Sure, the hippie generation can rub it in our faces that they were around when all the “good” bands were still playing. But who’s to say the days of The Doors or the Stones are over? Thanks to the French rock band, The Wyldz, we’re bringing the days of melodic tunes and hardcore harmonies back into rock ‘n’ roll. Based on the grooves of the past, these guys have a knack for creating classic, yet fresh, material for all of us who weren’t alive for the first round of the ‘70s’ saying: “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.”
Packed with spirit and ambition, the trio hold nothing back—they even went as far as to sing The Doors’ hit, “Light My Fire,” during our chat. Alex Dhee (guitar), Mitch Bassoul (bass/vocals), and Oliv Porrini (drums) prove to be dedicated to their love: creating good, old-fashioned rock. With the carefully-concocted potion of Mitch’s vocals, Alex’s jamming guitar solos, and Oliv’s electrifying beats, it’s like hopping in a time machine and shooting back to the start of cold, hard, rock ‘n’ roll.
How’s the tour been going so far?
Alex Dhee: Well, it’s pretty good, we’ve put on eight shows now?
Mitch Bassoul: Yeah, about eight shows…
AD: Yeah, eight shows, because we still have seven weeks and the feedbacks are really cool. We did three nights in a row so we’re good to go! So yeah, the tour is really nice for now, and we’ve met some super great people and the feedback on the concert is always good, so we are happy to continue that road and to come to the East Coast.
Good! It’s always exciting to have great feedback. But, what do you think was the best show so far?
AD: The last night? We have two big shows—on the 31st of July, we were at Whisky A Go Go and there were some elegant people from Los Angeles and we met a company who’s about music first and the musician, so it was a great meeting and to be able to see them! And the second show, I think, was badass in San Diego. It’s a great city, people are super nice and it was all just badass.
MB: Yeah, they’re very into music, and very into rock ‘n’ roll…
AD: Yeah—good vibes!
Oh yeah! I saw you guys wanted to come to America because we’re all pretty big on rock, but what’s France into?
Oliv Porrini: Ah, hip-hop and electronica?
MB: Yeah, more kind of this poetry—French music—but it’s not rock ‘n’ roll.
AD: It’s really not cultural for France to rock.
Really? Why not?
AD: Because I think it’s just the question of the world. In English, it’s so much easier to express yourself in rock music than in French. I can take the example of German, for example, it’s like a rough language, but in English, I think it’s better to sing in rock. If you’re going to do poetry, as Mitch said, it’s better in French, like some other guys from France sing in French and it’s wonderful because the word has a real meaning in the music, but with rock ‘n’ roll, English is better.
MB: The sounds of the language match more with the music. The spoken French can be very nice in some kinds of music, but in supposedly hip-hop it’s good for the time, but for the singing, the electric guitars, and the riffs, and everything, we need the sounds of the English.
I get it—French is pretty much the leading romantic language. Not the best for rock. But did you guys come here fluent in English?
OP: Maybe not totally fluent, but we already had a few basic phrases because we learned in school—at school. And after being in the country from sometime, you start to learn the speech…
OP, MB, AD: Slang!
OP: That kind of stuff and you become more, like, streetwise. Fluent.
MB: Plus the fact that we’re writing songs in English, you have to dig into the language, open books, figure out things… It makes you improve, anyway.
AD: And now it’s been three years that we’ve been in the U.S. so we talk in English, we watch TV in English… It’s become natural to sing in English, I don’t know how to express that, but it’s easy now and it’s normal.
And you guys definitely know how to hide it all—when I was listening to your songs, I couldn’t pick up on any iota of an accent.
AD: That’s Mitch. He is very talented to sing without a French accent.
Wow. Kudos to you. Now, you’re currently based in Austin, Texas. Have you ever considered moving to New York, or L.A.—one of those stereotypical music cities?
AD: We have been lucky to be in Texas because we met someone in France who was about to help us when we were in the U.S. for the first time and we left this woman because we met somebody else who brought us to Austin, Texas, and who helped us with recording the albums and stuff like that. But Los Angeles and the south of California is really wicked! But we really don’t have any boundaries.
MB: We have to be everywhere, anyways, so it doesn’t really matter where we live. And we’re not that much into the stereotypes, because to follow the stereotype thing, I mean, every band is going there, so we don’t wanna be lost in the mass, or… So we didn’t really move anywhere yet, but maybe in the very close future, we’ll have an opportunity to move to one of those places.
Fair enough. Would you say the audiences here are different from in France?
AD: Totally. Because America is more rock ‘n’ roll than France, the feedback and the crowd is—I don’t know. It’s in your blood.
OP: It’s more participated, if that makes sense. You react more to the music and in between the songs, or after the show, they come to us when we’re standing by the merch booth, and they want us to come and sign stuff, and that kind of thing. So they seem way more involved than in France.
MB: They really play the game, in the sense that they support the band, and if they can, they try to buy as much merch as they can. They really want to buy a T-shirt to support the band they like and are ready to do anything. When they really like you, they show their feelings and emotions. We didn’t have that when we were in France, or in Europe that much.
AD: It’s the fans’ aspects. Maybe it’s something quite new, and those people are really, totally for you when they like you, they buy the T-shirt, they buy the CDs, they want to know more, they want to read what is your story, they want to know everything, so it’s a really big change.
Yeah! I know what you mean! I was raised on rock ‘n’ roll, so it’s totally in my blood! Especially my love for the classics—and you guys are trying to re-create that sound with your music. I saw your latest album, Interstellar Troubadour, was just released in March, but have you been working on any new material?
AD: We work all the time, we rehearse every day when we are not on tour, and the creation is just something very, very important, so I would not say we are album ready, but we work on it and have 18 songs already on the side. But we jam every day, we rehearse every day, so from the jam come ideas, and we work on those songs and we keep them on the side, and when we rehearse, we use new material, and we’ve got two songs that are ready, some need lyrics, but the structure is done, and we’ve got 18 big ideas. And this album is on our minds already.
I know you’re huge on classic rock—it’s what you’re all about. Is that why you chose to record Interstellar Troubadour in analog? What was the process like?
AD: It was with Steve Albini—Steve Albini was the main point of this because he records like that. All analog, no Pro Tools; let’s come back to the basics, the fundamentals, and we wanted that. Let’s go make some good music and share it. We are not perfect, nobody is perfect, so f*** the rules and if we are totally into our music, and the process of working, it’s perfect, and to recall as the old people had been. Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead—I don’t know—all of the people that we love, recorded like that and you take the first album of Black Sabbath, or Led Zeppelin, we can put that on the radio today, and everybody will headbang, so we wanted to continue that process of the old brothers who continue to feed us and we will do exactly the same thing! The fact is to give what we know to the new generation.
MB: Yeah, analog is the real thing, but we record like a live performance, which makes it even more real, like, people like us when they see us on stage and we just really wanted to have something that when you see the band live, and when you go home with the CD, you can have the same feeling.
That was such a cool idea to record in analog—I love The Doors, and that’s what got me into music…
AD: That is the thing—we can do everything.
So that’s why you chose to record in analog? To bring back the past and teach your listeners?
MB: The sound is beautiful. There’s no reverb or anything like that, so the analog kind of emphasizes this aspect, like a very dry, and precise and beautiful sound.
AD: And Steve Albini is the best. Today, to be able to record like that, he’s got the studio, and he knows exactly how to work analog. It’s not super easy for everyone, and when you can see what’s happening to music business today, they want to have walls of guitars, or walls of backing vocals, they want to show, but there’s nothing inside. So when you’ve got a meaning of a song, any song, it works […].
Exactly. Those are such powerful points… How long did it take to record in analog? You mentioned you basically do a live performance.
AD: Six days. But we work quickly, so the first day we were like, “Okay! Let’s go!” The first day, Samantha, we recorded maybe four songs. Four songs were already in the box, and in three days, all of the album was recorded and after, it was just vocals, some guitar solos, if we wanted to do something else, I don’t know. But it was a very fast process.
MB: And, once again, the live recording was bass, guitars, drums at the same time, so we gained time because we didn’t have to do it like three times, so that was one of the reasons we were so quick.
AD: But when you talk about The Doors, for example, the first album of The Doors was recorded in five days. They worked before, they knew their songs, like “Crystal Ship” to “20th Century Fox”—I don’t know—it was fast because they knew their stuff. And when you see on the album, you get “Break On Through,” “The End,” “Light My Fire,” it’s just badass. They knew what they were doing, and the producer and the music company were all for music at this time […]. We need to share our ideas through the work we have done; we deserve to have something on it… We just want to be able to pay our rent, and to fill our fridges with food. It is a real fight, and if you want to stay in you have to fight. And we are not fighters, we are lovers of music, and we want to share our music—love always wins. Always. So, giving love and music is the best thing we can do for the world today.
Amen! Referring back to our conversation about your songs, who does most of the writing? Is it shared?
AD: It’s all together, nothing for one person, we do everything together.
OP: I mean, someone will bring an idea to the table, like, “Okay, I’ve worked on this music, and I have a few ideas on this song. This is going to be the subject…” So after we talk about it, we choose the angle, like the metaphors, and everybody just builds the pyramid all together, so…
AD: Yeah, it’s easy, and we’ve got all new songs, and one is called “Catapult.” We love the world, the world is a big meaning for us. But this new song, “Catapult,” for example, we were working in rehearsal on this song, we find an idea, or we’ve got an idea, we merge it together, okay it’s cool, Mitch has got an idea, we’ve got the chorus and the verse perfect. “What will be the name of this song?” “Catapult.” “Okay.” And it’s done. It’s like we’ve got a big base, we put everything inside…
OP: It’s like a big brain meltdown.
AD: It’s like we say in our first album, Human Rights, one song is called “Screen” and we say, “We are only three, but if you dive in, we are bigger than the sea,” so it’s for earth—all of us. Whatever we write, we are just the channel for our music and the people. We are not The Wyldz if people are not here. We can’t do it, so we do it for the audience.
It’s interesting that you guys put your heads together, because I know bands who write songs individually and that works for them—but this works for you guys, because you’re producing very quickly.
OP & MB: Thank you!
AD: I think the most important thing is to be able to write songs, and people forget that they need to have the courage and need to sing. (Singing) “Come on baby, light my fire. Try to set the night on fire, fire, fire!” They want that! They want to be able to sing at concerts and in the shower. I don’t know.
MB: We always communicate every day, and we do this, y’know, have a coffee in the backyard, and we just exchange ideas about everything—life, or feelings, and this is like the main, or the biggest thing for the band. Like, we always exchange our ideas, so it’s always easier to be creative all together.
AD: You know a magician, we put lots of liquids to have the right amount of potion and we (sings) stir it up, the magic potion, stir it up, the magic potion.
OP: And then we share between each other, and once we’ve done that, we wanna share it with everybody else.
That was very well-put—all three of you. I think you mentioned your hit, “Let It Go,” earlier. I know it was a big success for you guys—what does the song mean to you?
AD: Let it go, let it go, just be yourself. All of your problems, you just have to let it go, and if you have love and understanding, then everything is won. And you just need to let it go!
MB: If you just let it go, and carry on, you will achieve your goals.
OP: This is what it means to, and you have to take a risk.
AD: Follow the signs, follow the lines. And we’ve got another song in Interstellar Troubadour that’s called “Don’t Be Evil To Yourself” which has got quite the same meaning but from a different aspect in the song, but we are a wonderful machine as a human being, and we need to go where we belong—and not in the shit—I’m sorry to be blunt, but yeah. Just keep going and enjoy every moment of your life. It’s the present. It’s now and here, right now. Not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, it’s today. Today we are talking with you, you are talking with us—that’s happening.
And, sadly, now this has to come to an end—what will you guys do once this tour is over?
AD: Well, we live in the present, so we don’t know yet! So, we will rehearse when we get back from the tour. There is no reason, when you’re dedicated to something, there’s no reason why it can’t work. And I hope you can check this out: musicfirstcoalition.org. It’s fantastic people who are working for the musician and for the music, so we hope to be with them to be their flag as French revolutionaries. So we are talking to them to do something fantastic if it’s possible, and why not try something wonderful?
Don’t miss The Wyldz as they come around the East Coast in early September. They’ll be at Maxwell’s Tavern on Sept. 8, Bowery Electric on Sept. 10, and North Star Bar on Sept. 11. For more on these wild rockers, visit them at thewyldz.com and musicfirstcoalition.org. Their newest album, Interstellar Troubadour, is available online.