Friday, 26 February 2010

Paris Paris

Paris Paris

I do have a love affair with Paris. I love affair with the people there that I adore (I am vehemently against this sentiment of a lot of British people “Oh I love France, but unfortunately it’s full of French” 1. Generally speaking I find French people lovely 2. Some of my family and best friends are French 3. The snooty French are hilarious! Loosen up!) and with the Paris that I see through films like “Les amants du pont neuf” and “Subway” and “Amelie”, and also with the great memories I have from Paris. Plus of course the general French culture and the specific Parisian culture, that is oh-so-more-impressive right? Paris Paris
Anyway, its rare that I have a band play in Paris, for all its delights, it doesn’t attract metal bands all that often, especially not those under a certain level… and that level is generally very different in France to in the UK as French metal culture is a really strange fish.
I’ve been trying to study French metal culture for… a long time now. Probably at least 10 years.
I used to think that for a metal band to work in France they used to have to be beautiful, artistic, or politically active.
That’s what I used to think. And to a certain degree it still holds true, but it’s so much more complex than that. Taking into account the French laws about airplay of songs in French and the national support of French bands before those from abroad, the whole approach is different.
I would like to theorise that it’s something to do with the influence or lack of influence of the 1950’s teenage confidential style rebellion that happened in the States. Unlike in the UK or the US the parental power structure didn’t seem to be undermined to such and extent and the respect for your elders, and the natural chic obeissance seemed to continue unabashed with the new rock n roll / beatnik / free thinkers being acceptable by the artistic French rather than repelled.
But that of course would be too huge of a generalisation, and it’s to a degree an unfounded hypothesis.
I have thought about these things and wondered though. The 80’s seemed to be missing the impact in France that it had in the UK. No Maggie Thatcher. And their best attempt at Heavy metal was … Trust?
You’d think some industrial town like Le Mans or something could have produced a Black Sabbath? Or as opposed to actually going on strike the French workers could have voiced their dispute through thinly veiled satanic references and slowed down, heavied out blues rock?
Come on then you french readers – tell me what happened? What went wrong in the evolution of French heavy metal culture?
Wrong you say? Wrong? There’s nothing wrong with French Heavy metal culture…
Well… it’s true recently there’s been Gojira who’ve risen over all other French heavy metal bands to make it onto the world stage. But still the evolution of Heavy metal culture in France is a puzzle to me.
One that I don’t know any of the answers to, and will continue to make half cocked theories about.
And so the advent of Hellfest comes around. The first proper metal festival in France. And it goes from strength to strength every year. But its not in Paris, its in Clisson. Because there really couldn’t possibly be a heavy metal festival in ParisParis is way too chic!
But really – I think metal is regarded a way more provincial than it is in the UK with only bands like Ulver really hitting the target with a French Parisian crowd. (Are they metal at all these days?) With their arty political beautiful ex-black metal musings they are perfect for a French audience.
And I was lucky to see them at La Cigale in Paris last week.
And I was lucky to see Evile. One of my first thrash bands to play Paris ever. I had to go and try and get French press there to see them. Ulver and Evile, you couldn’t get two more different bands. One at Glaz’Art – a small venue near Porte de la Villette on the Wednesday night, the other at La Cigale in Pigalle on the Friday night (in a sit down theatre).
Thrash is apparently coming back in France.
I wonder where it went in France.
I know it disappeared into Metalcore and grunge and all sorts in the UK.
I don’t really know where it went in France, because sometimes I’m not sure it was ever there in the first place. As thrash per se.
I’m sure that Metallica could sell out shows in secondes in France, but I suspect they may be termed “Hard Rock” and not metal or thrash at all.
Anyway, the French metal scene will remain a conundrum to me.
Not to mention the appearance of the dreaded hippy. (and I mean with dreads and dogs who juggle)

So, I spent 4 days in Paris last week, flying the thrash (which is pronounced trash in French, which makes it sound like glam and/or rubbish) banner and once again trying to work out
What is French metal culture anyway?

Evile in Paris

Hellfest meets Terrorizer and Gallimard in Paris

Joel birthday celebrations in Paris, bless him - 1st Evile tour, becomes a dad for the first time on the first day of tour, then celebrates his birthday in Paris!

Recent travels

So we’re already well into February and I still haven’t written down any new year’s resolutions, and I haven’t written a list of places to visit in 2010 either… not that that’s stopped me travelling – I’m writing this from my second plane journey this year on my way to Istanbul!
My first holiday of the year, and my first holiday since the Himalayas, I’m very excited! And very unprepared! I haven’t done my research!
All I can tell you is that Istanbul was on my list of places to go last year along with Argentina and Tibet. And that I achieved the other two. So when the opportunity came up to go to Istanbul with my boyfriend and his family I said yes please!

But firstly let me tell you about what I’ve been up to so far this year.

I went to Dublin for 1 day in January! How extravagant! I left very early one Saturday morning and came back late the same night for a Gama Bomb photoshoot and interview for Kerrang magazine. It was the preference of the photographer to do the trip all in one day, and the flight to Dublin is under an hour, so I didn’t mind, although travelling is really exhausting and so I felt pretty wiped out the next few days after that.
All I saw of Dublin really was the airport, a cafĂ©, a pub, another pub, the cold, the river and the airport again. Which was a bit rubbish as far as writing about travel adventures go. It was the second time I’d visited Dublin though, the first time having been with school to take part in the “Model United Nations” conference where I was representing France on the issue of Nuclear Disarmament (I think I was 17). All I can say about Dublin then, was it involved drinking, and snogging two boys, one Irish and one Brazilian, and passing hundreds of notes around the conference which contained suggestive national pastimes of the French to delegates from other schools / countries.
I would like to think my notes worked, as I did end up improving international relations through kissing.
Anyway, my experience of Dublin was limited both times and I apologise to Dubliners for that, as I know your city is beautiful and I was woefully sidetracked both visits.

Anyway, Gama Bomb – the photoshoot was for a Kerrang feature on them after the release of their new album “Tales from The Grave in Space” which we (Earache) firstly released for free last November (2009). The day was very cold! Our photographer was the lovely Ashley Maile, and everything went very smoothly I’m delighted to say. Gama Bomb are one of those bands who I’m lucky to work with, as they are a right bunch of characters and Philly is a real card, who knows the difference between a trilby and a fedora, and could tell you how best to cut a figure in a waistcoat. Which maybe aren’t the normal traits you would associate with the frontman of a thrash band?

Anyway, first trip out of the UK in 2010 done and dusted.