And the weekend kicks off! Acoustic project Sapiens take us into those precious days off…
Nico: Tibal and I are from Strasbourg in the North East of France, but the rest of the singers participating in the Sapiens project are from all over the country (Paris, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon…)
How did you meet?
Nico: I think we met for the first in a guitar shop, when he was a salesman. I was looking for a new amp and he advised me. Then we had a friend in common who got us together once to make a song together and since that time, we never left each other’s side! I am right Tibal ?
Tibal : Pretty much yeah. By the way we definitely gotta finish that song. Like what. 8 years later, but what the hell ?
How long have you been playing as a band?
Nico: Sapiens is not really a band, it’s more of a concept. I’ve been playing in Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel (LDDSM) for 15 years now, but Sapiens is just 2 years old. I had this idea of gathering all these great singers after our last album “Human Collapse”. But before that, Tibal and I, we just played together in some kind of a local “all star band” making cover songs few years ago.
Tibal : Yeah, the name’s even worse than LDDSM, I think. Haha. I’m more of a studio dude anyway. I don’t really have a “band” per se, but I play with several solo artists who need supporting bands.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Nico: haha you’re smart, young man! I proposed “Sapiens” to Tibal because I like its universal meaning and the notion of total equality. We are all just Homo Sapiens, nothing more and I wanted that. this album concept shows a perfect harmony between the different musician and singers and this word has the advantage of being pronounced the same way in all languages, it’s wonderful!
Tibal : Yeah we wanted something universal, and elemental at the same time. Something that couldn’t be tied to a specific culture, our country, our belief system. I think at first we were thinking about the image of the moon, because it’s the same moon wherever you are on earth. “Sapiens” is about the same, if you can understand the word, it means you are a Sapiens.
What are your influences?
Nico: for this particular album, I would say Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Pink Floyd, The Beatles… All those extraordinary bands who knew how to write real rock songs with acoustic guitars. Nothing very original I think!
Tibal : As for me, Foo Fighters, of course, a bit of Led Zeppelin, a lot of John Butler / early Ben Harper / Jeff Lang, and Simon & Garfunkel. But as for the sound I was looking for, the ultimate goal was to get as close to the “Johnny Cash – American Recordings”. Not sure we managed this, but I wanted this impression that you’re sitting right next to the guitarist when you listen to the songs.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Nico: What makes us unique is the concept! Of course there are millions of acoustic rock albums, but bringing together 10 singers mostly of Metal scene around 100% acoustic songs, I think it’s probably a first. At least in France it’s certain! For some of them, it was the first time they could express themselves in a new way and most of them were waiting for that.
Tibal : And also, there isn’t a single note of electric guitar on the whole album. I was a bit of a pain in the ass about that. No electric guitars, no distorsion, no crazy delays and phasers all over the place. I wanted the album to sound as close to what the actual instruments sounded like when you were in the room. There’s beauty in actual air being moved by instruments. Even the strings were recorded with actual players each time we could do it. But we didn’t want it to sound rough. And I think we managed to have something very beautiful, whilst keeping the energy of actual performances.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Nico: At the beginning of the concept, I considered imposing a theme to the singers, to have some kind of a concept album, but at the end of the day, I decided to let them do whatever they wanted. They choose the theme, the lyrics and the melodies and it was perfect like that. Some of them used this new field of expression to talk about very personal feelings. I’m very proud to have given them this opportunity.
Tibal : We ended up having songs that are extremely diverse. Some of them I’m not even sure what they are about. “Surreal Estates” for instance, is beautiful, a weird, and eerie, and I just adore this text, but I have NO IDEA what it’s really about!
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Nico: unfortunately none! For the simple reason that it’s almost impossible. The singers come from all over France, are on the road all year long or in the studio and bringing them together for a concert would be a hell to organize. So unfortunately Sapiens will remain a concept that will live only on your turntable!
Tibal: If we could get a show together, I think it would be a logistical nightmare. (laughs) I mean like, ten singers, at least four guitarists, two keyboards, strings, brass, percussions, drums, bass, double bass. The sound tech would probably hate us at the very least. Or end up crying in a corner. (laughs)
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Nico: Oh I have one in mind. One day we played in a bar with LDDSM and a drunk guy, very dirty but very funny too, gets totally naked during the show and then he takes his boot in his hand, pours in all his beer and drank it, from the boot, in front of me, looking at me with crazy eyes. It was incredible, I’ll remember it all my life haha!
Tibal : I’m boring when it comes to live experience. I’m a bit of a control freak but once, I was playing with a local guy at a festival called “Le Festival du Lardon”, literally “The Bacon Festival”, and the guy decided, for no effing reason, to throw bacon AT the audience. That was. Something… different. (laughs)
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Nico: For Sapiens I used mainly my Furch RS 31, a fantastic guitar! I bought it at the very beginning of the composition process and it was just magic. She wrote the songs, not me! The more I play it, the more I love it. And for overdubs, I used a Takamine TAN 10-12, a 12 strings guitar sounding pretty cool. No amp, just the guitar, a mic and my fingers.
Tibal : I recorded most of my tracks on a 2003 Taylor 314CE. It’s been my main acoustic axe since then. It’s a bit battered, but it sounds great, and plays even better. But I also used all sorts of things. Like my cheap-ass dobro that’s been fixed with wood-floor bits, or an old $150 12 string Walden which only had the octave strings mounted, and a Classical guitar I borrowed from a friend. Oh and Nico, we used your son’s guitar as well.
Nico: that’s fucking true! A classic guitar for a 5 years old kid!
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Nico: We promote the album of Sapiens and everything around it, clip and live videos, pictures, reviews, radio, interviews…
What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and into 2020?
Nico: the rest of 2019 will be mainly concentrated around Sapiens and its promotion. When it’s done, I’ll go back to my main band LDDSM and try to finish the new album. I still have some lyrics to write and then the recording!
Tibal : I think after Sapiens, my next project is working on the album of Ballerine, who’s a friend of ours. She’s on the Sapiens record, too. I’ve been working with her on and off for the past 5 years, and I’m really excited to see what it’s gonna sound like.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Nico: I’d really hesitate between A perfect Circle and Foo Fighters. I think my dream would be to open for Foo Fighters just to have the chance to meet Dave Grohl and because I think it’s easier to meet him than Maynard haha! I could have said Led Zep or Black Sab but they don’t play anymore!
And a band I’d choose to open for us… hum let me think… Maybe a band from Nantes called Tranzat. We (LDDSM) played with them maybe 2 years ago and it was a blast!! This band is so good and so funny!! If you like Devin Townsend and proggy Metal stuff but with a big dose of fun, you’ll like them.
Tibal : Of course opening for the Foo Fighters. I mean. What more could I want. As for an opening band. Having so little touring experience, I’d have to say like Mars Red Sky’s Julien Pras in an acoustic set. I just love his latest album “Wintershed”, and would completely love having him on stage.