photo credit: Lou Strummer
France’s grindcore miscreats, Nolentia has recently made their newest and second album available to the world’s general populace and specifically those of you who enjoy your Nasum and Pig Destroyer weirded up a notch. The album’s called May the Hand That Holds the Match That Will Set This World on Fire be Blessed Above All and it’s a title that’s cheesed off a couple people already, namely Fearless Leader Mudrian. Never judge a book by its cover, as they say, or an album by its title. If that were the case, how many of us would have ever checked out …And Justice for All? Anyway, here’s an interview recently conducted with guitarist/co-vocalist, Ghis.
OK, what’s up with the history of Nolentia?
Classic story really. In short, two guys (Raf – Bass/vocals and I, Ghis -guitars/vocals) meet through a mutual friend in a bar and have one drink too many. The next day, Raf emails me to remind we’ve decided to start a band and he’s already found a drummer…I guess it could have been worse: a hangover!
What were the initial intentions and goals in forming this band? How have they changed a few years into the game?
Simply have fun together and play a music we’d like, regardless of style and, of course, play a few gigs and drink beers. And honestly, nothing’s changed so far. We do things seriously because fun is a very serious matter, but fun prevails. The moment we are bored or work outweights fun, we’ll probably stop.
You definitely have a bit of a quirky approach to your grind. Where does this spawn from and what has influenced you to step outside of the norm to the degree that you do?
Thanks, but there’s nothing premeditated, really. The only conscious part in our music, if any, is trying to give each song its own identity and building an ensemble with respirations and variations. The three of us listen to very different things and it had to come out some way or another. Maybe it’s a question of maturity, but when composing, we try to keep each other’s input or personnal twist at every step. As I’ve said, we just try to play the music we like.
How do you think your hometown of Nancy has influenced what you do, play and sing about?
Not so much in terms of musical style or lyrical approach, but certainly in terms of how to do things. It may seem a bit pretentious, but I can’t think of any other large city in France with so many good bands. The level of the musicians and the general quality of the bands is really high around here. So either you do things seriously or the joke’s on you.
What was the writing process like for the new album? How long did it take and was there anything specific you were trying to accomplish?
It was spread out over a two year period and two separate times. It began in late 2010 I think, and then we didn’t really consider a new recording, we just felt the need to compose since we were a bit bored at playing the same songs or picking from the same list for every show. In couple months, we came up with 6 or 7 tracks…and mid 2011, we felt the time had come for the new recording and we composed the rest of the album in 4 or 5 months. But to be honest we weren’t 100% ready when we entered the studio. For exemple, we had no idea what a song like “The Second Principle” would eventually sound like! The only things really different with these 17 new songs was our will to go a bit further with what we had done before. So I guess the fast parts are faster and the ensemble is much heavier than our previous recordings.
How do you plan out the dual vocals, as to who sings what and how? Is it a difficult process in splitting up the duties and picking lyrics and topics you both agree on?
We just consider the song as a whole, try to find the best vocal pattern, experiment with it and then we split the parts according to what we feel sounds best. As for the lyrics, I write them but I always keep in mind the guys’ views. So it’s been a while now since I last had to change a part they’d disagree with. Besides, I believe we’ve found a balance in our approach to the lyrics. We don’t try preach or teach or whatever, it’s generally more about the process of thinking or acting than the actual thought or action.
With the album’s completion and the benefit of hindsight, how would you say the new album differs from One Loud Noise and It’s Gone?
Tough one. Musically speaking, it’s still us, so I’d say it’s in the continuity of everything we’ve ever done. But it’s us plus 3 and half years since One Loud Noise…, we’ve obviously improved separately on our instruments, we’ve changed parts of our gears and we’ve learned from our mistakes. So a bit better or at least more experienced musicians with a better sound and aware of possible mistakes to avoid, not to mention the will to do better it can’t help but be… better! Seriously, I remember listening to One Loud Noise… for the first time and taking mental notes on all the things we should have done a bit differently. But this time, I’m just content.
What the hell is going on with album’s title?
Ah! Actually you could use the plural because One Loud Noise and it’s Gone is the shortened title of our first album. The actual title is the entire quote from V for Vendetta (the comic): “It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities for silence is such a fragile thing. One loud noise and it’s gone.” This time we’ve chosen to use the real long version because even though the idea behind the title is quite serious, we wanted the irony to be perceptible. You know the saying, “treat grave matters lightly and light matters with gravity.”
Do you ever concern yourselves with being perceived as “less-than-serious” by grind fans, or taken as more of a joke band?
Not really because we’re neither and because that feeling lays in details. Our music is serious, our lyrics are serious and all those elements that seem less serious at first like a ridiculously long album title or motto like on our “Yes We Grind” shirt are actually very serious, like an obvious cynical extension of our lyrics. Sometimes, laughing at the worst allows you to step back an rationnalise. So we’d rather take the risk to being mislabelled than adopt an identity that’s not ours.
Where on the list and ranks of priorities is Nolentia for you at this point in your lives?
I wouldn’t speak in terms of priority but of necessity. Yes, it takes time and work but we do it because we want to. We will never make a living out of it, we won’t bring or even cause a musical revolution, we won’t change the world…but we love what we do, we have fun doing it and again, as long as we’ll have fun we’ll keep doing it. Today, with this new album and thanks to Nico of Kaotoxin Records we have an opportunity to reach a wider public so we take it because to us, it means more fun and possibly more beers. And if tomorrow the people are just bored with us, then we’ll get back to our rehearsal room and have fun just the three of us, simply because we need that in our lives. It’s part of who we are and it brings us balance. You know, for the past five years, the only vacations I’ve taken were for touring with Nolentia…Our girlfriends and family have long understood there’s no point trying to discuss it.
May the Hand That Holds the Match That Will Set This World on Fire be Blessed Above All is available on Kaotoxin Records