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Tau Cross

Toen Amebix voor de tweede keer in elkaar klapte na wat tot dan toe een zeer succesvolle reünie was, was dat erg triest. De band had net een geweldig nieuw album gemaakt, ‘Sonic Mass’, en het zou prachtig zijn geweest om te kunnen zien hoe men hierop zou kunnen voortbouwen, zowel live als in de studio. Dat mocht echter niet zo zijn. Er bleef nu echter geen gapende leegte achter op de plek van Amebix, want Rob ‘The Baron’ Miller wierp een blik op de as van Amebix, riep ‘Arise!’ en daar was Tau Cross. Wederom slaagde de zanger erin om een buitengewoon getalenteerde groep mensen om zich heen te vinden, al komen die nu wel van zowat alle uithoeken van de wereld. Deze veteranen zouden zonder al te veel moeite kunnen terugvallen op hun eerder opgebouwde reputatie, maar in plaats daarvan lijkt men juist des te gretiger om te laten zien dat men nog steeds zeer relevante dingen te zeggen heeft. Lords Of Metal sprak met Rob Miller en drummer Michel ‘Away’ Langevin tijdens de korte maar effectieve Europese zomertour van Tau Cross. Het bleek uiteindelijk een bijzonder boeiend gesprek te worden, ondanks dat ondergetekende na afloop bijna werd opgesloten in het busje.

Door: Martin | Archiveer onder different metal

Tau Cross is touring Europe right now. How has it been so far?
Michel: Amazing! The attendance has been great so far, the shows are really fun, the album is selling…

Rob: It’s much more than we expected. It has been quite a bit busier. Let’s be careful not to jinx it, but it has been really positive so far. The shows have been so good that we are wondering if it is ever going to get better than this, haha. Well, so far every show has been better actually.

Obviously, you have been working over distance quite a lot, writing through file sharing, etcetera. How does it feel to actually be in the same room, making music together?
Michel: it feels like we should be doing the same when we are recording. The energy is quite different of course.

Rob: It feels like we have been restricted a lot by the way we had to do things. It has been completely necessary to work like this in the past, but when you take the plug out and let everybody work together, these is an immense amount of creative energy between all of us. We’re all very creative people, not just in the music world, but in everything else as well. I think there’s going to be fireworks when we get into a room together and start to write next time.

Let’s talk about the new album, ‘Pillar Of Fire’. How has the response been so far?
Rob: Very favourable across the board. The second album is always a difficult thing. The first one was kind of difficult to categorise, and then with the second album you’re supposed to justify that. Andy (Lefton, guitar) put it quite succinctly the other day, saying that ‘Pillar Of Fire’ is like a match, like a mirror to the other album. They complement one another. One is perhaps more thoughtful and the other one is a bit more aggressive and earthy. I’m hoping that’s how it is. Basically, the response from press and public alike has been very positive.

Michel: Many people like it more than the first one, which is a lot to say, because they tell me they love the first one and didn’t expect the next one to be better. What I hear often, is that it takes a little longer to get into the second album.

Rob: Sometimes that’s a good thing, isn’t it? The albums that don’t immediately get you can really surprise you after a while.

I recognise that. It certainly took me a couple of listens to get into it.
Rob: Of course it’s difficult for us to be objective about these albums. I guess it’s your job as a musician to say that it’s really good… hahaha.

Well, if you don’t like it, then why release it in the first place? In terms of songwriting, was there any different approach this time?
Michel: The main difference is that we got songs from Andy and Jon (Misery, guitar). On the first album it’s mainly material by Rob.

Rob: It was. There is one song that Roy (Mayorga, Amebix drummer) contributed. Jon and Andy really started to jump in very quickly after the first album. Again, there is just all this energy when these two guys are working off one another. Jon is very prolific; he just seems to be going through these really creative phases. He sometimes just lets us know he ‘had an idea’, and then something appears overnight. Usually the whole thing is there, ready to go. That’s why it’s going to be interesting to work in the same room with him. With Andy, it’s also very interesting. They are more involved in this album, and as a consequence, we’re stepping outside of the way that I would normally attack stuff. My songwriting was in a particular manner, whereas theirs is very different to that, yet somehow the whole thing is coming together and it still sounds like Tau Cross.

Vocally, the album seems a lot more layered. Can you elaborate on that?
Rob: You’re quite right. There’s a lot more vocal tracks going on. Perhaps there are too many overlays on that… I don’t know. It’s quite busy for sure. Also, the way we did vocals was different now. I did it over at James’ (Adams, production and live keyboards) house. He pressed the buttons whilst I was doing the takes. For the first album, I did everything at home. I would do it there and go downstairs, have a cup of tea and think about it, go upstairs again and have another go at it. I guess everybody is a little bit self-conscious when doing vocals in front of people, because it’s a very expressive thing. Perhaps I prefer to do it as a private thing. Taking your pants down in front of your mates is not always a good thing.

As a vocalist I can totally relate to that!
Rob: There you go. Then you know that if you want to get emotional and really expressive about stuff, sometimes you need to be on your own, even if it’s for five minutes to get into the right mindset.

I agree. I prefer to record all vocals by myself too. It helps if it stays quite spontaneous. How do you get into the right mood to record vocals for a Tau Cross album?
Rob: That’s exactly right. What I try to do, is to internalize all the imagery. For me lyrics are about imagery and about landscapes and places inside that environment. I put myself into that world and express from there. I think you need to have the ability to be an actor of sorts to take on this kind of thing. As a singer, you are literally trying to enact and enforce the words themselves, and trying to give strength to that, to convey the ideas to the listener.

Is that also why you decided to focus on vocals live and leave the bass parts to Tom (Radio)?
Rob: No, actually I really didn’t want to give up the bass. In fact, I’m still angry with Tom because he fucking stole my job, hahaha. We’ll get over it. He’s a fucking great bass player. I couldn’t think of anybody better to be doing it. He’s so solid, and such a talented guy. I really like listening to what he has done with the songs. The reason why I gave up playing the bass is purely technical. I couldn’t play some of these tracks and sing at the same time. With Amebix you’d lock in, get in the groove, and hammer away with a pick. With this, it’s not like that, so it’s impossible, really. It’s the same with Amebix’s ‘Sonic Mass’. I find it very difficult to play bass on those songs and sing at the same time.

It does give you some freedom as a frontman as well.
Rob: Exactly. You can experiment vocally and you can start to push in between Away’s rhythm as well. The drums and the vocal parts can accentuate each other that way. That’s a good way to go.

How did it feel the first time you stood on stage without your bass?
Rob: You’re very exposed. You’re naked in front of people. My bass was always my defense, like a big wooden door you can close yourself behind. But you either deal with that, and project that stuff outwards, or it’s going to be terribly boring. These days I’m really thrashing out there. I’m really enjoying it, and it reminds me of back when I was a kid and we were so convinced by our own music. It didn’t matter if there were 3 people in the room or 300. You still do the best that you can, because you’re still living in that time, and inside your own songs. That’s very important. If all of a sudden you become really self-conscious and start thinking about what it looks like and that kind of stuff, then it’s not how it’s supposed to be. You’re there to do your fucking thing!

Michel, your drumming is quite different in Tau Cross. In Voivod you tend to do really crazy, technical stuff. What struck me about your drumming in Tau Cross, is that it’s really straightforward and more simple. Is that a conscious decision?
Michel: It’s sort of conscious, but also it’s really what the riffs make me play. Sometimes I put a backward beat here and there, but I prefer to keep the groove going and try to fit to the music as much as possible. I don’t really overthink it, but I just follow the music and try not to be too intricate. It’s also quite a different musical approach in Tau Cross. I receive the songs in my Dropbox, and when I listen to them, I usually play the first beat that comes up in me. Sometimes I try some things that don’t work and I change them, but usually it’s very spontaneous. With Voivod, the songs I receive from Chewy (guitar) are usually quite progressive, so they make me want to play a certain type of technical beats. What I play in Tau Cross is still technical though, but it’s way more groove oriented.

You’re right: simple is not the right word to describe your drums in Tau Cross. It feels kind of understated though.
Michel: It’s sort of minimal, but I do have my signature fills. It ends up being quite hard to play in the end. It’s not so easy to play a full show and be 100% happy at the end. Then again, I like these kinds of challenges.

I like it! Play 50,000 notes and nobody will notice any mistakes. Keep it minimal and stick to the groove, and every tiny mistake is going to stick out like a sore thumb! Another challenge could be sheer logistics. Voivod has been touring a lot. How do you combine all of it?
Michel: We all have very busy schedules. Right now we found a window to tour. It’s a very pleasant surprise to see that people show up at our shows. That is very encouraging for us and we hope to find more windows like this one in the future, but everyone is very busy. Of course I am very busy with Voivod, but I’m very sure that Tau Cross can tour the USA early next year and I should be able to squeeze in a tour in summer. I hope we can play more shows in the future. It’s kind of a test. We played the east coast of the USA last year and it went really well, so I’m sure we can go back there any time. In Europe, we already seem to have a following. People are singing the lyrics from the new album.

Rob: It’s kind of insane. Last night… phew!

Michel: There is a momentum. There will be more shows coming up for us, for sure.

Rob: There’s something going on. We’re not being too conscious of it, but we realise it’s a really good musical time for us. It’s bringing a lot of different people together. That’s what is interesting about the shows. We are getting a lot of people from punk backgrounds, metal background… people that are just there for the music, that would normally just be music listeners. It’s a big compliment to the music that it has such a big arc of people who think it’s cool. You could go wrong with that. You could do a ‘Grave New World’ thing with Discharge. It could be just a bit… not quite right.

How much does the Amebix history have to do with the buzz? Of course that is quite a significant portion of music history there.
Rob: Yeah, I talk to a lot of people whose musical history has been influenced by Amebix, as well as Voivod. A lot of people didn’t think that would go together. It’s a weird combination but it really works well.

Michel: Well, ‘War And Pain’ is sort of like Amebix. It’s the same period, the same punk/metal background, same cold war, mixed with mythology. There are many people with both patches.

Rob: The punks in the early eighties loved Voivod. It was that time when they weren’t assimilating many people from a metal background, but Voivod had a punk attitude that came through. That was also the case with early Metallica. People were very happy to have their patch on their jacket along with Discharge. It’s punk rock credibility. That’s what it is.

Michel: Especially during the thrash metal movement in the mid eighties, when we started touring with Possessed and Kreator, there were many punks at the show. Crossover was exploding. All of a sudden D.R.I. and C.O.C. were a bit more metal and the metal bands were more punk. There were no more fights at the shows.

Rob: I used to go to Colston Hall to see the big bands there, like Saxon and Dio, and I was this guy in the middle of a huge metal audience with spiky hair. People were giving me death stares, but all I wanted was to listen to my music. I didn’t want the shit kicked out of me.

Michel: around ’83-’84 there really wasn’t any mixing between the scenes. It was dangerous, actually. Snake and I used to go to see GBH and Discharge. We were hanging out with some huge guys, and that was a good thing, because we were the only ones with long hair there. We had to be protected, because when we started going to shows it was punk or metal.

Only Motörhead could get away with being in both scenes.
Michel: Yes, right. They managed to get everyone together. I started to notice that the GBH drummer was wearing a Motörhead shirt on every single picture. Philthy (Animal Taylor, Motörhead drummer) came up with the D-beat, so if it wasn’t for Motörhead, I don’t know where the world would be today.

Still, you get to hear a lot of nostalgia about those days, despite the violence. I was too young to be around back then, so I cannot compare, but could you? What was the better era: the eighties or today?
Rob: For music, or generally?

Rob: Societally, everything comes in cycles. We are going through the same crises every ten years, so that doesn’t really change. Musically, the eighties were so exciting, for me personally. The seventies and the eighties, actually. The sheer variety of music, which people hadn’t really tried to pin and categorise so heavily, putting it into genres and subgenres… You didn’t have to think that way. You just knew that the music had a particular vibe to it. It wasn’t stamped and sealed and boxed away. There was a lot more freedom.

Michel: It’s a tough question, because there was the excitement of the beginning. We had no worries and just wanted to be as heavy as possible, but it’s true that it’s just the same recurring nightmare we’re living in. It used to be Tchernobyl, but now it’s Fukushima. This nightmare is still there, but I’m in a much better place in my life right now. I like what is going on with Voivod right now, and with me. Back then it was a lot of work to promote your work through fanzines; we would write them and wait six weeks for an answer. Now you usually get an email back right away. I used to mail my paintings to Metal Blade or Noise, either in LA or Berlin. Now I can simply send them by WeTransfer. With Tau Cross, we made two entire albums by file sharing. These things are really helpful. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be a new band. We can only enjoy what we have right now because we worked hard to establish our name in the past. Now that we are part of some legacy, it’s good. New bands are competing against thousands and thousands of other bands.

Rob: It’s impossible really. You see some really talented people play live and they’re supporting. We played with some really talented bands. Kids play a lot better than they ever did. There is a lot more proficiency. It doesn’t matter how well you play though, you still need to have something going for you, or somebody has to notice. We are very lucky because we can fall back onto a name, and then you already have the attention.

It’s also really tough on the listener, because you basically have to filter out all the good stuff.
Rob: Also, because of the pressure of being surrounded by so much music, the kids themselves feel the pressure of putting themselves into a box. They stick to a certain genre and start imitating bands just to get noticed or sold in a particular area, where there is not so much room for creativity or originality.

Record labels feel a need to be able to market bands in a particular way.
Rob: We went looking for several labels, trying to sell Tau Cross. We were turned down by two of them right away.

Michel: It’s difficult to get signed. Physical albums sell much less, but I must say I’m surprised by the amount of legal downloads nowadays. Finally, the infrastructure for that is in place. However, now we are facing streaming, which is really not lucrative for artists at all. The moment we had the right structure with iTunes and all, there was Spotify, which really needs to be restructured in order to get better payments for artists.

Rob: The artist has become such a secondary person these days, compared to what you were in the seventies or eighties. A lot of other people in the periphery established their own careers around the work of other people, such as artists. I seems like we’re the last ones to get paid.

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Let’s go back to ‘Pillar Of Fire’. Promos usually come without lyrics, so I still need to know a lot more about them. Please tell me something about them.
Rob: I guess I have this tendency to try to create environments. Most of it is a particular place and then I try to make figures move in that environment. That’s my preoccupation. The stories contained within that have to have their own narrative; they can be an analogy or a metaphor, using psychological imagery or archetypal forms. I grew up responding well to poetry and Shakespearean things. I really like depth and thoughtfulness and meaning in lyrics, so that’s what I’m trying to convey. Somebody made the observation that we have kind of created a world with these two albums. It’s not exactly Tolkien, but it’s our own space, in a similar way to how Voivod have created their own mythology. It’s a self-contained universe. The Tau Cross universe seems to have its own shape and creatures that inhabit it.

Michel: That’s precisely what attracted me to Amebix when we wrote ‘War And Pain’. It’s the landscapes that pop into your mind when you hear the music and see the lyrics and art. I try to work the same way with my art. I try to picture a landscape where somebody will be transported to, just looking at it. With Tau Cross there is this landscape present. It’s a parallel world, that is… I’m trying to find the right word here... unsettling. It’s kind of scary music in a way.

Rob: It’s a twilight. It’s kind of in between two ideas and it’s almost like the preoccupation with the idea of a parallel universe. It’s the sort of stuff people might associate with taking drugs, like a really bad acid trip or some really bad speed; you go into this very dark space. Having had some very bad experiences with that, you see these things.

Michel: There were albums that did the same to me when I was a kid, like the first albums of Black Sabbath and King Crimson. I’m hoping our music has the same effect on young people who listen to it the first time. It’s not really a nightmare, but like an altered state for sure.

Would that be escapism, kind of a relief from present day stress?
Rob: We all escape in one way or another all the time. We have this constant preoccupation with our own internal world. What we see outside is generally a consensual projection of what we agree on being a society. A lot of it is basically nonsense that we agree on. People can spend their lives around peripheral ideas that don’t mean anything. It’s a very thin veneer of civility, but we have an internal dialogue going on all the time. There’s no harm in involving yourself within that for an hour or two, listening to your own music. It can prove liberating, if you pepper that with archetypal ideas and try to make it into something which is creative, thoughtful and meaningful. Also, in the way that Amebix was, it should be empowering. If you go ‘fuck yeah!’ after listening to an album that’s a really positive result.

Michel: There is a contradiction in making this concept to escape from what’s going on, but it’s based on what’s going on. We could totally escape from life and just talk about Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s important to have a message that makes people think about what’s going on in this world, even if it’s in the form of some sort of punk folk metal mythology, as is the case in Tau Cross, or SciFi, in case of Voivod. What’s important, is that it makes people think, and that they get something out of it that makes them spread the word that the planet is in a sad state.

Of course it’s almost inevitable to also talk about Amebix. To what extent would you consider Tau Cross a continuation of Amebix?
Rob: The first Tau Cross album was definitely a continuation of my personal ideas. Now that it’s getting peppered with everybody else’s ideas it’s becoming much more than that. It’s a free for all, and we’re all throwing stuff onto the table. It’s still the same band though. We have a weird alchemical thing where everybody is the right person for the job. We somehow got everybody who should be doing this. We’re all bringing our own energy to it. I don’t think we could do it without anybody here.

The transition does seem to be rather strange, though. You recorded ‘Sonic Mass’, which is a really important album to me, and then it just kind of… faded out. Does that annoy you?
Rob: It was annoying first of all when I realised that Amebix couldn’t continue. That was the anger that fueled everything about the first Tau Cross album. There is a lot of anger, bitterness and resentment in those songs. It certainly had its value for writing songs and making things happen. I don’t regret anything about it. Amebix was a fantastic thing to have done. I’m very proud of what we achieved. I’m glad that we came out on what I perceive to be a good album and a high note for us. Other people may not agree but I find a lot of people actually really like the album, although it was very different to what they expected. It was a great experience in terms of building a landscape and it taught me a lot about the value of thinking about writing songs. Before that, Amebix was basically me and my brother jamming. We made a cassette recording of what we’ve done and that would be the song, which we would record in the studio. ‘Tau Cross’ was really a continuation of those things, and ‘Pillar Of Fire’ is everybody expanding out from there. It has its own recognizable style already and what we will do in the future will be recognisable because we haven’t really bound ourselves to any particular style. Any instrument, any idea that will come into the fold… we’ll use it. We didn’t throw anything out so far. Any song we write just works.

Michel: There are no boundaries in terms of music and we try not to pigeonhole ourselves. Personally, I learned a lot from postpunk, that was a rebellion against the restrictions of punk. Why not use an acoustic guitar or something? When I discovered strange bands like The Swell Maps or The Fall, who seemed to be punks but approached the music in almost a prog rock way, I became more inclined to think like that.

How often are you being stalked by people who ask you to do an Amebix reunion?
Rob: I don’t really get that. I talk to a lot of people who are very emotional about Amebix, particularly if you go to a place like Puntala Rock. The band meant a lot to them in terms of their personal development. We all had music we listened to very early in our lives, which is such a bedrock, because it gets down all the way right before we filter and put up walls against the whole world. We’re just vulnerable to the power of music when we’re young. Those things can be the building blocks for whole lives and particularly with Amebix it’s strange; going to a place like Puntala makes your brain go… bleh. It is an experience of meeting people out of your own imagination. It’s a big thing, but only few people tell me I must do Amebix again.

Not even Walter? I could totally imagine him dreaming of an Amebix reunion at Roadburn.
Michel: That is actually how Rob and I got in touch. I wanted to invite Amebix to Roadburn for the day we were curating with Voivod. We kept in touch ever since. Also, I know that the guys from Neurosis tried. Amebix has such a cult status that to many people, including me, it’s almost like we don’t see Rob and Stig as humans. We just tell them ‘you have to reform!’, forgetting that they’re humans like us and they go through normal lives. I can tell that for many punks in the streets that Amebix is something different from normal earthlings. They are like gods, so a normal situation of them not getting along or them not being able to reunite is simply not imaginable. We would be lost!
Rob: That’s the brilliant thing about this tour, you know. So many people told me they didn’t know what to think about Tau Cross. They’re the same people who have really taken the Amebix thing, the Voivod thing, and think ‘yes! This makes sense!’ The guy who interviewed us the other day came up to us after the show and told me that what we do now really fucking works. In particular, this is what we hear about the new album. When we play those songs, we hear they are fucking kickass.
Michel: Many people told me during this tour that they understood as soon as they saw us live. They love they album, but when they see the band live, it gels so much that it all makes sense to them all of a sudden.

You do realise that my expectations are getting higher and higher, right?
Rob: Well, you’re not staying, are you, hahaha!? Fuck!

I think I get it. It was kind of the impression I had after your show at Roadburn last year. As much as I like the first album, I realised that the songs really came alive on stage. Basically, every song turned out to be an anthem.
Rob: Yes, that’s the thing! Fingers crossed, but so far, with all of these shows, there has been a big audience participation. They’re all sing-along things. People seem to like that because it gives them a voice. We all love to sing along to songs. It’s funny… it’s almost poppy, in a way that’s acceptable to everybody, so that’s great.

Were you aware of that when you wrote these songs?
Rob: No! It’s just that I’ve always loved melody. I don’t think I really had the outlet for that before. With Amebix we tried, but Stig is not that kind of guitarist. He was a good guitarist, but he had his own thing going on, which made it difficult. For instance, we didn’t have a lead guitar, so we didn’t really have someone making a melody, helping along with the vocal. Perhaps I wasn’t experimenting enough vocally anyway. On the last demo we did I tried to experiment a bit with singing and it got me really excited. It was just a little 8-track studio. After that the whole band folded, so the hangover of that was that I wanted to experiment a bit more vocally and make songs that everyone could get into. ‘Arise’ is still a sing song, and so is ‘Axeman’.

It’s funny how Roadburn just seems to be a constant and a connecting factor between so many people. I can hardly do an interview without mentioning the festival at least once. I saw you there last year and you really seemed to enjoy yourselves there. How was it from your perspective?
Michel: It’s still my favourite festival. It’s very eclectic and all of my European friends go there, so it’s always wonderful. The shows are great; I get to see Doom and Anekdoten on the same festival, which is unheard of. I’m good friends with Walter. I had a great experience there with an exhibition. My art was plastered all over the city. As a matter of fact, Dank Jones wrote a book and he asked many illustrators to contribute. I picked the part in which he talks about Roadburn. It will come out next year.

Rob: Michel is a man of mystery. He is always up to so many things.

Rob, was this your first Roadburn?
It was. The experience from my side of the stage was odd because I was just out of hospital three days before, in Virginia. I had blown up my voice. I had a tonsillar abcess whilst we were on tour and it exploded, so my throat was completely fucked. I was worried about that because for songs like ‘Hangman’s Hyll’ it’s really important to get the vocals right, and when it’s not quite right live I can hear it. I was not happy with my personal performance but everything else was fine. The disconcerting thing was looking at an audience of 3000 people, and people were just watching. Then I realised that people were there to listen to the music and experience music. That’s the whole thing about Roadburn: it’s a really deep experience in that people are assimilating the whole of the festival as an experience, rather than just thrashing out and getting drunk and running around. It’s a thinkers’ festival rather than a bangers’ festival.

Michel: I had played Roadburn with Voivod but since then the place got much bigger. We showed up with Tau Cross at this place which was almost twice the size. When I set up the kit, realizing it took about 2500-3000 people to fill the place, I got a bit nervous, but when we did our line check the place was packed.

Rob: It was a great honour. We suddenly realised that people were interested. That’s when it started to dawn that this is actually working.

Michel: Because you never know. There might be some legendary people involved, but you never know if people are really going to show up. So far, every show we played has been really wonderful.

Rob: Also, the first album sort of gave us this horrible ‘supergroup’ tag, and we were called a ‘project’, which is equally bad. It almost condemns you to the used CD bin. I wanted people to realise that this is a band. It might not be a band that you see very regularly, but this is a band because we’re active and we’re writing together, with the means of playing that. We’re not just a bunch of people who meet up and write this thing and then head off to do another side project. I’m sure it’s fun to do that, but this is an expressive medium, a proper fully-fledged beast.

Michel: At any given time, I’m involved in about five bands, but next year, I want to cut it down to Voivod and Tau Cross because it’s obvious that this is where I really feel at ease.

And one thing you already mentioned during this interview is that it tastes like more. What can we expect from you in the near future? I understand that you really want to be in the same room when you record the next album?
Michel: To our ears, there is a difference between what we hear when we play live and what we can achieve when we record separately. It’s difficult to have three guys in the USA, one on some Island in Scotland and me on some other Island in Canada. We can hear the places where it can be a little tighter and also we would get to work on details a lot more; it’s kind of hard to get all the details down with a Facebook chat. It involves a lot of scrolling for sure. It was a necessity to record separately but it will probably become a necessity to record together.

Rob: I agree with that. We really cannot afford not to, because we will lose a whole lot of energy and a whole lot of time. The potential is really excellent now. Everybody is clicking very well together and we don’t take long to get into step. All it takes, is one day’s worth of rehearing on Skye, and we’re there. It’s like old mates who sit in the same company and they’re very comfortable with each other quickly. We will find creative things to work. There’s nothing quite like being able to sit down and write songs together, with a kit set up in a room and an amp over there. All those little things, the idiosyncrasies and the stuff that makes the music exciting, that’s what you get there when you have this flows. We need to try to find the time for that, and that means trying to get into the same space together for some time.

Michel: It will be a bit costly, because we will all have to fly somewhere, and the album will appear a little later, but it’s really worth it.

Rob: Since we are a supergroup, we’re rich anyway, hahaha!

Michel: Of course we all have our private jets. Mine is a flying saucer. Rob uses a magic potion to travel, drinking it from a goblet. The Baron’s elixir.

You have to record together. You cannot upload the exchange of glances in a rehearsal room into a Dropbox folder.
Rob: Exactly! Working with Jon is… this tour is really good. On the first tour everyone was just kind of learning to be together. Now, those guys are fucking thrashing out and they’re really comfortable. Sometimes I’m just looking at Jon, thinking ‘he’s a fucking bundle of energy!’ You have to get that energy into a room and tap it, because you’ll come up with some weird shit.

Michel: With Voivod, we used to record albums like ‘Killing Technology’ and ‘Dimension Hatröss’ after a world tour. We would stop in Berlin and go right into the studio and record with the energy we got from a couple of months of touring. Maybe we can aim for that. The only problem with this way of working is that you have to write the album before you go on tour to promote the previous album, so it’s a lot of work, but it’s doable.

Rob: There’s no rush. We can do it.

The only alternative would be to do it the Swans way, starting a tour with an outline of new songs and developing them on the road.
Michel: We used to do that with Voivod for a bit. Nowadays you can bring a laptop, which is easy, so we write in the bus. Otherwise it’s impossible to move forward rapidly.

Thank you for this interview!
Rob: You do realise that we won’t leave you out of the van until after the show, now that your expectations have become so high, hahaha!?

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