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Interview: Vincent – Appollonia

Interview done in 2008 for metalfan.nl. Check out the original here.

Can you introduce the band to us ignorant Dutch people that have never heard of you?
Ha-ha! Yeah of course. So what can I say to our ignorant Dutch friends about our band huh? Well we’ve been knowing each other for quite a long time now… that was in high school I guess, way before we started playing music together in fact. So we started playing together just for the fun of it around 2004 I believe and fooling around with our instruments kind of led us to songs that took us to a five songs demo we recorded in the garage on our little eight tracks recorder. The demo got released in 2006 and got pretty cool press review. So we just kept writing and started playing gigs here and there and I guess we just ended up with enough songs to start thinking about the first album. So we went to spend three weeks in the studio in October 2007 with Franck Hueso (which you might know because of his work with Hacride) and we self-released the album (”Among wolves”) in April 2008. I guess that’s pretty much it for now… I hope I’ll have a lot more to tell you next time! Ha-ha!

Instead of the ‘what are your influences question’ i like to ask bands what they listen to at the moment?
Ho I’m glad you didn’t go for the “influences question” ’cause I should have given you a list of about 500 bands! Ha-ha! Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of pop… or maybe not “pop” but quieter stuff like Weezer, Interpol, Nada Surf… I know they’re not quite the evil inspiration people expect but I really admire their songwriting… just how simple and perfect the songs are… that impresses me a lot… a lot more than tons of shredding and tempos at 250. I got a huge crush lately on the self-titled album of Sole And The Skyrider Band… just how Sole’s voice and lyrics are huge and the production work is so well thought… Indie-hip-hop at its best in my opinion. I also absolutely fell for “The ‘59 sound” of The Gaslight Anthem. It’s got that great vibe mixing fifties rock’n’roll with nineties emo and that sort of punk rock heart… it’s just great… great sing-along rock that should speak to pretty much anyone… I just love it. I also loved the album « Aggression » from Verse… I’m always really moved by that breed of hardcore… kind of what Modern Life Is War used to do. Yep… so here it is… a little pop or indie, a little hip-hop, a little hardcore and there you go, that’s what I love. Oh yeah, and the new Metallica sounds huge to! Horns up yeah!

Among Wolves is your first real album. Before this you only recorded a demo? How is the demo compared to the album?
Shitty? Ha-ha! Well three of the five songs on the demo (”Fences & thieves”, “Sunset boulevard” and “Dogma”) ended up on “Among wolves” so I guess the demo wasn’t that much different from the album. It just was poorly produced… if you can call that kind of crappy raw sound we got from recording in the garage “produced”. The album sounds a lot more massive and professional I guess… but style wise, I think both of them are pretty close… it’s still us.

Is there a concept behind Among Wolves lyrically?
Well no, there is not a proper concept of any sort… lyrics are always written independently from one song to another so the answer to your question clearly is no. But however, I feel like there is a global sort of common vibe to all of the lyrics. Whether they deal with personal issues or a certain view of our society, I always feel like there’s some kind of sense of oppression that comes out of them. It’s always a little hard for me to talk about lyrics because as much as they mean to me, I most of the time hardly can explain them without feeling like detailing them takes away a part of the… the kind of subtlety I’m trying to give them when writing them. I just hope people manage to give them some kind of sense when they read them… if not, just mail me guys, I’ll try to help! Ha-ha!

You released the album yourself. Why were there no labels interested in releasing the album? And is there any sight on signing a deal with a label soon or do you want to keep doing things yourself?
Oh no, doing things ourselves is some kind of fatality you know… to be absolutely honest with you, we really were convinced we’d get a deal when coming out of the studio. We thought the album was good, maybe not perfect but decent enough, we thought the production was good, we thought the artwork was good so we were like “Hey, there’s no way we’re not getting a deal with that!”. So we sent promo copies to pretty much every label on the planet we knew of… one month went by without an answer, two months, three months… and we were like “Oh fuck it, lets face it, no one gives a shit about our record so lets just keep on doing things ourselves and that’s it…”. It was like there was absolutely no way of being one more of these bands that just stands there waiting for ages for someone to take care of them. We wanted the album to come out to move on and just keep going you know. Waiting would have felt like a bigger failure than releasing it ourselves… but at least I know we try our best for the band and put all we have into it and that’s all that matters. The satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your best. But yeah, I’d love to have a deal with a label that would take good care in promoting it and making sure its available everywhere and helping us out with dates, etc.,…. If we have to keep on doing things ourselves for the second album, we will. Do we WANT to? No. Only if we HAVE to. But we’re not giving up on this, that’s for sure… even though, lets face it, doing everything yourself is a pain in the ass and kind of doesn’t take you too far… anyway, our motivation is still intact.

The people around me that heard the album where all very impressed. How are the responses elsewhere?
First of all I think it’s absolutely awesome that a few people in Holland listen to our stuff and like it… it means a lot to us and you don’t have any idea of how much we appreciate these kind of comments. So thank you so much for that! Otherwise the responses in our country were really great and a lot more positive than what we expected… it was almost too much from time to time so it kind of freaked us out because we were like “If they love our first album THAT MUCH, no matter what we do after that, they’re gonna think it sucks!”! But it’s really nice to get such great reviews… really pumps you up. We got a couple cool reviews in the US as well but I haven’t heard from any other country so far… too bad but that’s kind of the trap in self-releasing your stuff. It’s just really hard to get people exposed to your music…

I first found out about Appollonia on some musicblog. A weblog that links to albums to download. How do you feel about your album being out in the open for everyone to download for free?
I’m really cool with that actually. The only thing I’m up against are all those fucking websites that sell our album for download. It’s being sold on about thirty different Russian sites, we don’t get a single cent out of that and that just pisses me of knowing how much money we’ve put into it. You never want to sound like a crybaby or so but people need to understand that to self-release an album that looks and sounds professional costs a lot money. You pay for studio time, then for mixing, then for mastering, then you have to pay the guy for the artwork and then you have to pay for the CDs to be pressed. Then you add up the numbers and are like “Ok, if I don’t want to lose any money out on this, I need to sell about five hundred records”. And I’m talking about not losing money and not about making money. There’s a huge difference between both that people need to understand. For a band like us, selling albums is the only way to get a little money back. Shows? We lose money every time going there. So the math is quite simple and as much as I’m cool with people downloading our stuff, as much as I understand that, I just can’t thank the people that actually buy our album enough because they are the ones that make a difference to us and that truly help us in keeping our boat afloat. I hate dealing with these money issues but sadly, they’re quite unavoidable…

As far as i can see most of the reviews you got and shows you played were from/in France. How is your position in France right now, starting to get a bit more ‘fame’ as in more people getting to know you and you playing somewhat bigger shows?
No, not really… I’d even say “no, not at all” if I were a pessimist. We drove like six hours last weekend to play in front of five people in a squat so that should give you a pretty good idea of where our fame is at right now. We generally have awesome press review but CDs don’t sell and we have a really hard time finding dates… DIY is cool but when no one or no label is backing you up, most people don’t give a shit about you and just won’t give you your chance. We kinda learnt that the hard way… just realizing that there’s no way you’re gonna make it on your own when you don’t have that much contacts here and there (and even when you have them, they just don’t answer your mails/calls most of the time because they don’t know you). I don’t blame anyone… like it or not, its just the way it works…

The last couple of years France has been doing pretty well with interesting bands, you guys, Overmars, Monarch, Year of No Light, Comity and Aussitot Mort for instance. How is the scene in France, do you know all those bands/do you play together?
Well we know a bit the folks in Year Of No Light because they come from the same city as us and in my opinion, they’re one of the greatest (if not the greatest) band in this scene but globally yeah, we really have some interesting bands around here. We played with Overmars once to and they put on one hell of an intense live show! So yeah, the scene is doing great even though, sadly, you don’t always have a lot of people at shows… but there are so many bands, so many shows that you can’t really blame people for not showing up at every one of them. Even though it kind of pisses me of to see Overmars playing in front of fifteen people in our hometown…

What are, in your opinion, the interesting bands from France these days?
Metalwise, Hacride and Gojira rule the game in my opinion. Both of them are extremely talented and I couldn’t be happier with what’s been happening to Gojira lately. They’ve been working their asses of for that and they deserve every glimpse of what they’re getting. So yeah, hail to these guys for doing what they do. In another style, more “emo” or so stuff I’m a big fan of what Amanda Woodward have been doing… same thing for Swy, Tang and Daïtro, great bands. I already spoke about Year Of No Light but in the “down-tempo” zone, Overmars, them and Aguirre are by far my favorites. Don’t know if you ever heard about Sleeppers to but if you like noise, you’ll love them. We also have a lot of insanely talented bands in quieter stuff like Rhesus or Syd Matters… it’s just great, very classy pop music… hell, I listen to so much stuff that I could go on for days and still feel like I’m forgetting half of them… sorry guys! Ha-ha!

Any plans to conquer Europe any time soon, in particular Holland?
We’d love to! But once again it always comes back to this “problem” of being us alone without that much contacts! People hardly even ever answer us when we try to book gigs in France so imagine how it would be for a full tour abroad… we tried but it’s always like sending messages to the atmosphere and hoping someone will give you an answer. It’s just hopeless. But if someone told us “Guys, I can help you book 4 or 5 dates in Holland or Germany or whatsoever”, we’d pack up our shit and hit the road right away, that’s for sure! Man, we never even played abroad once… not even in Spain which is like three hours drive from home… hell, we suck… we have to find a way to take our asses across the borders, that’s mandatory…
Other plans for the near future?
Well we just keep on writing songs for our second album. If things go as planed, we should be hitting the studio next summer, in August. We have something like eight songs ready but we’re always changing parts and things so we have like nine more months to make sure everything is cool before recording. We also have a few gigs in France coming up and all I can hope for is that there soon will be more to come! I also wanted to thank you so much for your time with this interview Armand! That was so awesome! Take care dude!

Appollonia Bandcamp (stream all their albums!)
Appollonia Facebook

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