Concrete Knives are likely 2013’s most exciting band that you’ve never heard of. Concrete Knives are a five-piece from Caen, France, who appreciate all of the most joyously fun ways of being abrasive. They’re either the toughest and most morose power poppers in the world, or the most playful post-punks. In February their Be Your Own King LP dropped in the states on Bella Union. It is a sassy blend of synthetics and primal snottiness. It would actually be the perfect collection “summertime jams” for an angsty teen… It’s super fun, but without seeming naïve of the bullshit that surrounds daily life in the West. I recently got a chance to chat with Concrete Knives’ Nicolas Delahaye about all of this and why you should be listening to his beautifully destructive noises.
Izzy Cihak: I have to ask, what is it that inspired your moniker?
Nicolas Delahaye: We wanted the most destructive band name ever.
IC: Philosophically, I like the idea of calling your debut Be Your Own King. What were the biggest influences on the album, both musical and non-musical?
ND: We grew up in modest families in a small town in Normandy, France. Answering your questions was something that we have hoped for. The only way to escape from our lives was to be curious and be passionate. It builds our minds. Musically, we feel close to many things but, if we had to keep one, it would be Talking Heads. They were able to synthesize so many influences into one music. That’s fascinating. Beck did the same, as well. More widely in daily life, so many things inspire us. I don’t know if you follow soccer in the U.S., but FC Barcelona is the most harmonious thing we have in Europe.
IC: How would you describe your sound to the Yanks? You’ve made quite a splash in Europe, but the American public is largely unfamiliar with your output.
ND: Our approach is mainly punk. We worship accidents and mistakes. Our sound is direct, spontaneous, and raw. We incorporate our colors, our fantasies, our influences. People would sometime criticize us about being pretty dispersed and messy, at a time when everyone is looking for his own crew, but we keep doing things by instinct.
IC: Do you have a favorite song on the album, or a track that you feel best characterizes where you are now, musically? “Greyhound Racing” is definitely my favorite, but I think” Happy Mondays” could be the perfect live opener.
ND: Musically, we have a really good feeling with “Truth.” This is a song that came on the last drive. It’s more mature in sound and, at the same time, it’s not perfect. I remember that song “Steak for Chicken” from the Moldy Peaches. Kimya Dawson and Adam Green were not singing exactly the same words, but the main thought was the same. When I wrote “Greyhound Racing,” I was angry. I was thinking about some people who treat humans like greyhound dogs. They bet on you, and as soon you lose, they get rid of you. This sense of pride and insolence keeps growing inside me, in moments of doubt. “Happy Mondays” is a young song, innocent, but quite schizophrenic. It’s one of the first songs we composed, five years ago.
IC: You are signed to Bella Union. What are your thoughts on the label? Do you have any particular favorite labelmates? I’m quite a fan of Mountain Man and Veronica Falls.
ND: It’s an honor to be part of Bella Union, especially for a French band. It’s exciting. It is the kind of the thing that makes you want to be better. We also love Veronica Falls. Their first record is really good. Zun Zun Egui is definitely our favorite. Their music is so curious and singular. I Break Horses is also brilliant. And Mountain Man are really cool. I wouldn’t mind being on tour with those girls.
IC: What are your plans and hopes for 2013? Any chance that your stateside fans may be able to experience your show? If so, what can be expected of it?
ND: We plan to play a lot here in Europe. My main hope is similar to what Damon Albarn said about his first album with Blur: “Have an opinion on my music and I’ll release my third record.” So we will keep on recording music. We really hope to see you guys before the end of the year.