Origin: Olney, UK and Besancon, France
Genres: Industrial Heavy Rock Dance/Electro Stoner /Glam Goth Rock
Years Active: 2021- Present
Scream & Yell (July 2021)
A record by a band that emerged in 2021 with the face and soul of 2021. This is how “Grotesque Radio” can be defined, the first EP of the Golem Dance Cult, a duo formed by two friends who formed their first band together when they were teenagers and now, many, many moons later, they meet again: Charles Why (Lost A Noise / Nexus / L-DOPA) was responsible for the various instruments (bass, guitar, cigar-box, harmonica, programming, samples, percussion and even a Tibetan bowl) while Laur (Sparkling Bombs / Kevin K Band / Vague Scare / Other-ed) took over the vocals. The result is a dense, tense, heavy, but dancing record. It's electronics with a rock and roll approach (without the formal structure of the genre) influenced by horror movies and Dia de Muertos.
A typical son born in pandemic times (“in a post-Brexit United Kingdom in total lock-down”, Charles insists), “Grotesque Radio” was recorded at a distance, with Charles in England and Laur in France. "I would send him the musical base, the bed, and he would add his vocals and we would spend long hours talking on video, exchanging ideas and reinventing our 'musical wheel'." The start of the project was the invasion of Donald Trump's supporters on Capitol Hill: “To vent my anger, I started writing a riff for what would become 'Capitol Blues'. My first idea was to make a kind of instrumental music with samples from Trump juxtaposed with Hitler's speech”, says Charles. “I thought the song would require some vocals and decided to contact my friend Laur,” he adds.
Sonically, “Grotesque Radio” exhibits dark elements that recall both Bauhaus and Love & Rockets, Killing Joke and Gary Numan combined with Beck's melodic sense of humor and the sonic and dance side of T.Rex and Nine Inch Nails. The themes speak for themselves: “Nosferatu Waltz”, “Doppelgänger”, “In my time of (Living On Mars)”, “Marry Me Frankenstein”… the last one even got a clip with scenes filmed in a cemetery and a church , seeking to show the character of Mary Shelley as a romantic, misunderstood and hopeful being. “It's a love song for the dance floor,” winks Charles. In the conversation below, made by email, Charles and Laur talk about the production of “Grotesque Radio”, the two videos that have already been released (and that you can watch here on the page), horror movies, cigar-box and much more . "Welcome to the Cult (where we dance with Golem)."
Q: Charles, how was the recording of "Grotesque Radio"? Was it all done virtually, you in England and Laur in France? How long have you been working on this?
I am old school, which means that all my life I played in bands, all musicians in the same room, bashing songs together. The producing aspect has always fascinated me and I made sure to always be involved in this aspect during recording sessions working closely with the sound engineer and producer (I received my first credit as co-producer on the L-DOPA album "Mademoiselle Al Dente" working with an amazing producer from the “Maison de la Radio” in Paris).
Fast forward, end of January 2021, full lock-down in the post-Brexit UK, everyone stuck inside their house, winter going on.. and then, the story with Trump, his supporters and the march on the Capitol in Washington. In order to vent my anger, I started writing a riff for what would become "Capitol Blues". The idea first was to have kind of an instrumental song with samples from Trump in juxtaposition with Hitler's speech. Then I thought the song would require some vocals and it was then that I contacted my friend Laur. Back when we were teenagers, Laur and I started our first band together, him on drums and me on bass. He was and still is singing in his other dark wave projects: "Vague Scare" and "Other-ed" and accepted my offer. So we started exchanging files back and forth between the UK where I'm based and Besancon in France where he lives. I would send him the musical bed, he would add his vocals and we would spend long hours video chatting, exchanging ideas and reinventing our "musical wheel". After having recorded our first two songs (Capitol and Frankenstein) we decided we were going to do an E.P. notably to put a limit on the volume of songs I was coming up with. All the songs on “Grotesque Radio” have been composed specifically for the E.P. except for the riff in “Doppleganger” which I was toying with during soundchecks in my previous band. In March we had the bulk of the 6 songs ready, mixing then took place in April and Klaus Karloff proceeded with Mastering in May for a release on the 25th.
Q: When you decided to get together again, did you have any idea what sound you wanted to make? How were these conversations of "let's put together a heavy band (but danceable, a mechanic, ritualistic groove with soul and grit)."?
Charles: Yes, I already had envisioned in my mind the concept, visually and musically; what it should sound and look like.
Visually the inspiration was to draw from old Hammer horror movies mixed with the whole "Dia De Muertos" artistic universe. Hence the "Imagine an old Hammer horror movie directed by Dali and recoloured by Andy Warhol"tag.
Musically, Laur and I are so in synch, apart from leaning on the heavier spectrum of rock, one of our main decisions was to take a more electronic approach to rock music, forgetting about traditional structure “verse/chorus/verse/bridge/solo/chorus” in favour of layering of sounds, going for specific grooves where when you listen to it, you can close your eyes, lose yourself and do your own spastic dance (at least that is what i'm doing
As we were working remotely, to avoid sterile and clinical sounds, we decided to strive for spontaneity and we made a conscious decision to expand on mistakes, making sure the music was breathing and had a life of its own, a kind of musical Frankenstein (pun intended).
We wanted, (and I think we kind of achieved this in part), to create a whole cohesive universe visually and musically, a sound and visual that, far from mainstream, will be clearly recognizable and unique in its own weird way.
Laur: Charles' concept was quite clear in his mind and I naturally got into it. It took shape bit by bit like a puzzle. When I first heard "Capitol Blues" I wasn't sure if my voice would fit but once I started singing on it, it worked quite well and the lyrics naturally came to me as I was trying different things with the vocals.
Q: You guys have a new video, "Marry Me Frankenstein" and I would like you to talk about the song, the video and also your passion for cigar box (which you use in the previous single, right?)?
Charles: I always thought Frankenstein, the so-called monster was a really romantic character, misunderstood and romantically hopeful, hence “Marry Me Frankenstein" is what we call “a love song for the dance floor”;-) it had a definite industrial dance groove with a bouncy bass line, catchy vocals, heavy guitars and traditional instruments used in a non traditional way (i.e. sitar recorded in reverse, home-made percussion overdriven, Tibetan bowl treated with delay,…). Laur and I shared the vocal, where he sang the verse and I did the chorus (using an old 50s microphone).
We made the video ourselves using segments of old films, including the first “Frankenstein movie” ever made and an extract of “Der Golem”. My daughter “guerrilla filmed” me playing bass and guitar in a local church and cemetery. I used the term “Guerrilla filming” as we did not have “formal” authorisation to film in such locations so we had to bring the light, sound equipment and camera and shoot really quickly;-)
Laur: I loved the song as soon as I heard it and thought the chorus was great!...So it was easy to work on this one too. As Charles says, there's some romanticism in Frankenstein, some loneliness we can all relate to in some ways, this is a timeless story. This song made me realize that old-school horror themes and imagery were definitely part of Golem Dance Cult.
Charles: In terms of video, we issued our first one for the song "(In My Time Of) Living On Mars”. This video was made by a Canadian artist, Guillaume Vallee, who worked with analog hardware and VHS. We wanted a visual which would be removed from anything going on at the moment, not trapped in any time period/trend, something trippy where images would let the viewer create his own scenario.
In this song, there is almost no guitar but the main riff is played on a 4 string cigar-box. This instrument has been made for me by Scott Brown in Olney (UK). I really love the sound of it when played with a bottleneck and plugged to an amplifier in a certain way. It gives a different edge to the sound than what you would have with a guitar in terms of tone, presence and grit.
As per my "passion" for cigar box, it comes from what I called "Wishing Bone Box" which are little prayer boxes made out of a cigar box and based on objects made during “Dia De Muertos” in Mexico that I initially only created for friends and family as an artistic endeavour. To me, they kind of embody a certain Rock iconography mixed with Ceremonial, Ritual and tribal aspects. (more details here)
Before I left for England 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to present my Wishing Bone Boxes during the "artist open workshops" in Paris and the feedback I received is what prompted me to share these beyond my private circle. The cover of “Grotesque Radio” is a stamp made of a reproduction of a Wishing Bone Box (in different colours: sepia, black, red or turquoise) rendering this imagery part of the visual presentation of Golem Dance Cult.
Welcome to the Cult (where we Dance with Golem)"