samedi 28 mars 2015

Interview with Cage the Elephant.

(c) Victor Picon

Freshly stepped out of the stage, Cage The Elephant singer Matthew Shultz, seems to be a different person. Quiet, focussed, staring at yours truly before delivering the right answer. Interview from the backstage of a big outdoors rock festival, under a sky about to rain.

(c) Victor Picon

How was it on the big stage today ?
Matthew Shultz : It was incredible, perfect. The crowd was bigger than i expected and it was a great one. I had a terrific time !

Last time you were here, three years ago, security had an hard time handling you...
Matthew : I calm down a little more. I'd like to think i'm a little more focussed and intentional.

Is it a little weird that your first two records were not released in France ?
Matthew : It is a little weird, i didn't know. We just moved record labels to sony so our records are going to be released here.

In France, Press drew comparisons with Nirvana because of songs like « Aberdeen » or « Sell yourself », how do you feel about it ?
Matthew : I love Nirvana. I don't think we are musically inspired by them. Maybe subconciously. Maybe it is because at some point i had hair like Kurt Cobain. « Aberdeen » is actually about the Scottish town. We actually did a tour with the Foo Fighters. Our drummer got ill and had to go to the hospital and Dave Grohl played drums for us.

How cool is that !
Matthew : That was incredible !

Is he powerful on stage ?
Matthew : He's incredible. The funny thing is we had an hard time giving a performance to the crowd because we just wanted to look at Dave Grohl drumming (laughs).

(c) Victor Picon

Being from Kentucky have you been exposed to country music ?
Matthew : How yeah, definitively !

I'm asking that question because of your song « No rest for the wicked »...
Matthew : I think maybe the slide guitar in that song was inspired by country music or late Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers kind of stuff. I was working in construction and a guy worked with me and he also dealt drugs as well. But he was always complaining about dealing drugs. Just about all the troubles it created in his life... And i asked him why he kept doing this if he was always complaining. And his reply was : « Man, there is no rest for the wicked » ! I wrote it down on a paper plate and that's how the song came about.

Back in Bowling Green, Kentucky, how did it felt being in a band ?
Matthew : It was incredible. It was kind of a way to break out from a life that was expected. I mean high school football and that kind of stuff. I quit the football team and start doing the band. And then it's a college town when students where there we played parties. There is a lot of kids, music, great bands. There are a couple of bands from Bowling Green that are doing well. It's a very cool place.

Is goofiness an important part in Cage The Elephant ?
Matthew : I think a certain level of freedom is important for sure. To allow yourself to enjoy it. Like Iggy Pop. If you take yourself too seriously you're in trouble. Do you know what i mean ? There is an old sayin « Don't take yourself too seriously no one is getting out of alive ». A lot of artists that i love allowed themselves to be themselves.

You and your brother had a religious upbringing. You've discovered rock n'roll quite late. Was it liberating ?
Matthew : I was exposed to rock n'roll younger but i didn't really dig in until my parents got divorced. And so i had my first job at a pizza restaurant and my first paycheck was like 300 dollars it was the most money i have ever seen in my entire life ! I went to the record store and i bought a stack of records that big ! Have you seen the movie « Almost famous » ? When he lights the candle and plays the records ? That exactly what happened (laughs) ! I was sitting there and i was like « Oh my God » ! (laughs). Discovering rock n'roll ! I was listenning to the records every single night as i went to sleep. It was incredible ! Really great time in my life !

The new album is called melophobia, which basically means « fear of music ». It's an odd title !
Matthew : Yeah (laughs) ! First it wasn't so much about an actual fear of music. As it was a fear of music in context of modern society. Like to create music, project images rather than communicate. Like to write a song that will be percieved as intellectual or artistic or the worst : genius. Any of these words these are the lead titles that separates the few from the many. Historically music has always been a thing that brings people together.

Tell me about your song « It's just forever » with Alison Mosshart on the new album. The ending with the piano is very different from everything you did so far. Do you think the band has reach a new step with this album ?
Matthew : Yeah (laughs). I think we are way better musicians than we've ever been and we've allowed ourselves to be more transparent and more free. And i think, at the same time, we are more intentional as well. I don't think « Melophobia » is our sound be it's definitively the path we'll take to create records in the future. It is the first step in allowing ourself to be more free.

And so, Alison Mosshart ?
Matthew : Oh my God, incredible ! She is very beautiful and she's also an incredible person. Very sweet, humble, genuine. When she came in, over sickness, her voice was hurting and she was concerned it wasn't going to be good. In two takes it was perfect. Ok i think we're done (laughs) ! And then we spent hours talking. It was very nice.

Is there more people you'd like to play music with ?
Matthew : Oh yeah ! Neil Young, Julian Casablancas, Dan Auerbach, Jack White, Tom Waits would be cool and Iggy Pop !

Iggy Pop ! I'd like to see that on stage (laughs) !
Matthew (laughs) : I would be incredible !

(c) Nicolas Brunet
A little word about « Cigarette Daydreams », in the lyrics you spoke about driving and listenning music...
Matthew : I used to get obsessed with the records and i had this really horrible car that was falling apart. And i would drive around until 3 o'clock in the morning listenning to the music. I drove very far out in the country side, just listenning. That song is actually about my now wife who is from Rennes. I met her at the Transmusicales and we got married couple weeks ago in Paimpol.

Is the band a little less angry ?
Matthew : Angry ? I'm angry than i've ever been before (laughs).

I mean on a music level...
Matthew : It depends on how we are at the time and how we feel like saying. There is a lot of things i can be angry or happy about. We'll see how it goes...

I have found Melophobia more complex...
Matthew : We tried to make sure that everything worked together. Construct and deconstruct until everything felt right.

Was it a longer to make ?
Matthew : Absolutely. I think we spent about 4 or 5 months writing. And then we spent 2 or 3 more months in the studio. It was a lot more longer than everything we've done before. We drove our producer crazy (laughs).

You have reached huge success in the UK ?
Matthew : Yeah. Things have been good in the UK in the past. Right now everything is very DJ orientated in the UK. Which is fine. We haven't been able to spent a lot of time in the uk on this tour. We've stayed 2 or 3 months in the past which was incredible. We've always loved it there. I hope to stay more time in the future.

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