Chill Out, another French zine I helped make available through my mailorder/distribution was done by Olivier Lacoste (singer of the Bordeaux band ‘Öpstand’) that I’d met at the Vort’n Vis and corresponded with. I can’t remember having seen his first issue. #2 (1995) had interviews with bands such as ‘Bleed’, ‘Boot Down The Door’, Seein’Red’, ‘Symptom Of Isaac’, etc. Fabien Charlot contributed a gig-review and a Barcelona travel-report. There’s columns by the editor and others, record- & zine-reviews, and more… In #3 (1995) there’s chats with ‘Ananda’, ‘CocheBomba’, ‘Malva’, ‘Swing Kids’, ‘Tribute’ and more. The above mentioned Fabien shares his experiences of traveling to London; there’s columns by various people and a whole bunch of reviews. I don’t think there was a fourth issue? Olivier also ran the grindcore label Murder recs until after the turn of the century. Nowadays he produces wine in a Bordeaux ‘chateau’…
‘Peu Être’ was an emo band from Niort/Poitiers (France) with some people I corresponded and collaborated with (Gérôme Desmaison & Mickaël ‘Mike’ Ramounet) – zinesters, label people but above all nice and activist people. In 1996 they toured Spain together with ‘Öpstand’; after that some of them went on to form ‘Alcatraz’.
Presentation of ‘Peu Être’. Is this your first band? What have you released so far?
Laurent: Hello, we started playing together in September 1994. There was only Sébastien who had already played in another band. ‘Peu Être’, is Mike [Mickaël Ramounet] doing vocals, Sébastien [Janouin] on drums, Gérôme [Desmaison] guitar/bass/vocals and myself [Laurent ‘Ballon’ Daudin] guitar/bass. We recorded a demo with ‘Robot Monster’ [band with Alain Vidal] and we released our 7”. We also appear on several compilations. We are a group of friends that are together since a long time.
‘Peu Être’, hmmm, what’s behind that band-name? [‘Peu Être’ can signify ‘may be’ of ‘small being’]
Gérôme: Apart from perhaps a little humility, I don’t believe that our name hides a lot of treasures if it’s not a gigantic joke: if you pronounce it very quickly, you will end up calling us ‘pouet’ [squeaker]. I like that name.
Sébastien: For my part, the name ‘Peu Être’ means just being little, very small, compared to the many things that surround us, people, nature, etc.
Mike: Hey, this is Mike. First of all thank you, Olivier, for this interview, it’s an honor for me to be interviewed for the best French zine… (That’s licking ass!) All right, now with regard to the answer to your question: well, for me, it will be little, what I am, that’s all.
Can you tell us a bit about everything happening around Poitiers/Niort (bands, organisations, zines, …)? I feel like there’s a lot moving, right?
Gérôme: It’s funny because we often desire what we believe we know from other places and we quickly snub what is within our reach. I’ld say that there are surely a thousand things happening, especially in Poitiers; but there’s little, very little that interests me. It quickly becomes the reproduction of a rock environment, which I don’t like at all. I find it very closed, it’s a small family that inbreeds, the patriarch is the modern comfort, the big concert-venue here. I don’t see a lot of revolutionary or enchanting stuff in all the bands here, nor the labels with their smell of nepotism. We try to organise concerts and independent way and it’s hard because independence is expensive. I’ld say that we do have certain affinities with a group of people who organise concerts for their political struggle, they’re Atheaïna. Some of them also run an association for animal liberation. I prefer Niort, at this level, where it’s really young people who take things in their hands and try to get stuff done and I get the feeling that it pays off. It’s not necessarily what I prefer musically or attitude-wise but the approach is pleasant. And then there’s this band that I really like: ‘Hebb’ [with Thierry Rambaud, who turn up in ‘Alcatraz’]. There’s many people that I appreciate and with whom I share the love of music in these two cities.
Sébastien: I couldn’t tell you a lot about Poitiers because I’m not often there, but I’m a little more aware as for as Niort goes, and things are starting to move, recently there was the creation of Rezo Uht that organises concerts and also a sort of festivals that bring music and visual arts together. These people also make a fanzine, but I won’t say more about it (!!!). Otherwise, regarding bands: there’s styles for everyone (HC, rap, noise, punk, …); and since there’s good recording-equipment in the space where we rehearse, there’s a lot of bands that have made demos. Well, it’s good that all these people start doing things, I’m hoping it will continue for a long time.
Laurent: I don’t know if Poitiers and Niort are really active. Anyway, we try to be active, and a lot of people from these two cities are trying aswell. It’s clear that there’s a small local scene that is getting busy in Poitiers. There’s of course the fantastic distro of Olivier Lépine and the label Laissez Nous Jouer! [Later La Libre Expression; together with Nicolas Fisseau of ‘FingerPrint’] On our side, we try to set up a small distro with Gérôme, and above all we tried to set up a label (Le Brun, Le Roux Corporation) for the production of our EP. Zine-wise, there’s of course those of Gérôme (J’Ai Le Regret À La Joie Mêlé) and of Mike (Aura Popularis) – he’s doing a split zine now, the photo-zine La Main De La Bête of my good friend Norbert [Chomat]. There is Mandoline, Zaius and a superb compilation by Nicolas Marilleau [‘Rachel’ vocalist] (Give Me A Gun). Concert-wise, we – Sidonie – try to organise concerts as best as possible, but we have trouble with venues, there’s also Atheaïna in Poitiers, and Rezo Uht in Niort. Well, it’s not so bad adter all! I just hope I didn’t forget anyone.
Mike: As for bands: there’s ‘Symptom Of Isaac’, ‘Carther Matha’ [with Gérôme], ‘Init’, ‘Peu Être’ and ‘Born Against’ – oh no they’re Americans – some labels indeed, Laissez Nous Jouer a.k.a. La Libre Expression (Hello Mr Lépine!), Le Brun, Le Roux a.k.a Desmaison/‘Ballon’ Corporation; beside that there are a lot of zines: Aura Popularis of course, then there’s La Main De La Bête photozine of Norbert (called ‘XXX’), J’Ai Le Regret À La Joie Mêlé by Gérôme, Pierre Qui Roule N’Amasse Pas Mousse by ‘Balloon’ (not out yet…) and the concert-organisation Sidonie, with me as chief so if you’re in a band, send me your productions in triplicate + 100 francs for a response (just kidding of course).
What are your activities outside the band, with or without a link to hardcore?
Gérôme: We move about without a lot of success because there are too many difficulties to organise HC-concerts with Sidonie. It’s a shame because we want to offer something new, different. I do the zine J’Ai Le Regret À La Joie Mêlé with great pleasure, it thaught me a lot. ‘Ballon’ and myself are pretty much occupied with the distribution of the ‘Peu Être’ 7”, that we made and molded with our own hands on Le Brun, Le Roux Corporation, at the moment. We’re full of desires and hopes regarding the label. And then, there’s my second band ‘Carther Matha’ for which I hope to devote more time this year despite my studies!
Sébastien: I skate, well not at the moment because I was recently operated for a knee-ligament problem, so I have to wait 8 months before I can resume.
Laurent: For now I work as a metal-labourer. Five months ago, I was a student and soon I will be a conscientious objector at the DDASS [Direction Départementale des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales; Departmental Direction of Sanitary and Social Affairs] in Niort. Outside the band, I try to take care of the label Le Brun, The Roux Corporation together with Gérôme. I also participate in Sidonie, organisation of concerts. Otherwise: I live! I try to see my friends as often as possible.
Mike: Well, Aura Popularis zine, Sidonie, mail, militant for the party the Parti des Travailleurs [PT; a French socialist party] in its current communist internationalist, French section of the 4th international. I listen to my records right now (95-08-08): the Kosjer D LP is spinning, fantastic! Otherwise there’s my cat, Felix, then Stephanie with whom I share all that (except the party, but that will come, haha! I love you). That’s all, I might seem very active but in fact I loaf about a lot. Oh yes, I’m a conscientious objector at the hospital (in the operating-room, my hands are covered in blood, haha).
Is it important for you to get involved, to participate in the hardcore scene? What does it bring you?
Gérôme: I think that anyway, it’s necessary that some ‘get involved’ to make zines, do concerts, bands, records, tapes. I know that’s what I like, but others are free to do something or not. It’s certain that I like someone who participates, who shares a project as much as someone who doesn’t put their hands in the dough. It gave me a lot of pleasure to meet interesting people and especially brought me a new and different vision on certain subjects. And this music moves me.
Sébastien: I don’t consider myself as someone who’s particularly involved in the scene, I mean: apart from playing in the band, I do nothing else, I would like to do a zine (skate/HC) but I’m a little short of ideas; it shows that doing something in the scene would be important to me, I would feel less passive.
Laurent: Being involved in the scene is very rewarding. You have to know things better than everyone else. Making a zine like you do, is something extraordinary and I think this is the most interesting and useful implication for the scene. For my part, getting involved in the scene through the band and Sidonie brings me a lot of happiness. Sometimes disappointments but usually joys. This small investment in the scene allowed me to meet very nice and interesting people. Coincidentally, thanks to this environment I discovered or reinforced concepts of thinking such as vegetarianism, DIY, etc. In fact, to understand my point of view, it would help to read the text of Gérôme (Le Brun) that comes with our EP. I think this is the best answer we can give to your question. All you have to do is buy the 7” and read this text (a good commercial technique I believe!).
Mike: I, for my part, think that if we really like this scene we have to participate, in whatever way. I participate because I don’t want to see it die, it’s already mortified and I especially owe a lot to this music, so don’t let the HC die, on the contrary, spread its message.
What does the Straight Edge mean to you?
Gérôme: Not having a beer with some space-cake for breakfast. Between us: the word Straight Edge bothers me because it’s pejorative because of its excesses and the prejudices of people who don’t really know anything about it.
Sébastien: In the beginning, it was more about not doing like everyone else, not ‘smoke to look like grown-ups’ and not running to the bar as soon as the opportunity arose; that also didn’t really attract me anyway, considering that life is short enough not to take full advantage of it; for some enjoingy life is to be ‘plastered’ every weekend, they call it fun, for my part, I don’t think that spending whole evenings not being able to stand up and throw up, would be a lot of fun!
Laurent: I don’t consider myself Straight Edge, or at least not now and since a long time. I don’t like the term Straight Edge any more because in my view people completely distorted it. I might live like a straight-edger (I drink some alcohol from time to time) but it’s a choice to live that way. I don’t obey the straight-edge doctrine. What really bothers me is that people who define themselves as straight-edge have become intolerant because of this term (I’ve been bit like that for a while). Above all it’s a personal choice. Being straight-edge is all about respecting others, it’s not about rejecting them. In any case, we are not an SxE band. On the other hand, I find it unfortunate to see some people being forced to take drugs to be happy. I don’t understand the act of smoking, especially for no other good reason then the fact one starts to smoke to act like an adult, like the others, and not for pleasure. However, I really like being in contact with people who smoke, because in general the action of smoking relaxes me (gestures, smell,…). On the other hand, it’s obvious that some smokers don’t respect non-smokers at all and that’s a shame (especially during concerts).
Mike: I’m Straight Edge, that is to say that I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t see women as sexual objects. To be SxE is actually: freedom & respect.
What do you think of the debate regarding the legalisation/decriminalisation of drugs? Do you make the distinction between soft and hard drugs?
Gérôme: I think that sometimes, regarding ‘drugs’, it’s all about showing off, at least at the beginning. There’s a fashion phenomenon surrounding it. We talked about it last night: if cannabis was legalised, we would wonder what would be the next cool thing, wouldn’t it be: ‘I’m taking cocaine.’. To cut it short: I believe in education rather than in the decriminalisation/prohibition debate. What I see around me is that the more people abuse, the more they are apathetic, uninteresting, the more they decline. I still find it pretty ridiculous though that cannabis isn’t legalised yet.
Sébastien: The legalisation of drugs wouldn’t bother me, on the contrary, it would prevent too much ‘shit’ circulating, by which I mean that the resellers would have better quality goods and perhaps in larger quantities, since legalisation would lower prices, so there would be no need to ‘cut’ the goods with anything, which is sometimes worse than the drug itself! When it comes to differentiating between drugs, the only soft drug is, in my opinion, cannabis, the rest is already another level.
Laurent: Legalise drugs. I say: yes, why not. But we shouldn’t legalise hard drugs. I make a difference between hard drugs and soft drugs. Cannabis should be legalised in France (banning it encourages people to smoke). Alcohol is legal in France whereas it’s a drug that is more harmful and more dangerous than cannabis and its colleagues. Many people in France are against the legalisation of cannabis while often they are alcohol-consumers (I’m talking about the post-war generation). So where’s the problem for them? What is certain is that I don’t like the idea of being submissive, dependent on a drug, and not being myself. We can have fun without alcohol, I hope, because otherwise it would mean that people are sad by their nature.
Mike: I’m against the decriminalisation or even the legalisation of drugs (soft or hard), I don’t think it will bring anything good to the youth. Apart from apathy maybe. Of course I make the difference between hard and soft drugs; and then? If in France young people don’t die of shit, in Guatemala, the farmer and his family die because they’re forced to grow poppies (or coca for hard drugs) at the expense of cereals or vegetables, while we give them misery, and all that because petty bourgeois want to get high for a few minutes.
Recently, even in France, we hear more and more about anti-abortion commandos… What does this mean to you? What’s your opinion on abortion?
Gérôme: It’s a right that is important to me, it’s paramount. I’m against the abuses of course, it’s often said that abortion is not a means of contraception, I definitely believe that it’s a myth to think that women abort simply, repeatedly and without trauma. I recently learned that Islam doesn’t condemn abortion, that’s good? I’m fed up with this whole middle-class Catholic environment that mixes everything up in the name of a certain morality. I often want to go on a crusade against the Vatican’s henchmen. Again education would avoid many dramas, it’s also up to the parents to take their responsibilities and realise that youngsters have a sexuality.
Sébastien: Abortion, to me, is an additional right for women to decide over their bodies, and as for people who protest against this right, I don’t see how it’s any of their concern if a young woman wants to have an abortion; it only concerns her and the person that made her pregnant.
Laurent: The right to abortion is an essential right that women have. It’s unacceptable that some people are still against the right to abortion. These people don’t have to think about the problem, it’s not possible! Anyway, these people are often completely intolerant religious fanatics. Oh ‘sacred religion’, when you keep us under control… The song Choice by ‘Jasemine’ answers this completely for me. In any case, it’s my opinion: “How can we challenge the right to take control of their bodies? How can we refuse them the choice?”
Mike: Jawbreaking and the dungeon for anti-abortionists. This right – which, by the way, was introduced by the Bolsheviks in 1917 in Russia and which was only acquired in 1975 (just 20 years ago) in France – can not be questioned! (The lyrics of the ‘FingerPrint’ song Choice talks about this in a superb way!)
Have you voted in the last presidential elections? So, this change, do you believe in it?…
Gérôme: I don’t remember anymore. Yes, I believe in this change since I see it. But change doesn’t mean improvement. Anyway, I knew what to expect. There’s no surprise. People wanted the right to rule, we shouldn’t expect a social justice policy.
Sébastien: Yes, I voted, but in the second round I didn’t put anything in the envelope, and as for the change: I think it takes place, but not in a good way!
Laurent: I voted in the presidential elections, but only in the first round. There was however no candidate and particularly no party that I really liked, except for one candidate. This second round was a masquerade. In any case, the presidential elections have never brought any real change. Every second round, there’s always the same political parties, in each election: the PS [Socialist Party], the RPR [Rassemblement pour la République; neo-Gaullist and conservative political party founded by Jacques Chirac], the UDF [Union pour la Démocratie Française; centre-right political party, founded as an electoral alliance to support Valéry Giscard d’Estaing]. It’s crazy, no!? People constantly complain that there’s no change and yet they still elect the same dickheads in power. What surprised me was the victory of Chirac. How could he win? The French really have a short memory. What to think about the fact that no one remembers his passage as prime minister from 86 to 88 and about the train of errors he made at the time (he’s still producing bullshit). The defeat of Jospin doesn’t surprise, the PS has been in power for 10 years and I haven’t seen any real change in society. Many people have been disappointed by this party and it’s normal. What is good about Chirac is that we haven’t finished laughing with his nonsense, but we will also cry. Most disturbing in these elections is the confirmation of the FN and its leader Le Pen. As long as we have this political system in France, and in the world for that matter, there will never be a change.
Mike: I didn’t vote in the last presidential election, why should I? Let’s be serious, between Jospin and Chirac, where’s the choice?
Military service … Do you intend to do it? Do you believe that one day we can see witness its abolition of?
Gérôme: I especially intend to get exempted since I’m deaf in one ear, but otherwise I wouldn’t doubt to be a conscientious objector like Mike and ‘Ballon’. What I hope at least is that the objection would be an easy choice to make, that is: that it no longer lasts twice as long as a military service. I have a friend who has an idea that goes against the current regarding the service and it doesn’t seem that stupid to me. He thinks that if one day there was a kind of civil war (and why not?) or ‘revolution’, our beautiful extreme left ideas would stand little chance in the face of extreme right people who learned how to fight.
Sébastien: I don’t intend to go to greet the French flag dressed in khaki, and anyway, I don’t think they’ll want me, since I just had knee-surgery and it seems they don’t like anyone with joint-problems, cool!
As for the abolition of the service, it was one of the promises before the elections of our new president, but again: I think it is something he forgot the day after his election.
Laurent: The national service is an aberration. The mere fact of learning war-techniques revolts me. We must do our duty for the fatherland! But by what right and for what country? I don’t have a homeland. I’m French but I’m not a patriot. Prepare for war if you want peace. But if everyone prepares for war, they will follow that path. The abolition of the national service in France: I believe that we mustn’t hope. I’m in favour of the abolition of the national service but I’m not for a professional army either. What control could we have on such an army? Somehow the soldiers could be a means of pressure on the war-professionals. Imagine for a moment that corrupt or power-greedy generals want to take control in France. If it were just me, I would already have abolished all forms of armies in France and in the world. But you have to be realistic I think! Unfortunately, we’re not immune to a fascist or other putsch… Let’s always remember the 39-45 war. The fascist danger still exists. Let’s keep aware. In case of a fascist aggression, of any kind, fighting can be very important.
Mike: I’m a conscientious objector but I hope to see the end of military service someday, I think at that time all men will be brothers and they will understand that their worst enemies are in their own camps!
Are you afraid of the future? How do you see yourselves and the rest of the world in ten, twenty, thirty years…?
Gérôme: Yes and no. For what I can control in part, i.e. my personal future, I’m not afraid; it’s up to me to make the right choices regarding my studies, who I hang around with. As for the future of my surroundings, I’ll admit that I’m rather pessimistic. I can’t see what would stop me from being afraid, there’s so much stupidity everywhere. So in ten years, 20 or 30 years, I hope to be healthy, passionate and above all not to be ashamed of anything I could have done. I can hardly imagine the future in fact.
Sébastien: The future doesn’t really scare me but it’s true that some things sometimes make me think about the consequences they might have for the future, especially the wars that are going on everywhere, it’s actually that I’m most afraid of: war, but hey, on that side, things seem to be getting better (Bosnia) and somewhere I’m relieved. Otherwise, frankly I don’t see what could become of me in a few decades, still healthy I hope.
Laurent: I’m pessimistic. I see the future of the world as pretty gloomy. Pollution, economic problems, wars, diseases, poverty, etc. I don’t know aboyt my personal future. I’m not a fortune-teller, let alone a clairvoyant, so… Only god holds the answer. (Clairvoyants have no power, beware of the quacks. The worst are the real clairvoyants. God has never had any answers, or they were bad.)
Mike: I’m not afraid of the future, I don’t know about it! And I’m hardly a clairvoyant or other half-god to even imagine how I would be in 10, 20, 30 years.
Can you tell us about the lyrics of your songs? Are they important to you? Less than music? As much? More?
Gérôme: Even though I don’t write lyrics for ‘Peu Être’ anymore, they remain very important for me and I can find myself perfectly in Mike’s, which I really like in their sense and their form.
Laurent: The lyrics of our songs represent a lot of things for me. At first we were three to write them. In the beginning we were three to play the guitar simultaneously (two nowadays). As soon as we had a plan for the guitars, we needed lyrics to go with them. Since Mike became a full-time singer, he’s the one who writes the lyrics and I take my hat off for him. Good job, in my opinion. In general, I love all these lyrics and poems (a blessed poet, our Mike). Whenever he comes up with lyrics, we look into each one of them. To be retained, they must please everyone, just as for the guitar-parts. We change very little in his lyrics because they’re often excellent. Besides, he talks about topics that affect me so I’m happy. I hope his words also touch people who listen to ‘Peu Être’. I like reading his poems.
Mike: I write the majority of the lyrics for ‘Peu Être’; to me and I think I can speak for the whole band, the lyrics are as important as the music.
Which bands influence you, or your musical tastes?
Gérôme: They are numerous and change often. I don’t know if they influence me more than that since I can’t reproduce anything on guitar. I love ‘FingerPrint’, ‘Jawbox’, ‘Hoover’, ‘Fuel’, ‘Action Patrol’, ‘Vanilla’, ‘Ivich’, ‘Rain Like The Sound Of Trains’, ‘Ananda’, ‘Shatter The Myth’,… The list is ridiculously long, I like so many records.
Sébastien: There is not really one band particularly that influences me, but those I love are very numerous and varied in their styles. First of all there’s ‘Elements Of Need’, ‘FingerPrint’, ‘Half Man’, ‘Vanilla’, ‘Merel’, ‘Los Crudos’, ‘Sedition’, ‘Against All Hope’, ‘Disaffect’, ‘Monster X’, ‘Nations On Fire, then there are other, let’s say more ‘fun’ bands such as ‘Pennywise’, ‘No Fun At All, ‘Ten Foot Pole’ and others; ah, I’m listening too a little bit of rap.
Laurent: There’s numerous bands that influence me. I like a lot of French bands ‘Jasemine’, ‘Vanilla’, ‘Undone’, ‘Symptom Of Isaac’, ‘Anomie’, ‘Ivich’, ‘Weep’, ‘Hebb’, ‘Ananda’, ‘Thrill Of Confusion’ and then there’s ‘FingerPrint’ and ‘Shatter The Myth’. And of course ‘Carther Matha’. At the moment, in addition to these bands, I’m listening a lot to beaucoup ‘Julia’, ‘Prozac Memory’, ‘Ordination Of Aaron’, ‘Hoover’ (live), ‘Elements Of Need, ‘Bev Clone’, ‘Lifetime’, ‘Chisel’,…
Mike: ‘Merel’, ‘Rye’, ‘Monster X’, ‘Current’, ‘Shotmaker’, ‘Kosjer D’, ‘Shatter The Myth’, ‘Anomie’, ‘Undone’, ‘Dive’, ‘Frail’, ‘Scapegrace’, ‘Iconoclast’, ‘Bob Tilton’, ‘Po!’, ‘Second Story Windows’, ‘Monster X’ (x2)
Hmmm, we’re coming to the end soon, so… What are your plans?
Gérôme: We have several. More than anything, we want to do concerts. Then there’s the Autonomie compilation and the split with ‘Anomie’. Also tape-compilations and a split-tape in Spain with ‘Union Of Uranus’ if all goes well. The most immediate project is to take finish up our 7”. Outside of the band: be happy and satisfy myself by achieving my study-goals. And then there’s the zine, ‘Carther Matha’, and Sidonie and the label.
Sébastien: At the moment I don’t really know what projects with ‘Peu Être’ are, but outside the band, me and Gérôme formed another band ‘Carther Matha’ together with our friend Antoine, it’s a faster band then ‘Peu Être’ musically.
Laurent: Play concerts, the Autonomie compilation with ‘Anomie’, ‘Ivich’ and ‘Undone’, and a split with ‘Anomie’. I have many projects but I am a bit of a lazybone.
Mike: Do a lot of gigs and why not play in New York at the foot of the statue of liberty!
This is the end; something to add to conclude?…
Gérôme: Yes, I would like to add that I’m happy with what is happening in France even if it the HC-scene could be better.
More and more decent bands, bands that come to play here which allows our own bands to play elsewhere. Good fanzines, records that come out, in short: plenty of interesting people who take things in their own hands. I hope that will continue. Thank you very much for your interview. It’s a pleasure to be in your very nice fanzine, sincerely, write us.
Sébastien: Thanks Olivier for the interview, damn it!
Laurent: Thank you very much Olivier for this interview. Good luck. Excuse me if I talked bullshit.
Mike: ‘Sugar & Spice’, ‘Portobello Bones’, ‘Condense’, ‘Prohibition’, ‘Cut’,…all these, it smells even worse than shit so don’t buy that crap. Otherwise: thank you very much Olivier, you know that you are in the top 10 of the French scenesters, I’m proud of you! Kisses. Long live the international socialist revolution!