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Topic ClosedPulsar interview oct 09

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philippe View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Pulsar interview oct 09
    Posted: October 13 2009 at 08:33

::: PULSAR :::

The legendary French space-rock group. On their debut "Pollen" the media had them promoted as the French PINK FLOYD, though they were a lot more original than that would suggest, with much use of flute and electronics. They had a uniquely French sound. PULSAR's third album, issued in 1977, "Halloween" (a conceptual "horror-rock" symphonic opus) is generally considered one of the ten best symphonic albums in the world. A masterpiece of refinement. Definitely indispensable for all progressive rock fans! "The Strands of the Future" contained beautiful, spacey, symphonic progressive music along the lines of PINK FLOYD, GENESIS, the early ELOY albums. This album featured some of their finest work, particularly the 26 minute mostly instrumental title-track. The atmosphere is enhanced by fantastic passages for mellotron. Probably as good or even better than "Halloween"! An excellent album!

(Victor Bosch and Gilbert Grandil back in the early 70's)

::: INTERVIEW (07/10/09) :::

special thanks to Bob (Easy Livin) for the help related to the translation

Place: Lyon
Members: Victor Bosch (drums) / Gilbert Grandil (guitars) / Jacques Roman (keyboards)

P.B: how did you meet each other and what was the origin of the group?

J.R: This was a long time ago. There was an announcement in the youth club, I went there and it began like that. I met Victor and I knew Gilbert a little bit. We rented a place to rehearse. We began to make blues and rythm 'n' blues covers.

V.B: The first meeting place was the youth club of Saint Jus (city of Lyon). At the time that worked well. We began as a trio. We started to make some blues rock for fun and for training. It was the successful period for rythm 'n' blues with Otis Redding, the period of Stax and in parallel in the United Kingdom it was the British blues with John Mayall, Eric Clapton's blues breakers (.) You always begin with the blues because you think it's easier, but to tell the truth that's not always the case.

P.B: During the very beginning of Pulsar, how would you describe the impact and the success of the " progressive rock movement in France?

V.B: At this time, we quickly realised that we were witnessing the birth of a new musical movement. Thanks to Jacques who is always in search of new things, we discovered the " summer of love", which came to France with just a little delay. During this period there was The Nice, Pink Floyd, and Soft Machine; roughly speaking we discovered them in 1967. For us that was a true revolution. From there we began to play by having a cohesion of the group. We had not found our way yet then and it was from these musical discoveries that we became seriously involved in progressive music and all this movement was doing. It was part of our generation. It was convenient for us, it arrived just at this moment with all its contesting against the political power. As keyboards got a more important place in the band, Jacques starts playing keyboards and his brother stood in for him on bass guitar.

P.B: In your opinion, which bands opened up the way to this type of language and musical expression on the French musical scene?

V.B: At the end of the 60's we were very isolated in France. We played in caves. There was not a dense network, it was a little bit «everyone for himself». At the regional level it was much more difficult. In Lyon we were the only ones who were into this music style, for a lot of people it was much too challenging. And we the French did not have many contacts, communication was difficult with the outside world. We realized about the intensity of this movement later on. In 1968 we really started to be kept informed about all that was happening. Pink Floyd who came to play here at the theatre in the VIII district. For us it was a revelation, we were not the same after that concert. From then we changed the course of the band, so it marked the real début of Pulsar. That gave a direction to the band, we said to ourselves that there were a lot of things we could do. We said to ourselves that we could make fabulous things.

P.B: From this turning point, did you become familiar with the musical scene at the national level, holding meetings with other musicians' communities?

V.B: what happened was that we began by composing our own songs. We eventually integrated into small circles and we became aware that the others showed the same desire for membership of the movement.

P.B: To which extent did bands who became "classic" such as Genesis, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Eloy and the others influenced your compositions? In terms of the style or musical signatures, what distinguishes you from these bands? In other words what defines and characterizes the sound of Pulsar?

J.P: Our sound was primarily one of our instruments; it was the result of our research and what we were listening to. Later on we began to compose on thematics. In the beginning we started with some pieces written by my brother then we tried to give them substance and colour. When we listen to our music we can feel a musical sensibility close to Genesis or Pink Floyd but when we are inside the music and when we are making it this is less apparent and is something that we do not realise.

G.G: They are individualities which met. What makes the sound of the group it is that we learned to make things together.

P.B: how do you agree when you start the process of composition, is it from a pooling of ideas suggested by each other?

J.P: Yes, it is a process of collective creation. Somebody brings an idea which inspires an idea for somebody else. Later on we may take several directions until we are all happy with the result. It is this moment of connection between our mutual ideas that is essential and which we try to shape in a concrete way.

V.B: It is also interesting to say that the influences that you can credit are rather sensory at the beginning, what excites you and what does not. However it is true that at the beginning the inspiration for us was Pink Floyd. Nevertheless when you listen to Pink Floyd records then those of Pulsar you realize that there is no similarity. Just as Jacques said before we have never tried to imitate them. We appreciated the fact that this music influenced us most and the fact that it allowed us to develop various climates, to enrich the sense of the musical colours.

P.B: beyond the musical influences, the music of Pulsar seems to invite us to an immersed journey in distant imaginary landscapes, full of fantasy and made of magic sensations and vaporous reveries. Do you develop certain references to visual, symbolic or literary representations?

V.B: at first it was the music which brought us together, we became friends. What fed our music though is the imagination, the perception, our conception of the world and the things we share together. For us the music was essential, but what was more important was the result of the communion between these four people. Subconsciously, we dug into various sources but we never tried to reproduce something. For example, on the album "Halloween", what influenced us first was a rather esoteric text which I had written. As we had listened to a lot Gustav Malher's fifth symphony, we had also been touched by the film "Death in Venice" and we reflected on the idea of a confrontation between time and the absolute. The result on "Halloween" is the convergence of these various states, impressions and convictions. On "Pollen" we started to work with our Pink Floyd influences. For the album "At the Strand of the Future" we first created the picture and the symbolism of the background, with the tortured and phantasmagorical influences of Lovecraft (for example). This is what what makes the strength of this group, every time we have to start with a theme. Little by little that is created, but we don't plan it as such. It occurs intuitively because the link between the members of the band is very strong. We have no need to speak, everybody goes in the same direction. This happens on stage too, during the improvised parts of the existing pieces.

J.R: This was the case for example with the piece "The horse of Syllogie " on the first album. It was a piece with a beginning and an end but without middle, allowing us to improvise. During every concert it was different.

V.B: The theme of the last album came from this idea of meeting years later and therefore we used this metaphor of ashes. There are traces, among the remains which spatter again in a sensational way. That is the starting point. All the texts since the beginning speak about a present world but lived in by somebody who belongs to the past, without being nostalgic. There is a logic, it is a past but in the service of the present time. For the time being, we will not be able to make an album. First of all it is a lot of work, we took two years to record "Memory Ashes". Also, the alchemy has to occur, it is necessary for us to be in the right state of mind; it is for this reason that we spend so much time in studio. This is the main difference between this bands, its history and other, more basic bands. The making of an album requires all our efforts, it demands an incredible abundance of energy.

P.B: compared to the first Pulsar, what are the innovative aspects?

V.B: Today what influences me a lot is a mixture of things. All those interferences and a do-it-yourself sense of creation which we can particularly appreciate in the House and more greatly in contemporary electro music. When I listen to mixtures of sounds I recognize the history of my musical influences but I also plunge into the recent discoveries such as Radiohead, because they are one of the bands who are most representative of what what we could appreciate previously in bands such as the Pink Floyd. I go almost everywhere in my research, but always looking for pieces and small sequences, and not only into the musical domain. Today there are fewer key bands, there will always be strongly established bands but what interests me is these passages, these footbridges we can establish between modern sound collages (for example in the electro) with our music. I listen to everything, but naturally I select.

P.B: Why was the group dissolved after the album "Gorlitz" (1989)

V.B: No, the band has never been dissolved. The problem we had is that during the 1980 there was the rise of punk music. I have no problem with it, music is cyclical. Punk was the opposite of the previous musical movement. The band has suffered from it and the record label was less active. Except for the major bands who continued to sell many albums, numerous bands disappeared or continued but the quality of their albums declined. We participated in a theatrical experiment which gave birth to the album "Bienvenu au conseil d'administration" (1980). It was a huge success, it was a beautiful experience and we had a lot of pleasure making it. It had a real avant-garde atmosphere for its time. We had the choice of continuing with the theatre but that would have been an error, because we would not doing that today. It was at that very moment that we began to relegate the band to the background. Jacques and Gilbert worked on other musical projects in quite a different context, without referring at all to Pulsar. If we had continued, I think it would have been very bad for the atmosphere the group. We were aware that a few musicians had appropriated the name of their group in the absence of the founder members who participated in the development of an original and unique sound, and that nothing good came out of it. It is just like if you remove Charlie Watts of the Stones, they are no longer the Rolling Stones, they will never be the same. There was a time when the group was dormant until the publication of "Gorlitz" in 1989. In a sense it was an indication of what was going to becomeof the band later.

P.B: Today what is the audience for Pulsar?

V.B: There was a strong experience which relaunched the band to the public. The new director at the head of the opera of Lyon called me to prepare a program at the amphitheatre. The idea was to perform around a thematic among the other artists from various backgrounds (painters etc...) with my own universe, without returning to the entity Pulsar. Someone at the opera, an ardent supporter of Pulsar ,said to me that everything was there except Pulsar. He convinced me to reform the band for the concert. We played two nights to a sell out audience. I think that the public who are interested in our music go beyond those who are interested in so called progressive music. It goes far, the band has always been based on eclecticism and complementarity.

Edited by philippe - October 13 2009 at 10:17
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Luca Pacchiarini View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 15 2009 at 14:54
Very very good indeed.
Nice interview...
I recommend Halloween to everyone
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Cesar Inca View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2009 at 20:45
Once again, thank you Philippe!!  -  this is a very special interview from where I stand, an eternal devotee of PULSAR's music.
Kind regards from Lima.
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memowakeman View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2010 at 16:47

I believe it is worth bumping this nice interview.

Follow me on twitter @memowakeman
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Thierry View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2011 at 08:34
I know the band well, being a friend of Gilbert, and I can tell you I enjoyed a lot this interview.Thumbs Up
Progressively yours,

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