Text: Lucas Rebreyend
Photos : Lucile Thoron

It’s by a cold early evening that we reach the Sonic boat to meet the members of Baston. The interview was arranged a few days before, the band is willing to give us a few moments after their sound check. As we arrived at the meeting point on time, we bumped into four guys along the quayside, who I recognised as the band. I hail them, they seem a bit surprised and for good reason: the information hadn’t been circulated at all and we would have missed the band going for a drink in town without knowing that they were supposed to meet us… what a stroke of luck! 
After an unsuccessful attempt to set up the interview in a nearby bar, which politely declined our proposal, we downed a pint and went back to the barge, where large benches were waiting for us to have a better meeting.

Could you briefly introduce yourselves?
The band: Maxime, guitar and vocals – Samuel, drums – Kévin, bass – Simon, synths.
Maxime : Ha, and I play kazoo too.

On stage?
Maxime : Yes… no, actually it’s a private hobby, I play badminton too. (laughs)

There were only three of you at the beginning, I understand that it was you Simon who joined the band later. Did you play on the albums?
Simon: I played on both albums. The guys had already recorded Primates (their first album released in 2019, ed. note) and asked me to join the band for some gigs. That was fine (“that’s your vision of things” Samuel teases) and so I joined our mate who was finishing the mix to add some keyboards to Primates, namely the first two tracks of the album and the song K2.

Are there no keyboards on Gesture (second EP released in 2015, ed. note)? I could have sworn… it was mostly with Primates that I discovered you. Speaking of recording, I noticed that there was a big gap between the creation of your albums and their release, about a year each time, is this voluntary?
Samuel: This interview is going to be the trial of Baston! (laughs)
Maxime: There were guitar problems on Primates, and talent problems in general (laughs). It takes time: we are not satisfied, we change sounds. The whole process doesn’t take two weeks. We take two weeks to record, and the next month we change something and so on, and six months later we’re still changing a synth. Then, the guy who mixes works primarily for the cinema, the music comes afterwards, so it takes months. With COVID, we also had to meet in secret, so that adds even more time.
Kévin: All this time available allowed us to bring Simon on Primates. We thought we were going to get tired of playing these songs for so long, and his new keyboard parts made the songs evolve.
Maxime: So to answer your question, no it’s not voluntary. Moreover, we often finish composing the songs when we record them, especially on La Martyre (their last album released in 2022, ed. note). 
Kévin: For this album, we didn’t really play the songs together. The bass/drums tracks were fixed, but there was still everything else to put around them, guitars and synths. We all have our jobs as well.

Indeed! We have two engineers, a librarian and you Simon?
Simon: I worked at the Post Office for a while, and I’ve been looking for a job since last year, if I can get an advert through this interview by the way. (laughs)

Do you play music in other bands?
Simon: I played with LESNEU, friends from Brest.

I would have liked to know how you combine what you have on the side with the band. You are signed to the label Howlin’ Banana, you record, you publish and you tour. How do you balance that with a job?
Maxime: Well, we take our time. And we take breaks too, so much so that people often think that the band has split up. We don’t stop making music, but we do it at a completely different pace.

I read in another interview that it’s precisely because it’s not your main occupation that making music remains exciting.
Kévin: It remains a hobby, without being obliged to accept dates. 
Maxime: I think we’re less professional in the way we manage things, but we don’t take it so hard. We don’t want to break through.

Still, you guys are signed to a label!
Kévin: No, it’s just that Tom (founder of the label Howlin’ Banana, editor’s note) publishes each album, but there is no contractual commitment. He’s just a guy who’s passionate about small bands and likes what we do. It’s still very amateur.

There is a real commitment in your music though, I’m still a big fan of Primates, which I listened to a lot.
(Simon points to the edition I brought) 
Simon: We can see that you’ve listened to it a lot!

I actually bought it second hand, you can’t really find it anymore.
(There follows a discussion about another colour vinyl edition that the band never managed to see for real)

How does the group compose together? Is there a formula? Something usual? Does someone bring an idea or a riff?
Maxime: It depends, sometimes we all compose together, sometimes everyone brings a little thing and it works, sometimes not. For La Martyre, it was particular, we made a lot of demos that we shared via an online drive, because of the lockdown. It was new, but there’s no formula.

So the way of composing didn’t necessarily change with the lockdown.
Maxime: Kevin took the opportunity to compose a lot at home, especially with synths.
Kévin: We had a lot of time, and composing on GarageBand gave a very synthetic texture to the album, in addition to the presence of Simon. 
Maxime: Now that we can see each other normally, I don’t think we’ll start this process of demos again, which was typical of a time when we couldn’t do otherwise, like many other bands.

Now, a question about gear: do you focus on a few instruments that fit the bill or do you collect?
Kévin: It depends. Simon is very interested in that, I don’t give a fuck. 
Simon: I pointed out to Kevin that his bass wasn’t tuned recently (laughs). Personally I like to take care of my gear. 
Maxime: I’ve been using a MusicMan amp since forever and an old guitar from the ’60s that I think is pretty but not great. We’re coming back to that, but if I wanted to be a pro, I’d have two or three ones, including a spare, with more powerful mics. My amp is damaged but it sounds great and it works, that’s all I need.

That’s exactly what I wanted to know. Do you use the same instruments in the studio and on stage?
Simon: Absolutely, with the exception of the new instrument on this tour; the kazoo, which cheaply replaces the saxophone for the low price of 14.90€. 
Kévin: Samuel plays the saxophone on La Martyre.

I saw it on the teaser, where you do anything on purpose to give the impression that the album is a failure!
Samuel: Actually, no, those are real shitty moments. The guy who filmed us was a bit hidden. We had completely forgotten about him.

It’s a good idea! It gives the band a falsely old-fashioned feel, even though the album is very well produced. Your universe keeps this “cool” side.
Maxime: We cultivate this “funny guys” side. It shows that we’re not taking ourselves too seriously to try to break through. The teaser was made by the same person who records us, mixes us and works for the cinema. Rather than putting out something cheesy where you see us doing great stuff, he took the worst moments, and it’s really funny. It’s the opposite of what you usually see.

Last questions: why German titles on Primates?
Maxime: because it’s cool and it sounds a bit Nazi (laughs). There’s only the first one really, Arnhem is a city in the Netherlands, Domovoi is the name of a Russian house spirit who’s a bit facetious. It’s mostly because it sounds good.

On each album you have instrumental tracks with strange samples.
Kévin: On Viande it’s an extract from Faites Entrez l’Accusé (french crime TV show, ed. note), and the one on Neptune is from an old award-winning show from the ’90s, Un Samedi Soir en Province, which is easily found online.

Thank you all! 
Simon: Thank you, I hope you enjoy the stage! (general laughter)

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