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Video interview with the Burning Heads at Hellfest 2018

When I was a kid and jumped into punk/rock, Burning Heads was one of the first bands I saw live and that convinced me that it was the kind of music I wanted to play. It was in 1999 and they were signed on Epitaph Records back in the days. The French outfit is still alive and well and I couldn’t resist to interview them at Hellfest 2018.

You are one of well-known French punk/rock band and acclaimed for your ethics and integrity. What about Burning Heads nowadays ?

JB: Regarding touring and booking, from the beginning and for about 20 years, we work with the same people : 3C is in charge of booking our shows and our tours. All is fine and we get along pretty well with this big company, a very big tour booker for whom we are just a very small punk/rock band but we know them from the beginning and they have always worked with us. At beginning, they didn’t booked our tours. They were just helping us when they could. It’s been 30 years we work together and it’s not about to change.

Thomas: We have a few forthcoming shows in the near future but nothing really new. No big news, new songs, new record in the making so it’s gonna be a bit quiet.

You’ve released your last album a few years ago. What is in the making ?

JB: Well, I don’t know. We’re thinking about the future and we still don’t have everything we want to do in mind.

‘Opposite 3’ ?

JB: The #3 is already out, if you think about it.

Thomas: The second volume of “Chose your Trap” is like ‘Opposite 3’.

JB: Yeah! In this double disc record, one of them is way more a punk/rock and folk/rock one, and the second one is much more Opposite. We didn’t announced it like this. Maybe it was a mistake.

Thomas: Speaking for ourselves, it’s the third Opposite.

JB: We will also try to release a vinyl box with all the Opposite records, and maybe a little bit more stuff. Four vinyls in a box.

Thomas : As it’s gonna be a Opposite box, we asked some artists from the reggae scene to sing on some instrumental songs we have.

More than 30 years on the road, with a lot of highs and lows, we fell that you are back to the roots with the way you do music. Determination, self-sacrifice ou resignation ?

Thomas : Well, I think that after all these years, we finally figured out that the most efficient things are the simplest things. The easiest things to share are the most primary feelings, direct emotions. It’s about instinct.

JB: Maybe, at the beginning of the band, on our first albums, we tried to do too many things when we wrote songs. We finally found out that it didn’t work out. We couldn’t find how to bring the energy during our shows. When you play in a band, live shows are the main thing, so if you don’t know how to bring the energy live don’t even thing about playing these songs. Better do simple and efficient songs, so you can play them live and bring the heat.

Thomas: As American people say, and they’re sometimes right, “Less is more”

What are your ties with the French, European and international punk/rock scenes ?

Thomas: As soon as we meet people we know, we are super happy to meet friends again. As soon as we meet people we don’t know, we are often surprised to figure out they will become friends of us. So, how it’s like ? Good ! Everytime we are on the road, we fell lucky to meet new people and they are nice people most of the time. There are a lot of good bands among the French punk/rock scene. In Europe too, there are more or less known bands. Even in rookie bands, there are a lot of super good ones.

Are there bands, signed or unsigned, that you closely follow ?

JB: I still follow the Adolescents closely. I don’t even know if they are signed or unsigned. I know they have deals with some labels in Europe. They are one of my favorite band for a very long time and I am happy that they are back together and play shows.

(Steve Soto died a few days after the interview)

Thomas: There are super good bands in Canada. A band called Emergency. Out of Order, I played with them not so long ago. We also listen to some French bands like Syndrome 80 … Punk/rock, street punk stuff and simple 4-chord music is doing pretty well. Even if there is not always a big crowd, even if the press or people are not much interested, it’s okay. There are still bands that are hungry so you can see nice line-ups.

Can you tell us more about ‘Opposite Prod’ and how you operate it ?

Thomas: Pretty quickly : we started Opposite Prod because we didn’t have a label anymore. We tried a lot of stuff in the past and we were like : “we’re gonna do it by ourselves then, we will figure out how it goes”.

JB: We have a nice label !

Thomas: So, the plan was to release Burning Heads’ stuff and with the money we got with this, we could release our friends’ bands. We figured out it was a real job and we were not really interested in this … We didn’t feel we could be label managers or whatever you call this job. We don’t know how to run a label so we now have some friends doing it. We always know what’s going on but they are more into running the business and they are pretty good at this.

JB: So, we initially had a little money we could invest but as time passed by, we had less and less and we couldn’t put more of our own money into this. We first tough : “We have friends. We can try to help them as much as we can. We can pay for a few things then we can start a label”. In the end, we figured out we didn’t have the money to do it. Opposite Prod is not really a label. We try to help bands anyway, as most of them are good friends. They come on our label but we don’t operate as a label. We can’t build a band’s success. We are the Burning Heads. We are a band but we’re not a label. So, bands come on Opposite Prod but they have to do their shit by themselves, do their own promotion find their own shows, find the money to produce their records or their merch. We can’t do anything more … but say they are on the Opposite Prod label.

Thomas: We just have a … label manager suit. “Do it yourself”. You come on Opposite and you do it yourself. That is the way it works.

Do you have any favorite album at the moment ?

Thomas: Siberian Meat Grinder, Youth Club by Sharp/Shock.

JB: I just pick songs here and there not really albums. I noticed a band called Dad Brains, from the US. The dudes were like : “We’re all dads but we still want to play musique and we play punk/rock. So we’re gonna call our band Dad Brains”. Nice move, guys ! Many bands and songs like these but not an album in particular.

Any last words for your fans ?

Thomas: Stay fit, stay strong, voilà !

JB: Go on ! Fun, passion, energy !

About Greg Legarand

As a musician, I've been involved in bands since the early 2000's and have been constantly releasing records and touring since then. I use to play the guitar and sing in Bare Teeth and sometimes do solo stuff. I've founded Distrolution to provide bands and labels tools and services they need to get more exposure and help them as best as I can.

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