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Blockheads (band)
With This World is Dead by Blockheads due out shortly, I was given the opportunity to shoot some questions over via e-mail to the band for a quick interview. The other day, the Death Metal/Grindcore group from France got their answers back to me. Erik, the group’s bassist and vocalist, took the time to get back to me. Check out what he had to say.


How is everything going on your end?

Erik:
Hey Jason, everything goes well here. First feedbacks of the record are very positive and we’re very happy. So we could say that 2013 begins very well for us.

First of all, I want to ask about the artwork to This World is Dead. Where was the picture taken, and does it have some kind of geographic or human tragedy relation to it?

Erik:
We take care a lot of artworks of our records. For this one, the research was very long and we tried a lot of things without being 100% satisfied. And one day, our singer Xavier called us and said “hey guys, I think we’ve got the cover!”. This picture was taken by Eduardo Verdugo, which is a professional photographer who worked for the French Press Agency. It was in 1998, in north of Peru, after a terrible torrent of mud, a family was discovering their village and particularly their cemetery, totally destroyed after the disaster. And we just reformat it to adapt to the square format of a record cover. It is not a photoshop stuff and that’s what we like with it.

Do you feel the artwork represents this World is Dead in more than just a title?

Erik:
At first look, we felt that the picture totally represents the title. There is an atmosphere of desolation and the grave come out the ground has a real massive visual impact.

There’s a good deal of aggression to This World is Dead, but it comes off more like it’s being taken personally. Is the lyrical content or music in any way a subject close to your heart or that you strongly relate to with conviction or anything like that?

Erik:
Well, we could not say that we are militant band and we don’t want to spread a particular message or philosophy. We follow our path, still surprised to be where we are, expressing our views and opinions and that’s the reason why we always wanted to print the lyrics of our albums.

We see the world as falling apart, driven by greed and envy. It makes us angry and that’s why we talked about all these shits in our lyrics. Examples are unlimited… The human race is going from war to war and as technologies continue to gain in power, the humanity in us all regresses and fades out, rendering us capable of leaving a human being starving and freezing to death and walking by because no one cares. And we can also have a look about the consequences of every product we eat and drink, or even only the air we breathe…

Considering your extensive touring over the years, I’d assume you’ve crossed the sea to North America at some point. Is the Grindcore scene that different in France than it is here in NA?

Erik:
You’re right, we didn’t have yet the opportunity to cross the ocean and come out and play in NA or anywhere out of Europe by the way. But we’d love to do it in the future.

And as we don’t really know how things go in NA, it is hard to compare these 2 scenes. The only things we know is what American bands we crossed the road with told us, like very long distances between gigs, the chance we’ve got here in Europe to have food/drinks and sleeping places at each gig. About bands, as NA is really important in terms of area and population, you’ve got tons of bands, compared to France which could be compared to just one US state.

But in the whole picture, I think things are almost the same. Contacts between bands/promoters/labels are the key to develop the scene.

Blockheads has been around for a good while now. Looking over your past releases, I see them on many labels I never heard of before, like Bones Brigade and Shogun Records. Are these rather well established labels in France?

Erik:
These 2 labels still exist now. Bones Brigade is “the” Grindcore label here in France and one of the best in Europe. Nico, who runs the label, did an awesome job with us in the past and took part of the development of the band in Europe. He have a lot of great bands in his roster, just check it out on his website : www.bonesbrigaderecords.com.

Shogun Records is more a punk-oriented label which also released great records. It still exists and you can find further details on their website: www.burnoutzine.net/shogun/recordings/index.htm.

Now you find yourselves signed to Relapse Records. How did this come about, and is it a worldwide deal? If not, do you have a deal with labels or distros in other countries?

Erik:
We released a split with our friends from Mumakil back in 2008. Nico with Bones Brigade released it in CD and we all wanted to have a vinyl version of it. At that time, Mumakil just released their 1st effort on Relapse Records (called “Behold The Failure”) and they simply asked to RR if they could be interested in it. They were, so the vinyl version came out. A couple of years later, when we started to record “This World Is Dead”, we contacted Relapse to propose to them the release. We sent a couple of pre-mixed tracks and they were into it. That’s how the signature happened. This is a worldwide deal and they take care about all the distribution issues.

Was the recording funded by Relapse, or did you guys enter the studio with your own funds? Also, is there any difference if you’ve experience both options with past recordings?

Erik:
We totally funded both recording and mastering. We didn’t really try to find a record deal before the recording because honestly, we don’t think that labels which fund recording sessions are still numerous these days with the decrease of the record sales, most of them can’t manage to do it financially, except for the big bands/labels but this is not our case. In the past, Nico from Bones Brigade participated to the funding of “Human Parade” which was very cool.

It is our passion, and as tons of other people who are involved in their passion, we fund it.

Who was involved in the studio end of things, such as the recording and mastering of the album? Also, why did you choose to work with these individuals?

Erik:
For the recording, the choice was very easy. We recorded our 2 previous sessions with Jérome from Mumakil (tracks for split with Mumakil and cover tracks for Nasum & Repulsion tribute records). We know him for years, since the Nostromo era in the 90’s and we already knew that the personal relationships will be awesome. So we went to his studio, “Le Terrier” in Geneva to do it with him. Since the beginning, he was very involved in the project and during the sessions, he managed to get the best of each one of us. The atmosphere was very cool but studying too.

For the recording, the choice was very easy. We recOn his advice, we sent the tracks for the mastering in NY at the West West Side studio, Alan Doushes was in charge and hearing the tunes after mastering was massive! We were very happy with the mixing part and the mastering gave to tracks a real dimension!

This World is Dead will be released digitally, on CD, and vinyl. What would you say is the preffered method to listen to the recording?

Erik:
We are a bunch of old dudes around 35-40 years old and obviously, we grew with vinyl. It is definitely for me the best way to listen music! Large artworks, real objects in your hands and of course the particular vinyl sound. But every way is good, and as you can’t bring your vinyl records in your car or train or even in the streets, digital tunes are perfect also! Each one should find his way.

You guys have three tour dates coming up, two in March and one in April. Are these the only dates you guys are looking to play in the coming months, or are you and/or the label working on booking Blockheads for more shows, or even hopping on an upcoming tour?

Erik:
Only a couple of gigs are confirmed yet. The label doesn’t help us and we don’t have a booking agency so we’re taking in charge of it by our own, like we always did. But some more are on the way. We hope to play a lot of shows but because of our personal lives with our families and jobs, we already know that we won’t be able to do as much as we want to.

Do you see the possibility of heading overseas and playing some shows here in North America?

Erik:
Of course, we hope to come out of Europe with this record. We have been in touch with Maryland Deathfest a couple of years ago but we can’t find an agreement. And we must admit that we are not well-known in NA and I think it could be better for us to wait a little bit more and see what feedbacks we could have there. But we’d love it, definitely. We were, are and will be always a live band, recording records and releasing its is very interesting but playing on stage is really what we like.

Thank you for your time! I appreciate it and wish you the best of luck with everything coming up!

Erik:
Thanks to you Jason, same for you, all the best and hope see you in NA soon!

Blockheads: This World is Dead
Blockheads
Interview conducted thanks to Relapse Records.