French-based post grunge outfit Neofelis Nebulosa released the debut record “EP 1” on January, 21st. In this interview, you will read how they deal with this crazy world. Band’s leader, Philippe, was opened to discuss various topics for our magazine.
Hi! Welcome to Abaddon Magazine. How are you these days? How is the situation in France?
Hey! First, many thanks for this interview, it’s always a pleasure to be able to discuss music!
On our side, we are fine despite the situation. Indeed, we can go back to the studio for our rehearsal, we are really hurrying to be back on stage!
On January 21st, you released your debut EP simply titled ″EP 1″. As the first single you also released a video for ″Crazy World″. What is the song about?
The subject of this song is about the actual craziness of the world we live in and the hope to escape to this one. Indeed, actually, there is a ton of problems all around the world, it’s anxiety-inducing for many people and that’s the main theme of this song.
Tell me something more about the video? I love this song, its energy and rhythm. What message did you want to deliver through it?
The meaning of this video (which has been made by ourselves. Indeed, it’s Clement, the lead guitarist of the band who creates this one) is the darkness of the world we live in, the fact that the actual problem in this world impacts everyone, everywhere and the difficulty to escape from this. We don’t want to spoil people who would like to watch our music video so we won’t say more but for your readers don’t hesitate to give your opinion about this in the comment section of the video and what you understand.
How crazy is the world in which we live?
Well, it’s crazy in many ways. Indeed, this song is more global and doesn’t mention what is crazy indeed, it’s more related to the craziness of the world we live in and the desire to escape from this situation.
Anyway, how crazy is this world? It’s a very vast subject but to (try) to summarize, everyone can see how racism is now everywhere, how pollution destroys our world, how animals are mistreated, the isolation many people live in, depression, addiction to drugs, alcohol, etc, individualism. We are not a political band, we think we are upon this so our songs are just personal observations of the world.
Besides ″Crazy World″, EP contains two more songs, ″No One’s Gonna Save You″ and ″Drive″. What do you sing about? Can we say the lyrics are autobiographical?
“No One’s Gonna Save You” is a song about individualism and the lack of compassion and mutual aid. So it can be dark in some ways but the message of this song is that everyone can change, everyone can take back the control of his life. The change is inside of us and that’s a solution we propose.
“Drive” could be like a continuation of “Crazy World”. Indeed, the main idea of this song is about one person who is now out of control due to his problem (depression, alcohol, etc) and who decides to take his car and drive without any destination just to escape his old life. The idea is inspired by a great old movie called “Vanishing Point”.
In each song we write, we want to deliver a strong message and indeed, it’s autobiographical.
In the song “No one′s Gonna Save You”, you say no one’s gonna save you when you are down. What or whom is your savior when you are passing through rough periods?
To us, the only savior is you, the problem and the solution are inside you so only you can change that and when you decide to change, the world around you changes also so as if it could be considered as a dark song, the message we want to deliver is more optimistic!
In general, what is the main lyrical theme you are focused on?
The main lyrical them we are focused on are about the society and what we notice about that. Many other songs will come soon but each song we write is like a picture of the actual world from our point of view.
″Drive″ is the most aggressive song on the album. It also has an infectious riff. In general, what motivates you to write the music? What does your creative process look like?
Our process to create our song is the following :
– First, we need to find the theme we want to discuss and we write the first draft.
– Then the music, Philippe likes to first create the melody in his head, then if he remembers the melody, he considers it could be a good song and then start to write the music, Philippe is more focused on finding a riff. Then Clement, who usually is the second writer of the songs writes his lead guitar part to improve the initial riff, adding some harmony, solo, variation, etc and he also writes the lyrics of the song with Philippe. Damien and Thomas, bassist and drummer usually arrive later on the song to add the rhythmic session.
But nothing is written in the stone and as if the first album has been initially written by Philippe (and has been wonderfully improved thanks to the hard work of each member of the band) everyone writes songs in the band.
Where did you record this EP and how did it go since this Corona pandemic really changed?
We are a full Do It Yourself band so we all record on our side then Thomas, drummer and sound engineer of the band realizes the mix and the mastering of all our songs.
So the Corona pandemic didn’t impact us on this subject. Indeed, we very often initiate some video sessions to discuss the advancement of the song’s recording.
The main issue we have is more related to the weariness, anxiety, and stress this situation induces. So we have some slowness due to that but we continue working on it!
Also, the impossibility to make rehearsal (as if now we can go back to studio) really impact us. Indeed, we really all work on each song so rehearsal is really important to us!
You are the lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter. How hard it is having all those roles?
It was quite difficult and time-consuming when I initiate this project as I first create it as a one-man-band. But finding musicians was helpful as we all work on all aspects of each song.
More music is a passion for each of us so well, we really can’t say it’s hard to assume.
We did not mention the band name. Why Neofelis Nebulosa (clouded leopard)? Is there any symbolism behind?
Yes indeed, first we wanted to have a Latin name, Latin is the origin of many languages all around the world. Then, we wanted the name of an animal as we are all animal lovers in the band and finally the clouded leopard is mostly known in Taiwan, a really important country for Philippe. Indeed, his wife is from this country and Philippe fell in love with this country, the way of life there and the love of Taiwanese for the protection of their freedom.
For me, the most interesting is the story behind the band. How did you decide to form the band and to play grunge in 2021?
Well, first we don’t categorize ourselves as a grunge band. As if the main root of Philippe is grunge/post-grunge (his main influence is the Foo Fighters) we don’t want to limit ourselves and to be categorized as if indeed, we try to have a homogenous sound. We think it kills creativity. More, in our next songs, you will also notice our influences are metal, rock, stoner, etc.
But we assume the fact that we are not a band who follows what is fashionable nowadays!
We want to write and to play songs which represent ourselves!
About the grunge aspect, well to us, grunge, like punk (which is the main influence of grunge) was a style created to denounce societal problems and to encourage people to be themselves and not to just be a follower and that’s really something important to us!
When you formed the band, you were alone, but soon the rest of the band joined you. How did you meet each other?
Damien was an old friend of mine, we talked many times about creating a band together but we never did. But when I decided to find musicians, of course, Damien was my first choice, so I had my bassist. Then we decided with Damien to post an announcement on the internet to find a guitarist and a drummer and then Clement and Thomas joined us and believe it or not but after the first test rehearsal we did all together, we were sure that was the formation and that was the guys we wanted to play with. Since then the formation hasn’t changed and we hope it will never change!
Tell me something more about your previous bands. I think you mentioned somewhere that you did not touch any instrument for 5 years.
Yes indeed, well it’s not a surprise that the music universe is very complicated and there’s a lot of ego battle in many many bands. And that was the reason I didn’t want to play music or to create a new band anymore, I was really tired of that.
So when I decided to finally create Neofelis Nebulosa I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want so I decided to be honest with people I could meet and to tell them what was my vision of a band.
Indeed, to be a band must be democratic, everyone should be able to give his opinion, to propose things but everyone must also have respect for each other and that’s the main difficulty when finding people you can play with. Indeed, a band is a real human adventure!
But hey miracle exists and I found the right people.
What kind of connection do you share now as a band? Do you see yourselves as band mates, friends, family…
We are really more than a band, we are best friends and we act like a family. That’s what we want to show on stage and in our songs. The deep connection there is between us. The audience can feel that in a concert!
You faced depression. If it is not a problem for you to talk about it, and I think your story might be helpful for someone who faces the same problem, maybe now when reading this interview, what caused it?
For sure there is no problem to discuss that, depression is still a taboo in our society whereas it should not!
Most of the time, depression is due to many factors.
On my side, it was due to my work, my family, my past, etc. I was depressed for many years and when I suffer from physical aggression, all my problems explode.
But I decided to change that and thanks to a long and great work made in partnership with great doctors and psychologists I realized my depression was due to me and only me. My vision of myself and my vision of the world were the main issues. As you can notice, it’s the theme of the song “No One’s Gonna Save You” because I was the problem and I was also the solution. The doctor and psychologist help me to realize that.
So don’t be ashamed to talk about that with a doctor, with a psychologist, or a psychiatrist (hey consulting a psychologist or a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you’re crazy) and to learn to know yourself!
A lot of people are facing depression, especially in the past year. Covid brought many challenges. Maybe with reaching this story and your personal experience we might help someone. What was the most important part of your healing process?
Talking with someone who was not there to judge me (my psychologist)! Indeed, we live in a world where you mustn’t show you have weakness, you must be strong but we all have our weakness and learning about ourselves is one of the most important things to do in his life!
When I see your promo pics, now I see you as a happy person. How did your life change when you faced the problems you had?
Well, my life changed because I decided to change it. That’s one of the most important things to retain. We can’t change people if they don’t have the real desire to change. It’s a long struggle but I think the gain about that is huge! On my side, thanks to that and also thanks to music (because music has always been like medicine to me) and to some beautiful people like my band, I discovered life can be beautiful!
Speaking about the musical influences, which bands you would say are your main role models?
As mentioned earlier, Foo Fighters is really the band that influences us the most. But many others also like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and so much more. That’s why we don’t want to limit ourselves to just one style!
I was a huge fan of grunge and I still have my Nirvana t-shirts. When and how did you discover grunge?
A long time ago! But the first band that introduced me to rock music was Offspring! Then, I discovered the grunge era thanks to friends of mine when exchanging music on audio cassette tapes (yes, a long time ago haha).
What fascinates you about the grunge the most?
I fell in love with grunge because it was really raw, all bands were unique, they all have their own vocal signature and didn’t try to copy anyone, they have their sound (Nirvana was more punk whereas Alice in Chains was more metal) so it was really a great blend of many music genres but with a unique sound. More the main theme of songs really touched me.
Besides grunge, any other music you have been listening to?
Sure! I’m also a huge fan of blues music, soul music, thanks to Damien I also discovered many postgrunge bands, thanks to Clement many progressive rock and metal bands, and thanks to Thomas a lot of jazz and classical bands! Diversity is really a huge wealth!
Grunge is associated with drugs and alcoholism abuse. Since I work with children who have mental health problems, I know a lot of them who have been through the hell of drugs, alcoholism, and even suicide attempts. As someone who obviously solved the problems in this field, what would be the best advice to those who are facing the same problem?
Well, of course, the classical sentence which is “Don’t touch it” but most important is to discuss the addiction, the health and mental problem it could cause. And to talk when something is wrong or when you feel not fine in your life. There is always a solution for each problem!
Ok, enough ″heavy″ topics. Obligatory question in the age of corona: how will you promote your album? No live shows still, so any other option? Are you a supporter of live stream shows?
It’s a very good question, actually, we try to promote our music mainly on the internet but of course, we look forward to coming back to the stage because that’s where you share real emotion with your audience and it’s also where you really find your audience.
We actually discuss a live stream festival with many other underground bands to mutualize the cost and also to have a real audience.
We are OK with the live stream but we consider asking money from people just to watch a video is unfair for people. We think bands must rethink themselves and realize they also have to give an audience the desire to follow them and to buy their merch because merch is really one of the most important things to do to support bands you like!
Most bands don’t realize music is one thing but the most important thing is what you have to share with your audience!
On our side, we also work on an acoustic set to be able to play in a public park.
Are you allowed to have rehearsals or maybe you are already preparing new album?
Yes, since we decided to create our own non-lucrative association, we are now able to be back to rehearsal. The purpose of this association is also to create a real underground rock/metal band community to be able to play concert everywhere in France when it will be possible. But that’s another project.
Thank you so much for your time. If you have any final words for our readers and your potential fans, here is your chance… Take care!
Many thanks for this opportunity you offered to us, our last words are:
We are Neofelis Nebulosa and we play Rock’N’Roll!