Rockcult: How did you become musician? And why did you choose extreme metal in the end?
Julien: It was only a pure hazard, I was a teenager and I bought by mistake the Butchered At Birth album of Cannibal Corpse because I found the cover cool but when I first listened to it, I really didn’t like it at all! Ah ah! I meant, what’s the point of this indistinct noise with all these aggressive instruments and what the f**k is wrong with the singer? What’s this kind of vocals made for? That was my first thoughts when I discovered this music kind. Then my ears started to get used to it and I started to appreciate what I heard and most important understand it, because that’s definitely not the kind of music you can understand if your ear is not prepared with the speed and the brutality of it. We decided then with Olivier (my best friend and former member of Benighted) to start a project like this and I tried to find some ways to use my throat to make my voice sound guttural and deep, and of course, at first it sounded like shit! Ah ah! Then we met other musicians, started to improve ourselves and that’s how Benighted started in 1998.
Rockcult: How your family is feels about your music and a musician career?
Julien: I have the luck to receive a lot of moral support from my family, and they tell me constantly how proud they are of me and what my band became with all the hard work and passion I putted into.
Rockcult: What music do you like except metal?
Julien: Not much, I listen to almost only extreme metal! Two exceptions are Anneke Van Giersbergen and The White Buffalo.
Rockcult: Making money by music seems like a real problem for many musicians. Especially with extreme metal genres. Tell us about how do you do it.
Julien: Benighted was meant to make money for the living since the start, our only goal is to tour as much as we can and share our passion with all our metal brothers around the world, bands and fans! We all have regular jobs which allow us to stay safe from the “money corruption” thing that can influence a band to start playing “music that works” instead “music they like”. I think that’s also one of the reasons our fans are so amazing and dedicated, they know that we have kept this authenticity and integrity through the years and that it will never change.
Rockcult: We know that you’re nurse in mental hospital and successfully combine it as a singer. What about other band members? Do they have any other jobs besides Benighted? Perhaps something that doesn’t involve music? How does it work out?
Julien: They all have regular jobs indeed, which implies a lot of time and energy to combine both! That’s why it’s always hard to catch some rest at any time! Pierre (bass) is a nurse in psychiatry just like me and probably the only one who knows exactly what I’m talking about when I try to explain the concept of a new album, which is usually a huge punishment for the others! Ah ah! Kevin is a professional session and studio drummer, but he also works in a center with handicapped people; Emmanuel (guitars) is a guitar teacher and Fabien (guitars) works as a video maker for a French TV channel.
Rockcult: Are there any different roles and responsibilities of band members besides playing music?
Julien: We all have our “specialty”, Emmanuel is the main composer of the band and so amazingly good at it! Pierre is handling our social media, Kevin takes care of all administrative rough things like visas for touring, etc… Fabien takes care of the French booking, and I am in charge of all the promotion, discussions with the label, artworks, merch, etc…
Rockcult: You, guys in Benighted, are more teammates or friends? Do you spend time together besides band?
Julien: We are brothers, and we never miss an occasion to gather and party as soon as we can, even if we live pretty far ones from the others.
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Rockcult: Which type of concerts do you like more: festivals, big stages, small clubs or something else?
Julien: I like absolutely everything! I mean, it’s always very exciting to enter a big stage in front of thousands of people like Hellfest and hear a huge roar of the crowd which gives you goosebumps but I also adore the grindcore atmosphere of small clubs where you are very close to the crowd, where people can invade the stage, this familial and underground spirit that’s so dear to our heart since our very first shows!
Rockcult: Do you visit other musicians’ concerts by yourself, with friends or family? Do you listen to music calmly or go for slam and action?
Julien: As I live close to Lyon, I never lose an occasion to go to some friend’s concert and spend some time with them before and after their show! It’s always so cool to meet brothers from other countries stopping by your city and share party time together again! And most of the time, I enjoy the show quietly, leaving the moshpit to younger people than me! Ah ah!
Rockcult: With which musician would you like to play together?
Julien: I would love to tour with Cattle Decapitation! I really love that band!
Rockcult: Do you have songs in other styles? Any plans to release them someday? Perhaps even create a side project beside Benighted?
Julien: Nope, nothing like that.
Rockcult: You have visited Russia. How was it?
Julien: We played St-Petersburg and Moscow 3 years ago and it was so damn fantastic! We were there also in 2013, and we keep amazing memories of it! Last time, both of the shows were killer, and we had such a great time with everybody! You guys really know how to party!!! I remember this giant circle-pit at our Moscow show! And I just remember now this drunk big guy ex-soldier who wanted to “friendly” fight me after I defeated him at arm-wrestling after the show! Lol! That was pretty hilarious!
Rockcult: Do you know any Russian extreme metal bands?
Julien: I am a huge fan of Katalepsy indeed! And hello to my brothers of Back Door To Asylum also!
Rockcult: Are there any festivals/concerts cancellations happens in the different countries and why?
Julien: We never faced our gigs cancelled because of special groups of people so far, I hope it won’t change. We don’t do politics or violence promotion or religious message in our lyrics. I just talk about what I know best, the psychiatric pathologies.
I think this time, with this Covid shit, everything is gonna be cancelled until July at least… But I’m afraid it will last longer…
Rockcult: Tell us about the most memorable or unusual situations you’ve gotten with band in tours.
Julien: What comes to my mind is this concert we played in Saigon (Vietnam) in 2017! It was a sold-out show and when we arrived, we realized that the stage was actually… the floor! So, we were totally surrounded by the crowd and when it started, people got totally crazy, moshing and stage-diving from everywhere! We received people on the head constantly, it was absolute chaos and such a great memory! The floor was super slippery with beer and sweat, people were falling, yelling, I rarely experienced such a crazy show and will never forget it! The funny thing was also that we could actually see the images of that afterwards as there were journalists and that they made a documentary for Vietnamese TV news!
Rockcult: Benighted will release a new album Obscene Repressed 10th of April. Could you tell us something about it? Will it be a conceptual album with another story?
Julien: I think this almost is the darkest and most intense we released, and of course I had to come up with a concept which should get along with it. I inspired myself with the story of a patient I took care of something like 10 years ago for that. And “Obscene Repressed” is then the story of Michael, an 8-year-old boy, with a cleft palate that his parents refused to show to a surgeon… At home, he constantly wears bandages on the face to hide it from his mother who finds it disgusting. He starts to show some psychotic symptoms. He develops a paranoid delirium on account of unresolved oedipal issues with his mother that he desires. He is convinced that his father made him with this facial anomaly because he wanted to be sure that he could never steal her from him. This is reinforced by the mother’s discordant behavior. She refuses Michael’s kisses because of his incomplete lips but shows herself very protective and careful about his well-being. Growing as an adult and still living with his parents, he symbolically steals his dad’s razor and cuts his own lips off, adds them in the meal and blends everything together before putting his bandages back on his face. He watches his mom eat it without knowing what’s in her plate, until he takes his bandages off at the end of the dinner. He was somehow partially inside his mother again as he desired, and with the part she hated the most… See? Just another love story! Ah ah!