Let’s get unacceptably heavy with the Sound of Lies
“So we know there’s no use to get into intense thinking on…fancy drums breaks with hundreds of variations; we just need to be HEAVY and send our energy into people’s faces, the rest is auxiliary.”Kevin (drummer, Sound of Lies)
When it comes to introducing people to new artists, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of discussing the bands in reference to ones that are more established, isn’t it? Now, while this is helpful to some extent, as it provides an initial reference point for the sound, and maybe the energy of a new band, ultimately it’s a bit reductionist, right? It takes the discussion away from the creativity of this new band, and that’s what we want to focus on, a sound that builds on what’s come before and gives us listeners something to shout about! So why have I launched into this oddly philosophical moment? Well, because the first thing that popped into my head when I listened to the first release of the band we’re discussing today was, damn, how Nirvana of them! Which is unhelpful really as every band with a grungy edge since 1994 has been compared to the work of the iconic trio behind ‘Bleached’. So today, I’ll keep my referencing to a minimum, and instead let this trio of French alternative rock musicians chat to you about their influences in the interview below.
Now then, with that said, let me introduce you to aforementioned trio of lads with a totally excellent approach to grungey music. Hailing from Pairs these boys call themselves Sound of Lies, why you ask? Because it sounded cool. Which if you ask me is the perfect formula for a band name. Each member of Sound of Lies span the entire musical spectrum with regards to their background, which most certainly contributes to the DIY sound that perforates every track. For example, we have on one end of this scale, singer and guitarist Sofian who has always been musically inclined, even attending an academy for music at a very young age. Towards the centre of this scale is where we find drummer Kevin, who started out on guitar until finally settling on drums when he and Sofian started making music together. And finally we reach the other end of this metaphorical spectrum, where we have their bassist, Stef, who only picked up a bass during lockdown as he was drawn to its hefty sound. Ultimately it appears as though these three musicians of varying experience fell together, a concept which shows up best in how they recruited bassist Stef. They did so through the use of one of the greatest advertisements I’ve come across, a note which read “Not-so-good band looking for a bad bass player”. And so the trio was formed. Now while anecdotes like this really highlight the super causal element to Sound of Lies in their approach to being a band, it is something that is most definitely underpinned by a total dedication to the loud, grungey sound.
Alright, let’s have a look at their discography shall we? The vast majority can be found on the Sound of Lies Soundcloud, that’s a mouthful. But more recently their Spotify has slowly built up a population of track after track of headbang worthy heftiness. Now, when I say ‘new’ band I mean brand spanking new as their ‘Home Demo EP’, which includes a total of 5 tracks, was only uploaded 5 months ago. And yes, ‘Home Demo ‘does indeed mean they DIY’d the set-up, as Sofian has been studying sound engineering. So, through some serious tech-heading, and 7 mics on a drum kit, the three of them managed to record these 5 killer tracks. I think that’s one of the most appealing parts of this band, the stripped back sound that comes from recording in this manner where each instrument is perfectly raw and each member’s energy shines through. ‘Raw’ is certainly a fitting descriptor in fact for the band’s top track on Spotify “Variety Meat”. This tune is, in their own words, one that best exemplifies what the band are all about. The riffs are simple but electrifying, and mingle perfectly with the sweet drone of grunge vocals, which is all pushed forward by snare heavy drums. This track is followed closely by “Superguy“, which is one of those tunes where the vocals are essentially another instrument, as the lyrics are so distorted by the condensed growl of the vocals that they become another melody all on their own. It’s a track that makes you want to lace up battered converse and launch yourself into a pit. While 4 out of the 5 Soundcloud tracks are available on Spotify I would 100% recommend you pop to Soundcloud to hear the totally heavy “Happy Happy”, which Kevin describes as a ‘simple’ track, but one that gets the crowd up and bouncing.
Speaking of live gigs, Sound of Lies have had a string of shows throughout September and October this year in venues such as Le Truskel and Les Disquaires in Paris. They also have plenty more lined up, so keep an eye on their socials for updates! For now though I will leave you to read on about venues to visit in the city of Paris, fixing up Squire Cyclone’s, and the overall state of the music charts these days. And before I forget, as an end note, the band would like to thank Xavier, I don’t know what you did man, but you did something good, so Sound of Lies have requested a shoutout for you!
Hello hello, welcome to this little chat with IAMUR! My name is Mez, it’s a pleasure to be talking (or typing) with you guys today, to get things going would you mind introducing yourselves to our audience? Perhaps saying what your role is in the band and where you’re from?
Sofian: Alright I’ll start ! My name is Sofian, I’m 33 and I play guitar and I sing in the band. I was born in Toulon, south of France, and moved to Paris back in 2009 for studies. I’ve started learning music in an academy when I was 6 and went all the way to finish 13 years later. I’m now working in the cinema industry.
Stef: My name is Stefanos, I’m 23. I play the bass and began to learn music two years ago, during lockdown. I wanted to play the bass for a long time, so I started thinking “Well, maybe it won’t work, but if it does I’ll join a band.” It did work. There was a specific sound I’ve always loved in songs, but I didn’t know what it was, until I found out it was the sound of bass guitar.
Kevin: Hey, I’m Kevin, I’m 29. I played guitar in a lot of bands before switching to drums. I knew Sofian, that was playing guitar, so we started to play together whereas I was still learning to play drums. I became louder and louder with time, which gave birth to Sound of Lies. Today I try to stick to the tempo, but, heh, you know…
Sofian: He means I’m the only guitarist in the band, but not the best !
Kevin: I wouldn’t be able to play solos as you do since it’s totally random though…
Alright so in the grand scheme of things Sound of Lies is a pretty new project, as you guys only formed in 2021! I was wondering if you could tell us how you guys know each other? And also, how you came together to form Sound of Lies, like have any of you been in other bands or musical projects before?
Sofian: Kevin and I know each other for more than 10 years now. I met him when I was new to Paris. When I was younger, I’ve been playing the French Horn in symphonic orchestra and brass quintet, and started learning guitar when I was 14. I’ve played in a band there, it was called “Elfy” I guess. Then during my studies I played and singed in a band called “MF.inc”, in south of France, we did a lot of small gigs. As Kevin said, we started really playing together when he started to learn playing drums. Then we were looking for a bass player, so we posted an as stating “Not-so-good band looking for a bad bass player”. That’s how we met Stef.
Kevin: Yeah, we’ve liked Stef since our first rehearsal. He came in and knew all the tracks, he had all the parts in mind, it was incredible. We were used to play together with Sofian, we used to jam on guitars, I listened to his compositions for other projects, so we really knew each other in a musical way. Stef perfectly caught our state of mind and blended in immediately.
Stef: It was alright from the beginning, both Sofian and Kevin are really nice guys. I really like Sofian’s way of composing. On some tracks, I just sent him rough ideas with a bass line, and he managed to create entire songs from it.
Sofian: I must say the kind of bass line you sent were totally in the style of what I would have written, so it has been pretty easy to elaborate on those ideas.
Right, before we get properly started, let’s take a moment to speak about the name you guys have chosen, Sound of Lies. When you search this on Spotify or Google, alongside you lads you get an 1997 album of the same name by American rock/country band named The Jayhawks, and it got me wondering if there was any connection! But either way, connection or not, would you mind telling us how you chose your band name? What, if anything, does it mean to you guys?
Sofian: I don’t think it really means anything. I found it funny that it could be “Sound of Lies” or “Sound of Flies”. Kevin chose “Sound of Lies” and we went for it. I personally knew there was this album from “The Jayhawks” called the same name, but I hadn’t listened to it and still haven’t to this day. I’ll do so on a special day for our band ! So, to answer the question, it started with a pun and there is no real explanation, and that sounds good to me.
Kevin: Anyway you can’t find a name that would please anyone, so we could as well find one that made us laugh. That’s funny too that it’s kind of a “dark” name whereas it doesn’t mean anything special to us.
Alright let’s get into the music! The first track I came across was the one you’ve released as a single on Spotify, the one titled “Variety Meat”, and my god does it bang. Firstly, what a weird and wonderful name, what was the inspiration behind this little track? And also, I was wondering out of the other tunes you’ve put together so far, what made you choose this particular one to post on Spotify?
Sofian: Well thanks ! I’m not really good at giving names to songs, so I sometimes try to figure what could be the main theme, and find a word related. “Variety Meat” is about a person wanting to melt in another one and become one only soul. As it says “I will see through your eyes, I will melt inside your guts”, I thought that was a good name.
It also was the last track we finished when we decided to go live on Spotify, so of course we liked it more because it was brand new. I personally think it’s the most representative track of what we’d like to create, I think it was the best track in order to “showcase” our band. We’ve added other tracks on Spotify ever since, but I still think that’s the one that you should listen to if you really didn’t know us and wanted to get the big picture.
Stef: I agree with that, it’s a good “showcase song”.
Alongside “Variety Meat” you have a solid 5 other tracks released on your Soundcloud account, and they get more and more grungy with every listen! Each track has the caption ‘Home Demo’ and to be honest I wouldn’t have guessed they weren’t studio recordings, could you talk us through how you went about recording each of these ‘home demos’, like what was your set up? And how did you guys find the process of recording and releasing your own tracks?
Sofian: At first I needed a way to show Stef and Kevin the structures I had in mind for our songs. Since I’ve been studying sound engineering for two years, I had the basics and was able to at least record a rough version of my ideas. So it was just me playing guitar and bass through my 40€ USB interface with a DAW, and I recorded the lyrics with a portable recorder with built-in mics. Then after working on the tracks, we thought we could re-record it live this time, and that wouldn’t be much more difficult. We bought mics and recorded the guitar and bass parts, as well as the vocals. Now for the drums, it has been more difficult. First, we obviously can’t record drums in a flat. So we had to go to the studio where we rehearse with my (I shouldn’t say that) telework portable computer. They lent us 7 mics for the drums, we didn’t even know which was going where. Finally we recorded the songs. Some were good enough after mixing, for some others it had been too difficult and we have had to use virtual instruments for some drum parts. The idea was to get enough material to be able to get our band heard, since we were sometimes asked “Okay, can we listen to you songs ?”. So we kind of managed to get the work done, but we really would need to get a proper audio mix on these. That’s really a part you only can achieve if it’s your job, we know our mix won’t ever sound “professional” without a sound engineer.
Kevin: Yeah, the drums part was a hassle. 7 mics!
I think the track that stuck with me the most out of all of them was “Off the Ground”, it has the most perfect 90s feel to it and I totally love the intro. In your Spotify bio you list bands like Bush and Nirvana as influences, and you can really hear that in this track, especially in Sofian’s vocals! Have you always been drawn to heavy music? What is it about this kind of sound that speaks to you? And also, if you were putting together a Sound of Lies playlist, what bands or songs would you pop on it?
Sofian: I’ve been listening to classical music exclusively until I was 14. The first band I voluntarily listened to was Nirvana and it has been a total shock. I first discovered Smells like teen spirit, then Lithium. I think the day I first heard Lithium, I’ve played it on loop for a whole day. Then for the next 2 or 3 years I’ve made my family go insane with Nirvana songs. I’ve then discovered other bands, Radiohead (The Bends !), Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and then more specific bands as Local H, but yeah, I was always only drawn to “heavy” music.
Stef: What I really like in this type of music is the “repetitive” side in fact.
Sofian: Yeah, like there are patterns and you can build energy from it
Kevin: I would say I am very sensitive to vibrations, and this kind of music, especially at sound levels we play it, produces a lot of vibrations. I used to stay in rhythm just by feeling the vibrations rather than the notes. Sofian calls me “Flipper the dolphin”.
Stef: I also love the contrasts between the calm parts and then the intensity growing and bursting, and the alternating again with soft parts.
Sofian: For the playlist I would say : Local H – the whole “As good as dead” album, then maybe “Frances Farmer will have her revenge on Seattle” by Nirvana, and maybe “The Bends” by Radiohead.
Stef: I would go with Soundgarden and Peal Jam.
Kevin: Ty Segall has always been the guy I wanted to be, without success. I love him. I think The White Stripes are also a great inspiration, with their simple and brutal side. I try to reproduce this a bit on the drums. At least I think there is a lot of punk in our influences. Maybe not the Sex Pistols, but something near, in the way we like to unleash energy. I think we only do what we’re able to.
As for live shows you’ve had a couple recently, most significantly you played Le Truskel in Paris alongside The Lance Vance Vengeance on the 27th of September. How have you found playing live so far? How does it feel to be on stage? And also, for those in the audience, how would you describe the difference, if any, between hearing you guys live and listening to you recorded?
Sofian: I think being on stage, and playing in front of a crowd is one of the best feelings ever. It’s like people can share the enthusiasm you put into your songs and feel the same, it amazes me to see the energy you can share just with some tunes out of your head, and to see that people you don’t know can enjoy it as well.
Stef: It gives meaning to all the work we do.
Sofian: I also think the main difference between a live show and record comes from the fact that during a show, every detail won’t be as perfect, as polished that on a record, but the feel of energy, just the fact of moving, the lights, and as Kevin said, the vibrations, it makes it a whole different experience.
Kevin: Moreover, shows allow you to practice and to get rid of all the unnecessary things. You can clearly see what works for people and what doesn’t. For instance we can see our song “Happy Happy” really heats the audience up during our shows, whereas it’s really simple. So we know there’s no use to get into intense thinking on technical sides and fancy drums breaks with hundreds of variations; we just need to be HEAVY and send our energy into people’s faces, the rest is auxiliary.
Sofian: Kevin and I have been playing some gigs before, so we know what it’s like, but The Truskel was Stef’s first show and you couldn’t guess it, he was so relaxed whereas it can be so stressful, especially the first songs.
Stef: Yeah I didn’t feel stressed at all, I think because we rehearsed a lot before. I was really focused at first, but started enjoying the show after the first song. That was a really nice feeling.
Also for those that missed you at Le Truskel you’ve got another gig lined up at Les Disquaires on the 12th of October. I was wondering, as I haven’t been to Paris since I was way under the legal drinking age, what’s the indie/alternative scene like in your city? Do you have a favourite venue that you’ve played at? And how about when you guys are in the audience, where do you guys like to watch live music?
Sofian: I think there is like a renewal in the indie scene/alternative scene in Paris. There are a lot of bands, a lot of venues and shows for rock music. I think the whole “Social Networks” and cheap ways to record music has opened the path to a lot of bands. Even seeing youngsters with band tee shirts in college and high school, there is, I think, a kind of “hype” with alternative rock. You can even see it with the “offset guitars” prices skyrocketing. The only thing I noticed is that “alternative music” now as kind of a commercial aesthetics. Every time we play along with other band, I stay stunned with the clarity of their sound, the ability of the guitar player. Even if it’s heavy, it’s still “acceptably” heavy. I think I never, or only once, saw a band with a sound as raw as ours. I mean I’m not even able to tell if my distortion sound will be good or not, I usually just set a clean and a distorted sound, and play with to have different levels of energy. It’s not even about the type of sound really, just about what effect it does live when you crush a 20€ Behringer distortion pedal. I don’t mean we have the “true indie alternative grunge” sound, but just I don’t know, I don’t feel sound clarity really matters to us as much as for other bands I’ve heard in Paris.
Kevin: There are a lot of rock bands here, but not a lot play the type of music we play. Most play more technical or more fancy tunes. I think people nowadays are more into pop music or rap music, maybe there is a small renewal, but I think there are a lot of bands and not so much audience, so the quality has raised and only the most “commercial” bands can make it. It’s like these bullshit structures making emerging bands compete with paying votes, these are only cash machines and have nothing to do with music.
Stef: There is I think a comeback of rock with bands like Maneskin, but if you look at the charts, most of the top artists are DJs or singers alone. I think the concept of a “band” doesn’t really mean anything anymore as it only takes one person to score a hit, and most music industry stars are one-person entities now.
Sofian: Regarding the venues, Les Disquaires is a really clean one, with a top sound engineer. You can really enjoy shows there. The other one is Le Supersonic near Bastille. It’s my favorite place for live music.
Stef: I don’t often go to gigs with bands I don’t know, so I often go to big venues like La Cigale, L’Olympia, and others I must say.
Kevin: I don’t live in Paris, so….
Alright, excitingly, in your Soundcloud bio you guys mention that you’ve got an EP in process, aiming to be released in 2023! I don’t want you guys to give too much away of course, element of surprise and all that, but what can you guys tell us about this oncoming EP? Like what can we expect sound-wise? Will there be a few new tracks on there or is it a compilation of current Soundcloud bangers?
Sofian: Indeed we’re preparing the recording of a 4-5 tracks EP. It will feature some songs we already released, but also a few tracks we play live but haven’t recorded yet. We’ll be thrilled to hear how it could sound with a professional sound engineer working on it ! We’d like to keep that raw sound, but mixed in a way where each part can be heard more efficiently. We wouldn’t like to sound too clean in any way.
Also, kind of a weird one, as I was scrolling through your Instagram I came across a couple of photos where you guys have been renovating your instruments, a 2004 Fender Cyclone to be precise. While I’m kinda gutted you removed the little dolphin sticker the refurb is amazing! Have you renovated guitars before? And if so, how did you get into it? Also, besides the paint job, is there anything about the guitar that you change, like to change the sound perhaps?
Sofian: So that Squire Cyclone was my first guitar, I got it when I was 14. My upstairs neighbours had water leaking through the ceiling as I was on holidays, and when I came back, my guitar was ruined. So I bought a sonic Grey Squire Mustang in 2021, when we started the band. I started modding the Mustang with new pickups (a single Seymour Duncan and a Humbucker in bridge position), then installed a tune-o-matic bridge and a tailpiece, and then switched the tuners for locking tuners. I had never done this before but my father helped me a lot, and had the tools for it. Unfortunately, the dolphin sticker that I got in a pizza box had to be removed during the process. Then I went back to my poor Cyclone and removed all the rust, cleaned and oiled the neck, and cleaned the body. She came back to life pretty well !
Stef: I try to get a rather clean sound of bass, since Sofian’s sound is pretty muddy and raw, the only for my sound to cut through is to have some mid-high frequencies and not to be too rough. I usually use a fretwarp on the head of my bass in order to keep it clean.
Kevin: I tend to play on crash cymbals a lot, aggressively and powerfully, so I recently was gifted a new pair of Meinl Pure Alloy Medium Crash cymbals, that provide a more “warm” sound while not sounding to powerful. I would have used thinner cymbals but they usually break faster, so with me they would have broken immediately…
And finally, thank you ever so much for chatting with us today, we really appreciate it! I have no further questions so here is a good time to let us know of anything I may have missed out on, plug any new merch or singles, and let everyone know about upcoming tour dates!
Sofian: Well, we have some new singles available across all major streaming services now, wo feel free to give them a listen. Also, of course we’re looking for a structure that could point us in the right direction for the future, and maybe help us finding gigs, and record our EP since we basically just play music and aren’t too aware of the way things work in music industry. We’d also like to thank you, Mez, for all the interesting questions you’ve prepared and all the work you did on this interview, allowing us to fully introduce our little band and our work.
Kevin: Youngsters, smokers die younger so don’t do drugs, get in a band and play music.