Luxembourg might not be revered for exporting great catalogues of rock music, but that doesn’t mean bands don’t exist in one of the smallest countries in Europe. Put it into context and you realise Luxembourg has a very similar population to Manchester, and that certainly doesn’t deprive the UK city of musical talent. Home-grown talent is on the rise in Luxembourg’s half-a-million population too, and leading the charge is post-hardcore, math rockers Mutiny On The Bounty. I caught up with guitarist Nicolas Przeor for SoundShock to find out more on their upcoming record ‘Trials’ and the rising musical scenery in his country.
Are you happy with how ‘Trials’ is being received so far?
Nicolas Przeor: Yes, I have to admit that the album has been really well received so far. It is true that we’ve worked really hard to come with this new album and we’re really pleased that so many people enjoy it. Of course, there are some people telling us that they preferred older stuff and things like that, but when you grow up as a band it just seems inevitable.
The band took a step forward in 2010 when you got the solidified membership of a new bassist and guitarist, who are now fused into the band. How has Cedric and Clement’s membership changed the band?
NP: Cedric was the first one to join at the beginning of 2010. We knew our old bass player was about to leave and thought straight away about Cedric to join. In fact, Cedric is a very long time friend and he always was the first bass player we had in mind to join Mutiny On The Bounty but he never had the time or the opportunity back in the time. This time he was up for it so it was just perfect. We struggled to find a guitar player after that, spending more than a year between Luciano’s (first MOTB guitarist) and Clement to find a permanent guitar player. We were close to keep the band as a three-piece but we heard Clement’s band split and asked him, since then everything just worked out perfectly. Both of them, they added newer aspects to our sound as Cedric is a really powerful yet melodic bass player, he’s got really catchy hooks and bass-lines. Clement is an awesome guitarist, very technical but still very melodic. They listen really well to the music and don’t want to show off, just adding what the songs actually need.
Mutiny On The Bounty really seem to have bridged an unlikely but not impossible gap in the musical world. In some narrow-minded ‘metal’ circles, indie rock is seen as an inferior form of music and a polar opposite of everything metal should be. Interestingly, it seems your music has something for those interested in math and progressive music, post-hardcore, indie and perhaps even metal on the occasion too. How do you begin to describe the Mutiny On The Bounty sound?
NP: To be honest, we never really cared how people are trying to categorize us. I think the diversity that you can hear in MOTB’s music is about the fact that we all listen to very different genres. We do have common influences in everything math-rock and post-hardcore but all in all, we listen to so much stuff today from indie-pop, to ‘80s music or electronic stuff that I guess we just try to incorporate what we like in our music. It doesn’t matter if it’s rock or electro, it just has to touch us. If some people are asking us what kind of music we’re doing, we usually say ‘rock with some tricks in it’. I don’t think the world need any new sub-category to classify music, it’s just a matter of feelings for music.
You’ve said that ‘Trials’ showcases the sound you always wanted with MOTB after undergoing a big transitional stage. How does the record compare to ‘Danger Mouth’?
NP: It’s true that many years and experiences are making ‘Trials’ different from ‘Danger Mouth’ and if you had a line-up change, it does affect your initial sound quite a lot as we’re no dictator telling what the other guys need to play. ‘Trials’ is probably the darkest album we ever came up with. Songs like ‘North Korea’, ‘Artifacts’ or even ‘Myanmar’ are really heavy and dark mood songs. The new album is also more diverse and probably easier to understand, back in the time, we wanted to play everything all the time, this time around we felt like the music had to breathe a bit more. It seems so cliché to say that but it’s definitely more mature. It’s not mature in the sense that we’re just wiser and exactly know how to craft a song, but it’s more mature in the way that we noticed some mistakes we made on the previous album and tried to avoid these traps for the new songs.
Now you’ve found your desired sound, is there any room for change in the future?
NP: That’s for sure. We’re not the kind of band who are stuck in something for very long. We’re getting bored pretty fast and we like to experiment a lot. So I’m pretty sure that the next album will be a lot different. I guess that in our vision, it’s important for a band to evolve all the time, trying different things so you don’t get bored and you won’t bore the audience neither playing the same old songs. Plus, even if you don’t want to evolve, most of the time it just happens naturally as everyone is growing up and start to listen and to feel music differently. I’m not playing or listening to the same things that I used to play or listen to two years ago and that will already have an impact on the next album for sure. I can already tell you that the first new bits of music we’ve worked on so far are every different from ‘Trials’.
Second track ‘North Korea’ is an astounding achievement. How does the birth of a track begin and how did you go about composing this particular track?
NP: Thanks a lot. We actually work in various different ways. The first one we used through all the ‘Danger Mouth’ writing process was me bringing a nearly-finished song that we re-worked as a band throwing away a couple of riffs and adding some new ones to get a song everyone is satisfied with. On ‘Trials’ we worked way more as a team as most of the songs were written during jams. Someone plays a riff and we just start playing altogether. The chemistry between us right now is pretty good so we can come up with a nearly finished song pretty fast during a jam and will rework it for a couple more rehearsals. This is the way ‘North Korea’ has been written. It was just me messing around with the speed of my loop station when we were working on another song and the others were “Wow! Keep doing what you’re doing just now!” They added their parts on it and it sounded killer straight away. The rest of the song was finished through a couple more rehearsals adding bits here and there to complete the song.
This might be an obvious question, but what inspired you to call the track ‘North Korea’? Would you call yourself a politically-minded band at all?
NP: We’re definitely not a political band but we like to be aware of what’s happening in the world. But you can check out our lyrics, none of them are political at all, they’re critics of our everyday life, things that surrounds us but we wouldn’t be able to write real political songs and we wouldn’t want to anyway. What’s ironic is that ‘North Korea’ is actually an instrumental song so there’s no message in it. We just thought that the song had a very dark and oppressive mood, we’ve seen a documentary about North Korea the very same night we’ve written the song and that was it. I actually like the fact that this instrumental song has got a strong name like this one.
How is Luxembourg for music? Are there any bands you’d recommend?
NP: It’s really tough to play in Luxembourg. It’s so small that you have to cross the borders to hope to touch some people. If you play three times a year, most of the people interested in music will see you! That’s why it’s important to play outside from here; Belgium, Germany and France are so close that it would be a mistake not to go there. Music in Luxembourg is definitely good. We’re a really small country but we do have a great number of bands. I guess metal is definitely the genre the most represented, we do have very great bands such as Scarred playing some kind of tech-death àla Gojira or Cosmogon playing a heavy-metal/hardcore [style] like Cancer Bats. Newer generation of bands tend to be very good technically, way better than what we used to be at their age. If I’d recommend some bands from here, I would definitely recommend Mount Stealth (Battles-like math-rock), Sun Glitters (electro), Cyclorama (instrumental shoegaze), Soleil Noir (doom-post-rock), Versus You (pop-punk) or even Heartbeat Parade (instrumental hardcore). As you can see, it’s very diverse, like I said before, the only real ‘scene’ we have is more like a metal scene; all the rest is more sparse and mixed. My only regret about it is that very few bands (apart from the ones listed before) are willing to go further than playing a couple of shows here and there because I think there’s a real potential.
You’ve shared the stage with the likes of Coheed And Cambria, Kings Of Leon and Franz Ferdinand. When are you best received? Is it with a progressive rock/metal band or an indie rock band?
NP: It really depends to be honest. We’ve played with metal bands thinking that people would think that we’re pussies and playing with quiet bands where we thought that people would kick us out because we were too loud. I guess the only thing to do is to be passionate about your music. If people see that you enjoy yourself and that you’re honest about the music you play, then they won’t judge the music but what they feel, see or hear. I think that there’s no such thing as musical genres, it’s more a matter of what you give to people. I think that sometimes it has been more difficult to open for a band in the same genre than us rather than opening for Mew or Cancer Bats, because people were expecting something from us, because they were already familiar with the musical style. As when you’re playing with a different kind of band, then people have no expectations, they just want to be surprised.
You’ve played a few European festivals. What’s the best experience for the band; playing at a festival atmosphere or at a more intimate, indoor venue?
NP: That’s exactly the same for the question before. I’d say it’s a different feeling. Playing at a festival is great as you’ll play in front of a huge and very varied audience with bands that you adore. Only this year, we played huge festivals such as the Roskilde or the Primavera sharing stages with Faith No More, Refused, The Cure, a.m.m., I mean, what can expect more than that. It’s truly the kind of dream you’re making when you’re a kid. On the other hand, playing in a packed club in front of people who came just for you is definitely something you can’t beat. I like being close to people when I play, interact with them, get to watch closely in their eyes, seeing people’s reaction, that makes a very intense experience. That’s why I’d rather say playing small venues as you can feel way more what’s happening between the audience and the band. Myself, as part of an audience, I also prefer seeing small gigs in small venues as well. But I’d say it’s a totally different experience all in all.
You’re back in the UK in September. Looking forward to the tour? How do you like the touring life?
NP: Of course we’re looking forward for it. Last time we’ve toured in the UK was in 2010 and it’s already been way too long. It’s one of our favourite places to play in; we’ve always been really well-welcomed over there and met really good friends from the first time we went there. Plus, it’s going to be the first time we’ll play the ‘Trials’ songs in the UK, so we’re looking forward to see how people will react. We actually love the touring life, what can you ask for more: being with friends, travelling around the world, doing what you love every night. It definitely can’t be any better than that! Most of the touring aspects are great, but I must admit, I’d sometimes rather pass on the long drives we have to do. After quite a while, it gets really boring, but I guess it’s the pain of the game.
Interview by Calum Robson