I assume that the name Nemo sounds unfamiliar to most of our readers. Nemo is a prog metal band from France, although I think it's a crime to call their music with only one label such as prog metal. Certainly, there's more to it than that in their music. Fusion, jazz, prog rock, and many more genres take their turns during this wonderful journey.
I was listening to their latest studio effort Prélude à la Ruine the other day and realized once more what an underrated masterpiece this is. And I decided to conduct an e-mail interview with the band's creative power, guitar player and lead vocalist Jean Pierre Louveton...
Jean Pierre Louveton | Lionel B Guichard | Guillaume Fontaine | JB Itier
YALCIN: First of all let me thank you for taking the time for this interview. And the first question: Why did you guys choose Nemo as the band's name in the first place?
- Captain Nemo
- Finding Nemo
- lat. Nobody (if my memory serves me well)
- none of the above
The good answer is.... A ! The fish called Nemo was born after the band began, and Nemo means "noboby" in old Greek language. We just began writing music before having a band name. Then we had to search for a word that would show our explorating way of writing. Nemo was a good one, known all over the world, and was representing French art, with Jules Verne writings. When we wrote lyrics for the first album, we inspired ourselves of his works. And when Disney's movie went out, we saw an explosion of our website's visitors !
I absolutely fell in love with your last two studio albums and these days you have a live album (Immersion Publique) out. Can you tell us a few things about it?
We have now three albums, and had the opportunity to record two concerts. We want it as a "best of" album, sold at a really low price for the people who don't know our music. It is a true live album, with no overdub. It contains errors, but I think it is very powerful and people who listened to it really like it. It is Nemo like you can see us in concert.
I don't have in-depth knowledge about French prog scene, but considering the quality of your albums you should be one of the leading bands there. How are reactions towards you guys in France?
No one is prophet in his own country, you know it ! But we begin to have a larger audience as people surmount their fears. The harder for us is that many people in France have a bad idea about French prog, sung in French. But gradually, with all good reviews we have, people try the band, and they don't regret. But it's a long way to the top ! :D
Your latest studio album Prélude à La Ruine simply is a masterpiece. I've been listening to prog music for almost 10 years and I for one almost dare to say it's a prog rock/metal classic in its own right. What kind of reactions did you get for it in the press, both national and international?
Well, thank you first! It's always a great surprise and a great joy to hear that. Not a long time ago, we just were just an unknown band in the middle of France releasing our first album, and knowing nothing about prog press ! We still make our albums with what comes to hand, with only a few money. And to answer your question, many people around the world told this about Prélude à la ruine, but also about Présages, our previous album. It's a proof that a band can be quite unknown and make good music.
Your music covers so many different styles under such a homogenic collage which makes the band really hard to categorize. Well, it doesn't matter as long as the music is great but where do you see yourselves considering genres?
I'm happy to hear that again! Most of bands play stereotyped music, chosing a style and not evolving. We don't, I think. We like many genres as Hard Rock, Funk, Classical or Jazz Fusion, and we like to play them all. The second thing is we want to write good songs, short or longs, but always coherents. We also like the lyrics to be in adequacy with music. To finish, we really don't want to sound like any other band, so we don't directly inspire from one or several bands. All that makes our special way of composing I guess.
There seems to be some contrast within the band in a positive sense, like you are providing the rocking side, and Guillaume Fontaine (keyboards) is representing the more symphonic side of your music in a beautiful harmony which enrichens your music. What do you think about that?
I think you're right, but I think it's the same in most prog bands. I've listened all my youth to Hard Rock bands as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin or Iron Maiden, so here are my first influences. Guillaume likes rock and hard rock music as well, but he can't really play heavy riffs with his keyboards ! The music I write is oftenly riff-based, while Guillaume mostly writes piano stuff. Maybe it's the way it has to be.
It's a crime that you are not under a major prog label. Have you guys had any negotiations with either one of them? Considering the beauty of your music, I think that it's impossible for you to be declined. If that is the case, what did they tell you for a reason?
Well, we send to majors the demos of every album. The main reason why they're not interested is our French singing I guess. You can do what you want, but a good French band singing in French will always sell less albums than a bad English band. It is sad, but we don't really care. Our aim is not to sell a lot. Our first wish is to be able to finance ours productions. So we try to develop direct selling with the internet. We sell records all around the world by ourselves, and it's a great thing ! Unfortunately, we don't sell enough to be financially comfortable for the next productions... I hope it will change soon.
Singing in French probably gives you some disadvantages in the market. Actually I think that it gives a certain kind of beauty to your music, although I don't know French J. It may be because of your language being so poetic... Anyway, do you plan releasing albums in the future in english language in order to access wider markets? Or it may be one english and one French version for the same album at the same time? If that ever happens, I have no doubts about you being successful in the international market. On the other hand, you know, Ange could get popular with singing in French (No, I'm not comparing the two bands here J ). Anyway, what do you think about this language issue?
Our best wish would be selling records all over the world, still singing in French. We already do, but in small proportions. If we don't reach that aim, we would like to record two versions of our albums, but it's too expensive for us now. So let's try again with the next album ! One "good" thing is that our latest is out of stock, so I guess that the next one will sell better!
You simply are an amazing guitarist, and you're doing the vocals as well. Let me be honest, in my opinion you're not the best vocalist a man can ever be (yet it suits the music very well adding a warm and intimate touch and is one of the reasons why I like Nemo). Isn't it hard to deliver the complex guitar parts along with the vocals in a live setting at the same time?
Thank you for the compliment ! Well, it's a bit hard, especially for the vocals. As you say, I'm more a guitarist than a vocalist, so I have to make constant efforts to keep my singing as good as I can. But I work had to get it better, I think you'll see the difference in the next album. However, we prefer to stay with this line up, not including a vocalist, because the osmosis we found would be hard to keep with a new person...
What is your new album SI going to be about, and what can you tell us at the moment about the musical directions for the album? It will be the first part as it says on your website, when do you plan to release the second part?
It's a double album concept, but it will be released in two parts. The first part is recorded now, and we will release it in February / March 2006. It's a bit early to tell the story related in it, we will unveil it at the end of the year. Musically, it is certainly the most progressive record we ever done, including heavier parts, but softer things as well. It is very colored and includes a lot of new ideas! The second part will be released when, and if we sell enough copies of part one. We're actually composing it.
How is the attendance to your concerts? Did you have any concerts outside France ever?
The prog scene, in France like elsewhere, is very small. The larger audience we had was in festivals, and did not exceed five hundred people. Until now, we did not play out of France, but we plan some concerts in Belgium and Holland in 2006, and maybe further in 2007.
As far as i know, you also have 3 solo albums with the other members of Nemo accompanying you. I don't own them, so I don't have an idea about the sound except for the samples you've put on the site. It may be wrong to contemplate on samples, but from what I've heard they sounded like they were also Nemo-ish, only a bit more straight-forward. What was the idea behind solo albums? Are they going to continue? If yes, are they gonna be once again with Nemo guys?
The main reason why I record solo albums, is that I write a lot of music, more than Nemo can take. When I have enough ideas, I begin to work on a whole album. I think only the new one "Cannibales" sounds a bit like Nemo music. The others contain a lot of differents music styles, and my friends from Nemo don't play on them. I don't think I'm going to release another solo album in the forthcoming years, because it's a lot of time and money to spend, and I don't sell enough and my time now does not belong exclusively to me.
Was that hard to "cover" (?!?) Dream Theater's The Glass Prison only with "vocals" (?!?) at the end of the Présages album? Seems like you had some fun there, at least I had and think that it was a very good idea. Anyway, why did you choose that song in the first place? Also, as a little part of your music's wide spectrum, you guys sometimes reflect good old memories of DT. What do you think about their latest efforts?
This was a private joke first, and while recording "Présages" we decided to add it as a ghost track of the album. We really laughed in doing this, you can hear it in the end! Concerning Dream Theater, I do like some albums as "6 degrees of Inner Turbulence", "Scenes from a memory" or "Images and words", but I think they now have given all they could and should take a little rest. The two lasts albums contain too much plagiarisms, and are not that interesting for me. Anyway, they're good musicians who made great albums!
Do you guys have daytime jobs or can you make a living out of music?
Guillaume and I are music teachers, JB is a music student and Lionel B. works in a record store. We can say we're in music all day long! I don't think Nemo will make us live one day, but we don't care, it's a passion first.
Which artist are your musical influences as a musician, and which are your idols as a fan?
I will only answer for me! As I said before, my first musical love was for eighties Hard Rock bands such as Iron Maiden, and seventies legends as Led Zeppelin, Sabbath or Purple. Later, I discovered Prog music with Yes, and they became my favorite band. They still are today. As a guitarist, I like Michael Schenker, Steve Lukather, Vai and more... I'm not a fan of anyone, but I know I'll always buy Yes stuff, because this band can provide magical music.
What records are you listening to nowadays?
The most recents CDs I listen to are Presto Ballet, Anti Depressive Delivery, Toxic Smile, but old stuff still turn in my cd player. I do like Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta as well. In parallel an old Saxon CD does not hurt my ears !
Prog music seems to be awakening once again and it's getting more and more attention with each day. What are your thoughts about it?
I think it reappeared several times in the past : early Eighties, and mid nineties. That music will never die, as long as there will be interesting bands and music lovers. I only think that it will stay a small underground market, because no major label would give a chance to that old and boring music now :D
And about the music industry?
The industry exists to make benefits. They manufacture easy listening music for non passionate people. Nothing to do with prog music, which is a form of art that demands time and effort to be appreciated. If prog becomes succesful again, it will be with new bands like The Mars Volta or Porcupine Tree. Those who live in the past are condemned to stay in the past.
Any last words?
Nemo really thanks you for the interest you put on us! We're glad to know there are people even in Turkey who appreciate our music !
That was all. Thank you once again for the interview and keep up the great work in delivering the fans some of the best music available around! I hope more people on earth can see this for themselves. I wish you and Nemo all the best in the future...
Nemo Official Website
Jean Pierre Louveton Official Website
DPRP Review of Nemo's 2003 Release Présages
DPRP Review of Nemo's 2005 Release Prélude à la Ruine
Album Covers © Nemo
Band Member Images © Florent Cuaz