Year of No Light

email interviews are usually quite bad. They're stiff, un-interactive, and often cursory and late by all parties involved. However, the format was inevitable here, as Frenchmen Year of No Light aren't quite fluent with ze English. But that actually worked to this interview's advantage. The band bucked one French stereotype (arrogance), fulfilled another (artsiness), and showed itself as a bunch of guys prone to a glass of good wine—or something stronger. Last year, Year of No Light released Nord, a stunning debut that catapulted it to the forefront of atmospheric metal. Crucial Blast recently reissued the album with snazzy new packaging.

What's the origin of the band's name?

It’s a 3 Mile Pilot song from Another Desert, Another Sea. Jèrôme (guitar) came one day with that name, and we all enjoyed it. As the song says: "I was set on taking everything and making waves / Destroying the day / The world around went dark / I saw it disappear as the colors turned grey / Oh oh oh oh / I’ll play the devil / You can be the light." You can also think about the teachings of St. Paul, when light can be found only in the heart of darkness.

How do you feel about the fact so many bands have similar influences as you—Neurosis, Isis, and so on?

We all have lots of different influences in the band. My Bloody Valentine, Joy Division, the Cure, Swans, Brian Eno, M.Gira, Arvo Pärt, Codeine, Debussy, Burzum, Godflesh, Black Sabbath, and Low, by example, are our major influences, no doubt about that!!! Some of us are into black metal, post-rock, and folk; others are more into drone/field recording/ambient stuff…

Of course, we all love the early works of Isis (Red Sea!!!) and Neurosis (one of the greatest bands alive). But our ethos is far more shoegazing-oriented. We are too tired and not tough enough to be a bunch of metalheads in the vein of the aforementioned Isis and Neurosis!!!

Do you think this scene is becoming over-saturated? Where do you think the sound can go in the future?

It’s a fact that this scene is over-saturated with lots of bandwagon jumping hipsters. But we don’t give a fuck about that. We decided to do this band six years ago with the aim to make epic sonic music, both loud and celestial, and we took our time to do this record instead of trying to sound like anybody else. We don’t know where it can go in the future, but clichés are ruling (ruining?) the genre (look at emo, NYHC, or screamo…)

"Somnambule" ends with My Bloody Valentine-esque sheets of sound. How did you get these sounds?

Well…A cold gloomy day of Septembre, waiting for the night, with tea, héroïne, and a few pedals.

Your MySpace has a crushing cover of Joy Division's "Disorder." Why Joy Division, why "Disorder," and when can I get my hands on this beast?

It’s a band we all love in YONL, and we grew up with it. It has been released on a French compilation for the birthday of an old fanzine. A song like "Atmosphere" was more than crucial for all of us when we started [while] younger to discover the "real realm" of popular music. The interconnexion between electricity, cold melodies, and modernity…

Anyway, a cover of Joy Division was an old wish. One day Jèrôme came with the idea of making this "Disorder" cover. We all agreed, and, without asking us any questions (like: Are we able to do a decent cover of this band? Do we risk crucifixion?), the song was recorded quickly in one night, with some Belgian beer and a lot of weed. Why this song in particular? No idea. It had to be done, that’s all. Maybe it could be cool to see it released somewhere else, like on a vinyl, for example.

Year of No Light is from Bordeaux. Does everyone there sit around sipping fine wine all day?

Of course! Johan is currently drinking a “Côte de Blaye,” a fine wine from the north of Bordeaux. But some members of YONL are strong defenders of the Belgian beers!!! And the colour of wine is the colour of blood…Hail Bordeaux!

What's the heavy music scene in France like?

It’s difficult to give you an accurate answer…a lot of good bands and friends like everywhere else? You can find some good noise (Tantrum, Spinning Heads, Time to Burn), sludge/doom (Monarch!, Overmars), black metal (Deathspell Omega, Antaeus), crust (Gasmask Terror), or trash metal (Lucido).

Is it important to you that your lyrics stay in French?

Yes it is, even if our band name is in English! One of our first motivations to proceed this way was to see bands like Ananda (a band that was really important for us when we started) or Amanda Woodward being able to do it in a cool way. Literature plays also an important role in YONL’s creative process (L. Bloy, J.K. Huysmans, P. Drieu La Rochelle, L.F Céline, P.K. Dick, H.P Lovecraft, W. Burroughs, etc.). As we’re not totally bilingual, it’s safer for us to write in French. We have more freedom with French language, in particular concerning the work with syntax and shades.

How is the Crucial Blast reissue of Nord different from the original? Has it been remixed or remastered?

No, only the artwork has been remixed, and it looks really better than the previous one. Thanks a ton to Adam [Wright, Crucial Blast head] for having made this possible.

Evidently, the members of YONL have some side projects.

Jèrôme et Julien play in Adam Kesher, a raw pop punk wave band. Pierre used to play in a French negative-punk band called Deja Mort, and has a solo black metal project. Johan plays in Nexus Sun, Altair Temple, and Lacustre (some drone/ambient bands), and all three have an album out or coming really soon.

What's coming up for the band?

We've got lots of cool projects coming soon. The first one is a collaborative split 10”. We will collab with Fear Falls Burning, and on the other side there will be a collab between Conifer and Souvenir Young America. Another record planned is a three-way split for Level Plane with Rosetta and East of the Wall, and each band will contribute two songs. We should also record some new songs soon and have some other collabs projects to happen soon, but it’s still too early to speak about it. Some remixes of Nord are also in the process with Fear Falls Burning, Nadja, and The Angelic Process. We have some cool shows this summer, including the crazy Dour festival in Belgium.

Related Links
Year of No Light
Year of No Light @ MySpace
Radar Swarm Records
Crucial Blast Records

By: Cosmo Lee
Published on: 2007-07-11
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