Exclusive interview for hellfest.fr: COWARDS [Adrien (guitar)]
“I like the idea of being able to do it with Cowards, but it’s hard to build up to that. It’s not my day job and I don’t know that I want it to do, it’s my hobby. I do this for the joy of it, not the need” – Adrien – Friday 17 June 2016
So your first experience at Hellfest as an artist – how’s it going?
I love it. The team is great. I was a little scared that we would be forgotten which would be normal given that we are a small band among a lot of huge ones but in fact, not at all. We have been super well treated and welcomed, even as a smaller band.
No anxiety with the open air context? We would more easily envision your music in a club.
Not really anxiety because we’ve already played outside. However we knew it wouldn’t necessarily be as fun as playing in a small club, but I have nothing to complain about.
Playing at 11:05 is a challenge though, right?
It’s the first time that I play a show this early, but it went well. We simply proceeded as we always do. So we drank for 30 minutes before the show, like normal!
For a band like Cowards, what does Hellfest represent? A step? A way of being recognised?
I don’t know if I have those kinds of feelings. It makes us happy. I won’t lie: there is a form of pride. But we aren’t dupes, it isn’t a symbol of all we have achieved. We were invited which is nice, but is it a step? It all depends on what we do next. It’s given us something to build off of, but it’s up to us to build on it.
Is there enough of a place left to French bands or not?
I don’t really know if it’s my place to talk about this. I’m not anti-French or French metal, and the French bands this year are great – even if I don’t necessarily appreciate what all of them do the dudes work! Without talking about us, these bands deserve their place on the bill and I don’t see why we should have more or fewer French bands. There are a ton of bands in France but not all of them are good. I don’t see the interest of putting French bands in front of others. It’s not really interesting to me to know if a band is n, American or Swedish. What’s interesting is if people like it.
Alan from Primordial has said that festival culture is killing tours. What do you think of this?
It’s possible, but only during a part of the year. Effectively the summer months, it becomes a little complicated to book tours then because of festivals. If I wanted to do shows in France, especially in the Nantes region the week of Hellfest, or before or after there would be a ton of issue. At the same time I tell you this but, a week ago we finished a tour with our friends in Pilori from Rouen. We played all over France, not too far from Hellfest and there were a good amount of people at the shows. Afterwards, it’s different because we are a small band. I’m sure that not a single festival goer got their place because of Cowards. People can pay 5 euros to see us play a show in a basement. If they really wanted to, they could see us at 11 AM at the Warzone. I don’t think that people in Tours were saying « Cowards are playing The Winchester? Nah, I will go see them at Hellfest!» That would shock me. For Primordial it’s different since they are a much larger band. For them – this period becomes hard to book any tours. Sorry guys – you can’t be that big!
To what point does having a job impact the development of a band?
That’s hard to measure and depends on the time of year. We have pretty different jobs. I work more or less according to the seasons. When I have less job stuff I can focus more on the band. But that’s the case for most French bands since few are truly professional. And then, I’m not really trying to reach that level. I like the idea of being able to do it with Cowards, but it’s hard to build up to that. It’s not my day job and I don’t know that I want it to do, it’s my hobby. I do this for the joy of it, not the need.
So about the art of your last album Rise To Infamy. It struck me…
Why did it strike you?
It seems to show some sort of trouble…
Describe the art for me – what do you see?
A woman looking up, a blade, a scalpel that seems to be menacing her. That’s my perception anyway. I’d like to know what’s behind it.
There was a clear choice behind this art. For me, it can be very ambiguous and very strong. For you you saw something that others saw as well. I even led a review saying that the label should have intervened since the art was too sexist, to macho etc. That’s another point of view. From that side of thing others asked how this happened to this woman. Are we strangling her or are we saving her and will she die ? It’s these kinds of questions that interest me. What I see rests factual, it’s the visage of a woman who expresses no emotion. No pain. No urgence. No distress. No pleasure either. It’s just the face of a woman, almost pleansant. You don’t feel any pain anyway. There are hands around but they don’t seem to be squeezing her too hard. There is also some sort of cord, but no blade at all, but the image being in black and white allows for the imagination to fill in the empty spaces. So everyone can come up with their own story. It’s not provocation, it’s just that we like ambiguity. It’s a joke, but without laughter if you want.
I got to see Cowards live for the first time at Hellfest and I noticed there is no verbal communication with the audience. However there is a real visual interaction. This lack of dialogue – was that a conscious choice?
What do you want me to say to the audience? They didn’t come to hear me talk. We don’t have a message or moral principles to communicate. As individuals we have our own convictions but that’s not what Cowards is trying to express. When we play together it’s really the only moment where I am outside myself. I love our music when we play it – I am fully in it, I have no desire to speak banalities to the crowd, to communicate or share. In my ideal I would like people to just submit to the concert, I want to inflict it upon them. We aren’t here to talk bullshit: we do that to bands who do it well.
What are the next steps for the ban ?
We just recorded some songs with Francis in Sainte-Marthe for a split with Stunt Man from Montpellier. So we are going to put that out this fall. We are going to work with the same guy who did the art for the last album. It will be art that will be a little less provocative but still pose questions. We will obviously play before then, but we have few dates lined up right now. I want to concentrate on the release of this split, then I will put together shows once the release is confirmed.
On a personal level – what artist do you model yourself after when expressing your music?
There are multiple and for tons of different reasons. I’ve always found Kickback super sincere live. I’ve seen them do awful shows, but always with a lot of passion. That’s what I love, I find that interesting because it changes from the usual. I play in another band called Mad At The World that does more traditional hardcore, a little reminiscent of 90s bands, and so I’ve done a few shows with them. What totally escapes me in the hardcore scene is passing forward messages of positivity, love and brotherhood by dudes who scream over loud guitars. It’s tiring in the end. Kickback had something: No fucks to give! Outside of Kickback I always loved Celtic Frosts’ last record, Monotheist. I saw them live then. Very static, very mean and with a very low level of communication.
It’s time to conclude. To do so I want you to finish this sentence for me : «I’ve never told this story before and probably shouldn’t but… »
There is no story I haven’t told but plenty I probably shouldn’t have told anyway. It’s stupid to keep funny things for yourself. It’s always funnier to laugh with others about these things. I like to make fun of myself and the world. It doesn’t bother me that they don’t give a fuck! (laughter)
Interview : Wombat.
Many thanks to Sarah (Dooweet).