Formed in 2006 Blackrain, have spent the last ten years, releasing three albums in their native France, touring and finally finding their true identity as a band. After signing to UDR, and recording their new album, Released, they now have set their sites on taking their music globally. With a new album. Photogroupie caught up with lead singer Swan to find out how it feels for the band to taking their music to a next level.
PG: HOW IS YOUR NEW ALBUM DIFFERENT FROM YOU OTHER WORK?
S: I think it's different, all the songs show different moods and atmosphere and we didn't have that before. We didn't do it on purpose, it just came naturally. We just picked the songs we liked for the album, I think it's good that the album has a variety of songs on it, you don't get bored.
PG : YOUR IMAGE HAS CHANGED TOO.
S: The thing is, we had management before who had control over the image of the band so we were following their advice. We always liked the glam, sleaze, image, the look. we still wear makeup and cowboy boots, stuff like that, but on the previous album, it went a little bit too far. That's why we decided to come back to something more natural and go back to the roots.
PG: IS THAT WHY THE ALBUM HAS THE TITLE 'RELEASED' – LIKE A RELEASE FORM THE PAST, FOR EXAMPLE?
S: Absolutely. It's the fact that we got control of the band again and we signed with a record company that's going to release the album over the whole world. It's also actually the fact that we are released from France (laughs). It has different meanings, most of the songs are about a release from something.
PG: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH LEGENDARY PRODUCER JACK DOUGLAS AGAIN?
S: It was very nice to go to LA to record, last time he came to Paris. Jack is a very cool guy, it feels very safe to work with him, we trust him, you can go blind. He has great experience and advice. It's very comfortable to work with him.
PG: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM?
S: It depends on my mood but I really like Back In Town and Killing Me. If you ask me why those songs, it's just because of the melodies, that's how I pick the songs I like.
PG: THIS ALBUM ALSO HAS A GOSPEL CHOIR AND USES MORE KEYBOARDS THAN BEFORE, I GUESS YOU'RE NOT AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS MUSICALLY?
S: The ideas come with the songs. When we recorded with the gospel choir it's because the song needed something like that. When you have the demos, you listen to it and you think something is missing, you say ' here will be some keyboards, here something else.' If we think it's going to fit, at least we try. I think there's no limit or barriers, you should try what you want and not think about what people think about your choices. We are already working on the next album, Released was recorded a year ago and it took a long time to find a record company, so we had time to start to work on new material. It feels good to have something ready to record when they ask us for something.
PG: DO YOU GET MUCH TIME TO WRITE?
S: I write all the time, I like to compose whenever I can. If I can do it every day, I will do it every day. It's not like doing a job you don't like and having to get up at 6 in the morning, it's music. When you feel good about it, it's not a problem. It gets easier to come up with new material, sometimes you miss some inspiration, but it never lasts long it always comes back.
PG: WHO INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE MUSIC?
S: I listen to many different things, but bands like Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Metallica, they inspired me to make music in the first place. But I listen to many different types, it could be Lady Gaga or the Beach Boys, I'm very open minded.
PG: HOW DID THE BAND GET IT'S NAME?
S: I never know what to say about this because the truth is a bit ridiculous. There was this guy who was working in a pizza place in my home town and he liked all these 80s music and films. He was selling old VHS movies and once I saw the tape with the film 'Blackrain' on it and I though it was a really good name for a band, so I took it.
PG: YOU'VE SAID THAT THE FRENCH PEOPLE DONT' REALLY UNDERSTAND HEAVY METAL MUSIC. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
S: I think it's to do with the French culture, if you look back over the last 40 or 50 years there's never been anything like that. I don't know why, maybe it's the media maybe because a lot of French people don't speak English so they don't understand about rock n roll of heavy metal. Today I would say it's the media because they don't really play it.
PG: IT'S REALLY INTERESTING BECAUSE IN GERMANY, WHICH IS SO NEAR TO FRANCE, THEY ARE OBSESSED WITH IT.
S: Yeah and in Scandinavia. I've moved to Sweden now and it's very different. People have access to music and music schools much younger than in France and it makes a difference. There's so many bands coming from Sweden, its quite crazy. It feels strange when you go back to France and turn on the TV and the radio, it's a little disappointing.
PG: MAYBE YOU WILL CHANGE THAT?
S: We've been trying too! But I think we've reached the limit and it was time for us to get out of there. The fact is that French people like the music better when it comes from somewhere else. We've got advice that we should maybe move to the States and come back in a few years, and he believed that it would make a huge difference in the eyes of the French people, which is a little bit sad to me, but there we go. It was great to be on the talent show, we got many more fans, but it didn't bring more people to the shows. The biggest difference was in the social network.
PG: WAS IT A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE FOR THE BAND?
S: It was a very positive experience, for a few reasons. We had been in the studio with Jack Douglas and we were looking for a record company and the talent contest came right after that. To promote the album it came at the perfect time. I think we came fourth in the final and we've been signed by Sony France so it's been positive from beginning to end. Olivier Garnier, is the main guy promoting heavy metal in France. He found us, put us on the TV show and became our manager today.
PG: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR BLACKRAIN?
S: We are going to see how it goes, we are going to promote the new album because it's the first time we will have an international release. We are very curious about what will happen and how people will react, then we will be able to plan a tour and play everywhere people want us to play.