always on a little tape recorder and an old microphone, it’s enough and we won’t release it anyway!
6. At the level of the compositions, is there a main composer, or do you all contribute? Have you got something special to awake the inspiration of good riffs or interesting lyrics? Do you write music the same way you did 10 years ago?
The same way, not really, because of the several reasons quoted before. We really want to have a very efficient set, and we do not try to follow a style as much as we did for « Haashaastaak » (our demo), with pure grind, distorted vocals and else… That’s all, we’ve moved away from that… I think we’ve achieved to decide playing what we like, that’s all, it’s the way it works. Concerning composition, it varies a lot from a track to another. Fred can bring a full track, we listen to it, try several thing, change it a bit, but the high lines remain. Or during a rehearsal we play something that sounds really good, then we calm down and play it with more concentration, and the following sometimes comes by itself. As a whole, we all bring something, each one has its way to bring ideas, might it be out from the rehearsals, or altogether during rehearsing, while doing tests. We compose the music, then we work on the vocals of Xav, but he always gives his opinion a long time before using his vocals on a raw track. We also have ideas that please us a lot, once separated from other ideas, but it do not fit well with the other things we find. In this case we ideas in our bag… and when we work on a new song that seems hard to finish, we try these older ideas… sometimes it works directly. We also do not hesitate to build full songs, to work these until we’re quite satisfied, and then simply throw it away as we realize it’s not good enough compared to what we did before. It often means an idea in the song is killer while there’s a decrease of intensity in the song. We do not want that, we throw it away and work it again. Sometimes it can take some time, and contrary to what some might think, the shorter tracks need more time to be composed, because we can’t use an average riff in these.
7. Do you rehearse a lot? Is it on a regular manner, or does it work as periods? (No rehearsals during winter? Do you hibernate? Lol! No rehearsals in summer? Is the weather to hot? Lol)
We do not rehearse a lot because it’s complicated on a geographical point of view (Nancy, Châlon sur saone and Annecy aren’t very near towns). So, it’s quite irregular and we are forced to organize sessions… but then it kills! We rehearse the Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. But we achieve to do something quite good, almost every week ends… but it’s impossible during weeks since 4 years.
8. Even if your band is quite famous in France, it seems to me you remain quite discrete at the level of the underground press. I was able to read few BLOCKHEADS interviews, while some less famous French bands sometimes answer more… Do you want to remain a bit out from the thing, or is it simply because of a lack of time?
It’s only because we don’t rush on and run after interviews, and the lack of time also has its importance. If other bands answer more interviews, it’s their choice. For us, the important is to play gigs and compose, we exist for that. This said, we aren’t against interviews when we receive some, we only have problems to answer fast…
9. You have a split tape with CEMENTERIO SHOW released on Vendredi 13. Do you enjoy this kind of releases? Some underground labels release this kind of stuffs, and they are able to spread for about 1000 copies! If you think about the fact they sell it for a small price, for a band it could be as interesting to appear on an underground tape as on a CD… What do you think of it?
Tapes are like vynil, it’s not already dead. We appear on this kind of tapes just for fun, without bothering. We were asked, we said Ok and go… The underground network is very rich and alive, that’s a good thing! We come from there, we self-produced our first two albums with our money of unemployed/ students, we did our best to spread it… and anyway we won’t go against the underground, in there you can find some real valors without having to deal with big-headed rockstars… Concerning the promotion in mailorders, you’re right, it’s really cool.
10. I have the feeling the Grindcore scene was a bit in decline lately: few really powerful albums of quality were released, and apart from the last REGURGITATE or NASUM Lps, few albums of real grind kicked my ass recently. Have you got the same feeling? Which grind bands kicked your ass lately?
Well, your judgement is a bit hard, some good surprises remain, but it’s true when you’re into grindcore you are rather into the albums that were really important for you… We’re listening to quite varied other things (Crust, Doom, etc…). Concerning the stuffs that interested us recently, GADGET (Remote) are not bad at all, but I must say we don’t follow much the Grindcore scene, anyway we don’t compare ourselves to them. The goal is to have a lot of fun on stage with the crowd we enjoy.
11. Do you often listen to a band being announced as an « Asskicking super grindcore band », while they only play technical brutal, or some midly gore death grind… and finally nothing enthusiasting… Thanks to the labels with their totally out of touch with reality advertising slogans whose only goal is to sell « few thousands » more CDs…
It’s clear I heard a lot of this kind, but as a whole, I don’t buy a CD of a band I don’t know, it avoids bad surprises. It’s clear if a slogan or anything can work on a monetary point of view, it will be used a lot and then become a trend. Usually, what’s new and « rebel » is fastly detected and recovered by the big music/ clothes corporations… and they’ll boost that on the publicitary heaven while everything will be strongly analyzed and targeted on a marketing point of view, to finally become references (It often waste the ideology of the initial movement that was sometimes upright at the beginning).
So there’s the archetypal and then the grotesque, but well it’s for the young guys, it offers them some marks and the money factory works… I voluntary don’t quote names, if you don’t find any, use your mind…
12. Do you read paper zines? Do you enjoy the Internet? In few years some webzines became so big, we are not far from the metal supermarkets where everything are embellished, curbed and abusively focused… Overdose! Do you think theses ‘webzines’ can keep an independent side in front of the thousand labels in need of embellished reviews, and to keep a little credibility towards the more underground readers who aren’t yet totally lobotomized? Which zines do you read?
No, and we do not read anymore many paper zines, it’s normal since it progressively disappeared as the web took its place. I regret that, but it’s the way it is. We like to find few D.I.Y paper zines in the underground associations who make us play, the spirit is till there (Zoroestra). We enjoy quite a lot the Internet, that’s clear. Concerning the independent edge of some webzines, I don’t know much as for now, but I wouldn’t be surprised by the uninterested « investing » of some labels, effectively.
13. Did you think about developing a bit the tribal touch present on your first CD « Last tribes » (Mainly for the artworks and the intro…) it could be interesting to mix some few tribal ideas in pure grind, while keeping your extreme edge, without falling in the ‘Tam-tamized’ metalcore and other bad copies of Sepultura/ Roots… Will there be some new influences in the compositions of your next album, or will that remain some pure grind with Hardcore and Crust influences? Tell us a bit more about it.
No, we won’t use anymore percussion. It was only an epoch when we wanted to have a grind/tribal/trance atmosphere. No it’s finished, if we were doing that again I think it would sound good: the unnecessary allusion to the previous albums, etc, etc… Now we don’t give a fuck. We did that 10 and 6 years ago. That’s all. The next album will be pure Grindcore with few Crust, might it be musically or visually. It’s the best I can say; I’m trustful towards the compositions we’ll record. Some Grindcore our way. That’s it. This album will be even more engaged than the previous one, I don’t know if this is due to our age or to the current epoch.
14. Do you follow what’s happening in the French scene? Were there Grind or Death metal bands that impressed you or gave you a nice feeling?
We follow it from very far. When we play with an unknown band, we put an hear on their music, sometimes there are sympathetic little discoverings such as Comity, who kicks the ass really well. As I told you, concerning Death metal, we are not that aware… and Brutal death isn’t our taste. Then, I can tell you there are some cool bands playing this nicely shredding kind of music in our suburb, there are Kronos and Recueil Morbide, I think they’ll grow bigger in their style, it seems obvious and well rounded for them. There are also Inhumate, but as we know them since more than 10 years, it would be hard to talk shit about them, even to be joking… They play their kind of music, and it shredds. There are Dhibac (from Nancy), who play Grind crust and are quite punching, they do a lot to spread the accent of the Lorraine dialect…
15. What’s your opinion about NAPALM DEATH? Do you enjoy all of their musical epochs? They released a good amount of albums, but also some stuff one can live without… such as not always useful cover albums (when you know the originals), some samplers offering nothing new, or numerous parallel projects being more or less interesting… What are your 5 fave NAPALM DEATH releases, by order of preference ? :-)
Mhh, well it’s clear Blockheads wouldn’t have existed without Napalm Death. But I’m not objective, I like Scum and the Feto. That’s all, nothing more to add to Napalm apart from the Peel sessions of this time. Later on, it decreases of some points in my esteem and since then it stagnates quite a lot. I respect their past change of musical way, even if they actually try to come back to something more brutal, but it remains too much Death influenced for my tastes.
16. You have released several albums on BONES BRIGADE. I read in an interview you were searching for another label. Do you want a bigger one? Are you satisfied with their work? Is your departure linked to the existence of so called « funny grindgore » bands on their label ?
If you are talking about Gronibard, I don’t see much; Is it because they are into the funny and not engaged style? No, really, we don’t care, we do our thing, they do theirs and that’s all, we are rather happy for them if that works as well, even if it’s not for us. For me it’s not the same thing, but it has nothing to do with our eventual departure from Bones Brigade. We aren’t thinking about it now. This isn’t the most important actually. We’ll think about it later on.
17. Okey, this interview is almost finished! Tell us more about the future projects of BLCOKHEADS, and say what you want!
to shred everything with Nasum on the 3 gigs we got the opportunity
to do… To release a split with Yacopsae, to record a song of « From
Enslavement to Obliteration » that should be released on a first
epoch ND Tribute (Inside Conflict would be as well a part of the