Rise and Fall of a Decade Interview; The French Song is Dead

Monday, June 15 2009 @ 03:00 AM PDT

Contributed by: Sage

Part I: Generalities

Heathen Harvest: :Firstly, thank you so much for accepting my interview request. I know you two have been through some hardships since 2007 and its very strong of you to at least offer this one last insight.into the band. Late last year you released your sixth, and perhaps final, album "Love it or Leave it" on the prestigious Ars Musica Diffundere. What has the response to your new effort been thus far?

Thierry Sintoni:  We have good reactions from magazine ,fanzine and internet magazine. Fans leave us message on our Myspace site and they usually like our last album . The idea of this album was to reward the work of Pierre, he had worked hard before becoming ill and we finded  unfair to let his work unknown .

HH: Rise and Fall of a Decade has Four notable videos, "French Song is Dead", "Globe Trotter", "Hot in Winter, Cold in Summer", and most recently "Don't Save the Museum (Nemo Sandman Remix), which was also made by the person remixing the track. Can you explain what came to him doing this video? Why was this chosen other than his obvious participation in the remix?

TS:  Nemo has made all of our video from the start and we wanted that he made the last. We proposed him to use his own remix for the video of “don t save the museum”.

HH: What have been the views of various music communities on Rise and Fall of a Decade? Though typically considered "New Wave", you branch territories in everything from martial neoclassical to trip hop and back to various ethnic influences (i.e. Latin, French, etc). Have you ever felt "rejected" by fans of any various genres? Have you tried to branch into any genre that you feel you never really got the appropriate credit for doing?

TS:  in fact we do not consider our music as "new wave" but rather as a group of diverse influences including "new wave". We never worried about what the thought of the audience was.We compose the music we love without asking any questions. We always composed exactelly the music  that what we wanted to listen to , without taking care of our fans (sorry).

HH: Are you satisfied overall with your career in Rise and Fall... ? Do you feel the band missed out on anything overall, with the exception of the future you would have had had Pierre persevered.

TS:  Yes, we are satisfied because we have always done what we wanted, without compromise.Our artistic choices were always those who fit the more to the period we compose our albums.

HH: Tell me about "Cube-like People". What was the purpose of this short lived project and why did it only appear in 2001's "Litter and Sounds"?

TS:  At that time we decided to compose our songs  differently by using a lot of samples.The result was far from the usual compositions of Rafoad, we have therefore decided not to release the album under the name of Rafoad.

HH: Can you tell us about any other projects that either of you may currently have?

TS:  I just finished a soundtrack for a short french movie called “plus loin encore”, we are also working on a new album, but it is still only a draft and it is not successful for the moment, but we fell confident.

HH: Outside of music, is there anything currently going on for either of you that you would like to share? Art, literature, etc.

TS:  Like most people,we read books ,go to show or cinema but not serious enough to make it interesting for the talk.

HH: Do you both agree completely with Pierre's views on the various subjects you've covered in the past socially and politically, or do you mainly keep to the music?

TS:  Even if we share the point of wiev of  Pierre in most of the subjects he used to talk about,we spent all of our time composing music  and we discovered Pierre’s work at the last moment ,when we recorded his voice.

HH: With such a "global" perspective in the music of Rise and Fall of a Decade, why has the band primarily decided to use English as their singing language? Have other languages (other than French) been used in the past?

TS:  We used the English because we consider this language as the most appropriate for our music, exept a cover of the Serge Gainsbourg song “Melody Nelson” and our last album song "les petites baionnettes," Pierre never sung in french.

HH: What are some of the primary literary and visual influences on Rise and Fall...?

TS:  We love the French cinema of the years 1960-1970 as well as english cinema(Ivory, joffe,Greenaway...).About literature, it is very varied, for my part I am an absolute fan of Georges Simenon.

HH: Are your live shows as strong visually as the intense lyrics that accompany the music?

TS:  Really, I don’t know .We were seven musicians on stage (no bands,no machines)and we played our music seriously (too may be). No ornamentation on scene, just the music and Pierre  and Sandy singing on the front of the stage ,both of them had a lot of charisma .

Part II: Birth, Evolution, and Function

HH: What external influenced do you draw upon for inspiration in your music? Obviously a good deal of Pierre's lyrics were of a social or political nature, but the music sometimes doesn't match the words. Do you consciously look to evoke alternate feelings in the listener by using this measure?

TS:  Of course, we have often used this technique of opposition between music and lyrics , But it was not a general rule, just a means. In general, our inspiration came from what we heard in every age (groups, soundtracks ...)

HH: What has brought you all together under Rise and Fall of a Decade? How did you know each other before the music and what led to you wanting to create music that is so varied and ornate?

TS:  We were first friends and each had is own musical experience with a band.After a            “ cocteau twins” concert that we had seen in Paris, we decided to compose music together .We find our way very quickly ,but whithout knowing exactly why , I think it was just good people at the good time.

HH: Your music is beautiful and ornate, complex and original, but was there ever a time in Rise and Fall of a Decade's career that you can remember feeling like music alone couldn't convey what you were trying to express? Did Pierre ever struggle with feeling like there was more that had to be done than his strong lyrics?

TS:  I think that we do not ask us so many questions when we compose our music .If we like what you compound, we keep it and work on it, if we don’t , we erase and do it again.This is something we feel immediatly. Pierre François used to work in the same binary way.

HH: What kinds of people have you always hoped your music would reach and what messages have yourselves and Pierre been trying to convene since the initial album? What is the single strongest principal in Rise and Fall of a Decade?

TS:  Honestly, Pierre wrote texts for removing from his mind what he saw, heard, felt and that without thinking somebody will read it.  There is no message, just a point of view: his own way to decrypt the world around him.

HH: How have your individual spiritual paths infiltrated Rise and Fall... ? Is there a spiritual side to the project?

TS:  Not at all ,not spiritual, no etheral, nothing which finished with “al”

HH: With some of your more ethnic tracks, how do you look to tie together the music with the lyrics? Does the style of music being composed reflect a region of interest in Pierre's lyrics?

TS:  Actually there is no relationship between the choice of instruments and text. The arrangements sometimes come after the writing, there are no rules, the important it is that the song sounds.

HH: With Pierre's passing, do you look back on Rise and Fall... with any regrets? Do you feel that it has changed your life in a way artistically that you must move in a new direction?

TS:  I must say that the fact of having met Pierre and Sandy has changed my life artistically, they have both a very strong mind. I think none of us regrets the artistic choice of Rafoad, what we did was the result of a large reflexion.I think that I will use my experience with Rafoad to go in another direction.

HH: What led to the long hiatus in 2008 for Rise and Fall of a Decade, other than the formation of "Cube-like People"? Why didn't you involve new musicians for this project?

TS:  When we started to write, we did not know under what name the group will get out the album.But we had a preference for Rafoad because we returned to our old composition method.We didn’t involve new musicians because that wasn’t our way..

HH: There is a track on Noisy but Empty by the same name. What is the tie between this track and the project that formed later?

TS:  I’m sorry there is no track called Noisy but empty. [EDITOR'S NOTE:  The track being referred to was not "Noisey but Empty", but rather "Cube-like People".]

Part III: Love it or Leave it

HH: What Decade in particular does the name refer to? Or does it simply give creedence to the fact that recent eras seem to be separated into 10-year identities?

TS:  This is exactly the answer. It also gives the idea of a perpetual movement.

HH: Tell us about the tie that Carla Picchiantano has to the project. In addition to writing "In the Time when..." which has the most notably "trip hop" sound on the album, she appears in the tribute CD with her normal project Speaking Silence.

TS:  The tie between Carla and rafoad members is friendship. She was very fond of Pierre and really wanted to participate in the album (we mixed the album after the death of Pierre). I proposed her to sing on “ in the time when “,because Pierre didn’t write lyrics for this title, and she has proposed us a cover.

HH: Could you give us a brief run-down on the who the artists featured on the tribute are? There are a number of them which aren't recognizable names in the industry.

TS:  Bands who offered their participation were either friends or people who had known pierre, or fans who wanted to participate to the tribute.For example our former drummer on stage (stephan Haeri) created is own band (Telepopmusic) and participate under the name of 2square.But most of the band are unknown.

HH: What led to Palace of Worms' "O Quam Tristis" supplying their version of The Hope Seller to the tribute?

TS:  We had a mutual friend who has offered them to participate in tribute.They accepted. That’s it.

HH: Likewise, Prikosnovenie's "Collection d'Arnell-andrea" and their version of Arch of Lament?

TS:  We love their version of this title. This is a group whose work is widely recognized in France.We were proud that they agree to make a cover.We know them for a long time.

HH: What are you most proud of with this release? How far was Pierre aware of the album in his passing? Was the tribute CD the reason it took so long for the album to be released?

TS:  We are proud to have been able to produce this album despite the difficulties we met.This album was made after the death of Pierre, he didn’t ear the final result.The production of the tribute was very fast, there was a very short “deadline” for the bands.The release of the album was long because Gerald (Blackrain records) wanted first to release reditions of our former albums.

HH: Do you remember Pierre being overall satisfied with the album? How did he feel personally about "Don't Save the Museum"?

TS:  As I explained, Pierre did not know the final version of the album, but he was very proud of some title like “bagdad is shining” , “don’t save the museum” or “les petites baionnettes”..

HH: To what, exactly, does the title refer?

TS:  The game is to discover what the title refer . Globaly , it’ s talking  about U.S. soldiers abuses in Iraq.

HH: Do you feel that the track "In the Time when" belongs with the album? Its strange that it seems a love song pushed into the middle of much political and social frustrations, but somehow it fits well. It gives another side to the passion that is already present with Pierre's lyrics.

TS:  The lyrics were written by Carla in memory of Pierre.This song was added to the album after his death, that the reason why it seems so strange.  But , in my point of view ,this song had to appear in this album.

HH: In "The Federation of Love", I assume he's speaking about the war in Iraq in general, though there were a number of other European countries that contributed troops to the coalition including Ukraine, The Netherlands, and Norway, amongst others. Its obvious why the US and UK were singled out, but why Spain and Italy and not the others?

TS:  I will try to answer like Peter 's would have done if you had asked him the question.Most européan countries which you speak just follow the movement. United Kingdom, Italy and Spain have supported the lie of Bush in Europe to justify their statements, explaining that the best way to have peace was to go to war in Iraq .

HH: I'm assuming "Don't Save the Musem" is a sarcastic remark towards man's decadent affinity for money and power as we turn our backs to the things that matter in the world?

TS:  I think Pierre would have answered this question in a best way than me, but part of your assumption is correct. Even life goes after the money, “don’ t save the museum” means  : first save people and only after ,save what you want.

HH: It's obvious that Pierre didn't have a problem with speaking openly, especially with the present "Fuck You's" in this track. This seemed like, perhaps, the darkest album that has come from Rise and Fall of a Decade lyrically. Do you feel that Pierre was becoming somewhat of a misanthropist in his finaly years?

TS:  Pierre suffered like many people from what was happening in our world. His words were the result of the situation. And if the album seems to be dark, it is because the period was too.  Actually It was beneficial for Pierre of writing those texts and using his freedom of speech.

HH: Were there any tracks cut from Love it or Leave it that may end up somewhere later down the road?

TS:  Pierre did not have time to write lyrics for all the songs which were intended for this album. On some, Peter had just sung without words, but we don’ t want to produce these pieces. Pierre wouldn’t have apreciate it.

Part IV: Finale

HH: Tell us about your most memorable live experience with Rise and Fall... Were there any specifically special shows over your career? Any unexpected events?

TS:  We participated in many festivals, some of which (like in Liepzig) were Gothic, which for us was very strange because we do not belong to this movement. To be honest, Pierre and Sandy loved to be on the scene, and I thought it was horrible: repeat all the time same titles presents , in my point of wiew ,no artistic interest .But I must say that I was particularly surprised by the audiance enthousiasme .

HH: What is your advice for artists currently trying to create meaningful music in their own rights today, whom aren't afraid to speak openly and strongly about their views?

TS:  I have no advice to give, whether those artists have decided to send their career in this direction, they must do it. But they have to know that this is a very complicated art, Pierre was very balanced in its texts, it takes sometimes several readings to understand the exact meaning of his words. The poetry of Pierre was a good way to talk about unpleasant things and maybe the best way.

HH: What do you feel is the final legacy that Pierre has left? Personally, it was an immense breath of fresh air and very touching to see a man with such passion still alive in this scene, writing about something meaningful and not simply adhering to cliche's that often hold artists back.

TS:  It’s hard to give an artistic point of view on Pierre. I was especially amazed by his human qualities, his way of seeing and analyzing life.Of course he had a beautiful voice and magnificient lyrics ,and it was pleasant to work with him because he gave me the energy when I was missing in.

HH: Did Pierre have any final wishes regarding the band? Do you not feel that he would have wanted you to continue your collective fight? Or do you feel like an entity without a voice now?

TS:  Pierre didn’t have “final” wishes for the band because he thought he could survive his illness.
So we never talk about the band without him, that’s why I have no answer to this particular question.

HH: Where do you go from here? Is there still work to be done with Ars Musica Differundere regarding Rise and Fall... or has this partnership ended with this release?

TS:  I wish much to know the answer to all these questions. I continue to compose, I hope that Sandy will find the strength to sing on my songs, then we'll see.But I know something will happen ,I don’t know what or when.

HH: Thank you, again, for accepting this interview. I personally want you to know that what Pierre has done has not and will not be forgotten. He's influenced me a great deal just by seeing the undying passion that he held and supported until the end without falter. His memory will burn on with anyone this music touches. Please, feel free to take this last section to say whatever you feel needs said, or anything else important that I may have failed to see a question for.

TS:  Thank you to have suggested this interview.That was very difficult to answer your questions, I usally avoid to ask it myself .To understand my way of thinking, you have to know that the death of Pierre is important for me because I lose my best friend , the fact that Rafoad doesn’t exist anymore means nothing to me . I’ve no regrets ,only good souvenir, great experience.