Interview with Swan and MatH from BLACKRAIN
Interview by Mark Dean
Antihero Magazine’s senior music journalist, Mark Dean, spoke to Swan and MatH from BLACKRAIN about the new album, Released, which is out on 25 March 2016 via UDR Music.
Okay, first of all just introduce yourselves and your role in the band.
Swan: Yeah, well, I am Swan. I sing and I play the rhythm guitar.
MatH: I’m MatH and I play the bass guitar.
What would have been your first musical memory? Maybe a song on the radio, maybe your parents’ records?
Swan: My very first memory I couldn’t say, but the first memory that really touched me, was probably a record form the Rolling Stones. Something I found in my mother’s CDs, actually, when I was about maybe 9 or 10. That’s still deep inside of me.
What about yourself?
MatH: Oh, actually, maybe something from Queen. I don’t remember what but it was something from Queen.
You have four previous released albums, but the new one is on a major label. Just wondered how that came about, that you signed up with UDR as a record label?
Swan: Well, we have actually a manager that used to work with this label and he is very often in contact with them. After we recorded this album, Released, we had been looking for quite a few months to find the right label. There were several on a list. We’ve been waiting quite a long time to pick the right one. We had a connection with this one, so that’s why.
MatH: As you said, it’s not our first album so for us it was really important to release it in real good condition because it could be the end of the band, you know, if you don’t grow up.
It’s a nice package I have actually got a copy of it. It’s nice as well put together the cover, nice photographs. It’s looks well. What about the album title then, Released? What have you been released from?
MatH: It’s about a special period in the history of the band. And this is actually the time when we got rid of many contract engagement, previous, shit like that. Also the fact that we signed with UDR because we are finally able to get out of France and to write to an international level. That was very important.
Do you see this album release as marking a new period, an exciting period, a new start maybe?
Swan: Absolutely, for many reasons. For the reason I just told you about previously because we have the band in our hands now. We do have the control on everything and we didn’t before. This is the first time that we have released in the whole world actually so it means much for us.
It’s not actually your first time in the UK actually?
MatH: No, it’s not the first. We already did a tour in 2012 or its been a long time since we haven’t played.
Swan: A couple years ago, three or four years ago I don’t remember but we toured the club already. Its important to play and to try to get new gigs.
MatH: Actually on this tour we have been contact by HRH, you know the …
Swan: Hardrock Hell Festival.
MatH: Before we sign with UDR and we said it,s useless just to move for one gig even this was maybe the biggest but we’re going to make us tour and that’s perfectly fit with the release of the album because we were able to meet people from the label etc…
A good sort of networking experience.
MatH: Yeah, exactly.
Swan: Exactly. But it’s great because we’ve been able to do some promotion as well like we’re doing now. And we met the people we’re working with from the label so that’s important as well.
How was the festival for you?
Swan: The festival was actually great. We just arrived, we went on stage and yeah the crowd was great. Actually I didn’t expect to see so many, like, rockers. They were all singing on the songs so we were all really nice and surprised.
You’ve toured with many legendary bands. I’m not even going to start there’s so many. Have they given you any advice or guidance?
Swan: Especially you don’t meet them all the time but we met Alice Cooper and he gave us many advice. He’s like, “don’t give up” and “you remind me of Guns N’ Roses so maybe you could do something like that.” Well that was nice. We follow the instructions.
I just wondered, you have a video from the album. I just wondered why that song choice for the video?
Swan: Because it’s one of our favorites on the album.
MatH: It’s very catchy, very catchy direct song.
What about the cover version on the album, because I’m an old guy, I recognize it. I’ve heard that song before. Whose idea was it to do “For Your Love.”
Swan: It was the idea of our previous management. He made us discover this song that we didn’t know actually because we were not born. It seemed to us it was an interesting one to cover. And it did well.
You did something differently as well with your own style.
Swan: That’s what interested with this cover because it’s actually exactly the same but with modern sound and with another kind of vocals.
It actually took me about half way through the song before I was like, I know that song, you have put your own sort of stamp on it.
Do you have any sort of hobbies or interests outside of music? Spare time?
Swan: I really love to tattoo actually. I tattoo myself a lot. I did my whole legs and now actually I started to work in a tattoo studio in France sometimes when I can, so this is my main hobby. I love it almost as much as playing music.
Do you find it’s difficult for bands to make a full time living just doing music? You have to have a second job?
Swan: Oh yeah, it’s more than difficult. Today it’s more than difficult it’s almost impossible. You have to never give up. You have to stay for a really long time. You have to be lucky. You have to really work a lot.
MatH: You have to work all the time. I love to do videos, so sometimes I do it. What I think is really important is when you are doing music it’s really important to be kind of independent myself. If you work apart you have to be able to tour when it’s possible, to stop something and start something again. That’s real important because if you have an everyday job…
Swan: It’s very complicated to manage.
Do you plan to release any more videos off the album?
Swan: Absolutely. We shot many videos for the record.
MatH: I play the videos on “Back in Town,” but we also shot two other video clips that are going to be released.
What about future plans then to promote the album after this?
Swan: The album’s going to be released the 25th, so next week. So we’re going back to France because we have a lot of promotion to do in the radios and we have a show to play and when we are done with this we’re going to first see what happens with the release because we absolutely don’t know what’s going to happen with it. But it’s the first time like we said it’s going to be released in the whole world so we’re waiting for reaction and then we’re going to tour. We’ll wait for tour dates.
Swan: We’re waiting for the tour dates.
Just a final question. If you could sit down and interview a personal hero, who would it be with you asking the questions?
Swan: I would try to do Axl Rose, I guess. Or maybe Johnny Depp.
MatH: I would have said the same, Johnny Depp.
Swan: I would think Axl Rose and you would think Johnny Depp.
Thank you very much.
Their aptly titled new offering Released is out today via UDR Music, and can be ordered via iTunes digitally or Amazon in physical format. Take a listen to the track “Back In Town” here: https://youtu.be/U_dUANypezQ