‘Ananda’ came from Parisian suburbia. The early line-up (at the time of their first demo) was Chrystèle Grall & Jean-Yves André (vocals), Thomas Guillanton (guitar; ex ‘Fingerprint’) & Sylvain Klein (guitar), Jérome ‘Mizou’ Bessout (drums; ex ‘Fingerprint’) and Jérome ‘Gunthar’ Lacombe (bass). Later Stéphane ‘Stu’ Joly (ex ‘Undone’) replaced Sylvain and Michaël Clergeot did vocals. They did a 10″ entitled Masqué (released by Olivier Lépine & Nicolas Fisseau on La Libre Expression in ’96), the Habeas Corpus LP (’98), etc.; the sound changed “from screamo to heavy gloomy hardcore sludge”.
I only saw this one issue of Twist & Shout. It was done by Gaël D[…] from Mouy (North of Paris). The cover has the famous pic of Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard’s A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) on it and reads “emo…punk…sXe…DIY…anti-profit…zine”. Content-wise there’s this one interview, some columns and a bunch of reviews.
[Translation below (with some help by Luc Ardilouze)]
All members of the band replied, except for Stu who lost his answers.
- To begin with, I would like you to present yourselves. Who are you? What do you do in life? Your influences? If there is a goal to ‘Ananda’, which is it?
Michaël: My name is Michaël, I make guttural screams in ‘Ananda’ since December ‘97, I’m studying science and technology. I like swimming because it gets you wet. My musical influences are ‘Village People’ (for the costumes), the ‘Compagnie Créole’ (for footwork and pelvis-movement), Tweety and Sylvester (for the lyrics). Otherwise, ‘Living Sacrifice’, Sardou, ‘Machine Head’, Will Haven, Roch Voisine, Julia, ‘Björk’, ‘Jamiroquai’, NTM, the song of Captain Flame, ‘Rosny Size’, ‘Entombed’, ‘Coalesce’, … and lots of other brutal stuff! I love comics (Jeremiah, Manara, Spawn) but also newspapers, magazines, novels, essays,… There is a purpose to ‘Ananda’: having the biggest sound possible while taking the piss out of it so it makes us burst out with laughter!
Jérôme B: I’m the drummer of the band you’re interviewing. In my life and foremost, I’m passionate about drumming, it keeps me going every day. It contributes heavily to my quest for desire, to pursuit of self-realisation, to my blooming, my happiness … I’m an employee and by the end of the year I’ll start working for the municipality of Mantes-la-Jolie, which will allow to do an alternative military service. I haven’t spent a lot of time on literature until now. Cinematografically, I’m a fan of Kounen, Poelvoorde, Tarantino, Jeunet and many others … A goal to ‘Ananda’? To share our music, fun above all.
Günthar: Günth here, from the planet Antarius. I play bass in ‘Ananda’. My musical influences range from ‘The Cure’ to ‘Assück’, literature: close to nothing, and graphics: design of the 60s and Japan in the 90s… A goal to ‘Ananda’? For me: above all having fun.
Thomas: Hello, my name is Thomas, I’m almost 25, I dropped my English studies a few months ago, I’ve been working at the Orsay Museum. I’m about to do my conscientious objection but I find it hard to find an association. A part from that, I do BMX (Dirt and some Street). Then I also do a lot of music (on PCs too). My musical influences range from grind (‘Assück’, ‘Napalm Death’) to Hip Hop (‘DJ Krush’, ‘Herbalisers’, ‘D Abuz System’), to hardcore (whatever is heavy or fast)!
- You’ve just released a new record on Unfortunate For The Fortunate recs, an American label run by someone of the ‘Death Wish Kids’. You take care that it’s distributed in shops and other places offering the opportunity to reach people from different backgrounds… Has this turned out to be successful? What is the average price in these places? Have your conditions been respected?
Michaël: Günthar will reply…
Jérôme B: Implicitly, I think we must’ve reached people from different backgrounds this way, since some copies have been distributed in various shops, mainly in Paris. Apart from a few exceptions, the average price remained between 30 and 35 FF, which was within the range we aimed for.
Günthar: Our LP was stocked by some shops because we asked them, for others we don’t know how they ended up there. Indeed: this approach allows to go outside of the classic distro-scheme but one shouldn’t forget that the shops accepting this way of working, sell a lot of rather brutal music, and these are visited by the same people who order from distros. Therefore, I think relatively few people from different backgrounds have discovered our music this was. Anyway, I think it’s worth the try. The LP was sold for 30 to FF 50, which is OK for me.
Thomas: Good question! In fact, it’s not distributed in a lot of shops, as far as I know. The only 2 in which I personally delivered records are Silence de la Rue and Rough Trade. The price at Silence de la Rue is 39 FF, which I think is correct. We gave 5 in consignement and these were gone in a few months, which looks good to me for, given the fact that we don’t play in Paris and didn’t do any promotion by means of stickers or flyers. At Rough Trade is the opposite: an outrageous price, 35 FF! I regretted it immediately after dropping them. Anyway, they have nothing metal-wise and therefore ours don’t sell. I’m going to go get them back them to give them to Silence de la Rue!
- Nowadays there’s a lot of talk about PACS [Pacte Civil de Solidarité; Civil Solidarity Pact] that wants to give each couple that wishes to get the same rights as those offered by the ‘classical’ marriage… What’s your opinion on this? Do you see it as a way to fight against homophobia?
Michaël: PACS is of course a way to fight homophobia. It highlights homosexuality in France and helps starting its demarginalisation. I don’t think PACS is already very much to the point but it’s a way of creating awareness: people begin to see the problems created in our society because of homosexuality [I guess he means homophobia…]. We have to continue on this path to change the mentality.
Jérôme B: I fully support PACS in their struggle to recognise all sorts of ways of living together, whether it’s male/male, female/female, brother/sister…, so that all of these get legally/socially recognised. This would also help to break down certain taboos such as regarding homosexuality and curb our significant delay in relation to certain countries. Unfortunately, the first version of PACS was not accepted because of the absence of the Socialist Party. A future version will be voted; let’s hope the representatives of the S.P. will be a little less lax.
Günthar: Today, we speak of PACS, tomorrow, we will talk about soccer… The real problem is the development of the legal framework of these lives. A priori, PACS seems a good thing administratively. In any case, it won’t reduce homophobia. On the contrary: I think everyone will return to their camps. Only education will open up the path of tolerance.
- ‘Ananda’ means ‘source of life’ in Sanskrit, I think. What are the reasons for chosing this name? Are they still the same? Is the band a source of inspiration on an individual level?
Michaël: I think our source of life is music and we succeed to flourish because of this. It’s also a source of inspiration and relaxation. As a singer, through my writing I can express things that are more or less buried in me. ‘Ananda’ is a piece of myself.
Jérôme B: ‘Ananda’ is band-name before any other special meaning and rather more that of a concept. Now, this word has several meanings like, indeed, ‘source of life’ in Sanskrit, but also a state of well-being, happiness obtained through meditation or illicit substances. Anandanine is secreted by the brain during a state of excitement or nervousness, lowering the adrenaline-level in the blood.
Günthar: ‘Ananda’ means many things. Nowadays the basic meanings – among other ‘source of life’ – are not important anymore. ‘Ananda’ is my life, the ‘thing’ that obtained me the most joy and hope. I’m hoping these few years together are only the beginning of a long history. We know each other for about 12 years and spend most of our time together, so imagine the influence this may have on us.
Thomas: Tell me, you seem quite knowledgeable about ‘Ananda’… Yeah, you’re right, it means source of life. And although at first ‘Ananda’ couldn’t cover the full sense of the word, now it’s obviously the case. ‘Ananda’, as a band, is a source of life because it covers every moment of my life for the reason that my involvement in this band is total. So, yes, the band influences me as an individual…
- If you could make 3 wishes (each), what would they be?
Michaël: Do a split and a tour with ‘Living Sacrifice’ [Brob: The Christian metal band ?!!?] // Maybe common: that all humans, animals, insects,… can live free and in a proper way // Be able to communicate with ants.
Jérôme B: Be really free // That humankind is no longer the worst species // Equality for all people.
Günthar: Reincarnate as a Fraggle (but not now) // That it doesn’t stink when I fart // Know the outcome of the next 500 horse-races at Longchamp // Oh no, there aren‘t any left! I felt like a falafel…
Thomas: One is enough: that all other wishes come true… Too hard a question because I’ll change my mind all the time and perhaps will even get demagogic. If one anyway: a big fuck-off to AIDS and to all fascists. It would make things a bit quieter already.
- The question that ‘everyone’ expects: what exactly do you reproach the ‘do it yourself’ / non-profit community?
Michaël: Non-profit DIY? Well yeah…
Jérôme B: Our criticism of the French scene has always been distorted, interpreted, inferred but you won’t tell me that everyone does or does not recognise one idea or another. I won’t dwell on the subject because unfortunately it doesn’t bring much round. Just one thing: it is not unique.
Günthar: Finally, you’re letting go Gaël! OK, seriously: I think this ‘scene’ has a lot more things to reproach us than that we have to reproach the ‘scene’. But overall, it’s its inbred, uncommunicative nature which seems despicable to me. Apart from that: I met some of my best friends there, people without whom my life would be sad. Nothing is ever all white or all black.
Thomas: Honestly, not a lot of things actually. If we got rid of a few idiots or if people were a little less serious in their fanzine, in their way of being. Anway, I think that’s something of old-minded youngsters believing they’re understanding everything about life by now. It’s true that the ‘Do It yourself’ thing is great. With ‘Ananda’, things have always worked like that. We’ve always planned things ourselves: from the recordings of our songs to the layout, concerts. Recently we went in the recording-studio. Personally I really like working like this but hey, if there’s a way to reach a wider audience and make better records, we’re not reluctant towards a larger label. People always hear about ‘majors’. There are labels of different size that aren’t majors. Doghouse is not a major and can be found with lots of small distros. Ebullition sells quite some records, no? After all, people who have seen their stuff grow through hard work. Even if you come to tell us that we’re only in it for the money, it doesn’t matter: our enthusiasm remains intact. Besides: buy our record, we eventually have to pay our BMWs… There’s also the problem of fanzines put together in 2 minutes and a half where one apologizes a 1000 times in a column, like in a collective diary…
- I believe you’re really into electronic music… Any records one needs to listen to? Do you sometimes visits clubs, raves,…?
Michaël: Double LP ‘Rosny Size’, ‘Photek’, ‘Massive Attack’ ans ‘DSP’!
Jérôme B: Well yes, some of us are listening to electronic music (trip-hop, drum’n’bass). I’ld personally like to advise you to listen to everything that is happening on the Ninja Tune label, or more popular with ‘Björk’, ‘Portishead’… It happens that I visit a club to ‘shake my booty’, I like that very much. On the other hand: I’ve never been to a rave but I will…
Günthar: Viva Electronica all the way! This ‘scene’, to use your expression, is the most creative I know right now. I found the same crazy uncontrollable energy there that seduced me into HC/punk the last few years. Records worth listening to? For starters: compilations of the labels Ninja Tune and Warp, or Wall Of Sound… give an excellent overview of what is happening right now. It’s hard to be more specefic, there are so may records being released… When talking about music other than HC/ punk / metal, I advise amateurs of a weird atmosphere, counter-natural mixes all the productions on the Thrill Jockey label. The best-known bands are of course ‘Tortoise’, ‘The Sea & Cake’. For you to discover… (By saying this, I call myself the wrath of my anandist friends upon me, they hate it.).
Thomas: No, I’m not going to clubs nor raves. I listen to a lot of Hip Hop and make some on PC. It’s downright the top of DIY, right? Joking aside: it’s nice to release something yourself that sounds good. Essential records: Strictly Tumtablized and Mëso. André Gursv’s first maxi on Jazz Fudge recs and ‘Herbaliser’, ‘Blow Your Headphone’.
- Mantes-la-Jolie and its surroundings seem to be somewhat sober. Has this influenced you musically, emotionally?
Michaël: No, everything that happens in Mantes doesn’t affect me much. Inevitably a little bit because it’s the environment in which I live. But there’s less things happening than the media or ‘gossip’ say.
Jérôme B: Yes, although people know Mantes-la-Jolie via the media that give a more or less negative image of our city. Life is quite sober and boring here. But you can still find a cultural centre jere where many things happen… All these bands stemming from Mantes-la-Jolie have more or less melancholic melodies, brutal riffs but I don’t think that’s the result of our dwelling-place, more of our influences and what is happening in the country that we live in. It’s true that if we lived near the sea, we would perhaps have become ‘Ananda Beach’.
Günthar: Mantes-la-Jolie, Mantes-la-Ville, what do you want me to tell you… I grew up there so even if it stinks, I don’t feel too bad there myself. Despite this sober side, here in the west side of Paris, there’s a phenomenal creative energy. I’m sure we will soon hear about this area other than because of its violence. Our influences are so diverse, it’s certain that our environment is involved in it, but I don’t think that Mantes is in our compositions.
Thomas: Fuck no… It’s surrounded by fields and meadows, there are a few lakes, ponds, we’re half an hour from Paris. It’s true that there are really huge cities where the atmosphere isn’t cool, but there’s always some green spaces not far away. I’m fortunate to have a forest not far from my home where I can ride (dirt). In fact, in Mantes and its surroundings, there’s plenty to do. Myself, personally, I’m not necessarily from a wealthy family, but I always liked the place where I lived. Now I live in Paris.
- Where do you find yourselves in the political spectrum? Are you engaged, volunteers, activists?
Michaël: I’m a-political.
Jérôme B: My tendencies have always been towards the left. We are committed because of our convictions but not a party.
Günthar: If there is a political spectrum, I the fool! Oh well, there’s always need for one… If being engaged means not supporting racist jokes and putting the authors in their place, then yes, I am. Apart from that, I don’t claim to belong to any political movement, although my ideals are close to libertarian. I don’t see myself as militant. I help and support the SCALP group in Mantes in its fight against the ‘fat pig’ [Jean-Marie Le Pen of the Font National, extreme-right party] and his henchmen, but not really part of it. In fact, I’d like to invest more of myself but time fails me and it is out of the question to do things on half.
Thomas: I’m able to defend my convictions with much enthusiasm when necessary. Can we claim militancy from playing in ‘Ananda’? Compared to all the justifications that we must make regarding the band and its members, we are entitled to say that.
- Well, I’ll stop there… Your projects? Messages to get across? See you soon and thank you…
Michaël: As for nearby projects: the mike is for head-honcho Günthar. Otherwise: doing as much concerts as possible around the world, a lot of records, a lot of different bands (on bass, drums). Peace, love and don’t waste your time working instead of living. See you at concerts, in the streets, on the net or on paper. Don’t hesitate to contact us. Lots of kisses to all.
Jérôme B: Our projects are several compilations on the other side of the Atlantic and in France, definitely a tour for the summer of ‘99 but I won’t say anything on the destination as it’s just still in the planning-stages. We will focus on the establishment of an association involved with productions, organisation of concerts, benefits…
Günthar: A lot of plans! We just finished 5 tracks in the studio and count on releasing them via different media. Thank you to those who believe in difference. If you want us to come to your place to act as clowns, write us. We can even animate your family-parties. Thank you for not asking questions about sXe, it makes a changes.
Thomas: Play more, do concerts, tours and a lot of other small shit. The questions were really nice. It makes a change from “What do you think of sXe?”, “You have friends who eat meat, that’s not very vegetarian…”. You see what I mean. Anyway, good luck to all those who have teh rage, the energy to do something, whatever in what discipline. By the way: we’re not sXe!