It’s been a while since I listened to such a special and diverse music work. By blending prog/art rock music with lyrical, epic, symphonic, orchestral, pop, electronic elements… along with the stimulating sci fi concept...the band has created a splendid music art! That’s the reason we tagged it as the Best Album of January in Grande-Rock.com. We contacted the masterminds, Nihl Finch & Helmut Vonlichten (he gave a couple of laconic answers) that are behind Les Friction, so as to learn more things about the band and their music… Laconically, as Brian May of Queen stated: “Nobody, but Nobody, out there, is doing stuff like Les Friction is doing. Nobody dares!”…
Hi guys… “Les Friction” was a nice surprise to me… so Grande Rock tagged it as the Best Album of January…
N: Many thanks for that! We’re proud and honored. (i.n.: Ιt’s a pleasure listening to such great music…)
First of all, give us some bio info that is not included in your official site.
N: We’re afraid we have nothing to offer in that department. We live in space. (i.n.: we all do… after all Earth is a big spaceship )
When was the idea of forming Les Friction born in your head? Why did you want to release music under a totally different name?
N: Collaboration is the recipe... you can’t make fois gras without gras (peanut butter and jelly sandwich without jelly). With the death of Franz, ESP could be no more. Franz was like a brother to me also, and the loss will be something we will never fully recover from. His energy was with us during the making of this record and we all fought like brothers on occasion.
We created Les Friction to be a concept band... it is the story and the vehicle. Every record will attempt to be a continuation of the central theme of time/space/dimension travel and the universal desire to return home. The beauty of this theme is that it gives license to do nearly anything. In another dimension, we exist as a punk rock-mariachi-disco hybrid
I know that you have given music to various music movies and TV series for over a decade… so taking the decision to leave your previous music project behind and start a new one… wasn’t kind of risky for you?
H: Life is all about taking risks… (i.n.: Υeap, I totally agree…)
Did you feel the need to deliver something musically different and work with other musicians as well?
H: It’s not a need... just a natural evolution.
So, how would you characterize the music in “Les Friction”?
N: We characterize the music as bold and fearless. We have a completely organic process where every moment is entirely dictated by what feels inspired. Arrangements and structure go out the window to the benefit of where the music naturally wants to go. There are moments that are highly economical and others that spend wildly.
And how did you come up with the name Les Friction? What is it implying?
N: Friction is a word that guides our creative process. We always ask whether a moment has the right amount of friction. We liked that “Les” gave it the plural (indicating a band) and international flavor.
What’s the meaning behind the album’s artwork? How it is connected with the musical and lyrical concept?
N: We see someone jumping into a portal to another dimension. The story of this album chronicles the journey of a group of people trying to undo the imminent destruction to their home dimension. Musically, you clearly must go big when you talk about the destruction of a planet. It’s a completely new level of epic when you talk in terms of dimensions. It allows for a very inventive palette. Along these lines, we’ve merely scratched the surface. Songwriting, storytelling, sound design, orchestration and visual aesthetic are one single process for us.
Can you tell us a few words about the lyrical concept as well?
N: In the future, people travel through space, time and dimensions to play out any interesting scenario their life encounters. While away, the shell of our bodies remains and operates at the level of a toddler. The longer we are away, the more damage control must be done. By the 6th year of traveling, the damage appears irreparable. The album opens in the present and flashes back and forth in time and between dimensions.
Please give us a hint about each one of the songs…
N: “Louder Than Words”: We enter the record in the battle of our earthly bodies.
“Torture”: A relationship involving one of the first travelers ends due to betrayal and results in the unraveling of the mathematics of the universe.
“What You Need”: A flash to a time before travel when love was the most powerful driving force in our lives.
“Here Comes The Reign”: There are two enemies. One of them is one of us.
“World On Fire”: Back to present, the battle rages.
“Save Your Life”: We can be saved.
“Sunday”: A flash to the earliest point of our timeline.
“String Theory”: A revelation that science and nature can no longer be trusted.
“Come Back To Me”: Failure is a consequence of progress.
Are there any songs that didn’t make it on the album… but you intend to release in the future or not?
N: Oh yes, many. Perhaps...
Do you plan to release any video clips? And if so, for which one of the songs?
N: Yes. We are working on treatments... stay tuned. (i.n.: Τhat’s good to hear…)
Is the instrumental version of the songs included in the actual CD or one can only download them digitally from itunes and amazon? If not that’s not fair… for people like me who like physical CDs.
N: Sorry, this is a rock band. It's not often that a band will offer instrumentals along with a record but we did it because we knew ES Posthumus fans would appreciate it. We certainly don't want to alienate anyone but understand that this isn’t ES Posthumus. (i.n.: I see… but still want them on a CD as bonus tracks…is that too much?)
The first single you released as a digital download was “Torture”… the second was “Louder Than Words”… and the third one was “Here Comes The Reign”. Why did you choose these songs to promote the album? Are those the most representative of the whole concept?
N: Yes and no. We wanted to show range and a lack of regard for convention but the record has 9 songs for a reason... each song does what the other 8 do not.
Where did you record the album and who took care of the production, mixing and mastering? I must tell you that the production is exceptional by any means.
N: Much appreciated. We did record in many studios around the world but we mixed it in our studio. It was mastered by Brian Gardner.
I know that the guitarist Bruce Watson and the vocalist Emily Valentine are participating on the album. Did you have any other guest appearances?
N: We recorded choirs and orchestras all over the world for the making of this record. The rest of the instruments were played by us.
By the way, who is Mr. Paint and where did you find him? Has he been in any other bands before? He has so great a voice… and all the fans are wondering who this guy is…
N: I’ve known Paint for many years. It's taken this long for the relationship to evolve to this. Knowing he can handle nearly anything we put him to is liberating.
Have you considered the fact of becoming a full time band with a consistent line-up or you will go on producing albums only in the studio?
N: Composing and producing will always be the bulk of what we do but we’re excited about putting a show together.
What are the expectations from this release? What are the plans for Les Friction for the future?
N: Our expectation is only to make more records.
Did you choose to go on producing and releasing the album on your own in the first place… or you did search for a label to put it out?
N: We kept our heads down through the process so we could focus. We set out only to stay true to our instincts.
Is it better after all, to have the control of your own music? Distribute, promote and advertise your album… in every way you can… but have the total control on all these things in the end.
N: We're like musical Buddhists. We have no interest in control beyond what goes on the record itself. We just set it free and if it loves us...
Do you believe that the Internet is a good tool to promote your music easily and reach a wider fan base… or downloading issues may cause various kinds of problems in your music generally?
N: We believe that good music will always be found and shared. It may take a while but that's just fine by us. (i.n.: I beleive the same too… let’s hope more people will think like that as well...)
What’s your opinion of people downloading free music from the Internet? What shall an artist do in order to avoid losing money and time?
N: No one wants to have music stolen but everyone wants an audience. We don’t have a solution. We can only say, “If you got the record for free and you’d like to add it to your collection, please buy it… or we'll put you in space jail”. (i.n.: So better go out and buy it...)
How good is the fact that a whole generation learned to hear music via MP3’s (that have such a bad quality) and they actually believe that music is only in mp3 format… and nothing more? Maybe some of the younger guys won’t even own a single CD! That’s gonna be a boomerang in the end… what do you think?
N: Some people grew up on cassettes... you can argue that 24bit 192khz isn’t good enough because the music gets cut into snapshots, leaving the perception of holes in the sound. We try to make music for people with audiophile stereos and headphones but the same is true today that was true at the beginning... a great song and performance will find its way under your skin whether or not the recording itself does.
And some weird Questions now!!! What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
N: It's hard to sell records and to cut through the noise. There are more records being made now than ever and that’s both good and bad. No one needs permission from a record company to realize their vision so amazing records are being made in basements all over the world. We need a better system of filtering so we know we’re getting all the good ones.
How do you see Music in general 50 years from now?
N: Streamlining of the process will continue forever into a convergence of ideas, taste, palette and technique. You will always have songs that feel so effortless and timeless that you could swear they fell from the sky… that’s what we’re all after. In the early days of multitrack recording, the guy whose job it was to rewind the tape machine at “Abbey Road” wore a lab coat and had a Ph.D. We’re reaching a point of critical mass where personnel are called in because they offer input, not because they’re technically necessary.
How can a band differ and separate itself from the thousands other bands out there… that due to youtube, myspace, facebook… are “bombarding” the fans with new music and info every minute…?
N: That’s a very good question. We think less about that and more about whether what we’re doing is moving to us. That isn’t to say promoting isn’t important, we’ve just been dominated by our process.
What are the secrets of composing really nice music? What are those things that inspire you?
N: One thing that helps us is to take a full production and peel off an element and start writing something new around it. If you do this 4 or 5 times in the same piece of music, you’ll find you’ll get either a well-developed piece of music or several new pieces. That can be an endless process and will always generate something.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music evolution, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
N: “Sgt. Pepper’s”.
Who is your favorite fantasy author and why?
N: Ray Bradbury. Brilliant and vivid imagination.
Do you believe in luck and coincidences or you believe that the human mind and will can affect all things in life?
N: I believe in luck but never leave it at that.
Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
N: George Berkeley for perception and Ayn Rand for Objectivism.
Which of the Seven Wonders of the World would you like to visit and why?
N: Northern Lights... would make a nice backdrop for a Les Friction concert.
If you could be born as any famous person in history who would it be and why?
N: Einstein... a tenacious genius who never lost curiosity and created an enormous body of work in his lifetime.
You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie-celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
N: Bette Davis... she has her eyes.
If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
N: I’d look like Bette Davis and I would find Nihl Finch and sleep with him and make a baby. (i.n.: Hahaha that’s a very good plan dude…)
One night stands or long term relationships? Maybe it is better to have long term relationships with lots of one night stands…right?
N: Sometimes a question just answers itself doesn't it? (i.n.: Hmm…yeap, I believe so…)
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
N: I got rid of my cd collection a couple years ago and I felt light and free. Our collections don’t define us. I would rather be surprised by Pandora or what someone else is listening to. I’ve heard my record collection enough for now. I kept the vinyl... I’m not crazy.
Thanx Nihl and Helmut for this interesting interview… Wish you the best … Please leave a note to Grande Rock readers… Take care!
N: Thank you Grande Rock readers! Always remember, the rock won’t rock itself!