Interview with The Crotals

Interview with The Crotals

- in Written interviews

Can you share the story behind how the collaboration with Argonauta Records came about and what it means for the band?
As our former label lost its European distribution, we wanted to find a new one. We grew up in record stores and therefore we wanted Conjure to have a real materiality (pressing, distribution). Argonauta Records said Yeah to Conjure: we were delighted, more than 1,5 years after recording, to have the opportunity to get this album distributed in Europe and North America by a fine, hard-working label. Argonauta Records is a great label, with a variety of «styles» and a perfect size. We feel fine with it!

Could you delve deeper into the inspiration behind the “La Boue”?
This song, screamed in French, came out of Maude’s riff. It plainly shows our indie roots: Sonic Youth, Nirvana, to mention but a few (and most famous). The rest of the song has been quite easily written, together, up to this obsessive chorus. It is a good example of how working as a band, as a whole, can get you to something exciting. Guy wrote these lyrics as a pictorial wording of recent bad events that crossed his life. The use of French – his mother tongue – helped him to stay close to his emotions. Boue – Mud in French – seems to embody this dark path. It has been incarnated by white stuff (snow/paint) in the video clip to allow to take some distance.

Can you talk about the musical influences and experiences that shaped the sound of “Conjure”?
Nice question, thank you for mentioning that point: we truly wanted to get away from metal clichés (sound & imagery). We chose on purpose to use indie types of gear, methods, and sounds. These choices have been scrupulously followed until the mixing/mastering process. We just mentioned our indie-rock roots, our sound is no exception.

How do you manage to balance different elements like indie, sludge, and hard rock to create your sound?
Another great question! Old rock’n roll tools only! Marshall, Gibson, Fender, classic pedals, live recording, and few overdubs. That’s our true DNA, we’re rockers who chose to play hard and heavy stuff. Most of our songs could be played using clean sounds, we’re kind of melodic writers in a way. We love Dinosaur Jr. AND Crowbar. We are fond of sound pressure, too!

How has the addition of a second screamer affected your songwriting and live performances?
The first idea was to get a backup on stage for Guy (for our second album, Horde), who struggled to play guitar and scream at the same time. Then, the recording of Conjure has been enhanced by Randy’s great vocal abilities. We also worked during recording sessions to highlight the differences between both screamers. And Randy has long hair, which is great for headbanging during gigs.

How do Entombed, Motörhead, and Sonic Youth inspire your creative process, and what lessons do you draw from their music?
Maybe more than direct influences, these bands are our roots. We do not want to copy them; in fact, if we think we sound too much like one of them, we go out of our way to detach ourselves from them (or, we give up the riff, for example). The lessons we drew from Motörhead or Sonic Youth are numerous, but maybe, especially: play loud, think far, and be creative!

Can you shed light on the lyrical themes explored in your upcoming album, “Conjure”?
Not funny ones. The personal dimension is really important here, with a few exceptions, though. The last track, Trauma, gives some clues, as does the name of the album! We kind of needed a sense of closure.

How do you think The Crotals’ sound has evolved since previous releases, and what can fans expect from “Conjure” in terms of musical progression?
We stay quite faithful to our sound, we don’t try to bring a sound revolution in every album. But it evolved anyway, building up in parallel of the growing trust we put in each other. We want to sound rough, dirty, muddy, never ever clinical. And Raphaël Bovey put his talent in making everything sound bigger and fatter.
We think there is a real musical progression: melodies are maybe more refined, drums are creative, so are vocals. And we invited some great guests, who added a real plus to Conjure in terms of harshness, despair, punk attitude… and trumpets! We are really grateful!

Is there a specific meaning or story behind the band name?
Haha, no, not really! We founded the band over the ashes of our former band. The Crotals came out during a party, first as a joke. We only later discovered that, in English, it could have another meaning. In French, it means «Rattlesnake»; a real mature name.

How do you think the music industry has changed over the years, and how has it influenced the way The Crotals create music?
We all play since the 1990s… so the music industry fundamentally changed since. We are used to vinyls and CDs, record stores, communication with flyers instead of reels. It sounds like we are old farts, but that’s what we are! (Even if we try to stay in touch with today…).
So all these changes didn’t have an impact on our creative process; or it reinforced our will to use old hardware and act as if we were still young, during the 1990s!

How important is authenticity in your music, and how do you ensure that your music remains true to your vision and beliefs?
We are, we think, authentic in the way we think, write, play. It’s probably one of our most cherished values as a band, and as people. We do everything we can to stick to what we are as a band, without compromises. We are a small band, we are not trying to see higher than where we are. We are rockers who love to play loud, that’s it. But we are proud of what we do, don’t misunderstand us. We put our guts in this band for more than 10 years.

How has your local music community and environment influenced your music, and are there any emerging artists or bands that you find inspiring?
The Lausanne music scene was really active in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, it was a community, kind of supportive – and fun. Most of its musicians were – and still are – friends. So it has probably influenced our music, in multiple ways.
Concerning emerging artists/bands, we are really out of the game, sorry… But we take the opportunity to thank all our guests, and give credit to their respective bands, even if they are not newcomers: Michael from Impure Wilhelmina, La Gale, Danek (Ex-Unfold), Denis, Dirty Throat, Yonni (Rorcal). ALL of these bands are sincerely AMAZING. Trust us and listen to them!

What’s next for The Crotals?
We are going to try to maintain Conjure alive for more than 3 days in this non-stop flow of music online!
And to get some gigs.
And to get back to work on new songs. Later.
Thank you very much!
Guy and Maude

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About the author

As a passionate devotee of heavy, psychedelic, avant-garde and progressive sounds, my enthusiasm for music journalism has been steadily building since 2020. My writing has encompassed a broad spectrum, ranging from in-depth analyses of album releases to illuminating interviews with exciting new artists on the scene. During my leisure hours, I relish attending live concerts and delving into the thriving local music scene in my Zurich community.

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