While speaking to French rockers Rise People, Rise we not only uncovered a really exciting new band, but also discovered the need for a French revolution, if you will.
The beginnings of the band came from a pretty unusual place. Drummer and vocalist Lucas de Geyter had been playing in several bands over several years, and one day somebody asked him to compose the music for a play.
As he tells us: “I liked it so much and the response was so good that I said to myself ‘OK, let’s start something new, on my own.’ I reached out to Johan (Toulgoat, guitar), who was an old friend I went to music school with but I hadn’t seen for years. Just a hunch. It worked. Then, we had seven bass players who all left and, finally, came Jerôme (Baudouin, bass), the best one, the current one. We still monitor him 24/7 but, as a sign of trust, we removed the shackles two months ago.”
They’ve since honed a sound that is natural yet dynamic, and Lucas describes to us as “A refined lyrical steamroller.” As Lucas explains: “There’s no over the top production tricks and complaisant stuff that let you actually be bad on stage or in the studio without anyone noticing it. However, it would be completely false to say it’s raw; it’s not. Everything is very much thought through and nothing is left to chance. But what you hear is what’s been played and that’s very important to us.
“That said, we like the kind of duality of ‘everything in your face,’ but with the feeling of it being played in a big, almost empty room, whether it’s on stage or in the studio. There must be air: it’s not just heavy saturated guitars and big drums, the actual sound needs to breathe so it can project much further and really envelop you. So the sound has to be really organic. And all the more since we play a lot with nuances.
“It’s very dynamic music and it needs all the space it can get to burgeon and kick you in the ass! As the matter of fact, that’s one of the reasons we mastered the three records we issued in the past two years at a lower output than in most of the other productions you can find on the market: so that you have to push your stereo amp (which, then, opens -physics stuff) to fully feel it. It’s Rock’n’Roll, for hell’s sake: it has to be played loud!”
Latest EP …And Rise People, Rise offers insight into the frenetic sound of the band, opening up with the funky Dead Inside, which begins with frantic vocals then darting guitars that add to the edgy nature of the opening. It builds in intensity, then a calm section builds up again into a truly frenetic ending of wild fast-paced guitars over “na-na-na” vocals then repeated cries of “Dead inside.”
Salvation is equally wild and brilliant, with a big bouncy riff alongside huge vocals. It drops into a light guitar section that eventually ends on lone high-pitched cries, then drops into a heavier smash of the guitars with the vocals over the top that feed into a guitar solo. Check it out in the video below.
While Rise Song 3 – by far the shortest song on the EP at 3 minutes – features a cool riff that pounds away throughout under lively vocals. While You’re Never Alone comes in at more than 8 minutes long, with edgy vocals and loads of repeats of “find your way” over various stabbing basslines and heavy guitar riffs. It comes to a head in an outro of winding guitars, intense screamed vocals and driving bass and drums, it’s intense and wild but brilliant – like the vast majority of the EP.
The inspiration behind their music offers further intrigue. Lucas tells us: “Frankly, just humanity. I think it’s one hell of a beauty, humanity. It’s incredible that life exists and humans, with the ability to speak, pushed it even a little bit further, resulting in what we all know: literature, theatre, music, philosophy, mathematics, etc… And neurosis. Lots of them. So that’s what I usually write about: the sheer humanity – love, politics and… those damn neurosis.”
Time for a French rock Revolution?
We haven’t met too many French bands yet, and part of the reason for this may be a language barrier. As Lucas explains: “I guess it’s kind of normal since rock music has developed itself, like EVERY other music, around the rhythm of the language that was spoken in the country it’s been invented in. And in that case, that’s English, which is much more percussive than French, softer and less practical as we do not form words as easily as you do. French doesn’t fit easily in rock music so a lot of us choose to sing in English, which is a problem since very few of the Frenchies know it properly or even understand it.
“As a result, you have flawed lyrics that nobody understands and, therefore, can relate to. So, as an audience, the relation we have with that kind of songs is way different to the one native English speakers have. In that case, the story you tell can almost only come through the music and, thus, you have to be VERY good so people won’t get bored, focus on what’s wrong… and prefer to go back to the original. Furthermore, people like to sing, and it’s easier when you know the words and understand what you’re singing as well – so that’s why what really works in France, in terms of what is produced in this country, is being sung in French. And, as a result, it is not and cannot be rock’n’roll.”
While Lucas expanded that, likely as a result of the above, there’s a lack of rock culture in the country. He told us: “I guess it’s like everywhere on the northern hemisphere: lots of bands, few are interesting, some of them are very good and most of them break up when work or children appear in the picture. The only difference is that, to me, except for Gojira (but metal is kind of different and, for now, I’ll focus on the rock side), there’s no good mainstream bands in France. I mean, in the UK for instance, you have Muse or Franz Ferdinand, in the US they have QOTSA or Foo Fighters but, in France…
“Even if we’ve had (or still have) great musicians like Bashung or Gainsbourg, Noir Désir and Les Rita Mitsuko, and even if everybody uses the word, there’s no real rock culture in France like in the UK or the US, that’s a fact and a shame. We HAVE to invent OUR version of rock music and stop copying our friends overseas: it’s urgent! But if our political leaders continue to close all of the little rock venues in this country, it will be very difficult.”
Rise People, Rise are a fascinating band with a really interesting approach and philosophy, and could well be the catalyst required to a revolution in French rock music.