Formed in 2015, The Psychotic Monks have taken their unique brand of noise-core and heavy rock across the clubs and other venues of France. Now they are preparing to bring the atonal dissonance to other countries as well, including the UK. One or more members of the band were prepared to share at least part of their artistic manifesto anonymously, with Deviation Street.
D St: How did the Psychotic Monks form? Why do you make the music that you do?
PM: The band started thanks to our friendship. This is something we remind ourselves very often, above all, we’re friends. For the four of us, the purpose is that each person has to be as much free as possible. We’re just friends, we’re not artists, so it helps with being humble with the band. We don’t really know why we are doing this music. It has grown up with the tour. In 2016, the first tour happened, since then the music has changed a lot. I think, like a lot of musicians, we try to probe our everyday life, our personal feelings, trying to have a maximum distance on them to tell stories, an escape. Sometimes we’ve been surprised by our life’s experiences too, good and bad events, events that can change a way to look at your existence.
Private Meaning First is the second album by French outfit The Psychotic Monks. The band squeezed themselves into a small house, hidden away in the French countryside to create a suffocating habitat before unleashing all that claustrophobic awkwardness on their instruments.
D St: Private Meaning First’ is your second album after ‘Silence Slowly’. What is the difference between the two records. How do you think you are progressing as a band?
P M: It is just a continuum. The process of recording was different, we were touring and recording at the same time, everything has been done very quickly. We wanted to feel the band playing live on this record, not too much production on the sound, something very raw and almost natural. We like to see a record as a testimony of our time but told in a fictional world. A kind of safe place where you can think about what is happening or where the sound explains what you can testify.
D St: You have quoted a number of bands as influences such as Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Pink Floyd, Girl Band and others. Which other French bands make that list, either influences or contemporaries?
P M: Les Thugs / Colonie De Vacances / Lysistrata / MNNQNS / Côsse Soy / Marquis de Sade / Boris Vian / Georges Brassens (considered as the first French punk) / Taxi Girl / Philippe Katerine / Rosa Yemen / Pierre-Henri / Luc Ferrari
D St: You have mentioned Francis Bacon as being important to you in terms of leaving space for accidents to happen in your music. Can you say something about exactly how that idea functions within your music?
P M: The first step of our song is that they come from jam we had together. We try to record everything that can be recorded. A jam contains a lot of accidents. We also let a part of improvisation during our show, where a song can be changed at a certain moment. We try to change and configure our studio setup with a lot a different stuff, in a way that we can often discover new sounds. We also try to switch instruments and role in order to find new ways to express through them !
D St: The work of Francis Bacon is about Life, Death and Sex. Would you say that your music also explores the same themes?
P M : Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know… can you repeat the question ? » Editors note : This happens to be a line from Boss of Me by They Might Be Giants
D St: What other artists have influenced you? Has Jean Debuffet and the notion of Art Brut been an influence?
P M: Yes of course, even if the notion of Art Brut is a fairly recent discovery, especially around the work of Roger Baden who was exhibiting in Paris this year and who has inspired us a lot. About Jean Dubuffet, we have been inspired a lot by his artistic approach, especially around his essay “Asphyxiating Culture”. Afterwards, we also tried to be inspired by the books we read, through authors as Hubert Shelby Jr, Jean Genet, Maya Angelou, Annie Ernaux, Virginie Despentes, Paul B. Preciado, James Baldwin, Albert Camus, William S. Burroughs, Kafka… Cinema, TV shows and video games also take a great place in our life. TV shows like Girls, The Wire, Pose, Rick and Morty or Twin Peaks. Games like Minecraft. We are big fans of Cronenberg, Lynch, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Sofia Coppola, Celine Sciamma…
D St: The video for ‘Closure’ is mostly filmed on a busy commuter train. Is there a narrative there or is it a more random statement?
P M: These images direct our gaze on a scene that is everyday to us and that speaks for itself. With this video we wanted to try something different. Open new doors and try another positioning. We wanted to put our music and the little weight we have at the service of a subject that is so important to us, and open the discussion.
D St: Lastly, what are your future plans?
P M; We’ve been working on new stuff recently, with new instruments, new machines. It’s time to change everything, it’s been 5 years now that we’ve been working on this music and touring to give it a meaning. But what we need the most is time, to be patient, to talk a lot together cause touring may have change the way we are with each other. This is the only good thing with this virus, it allows us to have some perspective on what happens these last years. We don’t know what or when we will release something new but we working on it.
The album ‘Private Meaning First’ by The Psychotic Monks is released on Fat Cat records on the 27th November 2020