Live music, Harry Potter and question time with Our Theory – 13/2/14

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Upon entering the Lady Luck bar in Canterbury, I was initially struck by how this was MY kind of place and I have no idea why I haven’t been there before. If you’re a music fan, it will be your kind of place too. The dark walls boast framed images of rock icons from the ages ranging from Elvis to Slash. Contributing to this, they also sell frigging Haribo behind the bar!

It’s the kind of place where you know the bar staff are there for the live music as much as you are, which makes for a very welcoming atmosphere.

The live music I was there for on this particular night was the French post-hardcore band Our Theory, the third of the four acts that evening, who drew bigger audience than that of the headliners Under The Influence.

The five-piece (comprised of vocalist Bastien Berhault, guitarists Mehdi Major and Damien Bauthamy, bassist Yoann Andrieux and drummer Guillaume Cellarius), formed in 2011 in Paris; this is their first musical venture to the UK with friends Under The Influence and they do very well to stand out in a competitive British music scene with their blend of beautiful vocal melodies and churning breakdowns.

During their half hour set, their sound fills the tiny space and if you happened to walk in as they were playing, it would be like being hit by a wall of sound. They sound ferocious. Particularly during one song which we are warned beforehand by Mehdi is “fucking heavy”. He’s not wrong – the song is heavy enough to get the attention of anyone who had not already noticed them and to also make a blu-tacked safety warning fall off the wall.

The ferocity is nicely balanced with the tight musical melodies from the vocals of Bastien and Mehdi which are especially clear during the song ‘The Light’ which is where the musical talent and energy of the band are very obvious. The song is introduced by Mehdi as a “song about losing someone close to you”, showing that not only are they talented musicians, but also some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I would know this as after the show, I sat down and had a chat with them.

Firstly, the name, where did it come from?

Mehdi: Originally, we were trying to pick up names, we figured out that we wanted to share our vision of the youth, of today’s youth and everything that’s changed in the last 20 years. So we wanted to share that vision. We have no pretension of trying to change the world, we just wanted to share what we have to say.

What about the logo? I think it strikes many people as being very Harry Potter-esque.

M: Yeah, I know! Everyone, everyone, asks the question. So actually, we just liked the way that triangles looked, and you could put an ‘O’ and a ‘T’ in them and it makes sense, so there is no link with Harry Potter at all. Although, I LOVE Harry Potter, I’m such a big Harry Potter fan, I love it!

(At which point, there was a brief musical interlude due to a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ directed towards bassist Yoann).

How did you come to form the band?

M: I was in a band before, and we all met in the French scene in Paris. Damien played in a band called Borderline, he was the guitar player. And so, at some point, I wanted to do something else and Bastien wanted to form a new band, heavier than I was doing before. So he just hooked me up on Facebook and we started writing songs, then went to Damien, and Damien listened to the songs and wanted in.

Damien: When I stopped my old band, I met him [Bastien] and told him that if I was to do a new band, it would be only with this guy [gestures to Bastien]. And so they proposed to me to do a new band and I was like ‘Yeah, cool!’ (he laughs).

You mentioned the French music scene, what’s it like in terms of French bands?

M: The bands are very good. We have loads of friends in really good bands, like Chunk! No Captain Chunk! They took over the world, they’re kind of the French pride!

D: Betraying the Martyrs…

M: Yeah, Betraying the Martyrs. So we have loads of friends in bands. It [the French music scene] used to be shit, but now, it’s getting better and better and people are signing to huge labels. We’ve got a door open.

How has the tour been so far for you?

M: It’s been good! We’ve been with Under The Influence and they’re really taking care of us, looking out for everything and they’re amazing. This is the fourth show now tonight because we did London (which as pretty good), we did Mansfield, then a show in Stockton but it was cancelled and yesterday was Swansea and it was very good although we couldn’t understand the accents at all!

What’s been the best night so far?

M: I would say maybe Canterbury actually! Even though the venue was small and the sound system was not very good, the crowd was really good, so probably tonight. London was a little bit better [in terms of venue], but it was the first show of the tour, so we had to get into it, but yeah we’ve had good venues, but it’s not about the show, it’s about the crowd.

How is touring in England different to touring in France?

M: It’s different in a way, the crowd is very different. In France you get a lot of people with arms folded and checking you out, waiting for you to make a mistake because everyone is so jealous.

Bastien: It’s very anxious for me because everyone is like “show me your talent” and wait for you to make a mistake.

M: But here it’s so different. At the end of every show, people will come to us and complement us on the set and we get a great response from British people. We get a great response from French people too, but it’s different. Here, people aren’t afraid to come to you and say “Yeah man, that was a great set, I like your band”.

B: We love to play in Paris, but in the beginning it was difficult, now it’s good because we have fans and we’ve grown a fan base. But in the beginning it was very difficult.

M: Also, something very important is that you guys have a great rock and roll culture, in France, it’s not really about rock and roll. You all come to shows and discover new bands, it’s not really the same in France.

B: In Paris, it’s 300 people maximum [at a show]. For Bring Me The Horizon, it’s 1000.

M: Actually going back to the question about the scene in France, you can have huge bands in the UK, like Bring Me The Horizon, they can play 1600 in France, but they can be playing arenas here. Rock and roll is smaller in France. The scene is smaller in France, there’s less people in France for this kind of music than in Britain.

Is there a song off the new album that you enjoy playing live the most?

M: Actually, there’s a song on the album which features Bert from Chunk! No Captain Chunk! called The Liars and I love it, it has great energy and it’s really good.

B: I think I’d say The Liars too, I think it’s really good.

What was the recording process like, particularly with the contributions from Bert from Chunk! No Captain Chunk! and Ed from Devil Sold His Soul?

M: Actually, Bastien had been in contact with Ed for a long time and we’re long-time friends of Devil Sold His Soul and he contacted him [Ed] on Facebook and explained that we had a track that would really fit his vocals. From the beginning we asked him if he would like to do a song with us, he said yes, we wrote the song, and we sent it to him for the vocals and he recorded it in his studio and sent it back to us. We wrote the lyrics and we wanted them to have their touch because they have special vocals.

Who is the chief song writer? And what’s it like writing in English?

M: With the album, I wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics

B: With my girlfriend because she’s American

M: His girlfriend is American so she was an enormous help to us.

What are your plans for the future for Our Theory?

M: Right now, we are writing a new EP, so maybe 4 or 5 songs. But heavier.

B: It’s going to be more metalcore, kind of like Issues [the band], so with more screaming.

M: I think it’s going to be very good, I’m very excited about it. We’ve demoed pretty much everything right now and we are very happy and can’t wait to have people listen to it. We’ll probably have Bert from Chunk! producing the album so it’s going to be really good, it’s going to add some of his style as he’s really good for that. I think we might be touring France a little bit in April with Under The Influence and just waiting for everything to be released to see what’ll happen.

When do you think you’ll be back in the UK again?

M: As soon as possible! (laughs) But we have nothing planned for the moment but as soon as we get the opportunity to come back, we will.

They are as lovely as their English is good – which is very good indeed. Afterwards they sign my album and we talk about Harry Potter some more and contrasting the stereotype of a typical ‘band dude’, they are all very down to earth and approachable. They are a band who are aware of the fact that their present success is due to their music and their fans and are good enough to remember that.

I think something needs to be said of the power of social networking, particularly with Our Theory. In a time before Facebook or Twitter, it would have been incredibly difficult for such a small band to even think about breaking into a different country. But now they can promote their new album ‘Collapse’ or an upcoming show all at the touch of a button. Hopefully, with their new EP coming soon and first appearance in the UK now under their collective belt, they’ll attract the notice of ‘important people’ from ‘important places’ which will really give them a leg-up in their journey to spread their theory and make them a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Watch this space!

Our Theory’s debut album ‘Collapse’ is out now and watch their new music video for ‘The Devil’ here.

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Getting the hang of things….

Why is it that whenever I go to write something here my heart speeds up and my palms get a teeny bit sweaty?

I’m such a newbie! I think the thought of writing something and then putting it out there for anyone to see and read scares me a bit. The vastness of the internet constantly blows my mind – once something’s written, you can’t really ever delete it because you don’t know who’s read it or got hold of it…a similar argument that my mum poses to me whenever a questionable picture of me comes up on Facebook. She goes on about how a prospective employer could possibly see any of these pictures and freaks out about how it could be a handicap in the competitive job market. My counter argument is that my privacy settings are like the security around the crown jewels – I’ve been there, there’s cameras everywhere, it’s very dark (presumably to inhibit any attempts at escape and make you run into things) and there are very odd human conveyor belts…it’s a perplexing place to say the least. Ain’t nobody stealin’ those jewels!

But now, I’ve almost got over my aversion to posting, it’s something I get a tad excited about now. It may seem like I got over this fear over the space of minutes, but I wrote the previous paragraph two days ago…what can I do, I’m a procrastinator?

I’ve got over my aversion to posting because I’ve got another brave thing happening to me soon.

Cue heroic music!

LIZZIE’S NEW BRAVE THING NUMBER 2! (after making a blog)

I’m engaging in my first interview this week with an actual band! Music is a massive thing for me (as I mentioned in the previous post) and I’ve been tossing around the idea of going into music journalism as a career for a while. And as I’m being proactive at the moment and organising myself, I discovered that a relatively new band from France are playing in my town this coming week. Our Theory…have you heard of them? YouTube them, they’re new but show signs of great promise.

I sent them an email and asked if they’d mind giving me some experience and on Thursday, I’m going to conduct my first ever interview! <applause>

A little bit of me was hoping they’d say no – I’m a bit jittery about it to say the least!

If anyone has any tips or questions they’d like me to ask them, or even suggestions for an app I can get from the App Store to record it on, leave a comment, it’d be greatly appreciated!

For now, I’m going to leave it there, I’ve got a seminar to go to in a bit, French oral skills, ugh! 

Have a good day!

 

Now Playing: Blink 182 – I Miss You

 

Welcome to my piece of Internet!

So, I’m taking the leap, taking the plunge, crossing a new bridge or any other similar expressions for starting something new and I’m starting a blog. Cue applause! I’m the kind of person that goes on about how they’re going to do something for ages….and then promptly never mentions it again and never gets around to it. A blog is a perfect example. Last summer, I first came across the idea and proclaimed to all my friends that I was going to ‘write about everything we do in the summer and take loads of pictures and it’ll be amazing!’ Roughly 8 months on, here we are. Nothing exciting is happening to provide a stimulus, but I’m excited all the same!

Bearing in mind that I’m the kind of person that knows very little about computers or internetty, wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, (because that’s all it is to me) everyone and their mother has a blog, so how hard can it be – some mothers are notoriously computer illiterate, I base this example on my own mother in particular.

But my aim, internetty stuff permitting, is to do a bit of writing every now and again about something that springs to mind or something that’s bothered me or interested me, so there’s going to be a wide variety of stuff coming out of my head onto my laptop keys.

Perhaps a bit about me now would be useful? Just so you know what you’re letting yourself in for! ……that is, if there anyone ever reads this apart from people I nag into it!

My name’s Lizzie, I’m 19 and a student….which was one of my main reasons for starting this – I was bored this afternoon and couldn’t bring myself to read about French cinema or post-colonialism any more! I’m studying English Literature and French at uni, so it’s possible that some of these blogs will relate to things I’ve learned in the week or funny things that have happened in seminars or lectures. Apart from this, one of my main loves in life is music.

God, that sounds cheesy and stereotypical in the worst possible way! I do love music though, but GOOD music, none of this Kanye West, Katy Perry, Kodaline mainstream bullshit, (I don’t know what the etiquette is for swearing is on a blog…I guess it’s my blog my rules…sweet!) I like the proper stuff! Proper music with proper instruments! Programmed drums are a major problem for me. Give me a band with guitars and drums and real life vocals any day!

Time for that another day though.

For now, I think I’m going to conclude this. This is only the first of what hopefully will be many more ponderances to come…I think I’m going to get quite into this! Maybe I’ll write again tomorrow. But for now, au revoir, sleep well :D