[Interviews] Plebeian Grandstand – « People who showcase a mature urban violence »

Plebeian Grandstand has been putting out the darkest music that has ever come out from France since the beginning of their career and their descent into the abyss is never ending. From the template of Converge they took on more and more extreme metal influences to end up sounding like the bastard son of Rorschach and Deathspell Omega. A frenetic and dominating engine ready to inspire as much as to create fear. Ivo (drums) and Olivier (bass) accepted to answer a few questions about their music, their perception of black metal and how they perform.

How would you introduce your band to people who have no idea about the genre of music you are playing?

Olivier (bass): We play music for people who are fed up with Metal in general. We do something over the top to end up with something really extreme, but with a dark atmosphere.
Ivo (drums): For people who have a Metal culture, i say we play dark, discordant, fast and complex extreme metal. For people who don’t, I say we play horror music.

When you started your music seemed more influenced by Converge, and more generally by chaotic hardcore, but nowadays it seems closer to Deathspell Omega, or to so-called Orthodox black metal (concept heavy and with less caricature). What motivated this evolution?

Ivo: When Simon offered me the role of drummer in the band at the beginning of 2013 I told him « Listen, I feel the presence of three sides in PG, a side oriented towards hardcore/chaos, a post-hardcore/ambient side, and a black metal/dark side. If I join the band, I am going to push the black metal side the most, i will play blast beat everywhere, that’s what I want to do at the moment ». Simon answered: « That’s perfect, it fits the rough sketches I have started to work on ». We did not change our orientation. We have been listening to extreme music for a long time and we understand these different influences. Our evolution is only the result of a change in line-up paired obviously with a desire to say different things. The tools have changed but the artistic objective is still the same.

Your music is influenced by Black metal musically but is there something in the aesthetic of the genre or in its history that sparked your interest?

Ivo: The black metal artworks, the transgression, the satanism, the murders, the burned churches, all of these aspects were fascinating… twenty years ago. Nowadays, once again, I’m more interested in the technical and artistic tools developed and used a specific genre, to incorporate them to my tool box as a drummer and as a composer. I feel very close to the purpose of Blut Aus Nord: To reappropriate the tools of Black metal and turn it into a mature music and leave aside the teenager and « grand guignol » aspects of the genre. Inverted crosses and corpse paint do not cause any distress to anyone anymore, thankfully!

Did you envision the writing and recording of False high, true lows differently compared to your previous recordings?

Ivo: For writing it, yes. Our previous album, Lowgazers, was written almost exclusively by Simon, regarding the structure, the riffs, and even a lot of the drumming. For FHTL I was a lot more involved as a composer and as a writer for the lyrics, so the result and the different color of this album reflect the fusion of both of our universe, of our sensibilities. The recording, on the other hand, was almost identical to Lowgazers: Everything was recorded live, apart from the singing, and with Amaury Sauve in the booth, who has now become a good friend on top of being a gifted sound engineer.

Like the cardinal red cover, False high, true lows is a very coherent album moved by an over the top sound. Did you write the songs by thinking of the album as a whole or did you just wrote songs individually?

Ivo: A bit of both: Each piece is unique in its artistic function and tells its own story, but we were very much focused on the global impact of the album and its coherence. We wanted to create intensity and a permanent madness but with enough musicality and tricks to remain interesting and not overwhelming. We ended up throwing away a lot of riffs and even some completed songs that didn’t fit this description.

Some Black metal musicians think the atmosphere of the album cannot be reproduced live on stage. Did you interrogate yourself, before recording the album, about your capability to reproduce on stage the intensity of the music?

Olivier: Interesting question, I am among the ones who think reproducing the atmosphere of a Black metal is almost impossible. However, since we don’t follow the traditional framework of Black Metal, because we are in a quest for aggressiveness and energy on top of our melodies and atmosphere, we don’t fall victim to this issue. We use as much our hardcore influences than our extreme metal influences.

Ivo: It’s not the atmosphere we are trying to reproduce, it’s the experience of the listener. When you are at home, at rest, alone, in front of a sound system you know by heart, or standing in a damp cave, pressed between a hundred screaming bearded guys, with a smell of beer and sweat, and a band who plays at 155db, it can’t obviously be the same experience, without even talking about the performance of the band. For me, putting out an album and playing live are two completely different things, like cinema or theater. One isn’t the reproduction of the other. I understand very well bands who never play live. It’s just that we offer as much importance, preparation and work to or the other.

One of the most remarkable aspect of the album is the intensity and the strength of the drumming. Do you experience any difficulties to reproduce the songs of the new album live, and particularly to maintain this rhythm when on tour?

Ivo: Thanks for the compliment. No, I don’t feel any difficulty in particular, and for several reasons. First, I play my instrument a lot, particularly before tours or recording sessions. Second, my first objective when I tour is to perform live correctly. Partying, drinking, ok, but it’s not my priority. A lot of musicians in the rock and metal scene do the opposite and end up playing shitty shows because they want to act « rock and roll ». It’s a childish behavior. Third, I pay attention a lot to my diet and I eat correctly. Sometimes it’s difficult when you are touring but it’s doable. Finally, I follow a Brazilian jiujitsu training. It’s a very demanding sport on a physical plan, a lot more than drumming, so I keep myself in good physical condition.

You recorded a very long and impressive piece for your split with Cortez, do you have any intention to record another one?

Ivo: We are open to the idea of using any format, any instrument, and any color to express our message.

You toured in England with Oblivionized but sadly you were not able to play in London. Do you have any intention of coming back to England and possibly in London?

Ivo: We enjoyed a lot playing in England and we will come back if the conditions we are offered are interesting. If that’s the case, it would obviously be nice to play in London.

With which artists, outside of music, do you feel Plebeian Grandstand shares it’s aesthetic?

Ivo: Maybe with some directors like the Gaspar Noé of I stand alone, Denis Villeneuve, or Charlie Brooker who did the show Black Mirror. People who showcase a mature urban violence.

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