Monday 26 November 2012

20 Questions w/ General Lee

L-R, Paul Catoire, John Perdi, Martin Catoire, Fabien Zenman, Arnaud Palmowski, Alex Renaux

Boss Hogg Studios

Back in September, General Lee were asking for suitable blogs to contact them, if they were interested in reviewing their new record, Raiders of The Evil Eye.  Well we were not going to rest on our laurels and we promptly got in touch with the band.  Subsequently we reviewed their new record at the end of September.
Well much has happened since then.  Having secured a record deal with Play The Assassin to release a CD of their new record and plans to tour Europe, I thought it would be cool to hook up with the band, to talk about all things General Lee.  So without further ado, here is my interview with this extremely talented band.

Interview with Arnaud (vocals) & Paul (drums) from General Lee

Q) Hey Guys, How are you?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord.


A) Hey everyone! We’re definitely good, and glad to speak with the Sludgelord himself!


Q) Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing, in terms of the band at the present, having released you new record, ‘Raiders of the Evil Eye’ on September 1st? 


A) Paul : ROTEE was a strange record to make, I mean in terms of conception. At first we didn’t actually decide to make a “real” album, we wanted to change our music into a more aggressive and dark one, a bit like “The sinister menace” or the split with our buddies from As We Bleed. But opportunities came, and we changed our minds. Before meeting Play The Assassin Record from US (which will release the new album on 15th November), the only purpose to make ROTEE was to put in on Internet, and tour again.

So here we are, stoked that everything is going fine, and eager to play live!


Q). We’re big fans of your band on the blog and I think we are one of the first to review, Raiders of the Evil Eye.  I must say I personally felt, it is very different record, but no less brilliant.   For those people who are unfamiliar with your music, can you tell me little a bit about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When General Lee first formed? Current band members?


A) Arnaud : General Lee was born more or less 10 years ago in Bethune (North of France). The current lineup is composed of 6 members, with 3 guitarists for more chaos ! I don’t know how… but 2EPs, one split with As We Bleed and 3 albums were made. « Hannibal Ad Portas » with Basement Apes, « ROADS » with Hiphiphip, and the last one, ‘Raiders of the Evil Eye’ which just came out.

Speaking about shows, we had the opportunity to share the stage in Europe and Russia with bands that we particularly appreciate, both musically and humanly, like Baroness, Cult Of Luna, Will Haven, This Will Destroy You, The Ocean… Great memories!

Q). Is General Lee a full time project, or do you have other bands?

A) Paul : We didn’t choose General Lee to be a full time project. Each of us used to have side projects (like Paul, Fabien and Vincent were playing in “Jarod”  a few years ago), but now there is only Vincent who plays in “One Way Mirror” and “Lyzanxia”. It allows us to have more time to rehearse and to focus on General Lee, especially when we have limited time due to our jobs or studies.


Q) Probably a stupid question, but are you or would you like to be full time musicians?


A) Paul : We’re not full time musicians, each of us has a totally different path : teacher, worker, student… Our lives are “balanced” between our works and music. We take all the opportunities as they came, and try to be available for every shows, which can be difficult sometimes…


Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment?


A) Paul : Yeah! I personally love the new Converge and the new Chariot. Both kick ass! I can mention other stuff like Every Time I Die, Botch, Crosses, NIN… Impossible to list them all. But l like listening to The Album Leaf, or Ef, that are less heavy.


Arnaud : I stay a huge fan of Breach, I had the chance to see them for their unique reformation-show in Sweden a few years ago… There are also Planes Mistaken For Stars, Entombed abd the powerful Botch and Coalesce.

Q) When you started General Lee, what were your hopes for the band?

A) Arnaud : It was after seeing a Will Haven show that I decided to form General Lee. Those guys have totally shaken me, it was so heavy, dark and the screams were insane. Besides, a few years later we had the privilege to play with them on a french show, I would never forget this moment.  

Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your sound? Has it evolved?


A) Paul : I can broadly divide our evolution in 3 steps. At the beginning General Lee was more “post hardcore”, I mean it was dynamic and nervous, with only shorts songs. When we recorded Hannibal Ad Portas, we changed our philosophy, and decided to be more atmospheric, more sludge. It was our desire to take time for each song, and bring more melodies, and ROADS was pretty much the same. I would describe ROTEE as a “back to the roots” album, because it is more aggressive than the previous ones, but we tried to keep the melodic atmosphere. In a way, it’s a mix of all the previous albums.


Q)  In order to satisfy my own curiosity, why the name, General Lee?  Any relationship to the 80’s TV show Dukes of Hazard? If so, why General Lee

A) Arnaud : Actually yes, it was named after the name of the American car driven by those crazy Red Neck. It was the fruit of a Saturday night brainstorming, maybe too much alcoholised… I guess…


Q)  What is the scene like in your hometown?  How does this compare to the scene in Paris for example, as I am aware of such nights as Stoned Gatherings there?  Have you heard of this?  


A) Arnaud : Bethune is where half of the band is currently living. It’s a small city but we have to chance to have a quite good stage called « Le Poche », with faithful audience very metal/hardcore.

In the last 10 ans, a lot of terrible (Good) bands came here like Keelhaul, Amenra, Kruger… It certainly gave some ideas to local bands, that’s why we have a strong metal culture here.

Paris has also a very good scene, and it is compulsory to go there for french bands, I mean to get known. I don’t know the « Stoned Gatherings », but there are lots of great stages and club, and bookers like Kongfuzi or Paperscissors. They’re doing a good job, providing us with awesome shows.


Q) Would you consider yourselves to be an underground band?  If so, is it a struggle and is their great camaraderie within the scene?


A) Arnaud : Totally. Due to our music style, the country where we come from which can’t be considered rock’n’roll, and the few people we reach.

On the other hand, I can still feel this emulation in the underground, thanks to various initiative taken to promote extreme music, and broadcast them via webzines, blogs, radios, bookers, independent labels… It’s like a fight, and it deserves to be supported.

Yet, I feel less mutual aid between bands. Each one stays apart, and the ones who actually maintain this « scene spirit » are not the ones we first think of.


Q)  What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?  Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?


A) Paul : I think it’s a great way to share music that has limited radiance and resources. It is where you can discover bands and so it has become so important now, especially for metal, which is not really represented in the media. It’s now a part of the band promotion.

All webzines deserves to be congratulated, because they help “extreme music” to keep the link with listener.

Nonetheless we still hope to have some support with mainstream mags, in order to bring our music all over the world. We’ll see!


Q) Raiders of the Evil Eye is an exceptionally varied record, I felt with more emphasis on hardcore, rather than post metal and the atmospherics of Hannibal ad Portas for example.  What are your thoughts about that and how would you describe your record to those people who are unfamiliar with your music?


A) Arnaud : At first, General Lee was much more rock’n’roll. The evolution of a band made that we experiment a more “contemplative” hardcore rather than a “kicking” hardcore. We got our brain wave when we played old tracks from ‘The Sinister Menace’, after the release of “Roads”. We thought basically “shit, it’s so good to play music that makes us want to destroy everything”. From here, the whole band wished to express this primal energy that was missing.


Q). ROTEE is your 3rd full length release to date, how does this record compare to your previous records and is it your best work to date?


A) Arnaud : I don’t know if it is our best album but it is definitely the most spontaneous, and the one that can describes us the best.

Making this record has really bound us together, and has given us a huge motivation to write fourth album.

Some people will always prefer the melodic and progressive side of the first albums, but I think that ROTEE has surprised some others, who didn’t expected anymore to hear fury and rock’n’roll from General Lee


Q) Does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?


A) Paul : In a way I would say yes. When you think about that, it is very touching when people, firstly like your music, but are also ready to buy stuff you release! It is another great motivation for us to see that we’re not the only ones who enjoy our music.


Q) To date the band has released 3 full length albums, 1 Split and 1 EP, what are some of your highlights so far? What are your aspirations for the future?


A) Arnaud : Being in studio, travel, play on stages, avoid guitar blows, and have fun with friends are the main reasons which can explain that the band is still on the roads. The new album allows us to continue, two years after ROADS. It’s like summer vacations!

We’re glad to see that the result reflects all the passion and the fury of the band. General Lee is still evolving, progressing step by step. That’s why we hope that the next album will be even better.

Our priorities are to tour over Europe, and to come back to Russia. We take so much pleasure to play, and I think the audience can feel it during the shows, where we get more and more intensity when we’re playing the new songs.

Denis Rekun (C)

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?


A) Arnaud : We participated in the Madstream Music Festival in St Petersburg, on February 2012. This venue will definitely stay in our memories. We had the chance to play in one of the most beautiful city of Russia, with talented bands, and great organizers. Everything was perfect.

And what is better than singing Depeche Mode in the karaoke bars, while drinking Vodka.

I can also mention the stage with Cult of Luna in Bruxelles. Nice memories.


Q) Did you have an agenda or a game plan in terms of what you wanted to write for ROTEE? Does everyone contribute song ideas?


A) Paul : Actually, everyone come with their own ideas, and we try to put it all together to create something good. We also record our stuff on computer, and we send to each other by mail before rehearse, so that we can work on it and have a clear idea of what to do.

But we really wanted to keep the spontaneous side, like “bam in your face”.

Only the lyrics are fully written by Arnaud, influenced by HP Lovecraft and all those shits about Satan.


Q)You released this record digitally, so how do you feel about the digital era of music and people downloading music for free? You’re using band camp page, would you or have you ever considered releasing your music for free or ‘pay what you like’ to raise the profile of the band? 


A) Arnaud : I don’t really agree with the “all free stuff”, because a band needs to be supported, even financially. The expenses are so high in music today.

Some people have like 10,000 mp3 on their computer, and they can’t realize it, it’s too bad. We now consume music like tissues, and it’s not useful for anyone... We’re know making money with General Lee, everything we earn is invested in merch, studio… If nobody buys our releases, because they’re available for free on Internet, it’ll get complicated for us. That’s why we try to propose nice physical stuff, thoughtfully designed, because as a fan of music in general, we like that.


Q) What are your plans for the rest of the year and any chance you're doing a full UK tour?  When I contacted you guys, you said you’re interested in doing some UK Shows?


A) That would be awesome. We already booked a small tour in February in Germany, France, Switzerland so far, maybe Sweden. We’re still looking in the UK. So if some guys have contacts here… So come on!

Madstream Fest @ St. Petersburg


Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?


A) Pleasure! We’ll go back to the Boss Hogg studio on November 17th to play a new version of « Junon », which was the first track on ‘The Sinister Menace’.

We’ll be locked all together, we’ll plug the guitars, and we won’t go home before having recorded a live shot of the track, without any overdubs.  We’ll add it on the vinyl, and maybe on the new European edition in 2013.

We want of course to thank all our fans, for their messages and for coming up at our shows. It’s always a pleasure to meet people from around the globe, and linked by music. So check your local venues, we might come near your town to play rock’n’roll!


Thanks guys!!!

Thanks a lot! Keep up the good work, and hope to see you in the UK!
The new record is available now and can be purchased here.  DD can be purchased here. If you needed convincing, you can read our review here.  Finally, a massive amount of thanks to Arnaud and Paul for answering my questions.  Support this amazing band.