Monday, August 15, 2016

Julien Paget on essential Daitro's records.

Below you can find stories that Julien Paget (Daïtro, 12XU, Baton Rouge) kindly sent me on my request to give some background behind Daïtro's three most significant releases: albums Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes, Y and split with their friends Sed Non Satiata. 


"I really have fond memories of the time when we were doing Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes in 2004 / 2005… We were practicing in the ceiling of Benoit’s sister house, in a village in the Beaujolais area  where he and his sister are making wine. We were practicing there all the weekend and would eventually often stay at night and eat altogether after the practices. As Benoit was also playing in Mihai Edrisch at that time, Mihai also practiced there and we were listening to them writing what would become Un Jour Sans Lendemain. We were all living in Lyon but we were going there every week end to play music. A beautiful place to make music and that ceiling was great with all our gear, a small window opened on the vineyard, carpets on the floor etc. We had plenty of time since most of us were still students and that’s probably why the songs are so long on that full length. But also because we were jamming a lot !

Some parts in songs came from these long jams we were doing when we started to practice together. We were recording our practices on a minidisc and we wrote songs out of these jams. The last song, “Se Noyer, S’oublier, Regarder Partir” was written that way for example. This song has the typical heavy drumming that Benoit loves to play as well as polyrythmic guitar lick in the middle part that only Sam can find out… That’s accidental because except Gwen, none of us know music so this weird lick came from a lucky accident! The end of “Nous sommes d’ici” was all improvised in the first place as well. That was something I really enjoyed to do… playing together and writing a song out of nothing. 
On the other hand, on some other tunes, we reworked and changed structures endlessly, as for “Laissez Vivre Les Squelettes” for example and finished “Les Orbites En Eveil” the last practice before to leave to record. There is one song that we always played better live than on record, it is “Comme Du Papier”… I don’t know why it doesn’t have the same intensity on record compared to when we were playing it live… That song called “Trois Murs Pour la Salle De Torture” was originally a song we wrote for a friend who was doing a short movie when Gwen and Aurelien were not in the band yet. We reworked it with Gwen playing a 3rd guitar rather than his bass. We played it live a couple time, as an encore… that was fun. We did a tour in 2005 on which we were playing early  versions of Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes as well as other songs. So we really had time to play them well before to start the recording.

We recorded Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes in San Feliu, Spain, in july 2005 after Mihai Edrisch had their first EP recorded there a year before. We packed the cars and went in Spain for 2 amazing weeks with Santi Garcia. As we were broke, we slept outside every night in a ruin of a small church outside of San Feliu. We were recording, going at the beach, go and get some food and drinks and eventually going back to our roofless church, in our sleeping bags. We would fall asleep talking, watching stars in the sky. We recorded tracks by tracks (drums, then bass, then guitars and finally vocals)… Recording with Santi was great because he knew how to get the best out of you. For the first time as well, Sam and I used no distortion pedals and just played quieter when the part is quieter and heavier when the part had to be played harder. We learnt a lot doing that way…

Lyricwise, Aurelien wrote most of the lyrics. Some were written long ago, and some were last minute… On “Les Orbites En Eveil” for example, he had nothing and asked Gwen for help right before to start his recordings… Gwen gave him the song title out of the blue and he told him he would help him after he’d been back from buying cigarettes. The title inspired Aurelien so much that within 5 minutes the lyrics were done, he wrote the text without correcting anything and sing them directly after. Lyrics are very cryptic on that record. We were using a lot of metaphors to criticize our western culture, imperialism and everything that goes with it. Aurelien's lyrics were very poetic… All of them are not clear to me but I enjoy the images they create. Also, we used a poem from Mouin Bsissou, who was a Palestinian poet in jail… Being dead, we asked his official translator if we could use the text, explaining him we had no intent into making big money with the record etc. and he agreed. Which was a relief indeed because everything was already recorded !! We all read the lyrics on that one, I liked the idea that you could hear the voice of everyone in the band on that one. The intro of "Nous Sommes D'Ici" was inspired by the Danish band Lack which has always been a huge influence to us. We did a show for them in 2003 and they started with that song (that was not recorded at that time) called Marathon Man. This long intro marked us and we kept the idea.

Santi did everything on that record: engineering, mixing and mastering. We used our own equipment except Sam and me, who used a Santi’s Telecaster with Lace Sensor Pickups on it which was at that time the best guitar I ever played on. My good old Marshall JMP was used for all the guitar tracks. Gwen used a Precision bass on “Pourquoi les Inconnus…” which sounded killer and his Jazz Bass on all the other songs. Can’t remember the amp he had… Benoit used his good old Yamaha Stage Custom drum kit. He had a double kick pedal at that time that he was using for some of his sick drum fills (later, once in a practice room, we were practicing “Chaque Seconde” and he had troubles with his kit. He totally lost his mind, took his double kick pedal and threw it on the floor with anger. The double pedal was broken, he never bought a new one and that’s why we never played that song live again anymore!)

Then about the artwork, Seb from Purepainsugar had the idea of asking Sean Mahan for the cover because were all big fans of Twelve Hour Turn and we loved the paintings he did for their record covers. When we got in touch with Sean, we asked him for something with water, in an ocean and Sean sent us that picture of that painting! We were like ‘he didn’t take consideration of anything we asked but this painting RULES, let’s use it !’. I love this painting. Sean sent it over from Florida to France, and the original is huge! It is maybe 70 x 70 cm big. Seb has the original at home… He also took a photo of us for the inner sleeve because he also wanted to have a picture of us like on the Portraits of Past LP. He was doing a lot of great pictures of shows at that time and he really documented the local scene of that time. A lot of friends are on that picture! Somebody I don’t know on the picture has a video camera on it but we never saw the film. Too bad, I’d love to see it!

There was no real concept behind the album, just a collection of songs put together who would make a good record… It was eventually released in October 2005 in Europe by Purepainsugar and our old friend Marc’s label Last Day Of June, which is now relocated in Japan and named Flower Of Carnage. It was also released on CD by an old Italian friend of mine called Charlie. We used to write lot but we unfortunately lost tracks of each other. It’s also been released in the US on Code of Ethics thanks to Seb which made me extremely happy because it was the label who released records of who have always been models to us, such as Amanda Woodward and Yage. Last but not least, our good buddy Yoshi released it on CD in Japan as well when we toured there in 2006.

Even though I have great memories of that time, LVLS is not my favorite record. I like its raw intensity, but songs are long and they ask a lot of attention. Guitarwise, we used too much octave chords… we didn’t really started to use these cool chords progressions we used on Y, the split with Ampere and SNS. The sound is a little bit too compressed for me now as well but that was great memories. Still, I really appreciate that people enjoyed it and feel pleased that some still do today as well because for me, it feels so far behind to me now.


We started to write Y in a tiny and shitty practice place in the suburbs of Lyon, that we were sharing with Celeste. Until we had our own practice room in Grrrnd Zero Gerland (a DIY venue for shows, screenprinting, practice rooms etc). We were feeling so good there. We wrote Y3 and all the other songs until the last one in that place. I really loved it. It is in that room where we also started to play with Gwen and I’s other band 12XU, as well as Baton Rouge (with 4/5 of Daitro in it) and Benoit's side project with Simon and Arnaud from SNS called Ancre. It is now turned to ashes and it breaks my heart every time I drive close to where Grrrnd Zero Gerland was. Y is the most ambitious project I have been involved in… it was a tough exercise and I still wonder how writing this big piece of music felt natural for us. Some songs have so many riffs, so many parts and some also have space and beautiful quiet parts. We wanted to write shorter songs but with the same amount of emotions in them.

While Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes was a collection of songs, Y was designed as a whole. It was a concept album actually, with hindsight. When we finished to write the first song (they’re spread on 2 tracks on the record but it is one song actually), we decided it would be the first song on the next album and we decided to write songs in the order we would put them on the record, so as to think the album as a whole. We were also listening to a lot more different music from the time we were doing Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes and I feel like the album has more variety and various influences, which I prefer. The making of it was harder than LVLS… for some reasons, it was less comfortable and I remember we were very focused into condensing the things we had done before and push the band into a new direction, taking a different path from the scream genre we were affiliated to. Also, the big change in Y is that we were tired of screaming all the time. We wanted to do something else and being friends with Sed Non Satiata and touring often together pushed us to actually sing like them. We worked a lot on the vocals, more than any other recording we did. I think we could have never done better music as the one on Y.

We recorded it in july 2008, in San Feliu De Guixols at the Ultramarinos Cost Brava Studios, in the same place we did LVLS. Santi was there the first day and he already thought about what amp / guitars we would be using to get the different sound we talked about by email before. Then it was engineered with Santi's brother Victor. 

The album was actually supposed to start with an acoustic and instrumental song I wrote and recorded but during the mix Santi suggested us to avoid the idea and start directly with the full band, as it is on Y1. It was a good advice because I thought I would have regretted that acoustic song… On that first song, I do some tapping with my guitar… the idea came from watching Will from Ampere doing it while we were touring together and he more or less teach me how to do it. Doing this part during the practices was tough but recording that part was a real pain in the ass. We recorded the album with a crunchy guitar tone and this technique is way easier to record with a high gain guitar sound… But still, it sounds good but I spent hours on those few seconds and it really hurt my fingers in the end ! The last and very intense part of the song was influenced by a Basque band called Lisabö that has always been a big influence for us. They played the saddest and most desperate music.

The second song, Y2, is one of my favorite. It has that drum beat we always wanted to use because it feels like a very fast and unstoppable train. I really enjoy the chord progression as well but what I like above all is all the instrumental ending which, like on some songs on Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes, came from a jam during a practice. I think we didn’t rework it and used it the same way we improvised it. I still wonder how we managed to do this, I love this part.
Y3 is cool too but it reminds me too much of “Laissez Vivre Les Squelettes”. The very last part after the drum break is too much (that break is a wink to Mihai Edrisch). But still, Gwen has some really great bass lines on it.
The next is Y4 which is a song I absolutely love but it seems like it never stands out for people. That's a bummer. It has that Hot Snakes ending and a Lack influenced beginning. What I like is that it has some air and space, which was the opposite as what we did on Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes. Benoit started to really simplify his way to play drums and was more in a ‘melodic’ approach with his toms, like he did in Baton Rouge. When you hear the first seconds of the song you know that this is Benoit playing! Gwen has a really amazing bass line once again, Aurelien puts his vocals in a way that fills the spaces perfectly and guitars sound good and incisive. If the band didn’t stop, I guess we would have continued in that direction. Y4 was logically the 4th song we wrote for Y…
The next one, Y5, is the only song we cheated with our concept since this instrumental was written right after LVLS, and we used to play it as a show opener. But we used it to put the intensity down a little bit on the album because the beginning was very dense… There are 3 guitars on it and I used the Fender Mustang that Sam and I brought back from the Japan tour.
Y6 was a very ambitious song as well, with a lot of different parts in it and it asked a lot of work. That song was supposed to have some vocals by Aimée from Des Ark. She was supposed to record her vocals while she was on tour with Des Ark and played in Lyon but due to some technical problems, it didn’t work and we skipped the idea because it was too complicated to record it in the US once back from tour in the end. I kinda regret the spoken word part I did on this one, it is a little bit too cheesy now with hindsight… too bad I did this ugly thing.
Y7 is a song we almost never played live. Guitar riffs are influenced by both Floor and our buddies from Aussitôt Mort. Aurelien was supposed to have a very melodic vocal line in the beginning - like Floor does on their 2002 s/t LP - but while we were recording it, we realized it wasn’t so good so he did his part screaming, as he really knows how to ! While the beginning is clearly not the best thing of the album, I really like the quiet part in that song… I did some tapping once again and Sam was also playing his part with his fingers. Gwen and Benoit played this rolling and hypnotic part all the way so that guitars and vocals could develop. Then all the very end, very quiet, is well played, I’m so proud we could turn down the volume by just playing quieter. It’s one of my personal high lights in the Daitro records. It sounds a bit ridiculous to write it, but you all have to be very focused to do it and I’m glad we focused so much on giving songs as much nuance as possible. This was inspired by the only post rock band I enjoy: The Redneck Manifesto.
A small detail about the writing process… When we were writing the songs for Y, we were putting notes on each part of the songs which would tell us the level of intensity we were supposed to play it… this helped us to have a more balanced and more contrasted way to play, with more level than just heavy / quiet as we were doing on LVLS.
Y8, like Y4, is a song that I love as well. It is really based on the bass actually. Gwen drives the song and he even used a chorus pedal on his bass ! It also has a lot of space and I really enjoyed playing it the few times we played it live. The song is growing and it always goes straight forward. Benoit recorded his track in one take. Singing so many melodies was really new to us as well. A very special song to me and I think it's one of our favorite for us all.
After we did Y8, we thought we would need a heavier song to close the album and that’s how Y9 was written. That one was indeed too much calculated indeed… Though, I like this big break when the beat really slows down in the middle of the song. It feels like it was crashing. But I’m the only one who likes the song, the others never really liked it and I think we never played it live.

Musicwise, Y was ambitious but also was it lyricwise. Aurelien and I wrote one big text that would be used as lyrics, that’s why songs have no titles, because this big text is spread on the songs. Writing these lyrics was a tough work, as well as working melodic vocal lines for the first time. We spent a lot of time on them. The lyrics reflect the “troubled” times we were going through. On one hand feeling thrilled to be involved in our local punk community and on the other end, felling judged or alienated by it in the same time, like a dogma because of being so much into it.

For the recording, Sam used Santi’s Gibson Les Paul Custom which is the best guitar we ever played on to this day. I used a different Telecaster, another Santi’s one, which was an original (and heavy) Custom 72. Sam used my JMP and I used a Sovtek. Gwen played everything on his JazzBass + Ampeg SVT combo. Benoit had just bought a new Pearl drum kit which he keeps at home, which sounds awesome and powerful. We only recorded the instruments in 8 days… We also found new places to swim in the sea after the sessions, some hidden creeks with water clear as glass. 

That was beautiful and we really had good times even though the recording was hard because of these complex songs we had written. Aurelien didn’t come down with us this time, I can’t remember why but we were just the 4 of us. We had time to work the lyrics and vocals with the rough mixes and we recorded the vocals in January 2009 in Lyon, in the same place and the day after we had recorded our first 7”es with 12XU. Then we sent the tracks to Santi and he mixed and mastered in San Feliu once again.

The idea behind the name of the album came from “Los Angeles” from X. To contrast with the music, we wanted an artwork really simple and powerful in the same time with something coming from Lyon, as the lyrics made references to our hometown. The image on the front cover is a topographic view of Lyon who has 2 rivers joining in the south of the city, creating a Y viewed from the sky. That’s basically where it comes from. Our buddy Hugues designed the illustrations on both the front and back covers and I did the layout and booklet with some pictures of our neighborhoods.

Y was released in Europe once again on both CD and LP by our good old buddy Seb. We were doing almost everything together and he was like the 6th member. In the US, Will from Ampere / Orchid / Failures etc. released it on Clean Plate. Even though he also released our tour 7" and also the Ampere / Daitro split, I was still stoked to have it out on Clean Plate because it was also a label I really loved. Years before, when I was into Orchid, Off Minor, Life At These Speeds, Ampere etc. I never figured out I could have a record on that label with any of my bands! Now it makes sense since Will and I befriended after we did the Ampere / Daitro split, but also after the US tour and a couple shows in Europe we did together. Our good friend Yoshi from Oto records released it as well in Japan on CD with lyrics translated in kanjis... it looks great ! It also had releases on tape in Malaysia on Utarid Tapes and in Argentina on Abrazio Ediciones.


The split with Sed Non Satiata is one of my favorite releases.
We had a day off on a tour near Toulouse and Sed Non Satiata were playing in a small city with Aghast so we went there to see the show and maybe ask if we could play too. We didn’t but we saw Sed Non Satiata and they blew us away. We’ve been in touch sometimes before but it was the first time we met and I instantly knew we would be linked together in the future. I felt like we just met our brothers, it was an instant crush. To this day, we’re still very good friends and we never stopped doing things together (Benoit did a band with Simon and Arnaud called Ancre, 12XU did a split with Arnaud’s Object Object and I released most of SNS records on Echo Canyon). 

We no more had our beloved practice place in Benoit’s sister house and we were practicing in some random practice spaces in Lyon. Nothing really fancy about it… We also started to write songs for that split when Sam left for 4 months in Israel and we had a friend Marion filling in for a couple shows and practices… 

It has that song De L’eau Coule Sous Les Ponts which is a song that really represent the band in my opinion, as much as Laissez Vivre Les Squelettes probably. A really cool song to play live because I always felt we had this huge wall of sound with Benoit’s heavy drumming at its best. I especially love the last half of the song with that arpeggio that I still love to play for fun from time to time… and then that ending with the guitars strumming the same chord all over and that sick Gwen’s bass line and Aurelien’s passionate vocals as well. One of the song I am definitely the proudest of and we played it all the time after it was finished. The little drum intro is also stolen from the beginning of Envy’s “All the footprints you've ever left…” because we’ve always been huge fans of this album… it was time to make an obvious reference to them !

Then there is that instrumental track called Place Tolozan… that name comes from the place we were meeting in the city center to go to practice.

The next one is Nous Ne Participons Pas… This one is really Amanda Woodward influenced. We never did too many songs with that fast tempo and with hindsight I think we play it too fast and we really ruined it. Both Aurelien and my vocals are not good. The ending sounds like a bad and fasten ripoff of a SNS song… So basically, you all understood that I don’t really like that song but still, there is an interesting story behind it… In 2006, we’ve been “attacked” in a French fanzine. French punks can be very critical and I can tell you that when someone destroys you that way, it really hurts. It was beyond a musical aspect. So we were hurt and angry and we wrote this lyrics telling that we were not all in the punk scene for the same reasons and if people have misjudgments on you only based on the music you play, well, that’s fucked up… So we started to write the guy to discuss about why he had so much anger about us. We wrote and explained our points of view. I hated that guy, I thought he was wrong. But we wrote each other and it eventually turned into someone I really enjoy to spend time with now actually! Each time we’re in Toulouse we enjoy seeing each other and talk for hours about life, music, bands, getting older in the punk scene, family, jobs etc. Maybe it's because I gained credit to have introduced him to the Wipers !? It all started so bad between us ! That’s the magic of punk rock… hopefully the lyrics were not personally against him otherwise I would really regret them now !
The last song Un Fleau Pour Un Autre is a very epic one. I loved that one, it is so powerful. I remember playing it as an opener on our US tour. Playing outside near a pool it in a crowded house in Miami almost 10 years ago now is a very clear memory in my head. Aurelien’s lyrics are very critical against the religion, its dogma, and it sounds very accurate to what’s going on in France right now. The end of the song still gives me chills today. I remember playing this song live and having that pure feeling of playing good music with my best buddies. Gwen’s bass line is sick in the end of the song and we really put it forward on purpose on the mix. Still in the end Sam did this odd and groovy guitar lick that goes over the measures once again and Benoit’s drum pattern is amazing when it goes straight forward at the end. I kinda regret the vocal takes on that one, I think it could have been better but the music is so dense that there is not so much room left for vocals actually.

We recorded the instruments in Esch-Sur-Azlette in Luxembourg, at la KuFa and we were sleeping at our good friend Dan, who was singing in Hyacinth at that time and who is Luxemburgish. We really had fun there, Dan was cooking for us while we were recording and he’s an awesome cook! Aurelien was not with us but I don’t remember why, maybe because we were supposed to record the vocals later… We also recorded 2 extra songs on that session that were used on the one sided 7” released for our US tour on Clean Plate. We were recording while the elections in 2007 were taking place in France and when Sarkozy got elected. We heard the news in the studio and were beyond bummed because we hated that guy… until the engineer (who was French) told us he voted for him ! A big and long silence occurred then.

When we listened to Sed Non Satiata’s songs for the first time, we were so stoked and excited for this split. Not only because it was sounding great and new with their sung vocals, but also because it was the best document of the common tour we did a few months before… they were playing those songs every night and we absolutely loved them. We played a lot of shows together and we never saw them play a bad show. They were so tight and brilliant every evening. And we had a lot of fun altogether, they were so amazing musically and personally.

One last anecdote about our recording… We recorded the vocals a few weeks later near Besancon with an old friend of Aurelien (where we recorded the split with Raein). During the few days we spent there to record vocals, Aurelien and his then girlfriend organized a party and invited a friend of them called Julie they wanted me to meet because I was single at that time and so she was. And that’s how I met my wife… and we have 2 together kids now!

I did the artwork with a good friend of mine called Caroline Robert and the idea was to work on chimeras to illustrate the split recording concept and the friendship we had  developed with Sed Non Satiata. Caroline did most of it… She now lives in Montreal where she designs record covers for The Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros!

Our old friend Charlie / Red Cars Go Faster released the CD version with Echo Canyon. That was the first Echo Canyon release and the label almost came by accident since it was supposed to be released on another label who finally declined. The LP jackets were screened in Lyon mostly by our friend Flo (who was playing in Benoit in Mihai Edrisch) and it took us a full week end to do it. So much work! The LP release was a great collaboration of friends as well: Robert from Adagio 830, our buddy Momo who now lives in Japan and Hugues (with whom Gwen and I would play in 12XU). Code Of Ethics released it in the US as well. As we were involved in Food Not Bombs in Lyon, the split LP was a benefit to it and the money raised helped to buy some dishes… It also benefited to some local associations of each label / band… the main idea behind it was “think globally, act locally”. That was a time when we were 100% dedicated to the local DIY community… We did 2 tours and about 50 shows that year, organized 5 or 6 shows for touring friend’s bands, recorded 5 songs in Luxemburg, were involved in Food Not Bombs and I was working 40h a week. These were some very busy times!"

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