||it takes two|
Guitare Brothers are not brothers. And they don't play guitars. Separated by the English Channel and an always-late Ryanair flight from Stansted to Nimes, they swap files back and forth over the email, crafting lo-tech electronic gems from grainy samples, their two native languages and a short attention span. Surprisingly, given their penchant for silly games and sillier names, this interview turned rather serious. Read more and play their Franglais board game at www.guitarebrothers.fr.st
Guitare Brothers are Mr Atomic and VMark3, also known as The Guy Who Invented Fire and Tin.RP and sometimes even Jimmy Possession and DDN.
Atomic: Somebody asked me the other day what the inspiration behind our name was (yawn..) For those who are curious, perhaps you could explain..
VMark3: OK. You and Mrs Atomic were at ours for a holiday and we went to Avignon and we drove past this guitar-only music shop called Guitare Brothers and it all seemed obvious. Mrs VMark made a picture of us in front of the store and you had the final idea for the pas guitars, not frères motto.
A: That's got that our of the way. Next on the interview-by-numbers sheet is how we met. I think you had a track on a CD I reviewed. Was it My Lover Is Painful? I've got a bit of a blank then, but I remember you started running Burning Emptiness [his record label, www.burningemptiness.fr.st] at about the same time. Then we got talking on the email and eventually me and Mrs Atomic came and stayed at your house in Marseille.
Mrs Atomic could speak some French, but I couldn't and Mrs VMark couldn't really speak much English, although more English than I could French. So we were all talking this mixed-up Franglais.
V: Yes, je me souviens de ça aussi.
A: Then, while we were in Avignon, we saw that sign for Guitare Brothers that just seemed so apt, so we took the photo that was on the sleeve of the first album. What I don't remember is when we decided that we were going to collaborate and that we needed a name.
V: What I remember is you getting these second-hand 7" pop singles and you deciding to remix all that together and/or use them as source material... Well let's improvise then! And the less clear our memories are and the more messed up the GBros history is, the more better plus funny!
A: Had we decided to do something together before I bought those singles? Maybe I just got them on the spur of the moment - I can remember where they came from. It was this second-hand book and record shop up a side street in Weston Super Mare. I bought some Country and Western records the same day.
Maybe we had decided to work together. I vaguely remember you being excited about the fact that I was making music using only a tracker [a very basic sequencer.]
V: I guess that's it, basically. But what matters isn't how a relationship began, it's the way it flows and keeps on going, isn't it? I remember being fascinated about you doing all your music with a tracker, the grandgrandgrandfathers of all audio programs.
A: And I was fascinated that you were fascinated. I mean, it was just normal for me to make music with the tracker.
V: What I thought was really exciting was this idea of having a whole record on a floppydisk. And the fact we could really work together over the internet: you hear many people SAYING it's possible, but the first mp3 file is 5Mb, so how many people actually DO it? We do really work over the internet because our modules are so small. And something else I thought of afterwards: trackers were originally designed to make background tunes for videogames - the kind of zero-pretentiousness I like.
A: Here's something else: we've never played live as Guitare Brothers. I don't know how we'd do it if we did. Probably it wouldn't sound much like the records. You're the technical one...
V: Yeah, say I'm the technical one when a difficult argument arises. I thought YOU were the one with the ideas, tinbox. Blimey, how could I know how to play live across The Channel? Okay, then, if you threaten to have me trapped forever in a Top of the Pops live show I can come up with an answer and here it is: we both have laptops and I have noise-making toys you just gave me, so I guess we could both have our laptops and sort of take turns at improvising over each other's beats and tunes.
A: Christ knows how bad that would sound. One of the beauties of making music on the computer is that you only have to do something good once and then it's a piece of piss to reuse it. I make loads of crap music, but I'm very good at throwing the bad stuff away. Like doing a remix. In fact, Guitare Brothers is just remixing what we've sent each other. And for me that's mostly throwing away what you did!
V: Except we've been making music together for a while so we're quite used to each other's ways. That's the fun about remixes: turning people's material into your own. Something funny, while we're at it: I noticed recently we never argued whereas a song is 'finished' or not.
A: That's true. Something else I just thought of is that when we're together we hardly ever talk about our own music at all, let alone argue about whether something's finished or not. Do you think it's because we don't care?
V: I really don't know. I guess the Guitare Brothers being such a side-side-side project of two people buried in the super-alternative-no-audience-underground, what's finished or not doesn't really matter. And given the way we make music, we can always make 1.1 versions of tracks if we want to, or remix them as much as we want. You're right: remixing stuff's easy for us because what we do in the GB is remixing each other's stuff all the time.
A: Recently there seems to have been something going on where we'll try and work or rework a track as quickly as possible and put notes on the track to say how fast we've been. Why do you think that is?
V: I think at first it was an idea I sampled from PRESSURE, he always writes in the "comments" section how long it took him to make a track. And then you told me making music for you could be nothing more than a side-hobby because you had not much time for it. And I remember you wrote once "made by guyfire one sunny sunday morning" and I thought I'd write down when and where I did the tracks, as a diary of some kind. That's how I name the tracks now, with their making date like digital photographs, for easier indexing. Also I think we both are (in different ways) very suspicious about professional-business-musicians and this is a way of putting us apart from them or from their attitudes.
A: Ha Ha! Fuck the professional business musicians!
That's quite nice to hear James The Mister Polite When It Comes To Relatively
Political Subjects let his heart speak for a while - that's something
that tells me we're good friends now, you just say what you think. I like
that, it's very non-English isn't it.
A: Yeah, fuck 'em.. unless McDonalds or Nike or somebody wants to offer me lots of money to use something of mine in an advert.
The thing is: people in the PR business have their own head stuck so far
in their own assholes that it's going to take them a decade to realize
your music is good. Not that people know if they're going to like your
music or not because as things go, they're never going to have any chance
to listen to it... Except if sheer luck falls upon your shoulders and
you're noticed by some PR manager in charge of some advertising campaign
looking for someone "genuinely creative" (scuse me I wanna throw
up), after being offered ten times to join pay-per-minute compilations
by Invisible Records.
Cadillac payed Converter and (AntZen) a hell of a lot of money to use his crap as a background for an advert. It was supposed to affect the image of Cadillac towards younger people.
A: You did that Killing Aubade release as Tin.RP. Would you sell some Guitare Brothers music to Aubade to use in an advert? [Aubade is a French lingerie company who ran a high-profile ad campaign featuring close-ups of mostly-naked women along with a "lesson" for finding a man.]
V: The answer is NO. I mean, I have an attitude to stand for haven't I?
A: How about McDonalds or some other big business? What would affect your decision the most? The size of the business, or how ethical they are? Or how relevant, or just how cool? Or would it all just be about how much money?
V: Jim Thompson wrote something like this: there are two kinds of people over here, honest and dishonest people; you only buy honest people once, but you have to throw lots of money at dishonest people everyday so they keep quiet... I guess it's a question of how much money they're willing to pay. If letting Aubade buy one of our tracks meant I could retire comfortably and never do anything else than music for a living, then I'll let them have it because I'm a honest person (buying me is possible, I'm just very expensive.) But I'm quite sure that's not going to happen, so I won't have to question my attitude which is the easiest way isn't it?
Besides, talking about relevant or cool in the case of Nike or Mac Donalds doesn't mean anything does it... They're just super-big corporate trusts, they just can't understand what "ethic" means. Again: no one is going to ask, so there'll be no need to challenge my attitude ever. What about you, then? Don't forget the tracks belong 50% to you!
A: I think I'd sell my music to be used in an advert. But not to just anyone, even for the most money. I don't think I'd let the National Front use it..
V: Yep, I agree with that, I hadn't thought the National Front could ever advertise. It's not just a matter of money, even if money matters. Couldn't that be a nice definition of sincerity?? I always make private jokes about our supposed non-commercial attitude and I always have lots of self-irony when it comes to being "compromised" or not. It's just so very easy not to compromise when no one ever offers you anything.
idea of integrity in music is Fugazi, well they're sold at HMV aren't
they. I even think Sonic Youth are sincere people. I'm no one to know
or judge about all this, only they can. But what sure makes me smile is
seeing people with supa-hardcore non-capitalist attitudes advertise in
magazines like IndustrialnatioN. And what makes me smile even more is
seeing people at IndustrialnatioN are quite friendly and open-minded when
it comes to music... It's always the same routine: if one wants to see
things change, why not modestly try and change just a few unimportant
things, instead of whining there's nothing one can do?
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