Between contradiction and coherence: an interview with NINE ELEVEN

Le Mans, France based post hardcore punks from NINE ELEVEN discuss their latest epic offering Sentinels; evolution through carefully crafted experiments, staying conscious, literary inspirations,, politics, and a lot more!
It’s been 2,5 years since our lengthy, insightful interview with French post metal tinged hardcore punk NINE ELEVEN and we kind of missed their unique take on things. The band has spent over 10 years on perfecting their craft and blending instriguing social and political issues that range from essential to difficult. Although heavily influenced by emotional hardcore and post metal acts of the finest quality, NINE ELEVEN remain definitively front representatives of European forward thinking DIY hardcore scene, engaging with the social and political issues of the world today. This makes them perfect interviewees and it is my pleasure to give you another mind bending, inspiring intrview with the band’s guitarist Richard Morin.

Sentinels” by NINE ELEVEN was released in September 2016 via Germany’s I.CORRUPT.RECORDS, Dingleberry Records, Greek label Apostolis Wak, Bulgaria’s Ugly and Proud Records, Russia’s  Grain Of Sand Records, Unlock Yourself Records, Italy’s Epidemic Records, Trivel, Switzerland’s Bad Mood Records, Austria’s Hardcore For Losers, Canada’s Désordre Ordonné, Belgium’s Disobedience Distro, French labels Guerilla Asso, Don’t Trust The Hype Records, Emergence RecordsMustard Mustache, and Japan’s Tokyo Jupiter Records.

NINE ELEVEN are currently on tour in Russia with US PALM (see the dates below). They will be teaming up with GERANIÜM to play more shows in the second half of July! [go here to check out GERANIÜM’s latest split with LINK!]

Hi Richard. Thanks so much for taking some more time with IDIOTEQ. Appreciate it!

It’s been over 3 years since we last talked, can you believe that?! How are you? How’s 2017 been treating you guys and how has the Sentinels era been for the band?

Hi Karol, the last time we’ve talked was after the « 24 years » release. True that time’s running out so fast!

We’ve played something like 25 shows last October – November, including an amazing trip with our lovely friends of GERANIÜM, visiting some of the greatest and friendly European spots.

For the year to come, we’re planning new trips here and there (Russia in April, Central Europe next summer) between March and July.

By the way, writing and recording this new stuff was pretty insane, sounding like a collective defy, going off our beaten tracks. It has taken us something like one year to set it up (writing, recording & turn the whole stuff in a video’s track), and all in all we’re pretty happy enough about it.

NINE ELEVEN

After your previous impressive take on songwriting on “24 Years” and its structure inspired by the Goethe’s “Faust”, you have returned with an another epic concept. Please tell us about this new idea of 5 lengthy tracks and what kind of concerns prompted you to share your commentary in this particular form?

“Sentinels” is not really about successive lengthy tracks, but one song only divided into five themes. We’ve specifically cut the song in that way for the video montage to support, from the prologue to the epilogue, the lyric’s meaning; from thesis, antithesis, development, questioning to synthesis.

If 24 Years was about a kind of an initiation story, Sentinel’s is more about an introspective and dialectic brainstorming, in which, first, the hardest opposite postures fight, and then show some common points & origins. Jean Baudrillard said “in the feudalism, the society balanced between devil and god, and now it does between consumption and its denial”. We could add it does even more between our contradictions & coherences – over the words ones spreads, the motto or ideology ones brands – everyone may ajust according to what ones expects to gain and mostly what ones have to lose.

As for a musical point of view (stricly), it was an experience – adventure we did really want trying: starting from a point without any guidelines (any directive line) to connect to another one; moving forward and discovering in a same time where it’s taking you to; mixing both old and new ideas; binding and loosing différents “styles” and “codes”; deconstructing and rebuilding during 34 effective minutes what we were expecting from us to make ends meet.

Are you tempted to go further beyond heavy music limitations and perhaps experiment in the field of post metal? Songwriting wise, how do you feel you guys have evolved?

We still do not know about what we’re expecting from the future, but whatever the next step we would take, we’re absolutely not into repeating the same musical schema, or sticking to a pre-defined code or aesthetic (post metal, doom, ambient, crust, modern, etc.).

People are used to expect to see you to remake or reproduce what they’ve already got from you before. We faced this kind of reaction once “City of quartz” was out, while we were taking a new way… many people expected to listen a COQ number 2 and it was a bit annoying.

I guess this kind of posture sticks to the spirit of that times: having learnt to be comfortable to put anyone or anything in cages and cases so well, we all tend to get lost in front of ruptures or changes; and even more when there’s absolutely neither plan nor direction fixed.

Photo by Borneo Shuttercore

So, I wish the next record just could sound different again, whatever the way it will take, heavier or not. The songwriting’s process will just depend of our mood though ;)

And for answering your second question, the band’s musical evolution has really been fed by a new songwriting approach. It was a collective “effort” more than before, in which the most part of our sensibilities and musical backgrounds have got mixed and took part in a way to the whole stuff. I guess that’s the most important aspect, or reason, of this evolution.

What are some of the most stirking examples of forward-thinking artists and authors these days?

I’ve got interested these times in some neo-marxist economists as Frederic Lordon and Samir Amin.

The first one defines capitalism, not as a cumulative wealth process only, but originally as a social relation of domination: economy is revealed as a political construction integrating a historical process.

It’s absolutely not an unknown fact but his analysis unveil pretty well the mechanisms which combine the power networks.

The second one has worked on the cumulative processes inside the globalization & international trades through modern & contemporary History with a great criticism of the classic theory (Ricardo, Marshall, etc.) which has definitely set it as positive; as the great aim of the natural course of events.

By the way, Paul Virilio set, in “Vitesse & Politique” (“Speed & politic”), a relevant approach about the role of economy in “democratic” (or better said aristocratic) societies since ancient times, and its visceral connection with the military too.

Besides, I’m still got inspired (and reading) by Marx, Debord, Baudrillard, Foucault, Castoriadis, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Benjamin (and his greatest analysis of the social & economic violence as It is historically rationalized and standardized by the judicial system), Kracauer, Anders, Harvey, Zinn, Postone, Kaczynski, and many, many others more .. While having mainly turned my attention to Deleuze’s and Guattari’s theories about the connection between state and the “war machine”: how the first one should aim at taming and institutionalizing the second as a mode of government which rules the world under its economic form now.

But there’s so many things more which are feeding, on a daily basis, radicalizing feelings: one has just looking through the window, eavesdropping, walking around, meeting and discussing with the each other, joining social movement to put down words that world deserves.

Photo: Fluff Fest 2015, by Michelle Olaya of xmdmxhcx photos

What triggered your interest in such issues? What made you so conscious?

I don’t know if I’m conscious of something or what .. :)

I just modestly try to find out some answers to these questions: why we’re here, what we’re supposed to be used for, where we’re going to and what could give any sense to the hell we’re living in.

As Julien sings in the end of “Sentinels”, ‘far from being in the Man’s cross-hairs, I also feel a deep need to put an end to their game. Hog-tied to the cogs of the wheel, I’m a dime a dozen, who’s washed, lost in the norm, always indebted to the cases and cages they want ME to fit in. But I’m trapped in a world that I’ve never asked for. Guilty for accusing the hand of the law, and biting the one that feeds, I get deeper into the In-Between, in which the « false » is part of the truth.

Cause every contradiction holds a coherence of the heart faced with “their Rational”.

Each one marks a refusal of The Order that’d invest to the last of one’s senses.

That’s why they will use their army, their warfare’s economy, their terror, their official militias, their penitentiaries, their schools, their administrations, their asylums, their medias, their culture, their science, their technologies.. whenever one opens a crack in the long wall of « Democracy ».

Fuck their model of Christian “charity”: a code word that merges everyone into the settler society.”

What kind of a world would you create if you had the power to do so, scrap it and start over? If you could make up anything, how would you paint both the human kind and our environment?

I wish I (or anyone else) never could get the « power » to create a new world whom the lines would be definitely drawn according to the image or ideal one’s would paint or define about ; if the die is cast before having been thrown off.

The way to figure out, to analysis & to deconstruct the domination’s social mechanisms aim to imagine behind a (multitude) of alternative social life’s potentialities & issues, but not to fix (again) a 4 walls piece, taking appearance as well as a classroom, a productive corporation, an administration, a prison cell, a psychiatric hospital, a family’s nuclear model (which all set on the same model). There shouldn’t not be over « revolution » or « volution » any plans, any guarantees, but possibilities which would be concreted (or not) into a collective action only for giving us a chance to not repeating the same shit.

I like the way le comité invisible sum up this kind of posture, writing about it « this is not a program ».

From a micro-socioeconomic point of view & realization, the social movements in Argentina or in Greece at the beginning of the twenty one century might offer (to some extent to a specific time) some perspectives & inspiration over collective reaction against capitalist domination.

All in all, I feel the main problem is used to be missed by a lot of economical and political criticisms who are used to focalize their analysis on the way to consume (good or not, too much or not, etc.) better than on the way to produce, while this last point should stand like the most important one: the starting point of the critical thought.

It needs to get it from a materialist point of view less than an ideological one, considering the logics which cross the production’s industrial mode through the whole democratic societies’ history, bred by a world’s political construction that we could find the first traces in the ancient time.

One’s used to assimilate the “industry” to a specific kind of products (machines, vehicles, weapons, etc.), which is not wrong, but which is not fully exact, cause this model is better a way to think how to produce (and the feedback the owner expect from this) than what to produce.

In old greek, industria means both diligence (zeal), attendance (discipline), ability – dexterity which get crossed by the performance & productivity’s ideal, anchored in the main both occidental civilization’s values – war and property – spread by the historical military aristocracy (so-called “democracy”, which never has meant “equality and freedom for all”, and which stand like our times political referent).

So the relation aristocracy has always fed to the production can’t be dissociated from the “world conquest” ideal that minority’s existence mediates, and which was concreted fist under the form of primitive accumulation, and then under its economic’s one: in other words the profit.

That profit needs some political and material conditions for being cumulated: It needs the local economies destruction, the natural wealth’s privatization (anyway the form it takes), making expropriated people’s dependent of those who take it up, their specialization printed into the work’s international division, and the last, but not the least, the wage system which mediates the exploitation’s relations as freely consented ones. Once the animal & human exploitation & submission are socially agreed and contracted, the worth’s creation process can start, increasing and extending the wealth stolen (first) by the dominant minority.

From my modestly point of view, I couldn’t imagine some radical changes, some greatest emancipation’s opportunities without breaking with the production industrial process which define today a specific relation (and politically determined) to the world.

As for the political connection between war – military and economy, just cast a glance at “the politic” from Aristote (which was discussed by Virilio) who set the way Hellenist civilization used economy (after the Salamin’s victory in – 480) to conquer the mediterranean basin; 2500 years after, we can see there’s definitely nothing new happening under the soylent sun.

What does the distant future hold for us then? As such species, are humans able to use technology, colonize other planets and continue its existence in whole lot of different ways?

If we admit the Indo-European culture looks like a settler’s one; if the technical development reveals itself, ideologically and essentially, dedicated to the industrial world’s expansion and conquests, then we could imagine this society rebuilding always on its own ruins, finding issues to regenerate under new forms. Does transhumanism stand like the absolute of the industrial society’s ideal, for example? It can be something interesting to brainstorm about.

Oh, for sure! But I guess we shall leave it for another chit-chat sometime soon.

Richard, thanks so much for your time and truly precious thoughts. It’s been a pleasure.

Feel free to add your final thoughts and take care buddy! Good luck with all your current and future endeavours!

Thanks Karol for your great interest and support.The best for Idioteq and everything you’re involved in.

Take care, Richard.

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nineelevenhxc@yahoo.fr

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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