Among all the interviews I did at the Hellfest Festival, the one I did with Julien from Benighted was quite awesome. Julien is not only really nice, but he also made us laugh during the whole interview. If you are in a band and sometimes think of playing barefoot, Julien will probably make you change your mind! Warning: You will probably laugh!
You played on the Altar at 2.20PM. What’s the verdict? It was a big butchery, we had a great time. We arrived, it’s true that this is the fourth time we play at the Hellfest, so we’re a bit used to it. So we really arrived with a mentality to take maximum pleasure without stress or anything. And I think it’s the first time, because we always have at a moment, an electric shit that sucks, or a trigger trick or something. And there, we spent forty minutes of pure happiness actually. Everything, exactly as we wanted to do it. We have our friend Arnaud of Black Bomb Ä who came to do a track with us. It was huge, I loved it, I mean, I love this track. And it’s true that as soon as we can do it with him, because he’s the one who recorded it on the album with me, we jump on the occasion! And from the first track, the crowd was gone in pogo, in circle pit… It was “wow”! And it was like that during the whole concert, so I was really thoroughly, thoroughly! We had an amazing time!
This is your 4th participation at the Hellfest, we can say that you are a little at home here, right? Yes, somewhere yes. Although I was here the last time in 2015. And I did not recognize much when I arrived, because it has changed a lot! Well, me anyway, because since 2014, where we had played, I think they all changed musicians, there is no longer one who is the same. So for me it was the habit, for them, it was new and so on! But, it went really well. We had a fantastic time!
As a spectator, are there bands that you absolutely do not want to miss on this edition of the Hellfest? Well, it sucks, because I’m leaving Sunday morning, and the band I wanted to see, it was Stray From The Path, that I have never had the opportunity to see. That I absolutely wanted to see. But with the job on Monday, it’s not going to be compatible. So I’ll have to wait a little longer to see them. But yeah, this afternoon, I knew I had a lot of interviews and that there were many people I could not see. I will make my little program at 7pm, when I’ll finish the interviews. See what I’m going to see tonight, tomorrow and… No, Sunday, we leave early. We won’t be able on Sunday!
Let’s talk about your last album ‘Necrobreed’. This one stands out for its concept-album aspect. Looking back, how would you describe this album? With ‘Necrobreed’, I remain 100% satisfied! It’s an album that was written in a difficult time. Because we had changed our line up again. It’s an album we had to write quickly, because the members of Benighted, who arrived at that time, were very fresh in the band. And in the end, we realized that we did well recruiting these people.
Manu, our guitarist, is the main composer of the album. He’s a… a monster of composition and he really facilitated the composition of the album by immediately offering tons of riffs, song ideas. We worked a lot on structures together, because I like to put my grain of salt in album structures, arrangements, because it’s a bit my thing. I actually love doing that, thinking my song according to the riffs and stuff. So in general, it’s a little bit me who says in the end “this must be put there!.” “This I’m going to make a chorus of it,” “This thing”… And it was done in fact, hyper easily. And we end up with the album, in fact, I think, the most brutal of our career! While it was not… We didn’t tell each other “Yeah, we have to climb a little bit in the brutality” or anything. It really happened like this. I think the urgency and the fresh blood made us come up with something “boom”!
You will soon release an EP anniversary for the band’s 20th anniversary, which will be released via Season of Mist. Can you tell us more about it? Of course! Well, we recorded it in May, at Kohlekeller Studio, in Germany. Where we are used to. The EP will contain three new tracks, including a track, well the title that bears the name of the album, “Dogs Always Bite Harder Than Their Master”. There is Sven from Aborted singing on it, and Nikita from Der Weg Einer Freiheit! This track, we’re beside going to shoot a music video for it in September!
So there are three new tracks, one cover and six live tracks of our anniversary show in Lyon. Where, exactly, we had invited people, well our friends, to come sing with us! There will be Arnaud from Black Bomb Ä as well. There is Niklas from Shining, Sven from Aborted and Ben, of Unfathomable Ruination. We really wanted to keep the four tracks with the guests. There are 6 in all. There’s the four tracks with the guests, because well, it’s the birthday, it’s friends. We integrate, so yeah. We really work… Well, the Benighted family, it’s really a big thing actually. So the people who have always been here for us, who arrive, who enter the family… We really work like this!
The “Hell Over Europe II” tour is quite busy, you are on a date per day in November. It must be hard enough for you, what is your secret to stay in shape? So, it’s going to be physical, yeah! I don’t know how we’re going to stay in shape, we’ll see! It’s true that it’s a butchery tour, because there’s Aborted, Cryptopsy, Cytotoxin… So what is very funny, it’s that with Sven, when he came to spend a weekend at my house, we’ve been to the gym together. We love it, it was super nice! But here, in Cytotoxin, the singer, Grimo, he’s a personal trainer. He’s an ice cabinet, he’s a Golgoth species of 1m95 with huge muscles. And he said he would take care of our fitness during the tour. So we are a little scared! Because I said “Hey ho! I am almost 40 years old, I’m not 25, you calm down!”. But hey, we’ll see! It’s really the buddy tour. It’s going to be done the most relaxed way possible! I cannot wait to be there, it’s really going to be cool!
Since the last few years, the notoriety of Benighted knows a real rise. How do you explain it? I don’t know! It’s true that we have longevity for us, so after a while, people are telling themselves “What’s this band?”. Well! Even those who don’t know us tell themselves “Damn, a band that has existed for twenty years, of death metal. I’m a fan of death metal and I don’t know them!” So to not look like idiots, they come to discover! I think that what’s going on, it is that we have always kept the same mentalities, no matter the line up. Which means that we have always remained authentic with the music we wanted to do. We never followed the trends or things like that! And we have always tried, precisely, to really respect the people who supported us by composing quality albums with our guts in it. And not necessarily what was the best to release at the market level or stuff like that.
We always remained honest in this thing, and I’m really proud of that. It’s with the guideline that we saw at the beginning, that we had set when we were kids, that can be corrupted or perverted, after, precisely with the success, things like that. We always kept this guideline, and I think people know it. And we are very close to our fans. We love sharing a lot of moments with them. And this sharing thing does that, I think, even if someone doesn’t really like Benighted’s music, he can love its mentality. In any case, the mentality of the band.
You who are always barefoot on stage, did you ever hurt yourself? Aaah yes! And not only! I think that… the two worst things, it’s when we went on a tour in Canada. There were shards of broken bottles on stage. I took one underfoot. So the scene, in 2 minutes tops, it has become a pool of blood! Because I was bleeding, it was disgusting. Well, I did not stop anyway, but I was bleeding underfoot, it was disgusting. For once, it was very grindcore. It was disgusting!
And there, in India, as I am barefoot and that the electrical conditions were not great. And in fact, on the last track, on the cover of Sepultura, I was electrocuted by the mic! Not electrocuted to… fall on the ground, but I have electricity that started to get into my arm, so I just had time to finish the track and I threw the mic. And all the next day, if you want, I had my hand that did not work anymore. I had to wait until it came back. So yeah, I think sometimes, to be barefoot, it’s not super careful… But it makes funny anecdotes!
Do you have any habits that you absolutely must do before going on stage? Absolutely no, but we have small stupid rituals, that we like to do between us. For example, I have my guitarist, Fab. We have a little game between us, it’s that he checks my five main voices. So he stands… At a moment he stands in front of me like that, and he does “Juju!”. “Yes?” So I do my voices. “It’s good, it works! We’re going!” This is our little ritual.
20 years already that the band exists… How do you see yourself in 20 more years? Yes. With a crane on stage, to start! No honestly, I don’t know. I have no idea. The thing is, that my motivation, is intact. I am the last original member of the band. I always have the same motivation: recording albums, go to concerts, touring and everything… So I think it’s the physical that will catch me after a while. Because casually, it’s pretty tiring.
When the holidays have arrived, it gave me the opportunity to think and compare everything that had just happened. And I realize that it’s been years and years that I never rest, in fact. So maybe one day, health will catch me because of that. I don’t know, I’ll see. But what is certain, is that it will not be… it will not be a fed up of Benighted, because it’s part of me. It’s part of my identity. I did 17 years of rugby, and I had to stop because of medical reasons, because of my back. That’s what stopped me. I’d still do it, if my back was not in “danger”. I think that Benighted, if one day, it has to stop for me, it will be for reasons like this.
But would you still keep a foot in music? I will always be part of the metal scene. But after, do some tours, all these things that ask anyway a lot of energy… Because casually, managing a band, beyond concerts, tours, it’s very time consuming. Management takes me… it’s almost like a second job. I rarely have an hour to myself in the week, where I can just sit and do nothing. So… it’s that it demands a lot of time. But well, for now, it suits me. I will not complain. It’s sure that I live a lot of great things, so I will certainly not complain about what I live. But yeah, the price of this thing, it’s that you never rest, and you have to accept it!
This is the end of the interview. If you have a message to convey, it’s now! I’m going to talk mostly about the Hellfest, because I just left stage not long ago! Thank you, thank you very much for beeing so many! On stage, I didn’t realize too much, with sweat in my eyes, the number you were and the mess you did. But I have already been shown photos and videos. And damn, my bastards, you kicked our ass in the pit! So thank you very much for your support, it was really great and it will remain truly unforgettable!