"Hustlers of the world, there is one Mark you cannot beat: the Mark inside"
William Seward Burroughs
FRENCH VERSION HERE
FRENCH VERSION HERE
On September Thursday the 2nd, Paris 11th district town hall was getting on a restoration by welcoming in its inner courtyard an attractive party organized by the group of people who hides behind the very good French free magazine « Entrisme ». Bonjour Afrique! Turzi and especially Beat Mark, one of our 2010 very favorite (Cf Wol 6) were on. Beat Mark’s LP “Howls of Joy”, a marvelous pop-rock album with garage overtones has been giving us pins and needles in the legs for few months now. And their heady songs have haunted us the whole summer, from the Parisian asphalt to the Costarmoricans beaches, from the shower till late at night. Trying to break the mystery of this magician-like band- which managed through two or three well-done tunes to be part of our daily life- was the only thing remaining for us to do.
After a gig in which a guitar which sounds very garage came to offset choral pop songs, we sat with the guitar player Gaetan, the singer Julien, the other singer and keyboardist Karin, the bass player Sylvain and the drummer Chloe at a Formica table to have a beer and, secondarily, to ask them few questions.
Julien: « Beat Mark » litteraly means « a mark caused by a blow ». But the English word « mark » also designates someone who’s lost. It’s a word often used by writers who belonged to the beat generation. And so we use « beat » also to refer directly to this artistic movement.
But the name of our band does not have necessarily a meaning, or a history. It has always been complicated to find a name to a band. In that case, we thought that it sounded great, and that was it!
x How did you meet?
Gaétan : At first Julien and I wanted to do a garage band so we looked for friends who were interested by the idea. Karin is Julien’s girlfriend, his « good friend » (laughs).Sylvain plays in the band This Is Pop. And Chloe was Yussuf Jerusalem’s former drummer.
Julien : We wanted to do a garage band, and when I asked Sylvain to play with us I told him that we were doing something close to Swell Maps. But in fact it does not sound like Swell Maps at all, because we can’t help doing pop songs. At last it does not actually sound like garage music.
x RollK FGC: I personally don’t think that you’re a garage band...
Julien : In France there is no real indie pop music movement that’s why we’re always linked to garage bands because they are the only people who listen to the kind of music we’re doing. It’s also very difficult to be put forward with that kind of music here.
x Why did you need to start a new band ?
Gaétan : If we knew why we wouldn’t have done it! It’s like asking why we’re playing music. There is no reason.
Julien : Beat Mark’s songs couldn’t fit to Adam Kesher or This Is Pop’s types of music. In each band, we try to follow a guideline. I don’t like bands which keep changing the kind of music they‘re playing, like doing a stoner song, a pop one, etc. We all wanted to do that very kind of music which we simply couldn’t do with our other bands.
x Before starting playing together, did you have decided who was gonna do this and who was gonna do that ?
Karin : : Julien and Gaétan started contriving the songs by their own before recording them. All that stuff has been done « at home ». And then they had the idea of asking me to sing few parts of the songs. And this is how, little by little, I got integrated into the band.
x What about the bass Sylvain ?
You have to keep in mind that at first it was going to be a band sounding like Swell Maps (laughs). They sold me their plan by telling me we were gonna do a punk rock band! But the bass is ok...
x Pop music at the heart of what you do? Can we see it as your brand?
Chloé : It’s the music we’re listening to.
MUSIC & LIFESTYLE
x Is music part of your daily life ? I heard that Julien was studying philosophy….?
Julien : Well, I’ve graduated in philosophy.
Gaétan : Chloe and Sylvain are working.
Chloé : : I’m an English teacher in high school.
Sylvain : And me a garage teacher! (laughs).
Chloé : : I’m playing music to have fun and to share something with old friends. We don’t all have the same relation to music as some of us are playing music all of the time with their other bands. I would also love to do so but….
Gaétan : Obviousy the situation is very different concerning Julien and I because we‘re playing in other bands like Adam Kesher, what takes a lot of time. It really changed our lifestyle because it’s very difficult to have a job and a band that often goes on tour. But it’s something we chose, it’s really cool even if life is sometimes precarious. We try to make it last the longer it’s possible to ‘cause we’re fond of that way of living: we don’t have to justify ourselves to someone. We live according to our own pace, and if we remove its drawbacks, we have a pretty cool life.
Julien : We would like to do that all the time, but it’s complicated. And doing music in France has its advantages and its disadvantages. For instance it’s difficult to be on the air. Besides, France is not a country that loves rock ‘n roll. It is true that we receive assistance but it doesn’t really fit to us. For instance you’re gonna have social grants and then if you want to export your music you have to be already a band with a label and so on and so forth… It’s actually very complicated.
x According to you, is it different to play rock ‘n roll in Anglo-Saxon countries?
Julien : : I would say that there is no difference as far as the organization field is concerned cause there is neither more nor less things available there. But there is a real cultural difference. In their culture, every child learns how to play music at school, and rock ‘n roll music has a following. In every kind of town you always have 200 people to go to see a garage band, which is not the case in France- apart from the big cities in which that type of music has an existence. And French people prefer popular music.
x Are you bored of being in France ? Are you not a little bit disappointed not to be English for instance (laughs)?
Julien : No! It adds a tragic side to the whole thing, what I do like (laughs)..
BEAT MARK’S MUSIC- THE SONGS
x Do you link your songs to your life? To your environment? For instance what about the song « Am I losing control, that’s what I want the most…. »
Julien : This song doesn’t represent us.
Gaétan : The idea of losing control is a recurrent theme one can find out in many various books. It is very linked to literature. That notion is linked to the idea of impulse very present in the common depiction of childhood and adolescence, with the feeling of freshness implied in it. It ‘s the idea of not being afraid of getting hurt, of not being afraid of disgusting things, like to appreciate… I don’t know… a hangover, a smelly cheese…. (laughs).
x Apart from those recurrent themes, are there more personal songs on your album?
Julien : Yeah we got that song against the UMP [ndlr: the right-wing party in France to which N. Sarkozy belongs] (laughs). It is difficult to say that there is a direct link between the music, the lyrics and the feelings we wanna convey… It’s always linked to a cultural and sometimes autobiographic environment.
Gaétan : There is « Saw a cold mirror » which deals with the decline of my relationship with a girl I really loved.
x Do you give importance to your lyrics, to the meaning of the words you use in your songs?
Julien : We’re not really attached to the lyrics. Here we write for the music contrarily to when you write on a blank page a text that will live by its own. For a song, we can start from a sentence and then try to find sounds that go with it, like when you’re looking for a chord.
x And what about the composing process?
Gaétan : : It is very unpredictable. Sometimes we can have a lot of lyrics and can’t decide what to do with them, and sometimes we have the music without the lyrics. It’s not planned.
Karin : But both the music and the lyrics are important, as they must form something coherent together. So we pay attention to the composing and the organization of the songs.
x What about your aesthetics, your way of dressing, you’re good looking people (laughs)…
Karin : We never said that we wanted to favor a type of clothes or color. We don’t wear a uniform on stage. But when you know that you’re going to be on stage and so that people are going to look at you, you think a little about what you’re gonna wear (laughs). But there is no dressing guideline.
Gaétan : But we wanted to have girls in our band. We thought that it would contribute to promoting the band. Moreover, girls who listen to our music can then identify with them [ndlr: Karin and Chloe], and I think that it is actually very important. (laughs)
Chloé : And he’s talking shit! (laughs)
BEAT MARK BY BEAT MARK
x Which of the songs affect you the most?
Gaétan : : I directly think of « When the tree falls » because it was at first a nursery rhyme I wanted to do for my niece who was just born. It’s weird isn’t it? (laughs) And I even don’t know if she has ever listened to it. She is one now. It‘s a song I actually like a lot.
Chloé : Not one in particular. Maybe when Karin sings… in tune (laughs), besides I don’t know the titles of our songs... I like the whole thing.
Julien : Purple blow.
Sylvain : « Am I five? » because it goes fast, and sounds punk rock (laughs).
Chloé : : I agree. Because Julien sings in a soft manner in it, apart when he forgets to do so and starts yelling (laughs). It is different from Adam Kesher’s songs in which he bawls out (laughs). I like when Julien sings in a more quiet way, I find it cool and so that’s why I also like that song.
Karin : I like the songs on which I sing with Julien, like when he sings the verses and I sing the chorus. For instance on “Love at first sight” and “What I want the most”. It’s like The Vaselines. Besides one of our songs really sounds like one of The Vaselines… but we didn’t do it on purpose! (laughs) The subconscious... but keep in mind it’s an unintentional plagiarism!
x What do you sing in the shower?
Gaétan : I often sing Chet Baker, especially the song « The more I see you, the more I want you, tadada… » I love that song (laughs).
Julien : I like singing Dj Soké’s « Victim Boloss ». “Victim Boloss ton matos est bon” (ndlr: sorry but I can’t find a way to translate it) He’s a rap singer from the 93 (ndlr: a French department near Paris).
Sylvain : : I sing Booba, 1st period… .
Chloé : I always have a record playing when I’m in the bathroom, now it’s Strange Boys’ vinyl.
Karin : : I don’t really sing in the shower… but I have a song in my head which never leave me alone, and it starts becoming almost irritating. It’s “Superball” by Magic Kids! Always in mind… it gets unstoppable!
x : What could we wish to Beat Mark ?
Julien : To make a lot of gigs.
Karin : To go on a huge tour. This summer, we really wanna go to the USA, at least as far as I’m concerned…
x: Your first LP “Howls of Joy”:
Karin : It has been released by “Final Taxi Records”. Right before that we had released the tape on the label Burger Records., from the western part of the USA.
Chloé : : It’s a label which releases a lot of tapes. They’re situated near Los Angeles. I met them when I was on tour with Yussuf Jerusalem, my former band (laughs). And they’re really cool. They have a band called Thee Makeout Party, it sounds very pop. Concerning Beat Mark, it has been done through the intermediary of a friend of mine who worked for them in Europe. She made them listen to our songs, which they liked a lot and so released.
Gaétan : And that very girl whom we know from Bordeaux, she organized a concert of Viva l’american death ray Music, which she was managing at that time and which we found really great. And so we spent three very cool days with them… Now she’s managing Harlem with another friend of us who plays in The Weakends and who’s a really cool guy, and so on… (laughs).
Julien : It’s Didier who’s behind it and he’s here! It’s a new label! Awesome!
Didier (Final Taxi Records) :
The name of the label (Final Taxi Records) comes from a song by a guy named Wreckless Eric, and that you’ve never heard about it… (laughs) He was part of the 1977 English punk movement. He did a lot of records… He’s someone we really like. He did a song called “Final Taxi”. His next LP might be released by Final Taxi Records which name is obviously a tribute to him.
Our next release could be Lapin Machin’s new LP. And there is a guy in Bordeaux whose name is Arthur and who plays in various bands including For Naked Sons; I’m interested in what he’s doing…
But our present main purpose is Beat Mark’s LP: we have to have it on sell in France and abroad. We also wanna release vinyls including MP3 codes so that people would be able to download the digital version of it. We don’t care about the CD, which has never been our priority neither our approach to it.
- Howls of Joy LP available in every independant record store in Paris (Ground Zero, Born Bad, etc…), Bordeaux and others french big town. Available in Berlin as well.
- Beat Mark Cassette via Burger Records
Thanks to JL for the pics
Beat Mark artwork by Maciek Pozoga
Beat Mark on the Wol 6 Selection by Foggy Girls Club