Indie post-hardcore act TANG released their latest album "Dynamite Drug Diamond" but have already gotten into the process for their follow-up release. Drummer/vocalist Bastien Gournay discusses of the band's latest album plus future releases and plans.
1. Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in TANG, and how long the band has been together.
Bastien: TANG is made of four musicians and one lyricist. Two singers, one plays the guitar and the other one the drums, a guitar player and a bass player. We've been playing together for over 16 years…
2. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there?
Bastien: Are there any local bands you could recommend? Today, we all live in Lille, Northern France. Our lyricist lived London for a long time. There are many talented local bands here, in every kind of style. For good screaming hardcore sound, we recommend you General Lee.
3. Tell us the brief history of your band.
Bastien: In 16 years, we released three albums and played many gigs all around France and Belgium.
4. How did you guys come up with your band name?
Bastien: I remember that… We needed a band name to play our first gig at school. There was a plate with tangerines in front us, so we stopped thinking too long. We called ourself TANGERINE. Then it became TANG, two years later. We would agree to say that's not the best band name, but it is ours…
5. What type of band are you?
The type of band which doesn't earn money with music…
6. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Bastien: We take our inspiration from a multitude of sources: It can be novels, poems, paintings, personal experience, newspaper articles… But we mostly deal about one's place in the world nowadays and human relationships in a kind of oeniric way. Therefore if you want to enjoy the music as a form of escapism it's possible, but if you look out carefully you'll see that the events happening in our parallel world can be quite close to what's going on in the news. It's like several layers of interpretation you're free to choose from, different vantage points.
7. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)
Bastien: We write the music first and then place dummy lyrics with the rhythm patterns we deem most effective on it, then we send demos to the lyricist who listens to the structures intently and builds upon his feelings of their atmosphere. There has to be a genuine feeling for the music for the words to come out and it sometimes moves us into unchartered territory, especially in DDD. The more extreme we get, the harder the states of mind, the harder the lyrics. But it can be therapeutic, that's the second D.
8. Who are your musical influences?
Bastien: Regarding the music, we were influenced by bands like At The Drive-In, Envy and Refused. Concerning the lyrics, we would say The Lapse, The Van Pelt, (everything Chris Leo) The Beatles, Cake.
9. What's your take on "Dynamite Drug Diamond" as a whole?
Bastien: Dynamite Drug Diamond is about crashing into a wall, becoming aware of your mortality, and reassessing a set of values in order to move on. Regarding writing (Highway Encounter), nature (Hellisandur), friends (Eve of Ceasefire Talks), or family (In Loving Memories).
10. Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?
Bastien: We provide the words with the most connotation in the most attractive and compelling way so that people can paint their own picture. And we try to cram as much as we can in every album, a bit like a trunk in your attic you'd like to reopen after a few years. Quote one of our songs: "The many letters, thriving to make sense, the blooming words, colour to sentence - Word Necklace"
11. Is there any story or concept behind the "Dynamite Drug Diamond" title?
Bastien: It’s the english subtitle to something said enigmatically at the end of a Shozin Fukui cyberpunk movie called Rubber's Lover: We were trying to make sense of it while writing the album and it slowly began to exert a fascination on us by the amount of meaning it carried in relation to our music. The movie is about mad scientists torturing human guinea pigs with a drug called ether they activate by generating crazy distorted waveforms, in order to develop their psychic capabilities (!). So for our lyricist, this ironically echoes his mode of writing and is a form of homage to these extreme underground movies he's a massive fan of. Dynamite Drug Diamond is also about the process of exploding with honesty to solidify into something else, therapeutic writing, a cure.
12. Who produced "Dynamite Drug Diamond" and what was it like working with them?
Bastien: We recorded this album at the Boss Hog Studios, in France. We worked with Clément Decrock, a gifted drummer who is also a gifted studio sound engineer. We spent a lot of time over there, two months to record and one to mix. So, we didn’t have to release things in a hurry. The engineer was really involved in this creation. It was an awesome experience. Then we contacted Bob Katz to master the whole thing. He did good job, but you know, we never really met him, we just exchanged some emails.
13. Who did the cover art for "Dynamite Drug Diamond" and how much input did you have on it?
Bastien: N.G. Chi Wai did the French digisleeve version of Dynamite Drug Diamond. It was his first music lay out. He was very creative. We just told him to use the diamond symbol and silver ink on black. Then Sober Up Records released an English jewel case version with a new design this November. We gave the label the freedom to redesign it as they wanted and they chose Isabelle Pinder from Somethinkdesign who recreated the artwork. We are happy with it.
14. What's your favorite song on the album right now?
Bastien: As a whole it's "Run and Run and Die" but we all have our favourite ones, they all work differently.
15. Where is the new material headed?
Bastien: We are building new songs, in a more instrumental and experimental way, with less lyrics. We are also trying new ways of tuning the guitars and are interested in using new instruments.
16. What are the upcoming plans for playing shows and touring?
Bastien: We intend to play some shows in England in 2014.
17. What can the fans expect to see from you in the future?
Bastien: After more than 16 years, people can expect us to continue giving the energy we're known for.
18. Anything else you'd like to say or want to add?
Bastien: Share a beer?