“All about living”: an interview with NINE ELEVEN

Having their brand new album “24 Years” out now via their own label Nine Eleven Conspiracy, the French hardcore punks from of one the most active crews in Europe...

Having their brand new album “24 Years” out now via their own label Nine Eleven Conspiracy, the French hardcore punks from of one the most active crews in Europe called NINE ELEVEN  popped out again at just the perfect times! I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to discuss the recent happenings in their camp and a lot of general issues related to their daily life, including their fundamental views and inspiring comments.

This time they have decided bring up “a kind of 6 acts tragedy, relating sensible experiences we got from this world in a chronological narrative order, that the weft and literary structure is inspired straight from the Goethe’s “Faust”.
This record is about the story of the One who’s living, the ones who’re singing it along, and the monster who’s looking for turning everything alive into incorporated death.” As I dug around to find out more about this esteemed band, I came across interesting views and opinions worth sharing with you. Dive into my interview with NINE ELEVEN‘s guitarist Richard below.

Hey guys! Pleasure to have you here! So, you’re back with a brand new EP. Holy shit, the new stuff sounds really massive. What are your thought on this new outing?

Hi Karol,
First we have to say that we’re really fuckin’ happy about this new record. We have made things (song writing, recording, mastering, releasing) in a way that was kinda new for us. And til’ now It’s definitely a great musical and crew’s experience!

In fact, that’s the first time we opt for this format (6 songs). And that was a good thing cause It made us relax enough about the schedule we did have fixed for the song writing and allowed to brainstorm about the shape of the sound we wished for to push it even farther than we made it in the past.

As for recording sessions, we have decided to make it with Amaury Sauvé and that was a good thing for us so far too. He’s the one who has convinced all of us to record  “live”. And in spite of we fed some doubts first about this way to set things up, we were definitely sure about it as soon as we’ve heard the first shots.

From their side, New East Alliance mastered the whole stuff fuckin’ well, respecting the way we mixed it with Amaury. They did a good job!
And now, we’re totally fine with self-producing “24 YEARS” on Nine Eleven Conspiracy, cause It was a way we wished definitely taking with this record, caring about everything from the start to the end.

Great! Concerning your discography, do you think it’s kind of special release? Besides recording it live, what makes it unique and exceptional and what makes you proud of it?

From our side (and It may be a feeling shared by the most part of the bands) every new release is a kind of special, as if you got a new baby or as if you would hit a new step in common adventure with your fellows,.. IF you know what I mean.

In fact, every release / artistic birth is the witness of a period of the band’s – people’s lifetime, taking into a count feelings, experiences, meetings, discussions, surprises, deceptions, discovers, trips, etc. you’ll live through during this time, and which will all have an impact on what you gonna write or play.
So I guess “24 YEARS” is as such as special than the last ones were ;)

About the live recording sessions, opting for this way allows to get something more organic and more personal in relation with your musical interpretation. I mean that you can play 3 or 4 times the same song, and each of those ones will tell something different than the others ones will, according to intensity, nuances, groove, sensibility that we all together would have felt and played with in a same time.
That’s far from that what you could get, recording in the way one is used to do. That’s why that was a fuckin’ great experience!

But, at least, we’re really happy about the whole stuff cause, since we’ve written and played the first chords of “24 YEARS”, everything – from the song writing to the final result – is just looking like what we were expecting from this.

Lyrics-wise,  “Le Rêve de Cassandre” was a treatment on terrorism and its impact on modern capitalist empires. What was going on in your heads when writing for this new release?

With “Le Rêve de Cassandre” lyrics, we’re into writing a story (mixing historical and fictive elements) telling about our “9/11” political posture and thoughts in relation with what It’s been called terrorism, the way medias has defined “Violence” and use this definition to build the capitalist’s world signification between the good and the bad, Freedom – Security / Terror – Chaos, .. so telling definitely about what our band, and the way is named, is talking about and standing for.

While we’ve decided to get being more introspective and personal concerned writing “24 YEARS” as a kind of 6 acts tragedy, relating sensible experiences we got from this world in a chronological narrative order, that the weft and literary structure is inspired straight from the Goethe’s “Faust”.

As we’ve written it before, this record is about the story of the One who’re living, the ones who’re singing it along only, and the monster who’s looking for turning everything alive into incorporated death.
Then, It’s as such political as the last releases were, and aims with others words definitely the same troubles.

Aren’t you tired of pointing out all that inevitable crap, bureaucratic corporate plastic shit around us? Do you believe a punk fight like yours can change anything? How?

I think if we were tired of that we wouldn’t play Hardcore Punk music anymore. We would have given it up or made our music turning into pop or any mainstream music since a long time.
If playing hardcore punk nowadays would mean just wearing the “good” costume and playing noisy chords, but getting work with a smile from 9 to 5 (5days a week) and going at shows getting music as some do in disco club the week end, drinking as fuck, hoping something incredible will happen (but it won’t) in a resigned way to brainwash and try (unconsciously) to forget the whole shit around they’re drowning inside….. So, we’re not interested in it.

I guess that we’re getting tired more when independent music turns into the sound track of a new cheap fashion or jet set, reproducing and mediatizing on a small call the same capitalist values and plans. I mean about the way some bands, crowd, tour bookers, medias, etc. act in this way.

We like to think that a part of this scene worths better than standing like an entertainment more.
Basically, we think that Hardcore Punk and politic cannot be separated from the each other, cause It stands up for us over the music and “attitude” only … Cause it’s just all about living!

And regarding how the DIY network runs, honest and active people are changing their life inside confronting dominant values and troubles that feeds like positive work’s ideology, sedentism, private property, school’s competition and professional success, narcissism, racism, homophobia, sexism… turning every social act and action into profit, .. if we cannot say “punk fight” might (never) change (or not) the world, we can affirm we’ve definitely changed our fuckin’ life getting this way.

Well said, Richard.
Let’s get back to the details of the new outing for a while.
You mentioned the Nine Eleven Conspiracy distribution. Tell me more about the new EP’s  availability. Why aren’t there more labels involved?

That’s a thing we’re according on even before writing the first chord of this record.
For this new release, we wished to set everything up by our own, to take care of all of this from start to the end.
We really like all friendly labels which helped us out in the past and which supported all records we’ve released til’ now. But, regarding our ideas – ethic – no matter the word at least, we were willing to get this new experience and controlling everything (or almost everything) which is in relation with NINE ELEVEN.
So for announcing this self-production, we’ve decided to set it up under the name “Nine Eleven Conspiracy” (referencing the name of an old label – show’s promotion structure some of us were involved some years ago into), that we can consider as the own band’s label. And we just gonna act, with Nine Eleven Conspiracy, as a “real” or “true” DIY label does!
 For example, we’re straight in touch with DIY activists (like you!) and DIY European distros by our own. Moreover, we gonna get in touch with many of these ones really soon to know who gonna be interested in spread our release in their DIY network. We should get support from our friends – old labels / distros to set it up in the right way once away too! And for the rest, everyone can get in touch straight with us for getting “24 YEARS” on the band’s shop (as any label’s or band’s shop).

Promotion-wise, what are some of the means you wouldn’t use to achieve your goals?

For being honest we don’t have any specific goals. We just want running the band as we do with our life. There’s no podium to hit, no medals to run after, media success to get. So there’s nothing and no one we feel to have to treat or to deal with if that sucks.

So there’s no way to play for a sponsored – incorporated event, to get our music hijacked by shitty mass medias, dealing with smelly structures to get our music spread around.
For sure, we can not 100% control or verify everything, hunt the way all promoters – distros run their activity (and that’s not the way we want to get it… turning into the “thought police” … cause that’s just about common faith’s story with people you do things with), getting definitely our own way without feeding contradictions (regarding how things rule on internet, some show’s places and bands we get sometimes affiliated with, kinda bad “surprises” we have to deal when you’re on tour with, etc.). We’re conscious and know so much about it.

And we’re not running this band for censuring everyone who could get our music out of our way.

But, even if we can not boycott all the time all the shit around (we would get living naked in the woods for that), every moment and in every situation we’re able to kick it out, we’re doing it. And we feel there’s some easy and natural (basic) things and way to get when you’re involved into Hardcore Punk music and community. And these words spread by MDC when they toured in Europe 2K4 sum it up perfectly:
« We’re endorsed by no lame ass suck the blood out of punk and rébellion multi death consumeristic bullshit sneakers or any other stupid quasi cool company for fake punk bands »

Haha, damn well said. But as you age, haven’t you become more liberal in your approach to sponsored shows? I mean, aren’t there any companies that rose up from honest ideas?

If I had turned into liberal more, I wouldn’t “waste my time” now with this band, this network and you ;)
I would set something profitable more up eheh.

As for your last question…. ok give me 5 of these supposed ones, and we gonna talk :)

Haha, fair enough ;) About the companies, I meant small DIY companies that make you feel better then knowing that your money might be funding animal testing or fueling big company greed, companies that are built on passion for skatin’, distributing music, etc. Damn, just look at Etsy.com and I bet you’ll find a lot of interesting brands there. Yeah, but it’s a bit of a different subject. I’m feelin’ you.

When I was telling about companies, I meant especially corporations. But, even if none could say there’s absolutely no differences between the biggest ones and « the small private property », the way to do and to product are definitely turned on the same mecanisms and the same social relations of production.

The thing to sell might be different and can be mediatized in a different way (fair trade, bio, indie, art, etc.). But at the end, as soon as one decides to deal it as a business, some « logics » and processes can not be avoided: Submitting human activity in dependent employment / employed labour rules, turning action into profit, working according an authoritarian hierarchy, mediatizing common relations using products and images (I think about advertising and everything that feeds), get ready to make any compromise for eating (cause you would definitely depend of it), etc.

And unfortunately (when you get feedbacks from their employees), even the smallest companies get this way.

You told about skating and music distribution… They’re looking like the worst ones cause getting « cool » or « alternative » would fully justify this way while they just stand like new brands, selling images producted and reified of «counter culture»… abstracting the process behind and hidding its own material reality: just the same (capitalist) one selling, in this case, « the cool attitude ».

About some indie artists who have turned this way, please just check out the story of Shepard Fairey and his (new) brand « OBEY » which has just turned into what It criticized first.

Alright Richard. Let’s move on.
Touring is definitely the best part of the whole “promotional” process. You’ve just returned from a nice trip. Tell me about it.

We hit the whole North of Europe: Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic from the 17th of October to the 02nd of November. Some areas were unknown for us, so that was a great sensible experience to go it through cause we were really curious about it.

As for the others ones, that was cool to get the local crowd back there we’re used to visit (I have Berlin, Praha, Riga, Poznan, Halle.. in mind!), and the most part of these shows were just fuckin’ great (the one in Praha was totally insane)!

Was it the first time you visited some of those places?

The unknown part of the tour concerned Scandinavia. In fact we never got Norway and Sweden before. And for being honest, that’s not a deal easy to get booked over there. Even after getting home back, I still believe that’s place where It’s really hard to book DIY tours.

Luckily we’re touch with dudes from NO OMEGA who took care of the most part of the shows played there. And I’m pretty sure that without dealing it with the guys, we would have never managed our coming over there.

Both generally and musical-wise, what are some of the most significant differences between the places you visited this time?

From a musical point of view and venue’s question, it seems there’s some differences between things happened in Germany and Scandinavia for example.
The most part of German show’s places we know are kinda’ independent (squat’, autonomous places, etc.) while Swedish ones are looking like institutional “young houses”.
Shows were pretty small but cool there, and anytime we played we got that many kids from the crowd were active in local bands too.
And some of them are really good, especially the ones playing a kind of old school screamo sound!

By the way, we cannot act relating some “generalities” about it as far as we just spent some days over there only and that’s not just enough to get a precise idea about it. It’s just about the small experience which we had.

And, we’re pretty sure It’s still a lot of things to discover and people (we missed) to meet over there!
As for the rest of the trip, we spent such a long time on the road that we’re not able to say more than the hinterland is just amazing and we’re just sad to not have got time more to hang out into the wild. But that’s the way when you’re on tour!

Any new thoughts on Poland? ;)

Both shows we played in Poland (Poznan & Wroclaw) were great and people met there were nice with us too. That’s always cool to get this type of mixed crowd where NY HxC fans can meet melo kidz, old school sxe ones, etc. driven by an open-minded spirit!

There’s always some few drunken people (or not) who’re used to like experimenting new violent (and ridiculous) dancing moves to bother people around of course … but we’re always up to calm them down and make them to feel we’re not agreeing with. That’s ok.

So, we definitely want to get these places and others Polish cities back cause they’re good places to play at end!

Nice :) And no shows with organizers wanting to make local bands pay? Damn, I was really shocked when I saw you blog entry point that shit out. Does it really still happen nowadays?

The last time we’ve faced this shit was before going on tour in February 2K12. A promoter in Wien made paying bands for playing with us (on the pretext of covering his fees). So we’ve cancelled the show straight after knowing about it.

Moreover, It’s not something new. Some European “big indie fests” are used or were used to make “small” bands paying to hit their stage. We know that some promoters in Paris were getting the same way some times ago (I don’t know if they’re still… cause we don’t give a fuck or deal with this shit).

Anyway that’s a kind of things which happens in the “indie” scene… But nothing weird or surprising in the case of a part of this is running like a business, and some people inside love to look like (cheap) businessmen having sex with some “cool” corporations.

Considering people at shows,  how do you think people are aware of the world problems? Do you see shows ensuing constructive discussions addressing real problems and in a serious, logical manner?

It’s an interesting question. The most part of the time you couldn’t get the way people feel about it. And we don’t think that asking them straight for their political feelings is the way to go. We’re used to have some discussions with people we meet, sometimes about music only, sometimes about their daily life, about art, about the way they feel things around, sometimes about politic pure. It depends of each person we’re talking with.

But the most important for us (cause It’s not about turning shows into political meetings) is about living a moment – something escaping entertainment’s logic and marketing strategy, which sounds definitely different than the game everyone learned the rules and “respect”.

If we can share some “constructive” and “serious” ideas and discussions more, it’s pretty great. If we can take fun and spend cool times with people around “only”, It’s fuckin’ good too. Anyway! Cause we’re pretty sure that the way things are done worths definitely still better than words (which can used for “selling” too).

That’s why we’re getting this way and why we like it.

Ok, so I have one politics-related question. How much hope and optimism have you invested in the current government of France? Do you follow politics?

None.  Most part of the band’s members doesn’t participate to the politic’s game and Entertainment. And doesn’t vote. Cause It woud be about to legitimate world’s representations – mediatizing capitalist socio-economical model and rules – they’re all standing for.

Herbert Marcuse said in « The Unidimensional Man » something like that : If slaves can chose their master, it doesn’t mean they’re not slaves anymore.
From  the rigth to « left », all of their words advertize for the work’s ideology  and learn everyone here to get it as « the only way » for a «  successful » life.
It’s about feigning an opposition to reach a common goal cause they‘re all definitely working for making us sleeping quietly in here and keeping capitalist interests safe.

Besides, We’re used all to take a look on everything « politic » around. For getting informed about  the dominant speech and the way power uses the facts  to make it macthing up with Its own reality.

What do you think about punk rock’s responsibility in today’s politics? Can we even say it has a responsibility?

If it’s about « punk voters » initiatives & co., we absolutely and obviously do not feel concerned about it.

Ok, let’s continue the touring subject.
It’s been almost a year since your South East Asian trek. How do you remember that adventure?

That was the second time we hit this world’s area. We visited 6 different “districts” this time (Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore), crossing fuckin’ long distances from a point to another one (Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok : 28hours driving), going many spaces and hinterland through, meeting many people everywhere, many different religions (Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia, Buddhism in Thailand, Protestantism in Borneo & Philippines) and cultures (and how euro’ colonialism wasted and is still wasting local ones). We were all the time alternating between big runs a big waits (inside some traffic jams in the biggest urban & dense cities we had ever seen). And we were often alternating from social atmosphere to another one. But It would be really too long to tell all things which would deserve to be told about all of this trip.
Anyway, Bangkok, Borneo (Kunching and Kota Kinabalu), Manilla were our favourite trips. Indonesia was really cool but really too short to get fully appreciated.

Cool :) Hopefully I’ll get there someday.

Ok, let’s discuss the future. Are there already more touring plans in the works?

Actually, we’re planning 2K14 for now and we should be fixed about it next days. We’re willing getting all Europe back this year of course. I guess we will plan something like a big tour or one big enough and a smaller one before summer, and preparing others things for the rest of the year. For now we’re think about getting West and central Europe back + Spain / Portugal before summer! But It’s still early to know precisely about the whole 2K14 ;)

Alright man. One more general question before we say goodbye. What would you say are some of the most important things you’ve learned by being in this band?

It’s up to anyone of us to make the difference and change his / her life. Running 9/11 made us discovering so many places, meeting so many people, seeing and living so many things… that we wouldn’t have never got without, and doing it in a different way than the one imposed to everyone here from birth – school to the grave.

Would like to add any closing thoughts?

Just to thank you for your interest and this pleasant discussion !

Thanks :) Thank you for your time and likewise – it was a pleasure chatting with you! Cheers from Warsaw! :)

Two-mic live photo by xMonkeyMosherx / Double live photo by PiątaEsencja / Black and white live photo by Gosiowa Photography / Asian tour photo by Borneo Shuttercore

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DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels. Contact via www.idioteq.com@gmail.com

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