D//E Interviews: The Psychotic Monks

Parisian post punks, The Psychotic Monks, have a fantastic new album out. Pink Colour Surgery, released through Vicious Circle / FatCat Records, enhances the band's daring sound with clever songwriting, a strong sense of experimentalism and relatable topics.

In an interview with D//E, the band discusses the album's creation and their overall artistry on the occasion of its release.

How did the band come to be?

We’re all old friends / chosen family before being a band. We grown up together with Paul and Martin. Clement came later, they met with Martin when they were 19. We try to take care of each other, and to support each other as well as possible in our different life paths. What matters to us is to share a project together, whatever it is. It happens to be music be but it could have been something entirely different, and it’s not that important. As soon as we started the band we wanted to tour, and we’ve done a lot of diy / small venues in the beginning, it changed a lot our perception of music and ourselves, and the music began to evolve from that moment. We became more live-oriented in the creative process. We began to understand that what really mattered to us was live, sharing, performance.

What are some of the new album's themes, and how did it come together?

We talk about a lot of more or less abstract things in this new album. Sometimes more consciously, sometimes more unconsciously. That's also what amuses us, trying to express ourselves with our utmost honesty, and letting time pass, then starting to decipher what we wanted to say, discovering new meanings that we hadn't anticipated.

I think what's most obvious is the reference to surgery, for us it's above all a story of metamorphosis, more or less artificial, more or less consented or even desired. It was also the will to seize the subject of care, how to take care of oneself and of others, and for that it seemed necessary to start by opening our intimacies. The lyrics are the most intimate ones ever written. We like to see this album like a way to share what we feel about the society we live in, and to offer people who may feel abnormal or marginalized to find a little space where they could feel less alone.

How would you describe the songwriting and recording process?

We met every week for almost two years in 2020 and 2021 to jam, in this way we collected hours and hours of improvisations that we then listened to again. Then we selected passages that made us feel something, and then we tried to put them together by replaying them, a bit like collage. Most of the time it didn't work, but sometimes something magical happened. This way of working was super interesting because it really allowed us to bring up very unexpected things, and to discover parts of ourselves that we wouldn't have imagined if we had worked in a more traditional way. For the recording, we had 3 weeks in a great studio with lots of old equipment including a console that was a bit capricious but sounded magnificently well. We did the takes live (except for the vocals). Strangely, almost every time we wanted to add something, the songs lost feeling, we already filled up the space so much on our live takes the four of us that there wasn't really room for anything else. Daniel was great, he helped us a lot to refocus on the essentials, and to make important decisions quickly. We did very few takes because we had rehearsed the songs a lot before. The particularity of the recording is that we did the recording and the mixing directly after. So it's the first time we've worked like that, a bit in a hurry, by doing recording and mixing at the same time. We don't know if we would do it again but in any case we learned a lot, we had to make radical decisions very quickly, it's very stimulating to work like that.

So far, the album has produced some great videos. How do you approach the band's artistic visual element?

We like to see our music as deeply visual, we have a lot of cinema / visuals arts in our minds when we work on the music and when we jam. And it’s funny because in a way we felt that especially for this album we worked a little bit as if it was plastic art, like melting different matters and shaping them. The visual element of the band is very important to us, but so far we haven't had the time to push it as far as we would have liked, due to budget and time constraints. But this is an element that we are working on and that we will develop little by little. We are very happy with the excellent work of Clara Marguerat and Bart Price, it was a kind of DIY job but it was very challenging and the videos mean a lot to us. We sent them sound and told them they had carte blanche. Then they sent us their work and we’d discuss it together to finalize it.

An artistic process inspired by "cut-up" was used to create All That Fall. How much experimentation is observable on the newest album?

We've talked about this in an answer before, but I think most of the experimentation was done when we were creating the songs, working with the hours of jam, cutting them, melting them, see if an happy accident happens…

Is the creative process based more on compositions with stricter rules or more on experimental work?

Yes it works but we wanted to try a different approach for this album, the more common approach felt a little bit staying in our comfort zone and doing the same thing.

What does Daniel Fox of Gilla Band bring to the table in terms of production?

Same, we’ve talked about this before, but a lot! It’s things that could be seen as little details but that did a lot for us, like helping us make radical choices quickly, making us move forward when we where discussing in vicious circles which was sometimes counterproductive. And given us confidence at some points we hadn’t any step back any more.

What are you listening to the most these days?

Bjork’s whole discography, Arca, Rosalia’s last album, This Heat, Injury Reserve.

What is in the band's future after the album release?

We’ll have a lot of touring, Europe and rest of the world, and we’ll see…

Photo by Bénédicte Dacquin

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