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Le Villejuif Underground - Nathan Roche - My career is a joke, I get by on a hobby, a hobby horse, it’s a hobby that gets you from A to B but only because I have low-standards of living

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Le Villejuif Underground - Nathan Roche - My career is a joke, I get by on a hobby, a hobby horse, it’s a hobby that gets you from A to B but only because I have low-standards of living

Last week we”ve been to Les Nuits Botanique Brussels, and saw some wonderful bands on a underground evening with Vox Low + Le Villejuif Underground + Bryan's Magic Tears You can read the review of this evening here
Le Villejuif Underground, for its part, offers more variety and puts more zest into its set. The band around Nathan Roche has a kind of punk attitude, which is regulation. The gentlemen play impressively, and Nathan has vocals that will thrill you. We had a nice conversation with Nathan about the band, his future plans, and so on. It was an interview full of humor and entertainment, with the same charisma that he has on and off the stage...

Nathan, you're a jack of many trades, tell us a little more about yourself and your projects? 
My plan was to attempt to be a literary character out of something like a Blaise Cendrars novel, boy-turned-jewl-thief-turned-butcher-lawyer-conman-gambler-prisoner-murder-sporting-hero-chef-shepard-comedian and so on, to squeeze the juice out of the grapes of life as much as possible. Get something out of every corner and aspect..
But you know, for now I got stuck somewhere between musician-homeless-author-cyclist-actor-living-in-a-hotel-in-the-forests-of-ardeche ..
The solo music is simple, it says whatever is in front of me, it is constructed with the same simple chords I’ve used and never advanced from since I was fifteen, and I don’t think about it for more than 15 minutes…Le Villejuif Underground is slightly more, wordy? Almost like rapping but not in a embarrassing slam poetry way (at least i hope not)..
the others in Villejuif provide their individual personality and chaos and let me run riot.. on the other hand, experimental duo with painter Paul Bonnet, CIA Debutante, is pure body horror, paranoia and current or permanent obsessions lurking through cracks, and gas leaks of noise and confusion…most of my mind is dedicated to that project, physical energy to villejuif. 

Ive read you’re being from Sydney, however you grew up in Townsville. What was it like growing up in North Queensland as an artistically minded kid and what took you to Sydney?
It was an incredible place to grow up, and I learnt more from there than anywhere else about character. CHARACTER! There are so many characters, and not wanting to miss out, I tried to adapt to all of them,,, the footballers, the I.T geeks, the drama students, the artists, the handymen and women, ship workers, port people, junkies, scholars, miners, bakers, and whatever else…my life might seem exciting to someone in Townsville now, but maybe my life wasn’t as versatile as it was back then, hanging out with graffiti gangs, and then going to the horse-races..
These days I seem to be stuck with the same crowd, which isn’t a bad thing. But I miss going to rugby matches, and following friends to go gambling at the casino on the weekends.. waking up on the beach in a three-piece suit and overlooking Magnetic Island before a military man walks past and calls me a faggot.
Of course when you are younger, you want to go to where the art is, or more of it and that was Sydney. I loved this city, living on the harbor, riding my bike everywhere. It was a very exciting place to live and somedays I am sad that I left it all behind, all that harbor beauty.
But, after 2 weeks going back to Australia I suddenly feel the same way about France/Europe so you can never win…and must be forever stuck in limbo… the dangling man..

You also have write a book or books? Is that correct? Tell us more about this please?
Ah, I’ve written some poetry collections and about 15 novels.. none of them are incredible except the last three,
“What Without Character” a metaphysical detective novel, the final in a trilogy about a detective in St Kilda who has a homeless bum for a sidekick, and a psychiatrist giving him pills to cancel out the first person narrative. Its a satire take on cancel-culture. Thank god the internet never read it or i’d never get a gig on this planet again.
Before that, “The Shallow End Of Enceladus” , a women obsessed with swimming pools, set in the near future where the sea has been polluted and the only solution lays underneath the layers of ice of Enceladus (a moon of Saturn)
No one read it except my dad and the musician King Khan, and he wrote a song about it  and I saw him perform it with The Shrines to 1500 people in Lyon.
The other book, “Behind The Curtain of Death”, is a political satire set in Czech Republic where a absinthe-obsessed magician makes a death with death to make people disappear for the sake of his magic show, he later sobers up on spring water in Karlovy Vary. 

You also  are a traveler , is that correct? You lived everywhere?
Well, not everywhere. .I think that would be impossible… I’ve definitely travelled to a lot of places, but most Australians have,,
Australians are obsessed with travelling, they work for a bar for six months then disappear off the face of the earth in the jungles of Thailand or the beaches of Mexico for six months.
It’s actually considered normal.
I can’t travel alone anymore, I’ve become so used to touring as a musician in Europe these past 7 years, that the idea of going to an Auberge de Jeaunesse or not having free alcohol, food and a guide makes me scared…Honestly, it’s a shame. .I’ve become reliant on a system of luxury and decadence. 

You moved to Paris. How is Paris ?
So good that I went insane and had to leave. I think Hemmingway said to live there in your twenties was the best thing you could possibly do, but that was probably if everyone knew you were a great author, artist and drunkard..
I lived in Paris from 24 until 28 years old,
and the horrors of poverty and the help of strangers really opened my brain up to a whirlwind of experiences that occurred literally every night of the week for four years…
I love going back there all the time, but I can’t live there even if it seems romantic…
I have been exhausted by this place, but it was my own fault for wanting it all.. Parisians know how to live, and I didn’t know how to live as a Parisian, just a young man who wanted to see everything and go eventually go mad.

How does the French audiencs go with your extremely Australian sense of humor?
It doesn’t really work, because self-deprecation is a very big part of Australian humor.
But, in saying that.. Anglo-Saxon types, have grown up around television more so than French, and if I’m in Australia, USA or UK I feel like I’m in a TV show when I talk to people,  sometimes I just talk to Australians like it’s an episode of Seinfeld or Arrested Development and I love it, it’s hilarious…but I can’t do that here.. no one knows what those shows are.. anyway, “taking the piss” doesn’t really work here, people just think you are arrogant if you try to do it.. in English you can just invent metaphors, just invent them, on the spot.. you can do whatever you want with the language.. in France you can’t bend it, you can’t be as spontaneous or ridiculous…because there is a system to the language.. I find it beautiful, but somewhat restricting, especially when humor should be limitless. 

How did you get in touch with Born Bad Records and what impact did it have on your career?
My career is a joke, I get by on a hobby.. a hobby horse ..it’s a hobby that gets you from A to B
but only because I have low-standards of living. I sent JB an email at like 2h in the morning five years ago seeing if he’d like to put out a 7” and I think he replied at 8h saying yes…
we reached a bigger audience after years of small bars, and it was a wonderful experience, but as with all things villejuif..every good experience we were given we completely fucked up.
Like Kevin Ayers, we blew lots of great opportunities and might never bounce back from them. Oh well, this isn’t a big priority. We don’t have band meetings if that’s what you’re thinking, not even band rehearsals really… 

I saw you live with 'Le Villejuif Underground' and was particularly impressed by the punk attitude spiced with post punk elements, dashes of absurdity but also bitter seriousness ; is that the right description of your music?
I am used to playing more guitar in bands, but since Villejuif that gave me the freedom to dance around. In Sydney I saw bands like Royal Headache, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Straightjacket Nation, Whitehorse or whatever hundreds of times,,,, so it just seemed normal to be a psychopath and do whatever like the front men of those bands… I am definitely influenced by punk like everyone, but also the absurdity of Ivor Cutler or life in general..

What was the general reaction and how did you like Brussels?
I’ve been to Brussels about 40 times I think, starting from when I was 17 backpacking around Europe and there was an old man sitting next to me jacking off in the botanic gardens on the park bench.. this traumatized me as a teenager, and I don’t think I ever recovered… I’m more of a Gent person, because Brussels makes me stressed.. but Jeu de Balle is great, and of course all the people and music is amazing.. but the city itself never really made me want to live there, I don’t know why.. It doesn’t matter..

I agree with you, I prefer Gent myself to, I have a kind a of hate/love thing with Brussels, but that’s a chat for when we meet again in real.
Tell us a bit more about the further plans with this project?

With Le Villejuif? That is anyone’s guess! No one ever knows…I’m sure I could say that is part of its charm, but I’d be lying.. that is it’s curse! its treacherous curse that will never be lifted. We are doomed! No matter what large French festival calls us up after another band has cancelled…
It would be much more efficient if we functioned like the other cogs of the music industry.
The latest plan is we will try and AirBNB a Chateau in November to record our third album called “En Daxi” …  but we will probably just end up riding horses and drinking a hundred bottles of wine in the country side, or the Tuscan 388 will explode and kill us all instantly.

You also have a record out 'Drink up, rainforest Sinatra' fan of Frank Sinatra? it's also a very different path that you're going out on there? Tell us a little more about this release?
Well, it’s my fourth solo album under my own name since 2013 so its the same path but I just took a break on the walk..
to be honest its more of the same from the first three solo albums, or even the Marf Loth albums which came out as far back as 2008… its that sorta 70s avant-rock arty stuff, Brian eno solo pop records, John Cale,,,bloody Fear is a man’s best Alex chilton, blablabla all the same chords, hundred overdubs.. girls singing, saxophones howling, honkytonk piano etc sure, I love Frank Sinatra, but just as much as Frank Zappa, Frank Herbert, Frankenheimer, or any other Frank .. but none nearly as much as Belgiums finest..Frankie Traandruppel!!!!! 

Frankie Traandruppel ? I’m fan. But ok. I always ask some questions about corona … How did you experienced these times as a musician and a human being? 
I drank a lot of them, with squeezed lime inside. 

Hahaha , I’m not much into that beer honesty, I prefer Duvel.  anyway.. Did you come out stronger as a musician?
Alcohol has always fueled my life. 

It always does. Something else. What are the further plans with this and other projects? 
To buy another case of corona, and get back on the road … CIA Debutante have two records coming out in the next few months, the next full length LP is called “Dust” and it could very well be the thing I am most proud of in my musical attempts..  it finally seems like something original, which is what I hoped to achieve with the last books I did.. I can’t describe it,,, but I’ll probably hate it in two months.

What are you future ambitions, are there any ‘end goals?’ or are you not busy with that?
I don’t know, I toured Italy last month. .I’d like to learn Italian and move there, maybe to Sicily or Roma, or Naples, or Bologna or something..
like that old Woody Allen joke, a shark dies when it stops moving.
I have given up writing books, chosen to live life instead..  there is no point being alone in a room for ten hours a day anymore..
I wouldn’t mind some more acting jobs, because I was in two short films this year and I loved the experience…it was wild, like being on tour! But everyone was so focused and productive, it gave me an electric energy..
 I would also like to write for theatre, and then be on Saturday night live,  and then die peacefully in my sleep next to my wife and cat. 

Thanks for this nice interview, we sure need to chat face to face and drink some more ‘corona’, even I prefer Duvel... Good luck in everything you’re  doing. See you soon

Aanvullende informatie

  • Band Name: Le Villejuif Underground
  • Date: 2021-09-25 22:00:00
  • Rating: 8
Gelezen: 301 keer
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