A rather dazzling array of melancholia, driving rhythms and affecting vocals…
are what make Bantam Lyons a tantilising proposition. Their E.P., Oh, Cordelia!, is a U.K.-exclusive release via Kshantu Records and one I wanted to know more about. The French quartet are revered at home and has made an impression on crisis and audiences across the U.K. I speak to band member Loïc about the E.P. and the sort of ideas explored throughout. Having gained attention from Mojo and Clash Magazine, the guys performed at this year’s Great Escape festival. I ask about the popularity and rise of Bantam Lyons and what the future might hold for them.
Loïc speaks to me about the song, Melatonin, and how its affecting and heartbreaking words came together and what they mean. The band are based in Nantes to I learn more about the French music industry and what the scene is like over there. I hear about Bantam Lyons’ touring schedule and Loïc reveals the artists he is inspired by – and the one album that means the most to him.
Hi. How are you? How has your week been?
Loïc: Fine, thanks.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
We are a four-piece rock band from Brittany (in Western France) – currently residing in the city of Nantes.
Oh, Cordelia! is your new E.P. What can you tell me about the title inspiration and the sort of themes that will be addressed throughout?
The title comes from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.
In the book, Cordelia is the youngest and most devout member of an old aristocrat Roman Catholic family from England. She isn’t a major character in the story: she always seems to pass by and is a weird mix of innocence and strong-willed.
As for the themes; the songs each refer to situations of doubt, false hope and forgetfulness in more-or-less romantic contexts.
Talk to me about Melatonin and what this song means to you. Who came up with the idea and was it easy putting the song together?
I listened to the demo. I’d recorded on my old computer the other day and realised how the initial song has nothing to do with what it later became. I only had the first part which was played twice as fast as well (as a shit*y bridge).
We, basically, ended up cramming three or four songs into one – following a sequence of events that took place in our practice room that I hardly remember.
I especially like the sound of When Lips Turn Purple. Can you reveal anything about the story of that song and how it came together?
The organ ostinato was stuck in my head for a week and I had no idea what to do with such a repetitive theme.
But, the minute I found the chord progression, I had the whole song. It ended being one of the easiest songs to write.
It is a U.K.-only release. What was the reason behind that decision?
We played a few times in the U.K. but never released anything there – and thought that a small collection of our songs was a good way to introduce ourselves before actually releasing the album there.
Kshantu Records are releasing it. What is it like working with the label and are you excited now it is out there?
We consider them as friends, which is our goal as a band, to work with people we know and appreciate.
Yeah, it’s always exciting to have anything released.
The band is from France. Have you all known each other for years or did Bantam Lyons take a while to gel?
Maëlan and I have known each other since High School. Sam and I played in a Garage band for a few years. We got together quite naturally. We met Benoît in a bar shortly after moving to Nantes (and losing our former keyboard player).
What is the music like in France at the moment and what compelled the decision to focus your attentions to the U.K.?
We were pretty amazed by most of the venues we played in the U.K. – especially in Brighton. The number of clubs (we found) in a city that is not particularly big was quite a surprise.
In France, loads of bars shut down or stopped having live acts in because they no longer want to be bothered by neighbours’ grievance or sound regulations – which is sad,’cause the French scene is exciting at the moment – but it’s getting harder and harder to play or to go and see bands play.
You have played this year’s Great Escape in Brighton. What was the reaction like there and are there any other tour dates approaching?
We got some good feedback after our show there. We have a couple of gigs scheduled but we’re actually focusing on writing our next album; so playing live’s not our main concern at the moment, to be honest.
It seems you have a real affinity for the stage and crowds. Do you prefer performing live or being in the studio?
Playing live is, most of the time, a liberating and intense experience – while recording can get very dull and lonely sometimes; if you want to compare these two experiences simply. But, if you consider them as a whole thing, you needn’t compare the two cause they’re just part of playing music – just as much as driving a van places or answering interviews.
Who are the artists you take guidance from and you grew up listening to?
I was really into Sonic Youth as a teenager. I don’t listen to them that much these days but they were crucial in my musical education.
When I discovered them, I thought: “Wow, you have the right to do that”. That’s pretty liberating when you’re thirteen-years-old and have no idea from where to start with your budget electric guitar. Just do some fuc*ing noise with it and something will eventually come out.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There’s this band from Quebec, Corridor, that released an album called Supermercado recently and it’s amazing.
If you had to select the one album that has meant the most to you; what would it be and why?
I’d say Washing Machine by Sonic Youth.
I guess I already said why.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Just go out there and play as much as you can and want. Don’t flatter yourself.
Never think that being in a band gives you a social status or let it define you as a person.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Holly Hobby – Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
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