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Defeater

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Before their show in Zurich on February 3rd, Jay Maas and Derek Archambault, guitarist and singer from Defeater, spend some time with us to answer to our questions.

rose You put out your fourth album last year. Did you expect to have such a brilliant career when you started the band?
Jay: No, definitely not. When we started, all of us have been in countless bands and we were just starting another band. You know, to do it for fun, for friends, and try out a different thing. We definitely had a vision for it. What was interesting is that after starting it, it didn’t take long before something felt a little different, a little better. We were just getting better show offers, interest from people who put out records and things like that. All happened much quicker with this than it had for every previous bands of ours. It sort of just felt good from the beginning, it was just the right combination, so we kept doing it!

All records are based on the same story, but every time through the eyes of a different character. How does the composition work? Is it the story first and then the music build around it?
Derek: It’s always music first. I write general ideas down all time, but when it comes to the record, it’s always music first and then fit the lyrics over the nearly done compositions and there is always some final editing, but… Music first!

The mother in the story seems to be, in my opinion, the main character, but the albums are for now about the other members of the family. Will the next record focus more on her or is it intentional to keep the story around her?
Derek: There is really no one main character and the records aren’t supposed to be reliable to anybody. Each protagonist, for each record is, I don’t know... it’s just meant to talk about life, not necessarily one person, but for the next record we’re not sure what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it. There is so many people in the story, we could make countless releases to this.

You are the only hardcore band I know who includes acoustic guitar in their concerts. Where did the idea came from?
Jay: When I met Derek it was because he came to my studio singing for a band. We were about the same age, we’ve already been to the same shows without really knowing. I wasn’t really a good singer so when we put the band together I called him and was like “Do you want to scream?” I obviously knew he could sing so he did the acoustic stuff on the Prophet in Plain Clothes on Travels and then I would saw him perform solo stuff at this place called the Red Door in Portsmouth, it was very good, and after that, I know personally I was always down for Derek to sing whatever and as much as he wants and he felt aware to make it work on our records.
Derek: It was a band decision we all took, like the thing at the end of Prophet, it was just one old song that I had written musically a long time ago, and then I just changed the lyrics to fit in for the story. For Empty Days, we just made the decision, like “Yeah, let’s put some softer stuff on there”. Jake and I wrote a bunch of stuff… I don’t know, we just don’t give a shit (laughters). That’s where it comes out: we just don’t care.

You also have a very personal way to play hardcore music, with very rock n' roll sound, almost jazz beats and non-traditional hardcore music gear, like your 52 Telecaster. What do you like about this very personal interpretation of hardcore/punk?
Jay: I think we’re not trying, we’re just doing what we like. So that’s the guitar I like and those are the drumbeats he likes. And actually it’s not a 52 Telecaster, it looks like it because it has the same butterscotch color, but if you notice the saddle is different. It’s an American Deluxe. I played that one though, but I couldn’t mute as well, so I went for this one for that reason, but they are good. Jake plays more like warmer, boutiquier, type gear, and I own some of that stuff in the studio, but when we’re on the road, I play the most reliable possible stuff, so I play a 5150 and a Mesa cab, and that will work every night, hopefully. I think the sound is just what happens when the five of us make noises.
Derek: I think we just bring all of our individual tastes to the band, like there is never a conversation like “Joe, you played a little too jazzy for this”. It’s five individuals, all playing in a band. We’re not going to conform to something because it’s like cool or what people are doing now. We don’t care, we just play how we like to play.
Jay: I think that’s something, from the beginning, we talked about a lot too. When we first started the band, when we first put out a record, I’ve got asked that question a lot, like, this is so much different than like normal hardcore. Personally I don’t really see us as a hardcore band. I see us like a loud band that’s on a label with so much of, probably, bands that will call themselves hardcore, but just like music, just music, loud music. Usually loud, not always music.

There is always a story written between the lyrics, well chosen pictures and the leaflets are almost books. What you think of the idea to expand it to a movie or another media?
Derek: It’s something that we’ve been approached by a million people, not a million but, a bunch of people at various shows like “hey, I really want to make a short film, will you sign a release for me?”. And… Not now. The stories aren’t even close to be done and even if we put out formal records, I don’t think that the story would be done in my eyes. I started writing the book version of it and I hate it every time I think I’m getting somewhere with it. Maybe eventually something will come out of it, but I’m not banking on it at all.
Jay: It’s hard too because we don’t know how to do something like films. We don’t really do that stuff, so that’s bringing somebody else into the fold and that’s like another interpretation of this, so that person will have to be like family to us and be able to, somehow like really see it all through our eyes. Because as soon as you give your product to someone else it’s going through another filter. So it’s scary (laughters).

What is your opinion about those hardcore clichés, like tough guys, mosh and stage dive?
Jay: I don’t know... I don’t care if you’re tough or if you mosh or stage dive, but just be respectful of the other people around you, like, I think you can do anything you want but just don’t be an asshole at our shows. Whatever that means, like if the vibe is like everybody is partying on, pointing and singing or whatever, don’t go throwing elbows, you know? We’re kind of notorious now for like stopping or calling people out like “Come on, there is hundreds of people here and there is just one person who kind of ruins the experience for everybody else. That sucks”. Our music is not a license to be a dick to a bunch of people...

Your previous drummer Andy played on Empty Days and Sleepless Nights but wasn't on tour last time you were in Europe. How is he and why did he left the band?
Jay: Yeah, he actually played one tour in Europe for Empty Days, the first one. And I think he’s great. We just got to a point where... he is running a business back in the States and we wanted to take Defeater to, like, you know… We wanted to take Defeater to this level, and he wanted that too as well, but with his other obligations, it just wasn’t working. Either, someone had to sacrifice, you know. And he was in the position where he had so much money invested that he couldn’t step away from it. Like he was locked into the business and I know he really stills loves us and loves Defeater, and I think he misses it, but he had to go to down the breakdown. I saw him last summer, we talk all the time. I love that guy, he’s talented, and goofy, and he’s great.
Derek & Jay: Fuck Andy! (laughters)

Lets talk about you Getaway Recording. It seems that a lot of bands are asking you to record them. How does it feel like to be the new Kurt Ballou?
(Everybody’s laughing)
Jay: Oh no!
Derek: Fuck Kurt! (laughters)
Jay: Kurt is a really good friend of mine. He was a big inspiration for me personally because some of the first recordings I did, and before I ever recorded, he recorded me, and I do owe a lot to Kurt because I was just getting into it and I would not leave him alone. I was hitting him up all the time like “Listen to my new mix, listen to this” and he was like “Oh my God…” and eventually though I guess he liked my progress enough. He liked, when he found out, is that, when I got laid off from my real job and I was just recording, he was like:
- Are you just recording now?
- Yeah!
- Are you making any money?
- Kind of…
- That’s sick!
And I think he liked that I was “Fuck it, I’m going all in”. And since our styles are like so different, my records do not sound like his and vice versa, but in the early stages just having someone who has like, you know, 10 years recording experience above me, even like not having to understand how does this work and what is this for, whatever, he really set me straight to that stuff. And we have developed totally, totally, different approaches like, I think some of the things he does, I just would never do them, not to say they don’t sound good, but just because how we work is very different. He just looks at the way I do some things and he’s like “Yeah, I would never do that...” But, it’s been a lot of hard work, a ton of money invested, but it’s really awesome, I love to it. I get excited for tour when I’m home doing records for too long, you know, and when we’re on the road for two days, or a little while, then I get really excited to go home and work in the studio again. So like today, I was just shooting emails to the bands I’ve been doing mixes for and I just get excited to go home and get nerd again... It’s funny because I’ve heard that before. Someone used to call me “Baby Ballouga”... It sucks, haha!

What is your opinion about all those new technologies in music equipments, like Kemper Profiling Amps or Fractal Axe FX?
Jay: I really like the idea of them, but personally I don’t like the sound of them for what I do. They are still a little sterile, not the real thing, and I can tell, so I don’t use them. But I don’t “poopoo” anybody who does…
Derek: Sorry, you don’t what?
Jay: Poopoo (laughters). I think that what you like in music is totally subjective, there is now a generation of kids growing up to music that I think is fucking terrible. But, I completely respect their right to like this music and I’m sure, when I brought home a NoFX record, my parents were like “what in the fuck is this”, you know. We’ve just been on Warped Tour and half the bands have like fucking dubstep parts and like weird electronic breakdowns. To me, I was like, “Oh, that’s not done”, like, you don’t do that. And it’s not the case anymore. Those bands are huge and they connect with this newer generation of like younger kids, who are maybe like 13 years old, who haven’t fully or maturely developed their own musical tastes. When I was that age, I liked the Beastie Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Fugazi, Nirvana and like the Lemonheads, you know what I mean? All kinds of stuff, if you place them along, this is the most confused mixtape of all time. And I can respect that, I just don’t have to personally enjoy it.
Derek: I hate music… (general laughs). It’s got too many notes...

I know that this question can be like "which children is your favorite one", but which record are you the most proud of?
Derek: I’ll say the new one. It’s definitely the most “like us”. It’s a real group effort there.

Which record producers did inspire you the most?
Jay: Maybe Marc Trombino, he did a couple of Jimmy Eat World records. I’ve always liked big and modern, but authentic, like realistic productions. You know that some of my favorite bands have terrible recordings. When it came to recording myself, my favorite producers that I hooked up to are the ones that can make something sound very real, but like huge. Steve Evetts is another one, like Snapcase, Progression Through Unlearning, that record sounds awesome, right, and it’s all real. Matt Bayles too, like some of the stuff with Minus The Bear and These Arms Are Snakes, does records a little, not quite out of the top, but really natural and sound awesome.
Derek: The stuff he did for Isis, and the Mastodon stuff.
Jay: Yeah, the stuff he did for Isis is awesome. So Balou, Bayles, Evetts…
Derek: Blasting Room
Jay: Oh, yeah, the Blasting Room stuff is so good. That’s true too. These are all really good people.
Derek: Mass Giorgini, he did a bunch of 90’s punk stuff in Chicago, like Screeching Weasel
Jay: I’ve never been a Steve Albini guy, I respected his approach but I don’t always like the outcome. I don’t always dislike it, but for some reasons I’m just like “This sounds bad” (laughters)

What do you think about the vinyl records revival?
Jay: That’s for Derek, I don’t like records (laughters)
Derek: I think it’s weird. I don’t think it ever really went away, especially for punk-rock. I think as far as the mainstream is concerned, it’s a comeback. I’ve worked in a record store for over a decade and I’ve never stopped collecting records from the time that I’ve bought my first. It’s nice to see people buying physical media still, or again. There is definitely a huge dip but I think it’s just good no matter what that the people will still buy physical pieces of something. Tapes are coming back too. There has been great underground tape labels putting stuff out for the last ten years and no one has really given a shit about it. Vintage, retro, like always, is cool. It’s nice to be able to sell records but I don’t think it really went away. Every band I’ve been in for the last thirteen years have always pressed LPs or 7 inches. It’s cool that it’s back.
Jay: I’m totally on the other side, like I don’t want records, CDs, tapes, video games, books, I just hate it. I’m so new school, I just want everything casually delivered to me. It’s on a hard drive, I delete it, I redownload it if I need it later, no fuss no muss. When my friends were growing up collecting comic books, video games and all that stuff, I just looked at them like “Nah, I don’t want any of that shit”. It’s just that I don’t like stuff (laughters), really I don’t. It’s strange, because I really like music. When I got to the record store, I had my CD book, and it was the most efficient way I knew to keep all of my music. You bought a CD and you put it in your car. I could not care less about the layouts. So I would buy a CD, open up, take the CD out and close it. Take the jewel case, just put it behind my seat in the car where it will die and I will never see it again. And my CD would just go into the book and that was it. I don’t know what the song name is, but I really like track 4, you know, and that’s all I know (laughters).
Derek: Insane to me...
Jay: I just listen to the music when I drive around and when I hear something I like, I’m “Ouh, that one is track 2, ding!” and it will stick. “Have this record?” “Yeah, track 6 is awesome on that record”. It’s not surprising, I really like the creation of music but when it comes to the layout, the art or stuff like that, I’m “Yeah, enjoy doing that”.
Derek: I love doing it. Me and Michael, the guy who does all the photography, and my wife did some for the new record too, love creating that. It’s my favorite thing about the whole process.

You used to have this "ask the band what you want and we'll answer it" on your MySpace profile.
Derek: Did we? (laughters) I never mattered in MySpace
Jay: Derek just got the Internet this year. It was probably me who answered.
Derek: Yeah, that was five or six years ago.
And what do you think about this new "easy connection" between bands and fans through the social networks?
Derek: I fucking hate it.
Jay: I really like it! (laughters) Like someone who’s like “You’re looking fucking stupid”, it’s not a problem. It doesn’t get to me. Most of the Facebook posts and stuff like that, I think I do them, I know Joe hit stuff to Twitter, Mike is doing some twittering, tweeting.
Derek: I remember when Mike got us our Twitter
Mike Poulin (bass): We needed to do it!
Derek: And it was like for our first tour or something. And we all in the band were talking about it. “Yeah, Mike signed us up to Twitter” and we were like “That’s fucking junk”.
Mike: It’s just a necessary evil at this point.
Jay: You kind of have to have one.
Derek: I just fucking hate the Internet.
Jay: I don’t care. I go on our Facebook, more when I’m home because it’s harder to check it here, and we really do get some amazing messages. Like from people who are overseas who just want to reach out and say “I just found about your band, it’s awesome”. I read that and it certainly makes a serious impact on me and in my desire to do this band for more than just personal game. It’s more than like “I’ve got to write something, I’ve got to put it out, and I’ve got to go to this place”. When I get these messages back, it feels like I wasn’t just selfish making records I wanted to make and put them out. It also, in a weird way, has effect on others like records had on me, hopefully. When I really liked a record, I would have loved to tell the band like how fucking sick I thought it was.
Derek: You could, there is always a mailing address.
Jay: Yeah, but that requested to keep stuff, you know (laughters). But for me, I think it’s cool. The people online are really really cool to us. Of course, there is some assholes, but what are you going to do? Because I’m a kind of an asshole!
Derek: I think the fact that people do reach out and say all these amazing and nice things to us is great. But there is a line that has been blurred between just enjoying a band and trying to incorporate yourself into the band’s everyday life. Like what people do in their private time and knowing things about people based on what they put on the Internet.

Thank you guys. Any last word for the our readers?
Derek: Thank you!
Jay: Yeah, thank you. Switzerland is awesome. We’ve been on this tour for two and a half weeks, and today is, as soon as we got the Switzerland. I woke up, and it’s the first time I saw sunshine. It was just like “Whoaaaaa”! I was so happy! We just stopped and walked outside. We really love Switzerland. We’re still flattered that the people gives a shit about us, it’s cool.

Interview : Sandra, Pete

Plus d'infos :

Label : Bridge 9 Records

MySpace : www.facebook.com/defeaterband

Site Web : Pas de site

Site du label: www.bridge9.com


Interview cliquée : 57415 fois



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