Interviews

Crossing borders – an interview with NOUS ÉTIONS!

NOUS ETIONS x IDIOTEQ
2 years after the release of their captivating album “La Manière Noire”, Montréal emotive post hardcore band NOUS ÉTIONS are back with a new stellar split record with 7 other bands (!), to be released on double LP! Joining them in this challenging endeavour will be our favorite Swedish post rockish screamo band VI SOM ÄLSKADE VARANDRA SÅ MYCKET, their Swedish friends from VIA FONDO, Canadian post hardcore act THE WORLD THAT SUMMER, Italy’s LAMANTIDE  and PASTEL and 2 American bands YOUTH NOVEL and SLEEPER WAVE! This release aims for a winter release through Zegema Beach RecordsThrough Love Records, Shove Records and Blood Of The Young Records. We have arranged this interview to learn emore about NOUS ÉTIONS, this new huge co-release and a number of DIY related topics. Read the full piece and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

NOUS ETIONS formed in 2011 and released one EP called Limbes, one split record with ALDO RAINE in 2013 and one full length called La Manière Noire in 2014.

Hey there Alex!

Thanks a lot for your time and the will to tell us everything about NOUS ETIONS and your local independent music scene :) How are you? How’s Montreal? With what spirit are you facing this year?

Thanks to you for doing this interview Karol !

I’m pretty good myself, 2016 is a super busy year for me, lots of plans and new projects. Montreal’s been great lately, spring has finally shown up and the weather is beautiful, a bunch of cool shows are coming up soon (ALASKAN, LENTIC WATERS, LOCKTENDER, EDHOCHULI, GRAND DETOUR among others ). I will be flying to Europe for 2 months this summer so I’m glad I get to see those before I leave!

Awesome! Good times! And a cool new project of yours, right? An 8-way split. Wow. How is this huge collaborative project being arranged?

Yeah 8-way split haha.. well I can’t even think myself of a record I own that has 8 bands on it besides compilations so I guess we could even call it that ! The idea of this all started in early 2014, David from Zegema Beach Records was the one who brought it up and I said yes before we were even finished talking about it. There’s been a couple bands changed over the past 2 years on the line up but now it is solid and steady. Every band has recorded and/or are finishing recording their tracks for the split. I really like the concept of having 2 bands per country on this, which eventually lead to having labels from each country helping with the eventual release of it (Zegema Beach Records, Shove Records, Blood Of The Young Records and Through Love Records). We’re pretty excited to unveil this (hopefully in the fall/winter) to everyone !

VI SOM ÄLSKADE VARANDRA SÅ MYCKET, LAMANTIDE and VIA FONDO are definitely one of the most amazing bands I have discovered in the last couple of years. How do you view their work? Also, feel free to expound more on the rest of artists involved in this project.

I found out about VI SOM ALSKADE VARANDRA SA MYCKET just in time when their full length was released. I have nothing but good things to say about this band. They are the kind of band that just hits the right spot you know ? There’s something that gets me every time with those powerful vocals, the emotivity that comes out of it is pure and very intense. The song writing is flawless and everyone does a perfect job with their position in the band. Their 2 newer songs from the 7 inch split with THEY SLEEP WE LIVE are just as great, I can’t wait to see what they wrote for the 8 way split ! As for VIA FONDO, they have been constantly spinning as well, David from Zegema introduced me to them when they released Not Yet. I won’t lie, I was blown away after just one song and they quickly became a favorite of mine. I obviously have a thing for Swedish screamo, especially when it is sung in their own language. When David announced they would be part of the split I think I got a little over-excited haha !

I wasn’t too familiar with the other bands on this split except for PASTEL from Italy and YOUTH NOVEL from the US. There’s also LAMANTIDE (Italy), SLEEPER WAVE (US) and THE WORLD THAT SUMMER (Canada) taking part in it. It feels so great to release a record with all these talented bands. The fun thing is everyone covers different grounds and sounds yet I’m pretty confident this split will feel very homogeneous. Whether you’re a fan of heavy music, screamo, post-metal or else, there will definitely be something for everyone on this record.

Cool, can’t wait to grab it.

Ok, so moving to NOUS ETIONS, how is the band positioned in relation to your other projects? Tell us about your other bands and art related activities.

I used to play in HERESIE but the project on its own didn’t last that long. It was me and Alex ( bass in NOUS ETIONS ) and another close friend of mine. We released an EP and then we stopped playing. I’ve been playing with NOUS ETIONS since the very beginning and we’ve been around for 6 years now.. I think for a moment I felt the urge to play and write a record that’s different than what we do with NOUS ETIONS, and that’s what I did with HERESIE. Now that it has been put to rest I’m back at it and ready to write another NOUS ETIONS record !

What does the involvement in DIY music give you? What does it mean to you?

Max: Well, it’s at the very core of what we do, we have very strong beliefs in the DIY ethics, and we tend to always associate our band with labels, art creators, and other players in fields related to creating music that share our strong core beliefs in the ” do it yourself ” ethos. We are very fortunate in that sense, because our city is filled with folks that share those ideals, every label we have worked with shared the same drive and passion toward that, artists that did our artwork too, and when we can afford it, we go one step further and literally ” do it ourselves”. A good example is our latest record, “La Manière Noire” Steve, one of our guitarists did the artwork in conjunction with one of our past members, Max, our drummer, runs a record label with another good friend of ours that helped put out the cassette version of that record, and all the labels involved into releasing the LP version of that same record were friends or folks that became good and close friends of ours. Désordre Ordonné aka Nic Parisé has been helping us out since the beginning, same with David Norman with Zegema Beach, who joined us along the way, we are extremely fortunate and thankful for opportunities like that. We tend to be extremely loyal as well, and will most definitely stick with those two for as long as our respective projects are going. It’s what keeps real art alive in a sense. So it gives us a reason to really strive to do our best music wise, since we know that every step of the way toward producing and putting out a record there will be friends or associates that share the same passion and beliefs.

NOUS ETIONS live

Great! And how is touring a big part of the band?

Can’t say we’ve been all around that much when it comes to playing shows. We’ve toured the US once back in 2014. We did a run of 12 shows mainly on the east coast and it was definitely a great experience we’d start all over again anytime if the opportunity shows up again. We made a bunch of new friends, played with so many cool bands and everywhere we played people made us feel ‘at home’. We made plans for an European tour twice but time and restrictions showed up and it just never happened. I think it’s safe to say we’re working on making it happen for 2017. Some of us work very busy and demanding schedules on our daily jobs and our drummer now has 2 kids, some of us are going back to school as well. All this stuff makes it a bit harder to get out there as much as we’d like but we will all sort it out so we can at least pay a visit to Europe once.

Where’s the farthest you traveled with this band?

The farthest show we played from Montreal I guess was in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That show was one of the last on our US tour and quite possibly one of the best. We played with local bands DAKHMA (black metal/crust) and ELYSAM (screamo). Both bands were super good and nice people. We woke up to pastries some of the house holders went to buy for us in the morning, seriously.. so cool. This tour overall was so damn great, it was the first time I booked a tour on my own and I think I did a pretty good job with the routing and other stuff. We were lucky enough to play more house shows than actual venues on this, which honestly makes the best nights. It felt actually very different than playing in Canada, we don’t have many spot for house shows in here, at least not in Quebec and Montreal.

Oh, don’t tell me. I miss house shows here in Warsaw, too. Apart from that, please expound more on that. How does the Canadian punk present in comparison with the rest of the world?

Max: That’s a tricky one, since I haven’t traveled that extensively worldwide, and I have never been to Europe thus far, something I plan on correcting in the future, so I’m by no means an expert on the punk scene worldwide or how it compares to us here in Canada. The bulk of my travels, with bands or personal, have been concentrated in North America, but I know this much: the way I see it, the punk movement worldwide is pretty much an extension of what we see here at a more local or grassroots level, people are involved, trying to make it something their own, it goes back to simple things like networking with friends of friends and other bands, exchanging contacts, booking shows, helping each other out the best we can, by offering food, finding a place to sleep, a shower, and other stuff, that makes touring easier and healthier. Since it’s our “scene” so to speak, this is needed to keep it alive. Also with the internet it’s way easier and more immediate than it was back in the pen pal days of old. When I was starting up in the mid 90’s, guys and girls would write each other letters and mail tapes of bands and whatnot. The internet has changed all that, and for small players like us, it’s a game changer. It makes everything so much easier, stuff that was much more complicated and time consuming, or seemed downright impossible 15-20 years ago when I was starting in bands. For example, getting in touch with a German label to possibly release your album, or booking tours abroad, or even doing an interview like this one. Not that it’s not time consuming anymore, there is still a lot of back and forth emailing and other things going on but it’s certainly easier, because all you have to do is look it up on the internet and it’s all there. It’s just a matter of putting in the effort. Coming back to house shows, they are the best, my favourite kind of shows to play or attend, bar none. There is just something magical about house shows. The proximity, the setting, and since it’s usually in small places like a basement or someone’s living room, it usually looks packed, and it’s just so good. I love it, we played a lot of them here in Canada, with NOUS ÉTIONS as I did with many previous bands and it’s always stellar. Great times, when the cops don’t show up and shut it down of course.

NOUS ETIONS live band

You mentioned the 90s. Do you recall much of a zine activity made then? How do you see the evolution or a degradation of written punk documents in the last 20 years?

Max: Well, in 1995-1996 when I was first starting in bands, I wasn’t really aware of any fanzine to speak of. I’m sure there was, but as a young guy, I didn’t know where to look for them. We had a couple of weekly music papers centered around the local scene and what bands were coming through town. Otherwise, I was a punk rock kid, and I was hanging out in skate shops a lot, so that’s where I learned about a lot of the new bands and music styles and what was ” cool”, so to speak. Plus, skate magazines back then did a lot of reviews of albums and stuff from a broad range of styles. Then, in the summer of ’95-’96 I did an east coast trip with family and friends all the way down to Florida, and I went to as many records stores as I could because I was already a music junkie, but mostly into the skate punk thing of the day, PRIMUS and PINK FLOYD. While there, I came across zines like Chunklet. That really opened my views and broadened my horizons music-wise. It was centered around the mid-west and east coast stuff, that got me into bands like DON CABALLERO, SIX HORSE, BLUNDERBUSS, THE SPEAKING CANARIES, STAG, SLINT, ATOMBOMBPOCKETKNIFE, and many others. Plus all the stuff coming out of Chicago, along with the Touch and Go scene and the Steve Albini-produced stuff. That was a game changer, for sure. I was also able to pick up the signal from a few American college radio stations in the northeast, and that exposed me to all kinds of stuff as well. At that time back at home, we had places like Palm Isle, Underworld, which were skate shops selling cd’s among other things, and venues like L’x and Rainbow, and record shops like Soundcentral, who were based on the floor above L’X. I started volunteering at L’x when they did gigs, because it was an all-age place, but with a bar upstairs so we had to check if the kids upstairs were 18 and over. That exposed me to a lot of great bands that passed through, that’s where I first saw CONVERGE, SNAPCASE and many other punk/Hardcore stuff in the late 90’s, stuff I didn’t know at the time, but changed me on many levels. I also became more aware of the different scenes going on at the time. We also did our own little zines, but mostly for ourselves out of boredom, and because we were stoned out of our minds with lots of time on our hands. We did collages/cut and paste of porno magazines with faces of politicians of the day, along with advertising for our own shows and stuff, but it was nothing to be taken seriously. Now, how does that compare to what we have today? It’s totally different, like day and night, with the advent of the Internet. It’s all changed. The Internet really re-moulded the whole music landscape, nowadays everyone and their dog can start his own zine, blog, or forum via the millions of platforms available with social media. It’s a good thing for sure, but it also means that it’s flooded with stuff, most of it good, some of it bad. It’s just a matter of scraping the shit at the top and looking for the good stuff, or looking for the stuff that is more appropriate to one’s liking. But it sure made things a lot easier. Back in ’96, I would have never dreamed of doing an interview with a guy based out of Warsaw, Poland, but today, it’s easy, and totally doable. That’s a great thing. A lot of big artists are shitting on the Internet like it’s the devil, but for us, on the lower levels, since we never really made money with our music, it really gave us a way to expose our stuff and meet/talk to like-minded people.

Thanks a lot! It’s a great use and accomplishment of modern technology, no doubt.

Ok Alex, so what direction would you like to take NOUS ETIONS in and what projects do you see in the future for yourself?

We try not to write the same record twice, La Manière Noire was definitely the best thing we did so far, I’m still really proud of that record and how it came out in the end. The past 2 years have been kind of slow on the writing side for the band, it just felt like we gave everything we had in mind for the last LP so it kind of made the writing a bit harder in my opinion. The goal is always to push the band forward obviously, we always try to write a record that’s better than the last one. I am in no way disappointed with the new songs and the direction we took with these. There is definitely a different feel to these songs than everything else we released in the past but it is still NOUS ÉTIONS in the end. There aren’t much plans to play shows this year as I will be away for the whole summer but we’re writing a new record and we’ll pick up from where we left when I get back I guess. We would very much like to tour Europe next year, it’s kind of a big deal for us with everyone being super busy and stuff but hopefully this time it’ll all work out. As for myself and future projects, woah.. I don’t know haha ! I’d really like playing in a crust band or either a post-rock band but I can’t seem to find people that share those interest so in the end it’s just me playing in NOUS ÉTIONS. I write a lot of stuff on the side that could be used for a solo project, maybe one day I’ll get on it and try to release a record on my own.

Cool, good luck with that!

Thanks so much for the interview. The last words are yours!

Thanks to you too ! I hope you continue to do what you do with IDIOTEQ! Cheers!

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