At Paléo Festival in July I had the chance to have a nice chat with Pierre-Henri (PH) Beyrière and Nelson Schaer, respectively bass player and drummer of Duck Duck Grey Duck a great surfin’ blues band from Geneva. Thank you to Eline Müller of Irascible Music for arranging the interview and a big thanks to PH and Nelson for telling me more about Duck Duck Grey Duck, their future projects and their cool way of living for music 🙂
The Liberation: I saw you for the first time last year (2014) at La Nuit des images !
- PH: Aah La Nuit des images !
- Nelson: At the Elysée, yes.
- PH: But did you see us in the afternoon or in the evening ?
The Liberation: Both actually.
- PH: Great !
The Liberation : Yes, because at the time I was working at the museum and I was there for the organization and all that.
- Nelson: Nice !
The Liberation: At the time you were recording your first album Here Come… .
- Nelson: When was it ?
- PH: Wasn’t it in September last year ?
The Liberation: It was at the end of June.
- Nelson: Oh yeah we weren’t done yet.
- PH: We were full in it, yeah we had not finished it yet.
The Liberation: And now you are at Paléo, it’s a big jump….
- PH: It’s a step, cuz we’ve had plenty of cool dates in Switzerland and abroad, at festivals, as headliners and so for us it’s a step. Perhaps it’s an illogical step I have no idea, but it’s a step and we keep on going afterwards. We’re going to Germany this winter, we have some dates in France again and in German Switzerland so it’s on-going.
The Liberation: OK, that’s cool. Here Come… is an interesting title for an album, is it a sort of presentation ? Here Come … Duck Duck Grey Duck
- Nelson: Listen we thought about the title for this album for a long time, it took time to find it and we looked for plenty of things. It’s true that it’s our first album and see, we have a band name which is already strong enough, marking. So yeah, in the end the aim was, as you say, a sort of introduction to our band.
- PH: To this new adventure.
- Nelson: Yes, to this new adventure.
The Liberation: Duck Duck Grey Duck’s music makes the listener travel in far places like Louisiana. Was it conceived while travelling ?
- PH (laughs)
- Nelson: No, not really, the music on the album was conceived in a very spontaneous way. First we did a day in the studio to record for a snowboard video. There you are, my brother is a snowboard professional and he’s been shooting films for a long time. We’ve always said that it would be great for me to do the music of these videos. And at the beginning we were in the studio to do that. But the day in the studio was so productive that we recorded plenty of tracks that we’d composed in the studio the same day. So you see it’s not something which was premeditated or …
- PH: Thought
- Nelson: Thought. It was done really spontaneously. Then after this day we had so many nice and cool tracks that we told ourselves “OK, we did a day, it’s cool! We need to do a second one and then do an album!” And so we did. So it wasn’t really while travelling. But now, given that we tour a lot, there we are creating new tracks and such.
- PH: While we travel, while we are on tour.
The Liberation: OK, perfect! Robin Girod’s voice as well as the blues influence in your music are often compared to The Black Keys. What do you think about it? Did you see them last year when they played Paléo?
- PH: Absolutely not, for us it’s not really a reference. I’m not sure we’ve really listened to their albums. They have ten years of albums behind them. We didn’t think it like that, it’s really spontaneous, often there are 2-3 things sounding like that.
- Nelson: I think we have the same references as they do. We like the same music as they do in my opinion. And so… We’ve more listened to Dan Auerbach’s solo album, that I really found very strong. But we listened more to that than to The Black Keys in general. It’s true, PH almost didn’t listen to it, I did a little bit also through some pupils who wanted to play songs from The Black Keys. Robin didn’t listen to them much either. But I’m sure we have many references in common.
The Liberation: OK.
- Nelson: But other than that it’s really a super band!
The Liberation: How does your composition process work? Do the sounds or the lyrics come first?
- PH: Well there are many elements. The first element is the acoustic sound, the reunion of the three with everyone’s touch and history which creates spontaneously a sound. Then everyone brings his little thing, his influences, his wishes and then, there you are, there’s a start which begins like that where everyone brings something. That’s how we compose.
- Nelson: Yeah, by us it’s really the sound and music which come first. And then the words, but sometimes we give ourselves themes for the tracks, we tell ourselves: “OK, the track is going to be that”. I think Robin constructs the lyrics according to the track. According to the power of the track, the groove and all of that.
The Liberation: Is he (Robin Girod) the only one writing the lyrics?
- PH: He’s the one who writes the lyrics yeah.
The Liberation: Do you have any projects for the future of your band?
- Nelson: Yes, there are many, but you know our album was released in September so it’s not so long ago.
- PH: February!
- Nelson: Oh yeah, sorry it was released in February so it makes 6 months.
- PH: Not even, yes.
- Nelson: Not more, so there’s still life for this album. We’re going to tour and defend this album but we’ve always plenty of ideas for future projects. Now we’re preparing a project, it’s the three of us so Duck Duck Grey Duck with a singer from Philadelphia who’s called Brandy Butler but who lives in Zürich. She asked us to play with her and we started rehearsing, composing, writing new songs and we’re gonna do an album with her. At the moment we are in the composition process of songs and it’s not gonna be Duck Duck Grey Duck nor Brandy Butler, but a mix of both, another thing but it’s gonna be cool! And then we’ll think about a Duck Duck Grey Duck second album in trio but we have still a bit of time, but we’re already thinking about it.
The Liberation: How was playing at Paléo just before ?
- PH: Oh yeah I think we’ve enjoyed ourselves. We were afraid; we could have done something wrong and such. And then the public was there, and we need that, we need a public so that we can express our stuff and have a minimum of exchange, a bit sweaty, a bit cool.
- Nelson: But it was hot so it evened out the hour (5pm). It wasn’t midnight, but it was 5pm with the heat wave, so it was hot! It was cool!
- PH : But it’s better at night!
The Liberation : Yeah it’s better at night, you’re right. I also had a question for Robin Girod but maybe you can answer it.
- PH : Of course.
The Liberation : He’s also the singer and guitarist of Mama Rosin. How does he jungle between the two groups? As well as with Moi J’Connais Records?
- Nelson: So, in reality at the moment Mama Rosin is on break. But well it was like that, it’s not because there’s Duck Duck Grey Duck that Mama Rosin is on break. It’s the circumstances, the time and all. Then with Moi J’Connais Records it’s certain that Robin is someone really active and who does many things and who tries to make the scene in the region move a lot. So he does a lot of things simultaneously with his bands, the labels and all of that.
- PH: He has many things, he has so much energy!
- Nelson: Many ideas as well!
- PH: He is producer for many bands, he launched a new label called Cheptel Records, he has Moi J’Connais Records which just made a magnificent reedition of a thing of the reunion of Alain Peters, so it moves all the time. Then it’s also a way for an individual who has a lot of charisma to live, because he does only that, he doesn’t have a side job so he needs to find other means, the resources of activity for him in order to nourish himself and then yeah in order to have a bit of money.
- Nelson: Then afterwards in a general rule it’s worth it! It’s also our case, we also have other projects, other musical projects, other bands. It feeds you, because if you’re all the time on the same project, the same thing, after a while you’re fed up. The fact of having another project gives you ideas, PH is working on a new project, I have jazz bands. There you are, Duck Duck Grey Duck is the central element but aside we develop other things.
- PH: It’s essential yeah.
- Nelson I organize concerts, PH he did it in the past as well. Well we live for music all the time.
The Liberation: What do you prefer : play on stage or organize events ?
- PH: I think we prefer playing. They are two different things in the pleasure level. To play in small clubs where it’s really warm and where people are a bit hysterics.
- Nelson: No, organize concerts brings you other satisfactions which are also cool.
The Liberation: I’m done, thanks a lot!
- Nelson & PH: Thank you very much! It was really great!