Castles, mountains and woods are just a few unusual places, where you can find Mars Red Sky. The French trio recently served their fans the new album The Task Eternal. I had the opportunity to talk with Julien and Jimmy about the process of its creation and their concerts.
Your new album The Task Eternal is coming out very soon. Was the writing and recording process different from the previous ones?
Julien: This time we went to a secluded place in a castle where we composed the songs and stayed there over the last summer. We started working on the number of songs then we were almost ready to record the entire album, but we still needed some time. After the first rehearsal session, we went to the studio and did the first recording session in Bordeaux. We liked the place in the castle very much, so we decided to get back there early in the beginning of the year to finish some of the songs that weren’t complete. After that, we went back to the studio for a second time to resume work. That’s how we recorded seven of the eight songs on the album. There’s one instrumental which Jimmy and I did in my little studio at home.
You also collaborated with Igor Sydorenko.
Julien: Yes, we like them [ed. note: Stoned Jesus] very much. We played with them several times. We wanted to put out a single with one of the songs we did – Collector, and we offered him to play the guitar solo. It was after a while, the album was well underway. We sent him the music of the song Collector with the vocals and without solos that Jimmy and I had played. He wrote and recorded a long guitar solo, which he did very well.
Do you know the band MGMT?
Have you seen their video for a Little Dark Age?
Julien: No, I think I only saw two videos from the first album.
When I saw a video for The Proving Grounds immediately thought about Little Dark Age. I was wondering if you have seen it. Of course, it’s not like the same one but got kinda similar frames and the climate itself.
Julien: We’re just looking at it now. I see what you mean. I didn’t even know that they had a new album since the one produced by Sonic Boom a few years ago [ed. note: album Congratulations]. It’s located in a castle. Maybe Seb Antoine, who directed the video, maybe he saw this. We will ask him. He likes a lot of different bands and has a lot of different inspirations.
You said in the other interview that there’s a story behind the album and the EPs covers. Can you tell me a little more about that story?
Julien: Jimmy is the one that mostly came up with the idea, so he will tell you about it.
Jimmy: It’s actually like telling the story from the beginning with Carlos Olmo, the guy who is doing artworks for our covers. Then years after years it’s just kind of storytelling in the color. If you look at the EPs with more accuracy you will find the story. We were trying to write the next part of that in relation and harmony with the music, lyrics and the idea of the new album, which is in the title. You will have a surprise because if you look at the vinyl you will see that it’s a bit special this time because it’s a gatefold. There are two pieces of vinyl inside because the album is a bit longer and we wanted to keep it exactly the same as the CD this time. There’s a big fresco inside. That’s the idea of the album. In the cover, you don’t have the main idea actually. It’s just a part. It’s a bit like the top of the iceberg, as in the Titanic.
Right now I’m curious about that. I see you as a very consistent band. Everything is very well throughout. Julien, you even said in the other interview, that music album is not only songs for you. It’s also an artwork, package, etc. and I see that t in your band. Was it your goal from the beginning to make all things connected so much?
Julien: We’ve always had the feeling that it’s very important. You have music and everything related to that. Since the first album, Jimmy was mostly in charge of the covers and videos’ main direction. There’s an aesthetic that is consistent, exactly like you said. That’s what we are trying to do and we’re happy with that aspect and the fact that we’re also working with the same people all the time. That’s also something that matters to us. We’ve been touring with the same sound engineer Pierre Fillon, who recorded our first album in a small place in Spain. There’s also the guy from artworks – Carlos Olmo – Jimmy was telling you about. He did every one of them from the first seven inches. Then it was different because he was trying things and found the technique that he likes. We liked it too. Ever since he applied that technique to do the other covers there’s something that links everything together. We always like bands that were doing that. It’s not a matter of brand or logo, but coherence. Besides that, it’s nice to be able to do that work with talented people.
Have you ever thought about making any concept album?
Julien: Oh, yes a little bit. The new album is a little bit of a concept one because it’s a fuller vision and on the previous ones like Jimmy was telling you there’s a large fresco. I guess the lyrics, the music and the atmosphere it’s all related. There’s one story that could be easily readable. If you put the albums one after the other there are other little stories. It’s not intentional but we know that we have some tendencies to do that. We play with them instead of trying to create something completely different. Of course, new songs can be an exciting way to widen the spectrum of sounds and textures, but we also have our limits that we like.
This year you played at PALP Festival. It looked like a really nice and cozy event because of the scenery. What was best about that concert?
Julien: The location itself was great. People making it we’re very nice. It was a bit special for us because we have to leave right after we play. We went just for this concert, it wasn’t the tour. We flew over there the night before, we played at noon and then early after the show, we have to go so it would have been nice to stay longer and see the rest of the concerts. The weather wasn’t exactly great, it was a bit rainy, but the atmosphere was nice. We were in the woods, it was more like Twin Peaks, not Hollywood. There’s something very natural. We played in the mountains for the first time.
As a big fan of Twin Peaks, I regret I wasn’t there.
Julien: Last year we played in a place that everybody was dressed in black.
Jimmy: They change name every year because they don’t want to be really known. They sell only 666 tickets in two days. It takes place in Austria.
Julien: It was kinda like PALP Festival, has the same setting.
You played in the woods, in the medieval castle. Have you thought about making a tour in any unusual places?
Jimmy: No, we didn’t manage to do that because there’s a lot of technical issues. It would be complicated. But sometimes we say that we would love to do a tour only in really small places like basements for 100 people. Sometimes we don’t fill more than this but usually, we play in bigger places all the time and it’s always a really good experience to play in really small places like basements for a very small crowd. I think maybe one day we will do a tour with 20 or 25 shows only in really small places for 120 fans.
In November you’re going on a tour with Kadavar. I guess you both have a lot in common. What would you like to gain from this tour?
Julien: Firstly, it will be very happy to see them again. We’ve played with them several times before and they are a great band. Every day of this tour we’ll play with them and another band called Hällas. Discovered them not long ago and they sound great. I haven’t seen any videos or anything yet so that will be surprise.
Jimmy: That will be probably shows in front of 600 people minimum to maybe 1,000 or 1,200. We’re already happy to play in front of such many people and maybe more than half of the audience will discover us. But I hope that most people would like it.
Julien: We have a lot of things in common with Kadavar. A lot of the same music and gear equipment. Once their sound guy did sound for us in Berlin. We have known them for a long time. It would be great to see them again and chat even though it’s always a little bit complicated for me physically because it hurts my neck. They’re so tall and I have to stretch because I’m really small!
Jimmy: I don’t know if Julien is really small. Maybe yes, but the thing I am definitely sure is that guys from Kadavar are giants, especially the drums and bass players.
Definitely, I have to agree with you! I saw them this year, only from the audience, but I can say the same for sure. Have you got any other preparation for the tour beyond stretching?
Julien: We spent last week four days in a venue in France. We played a lot of songs from the new album that will be added to the setlist. We tried several setlists for long and smaller shows. We had time to adjust the new equipment, effects, thought about videos and lights. There’s a new show that will include some songs from the previous albums. It gets harder with every album because we want to keep playing older songs and we are also excited about these new ones and we want to play as many songs as it’s possible. We have to find the right balance between all this material we have. It’s a happy problem. We’re excited about the upcoming shows. In two days we will play a show in Bordeaux that we practiced last week. It will be a good way to test the new songs.
Thank you very much for the interview, it was a real pleasure.
Interview by Karina Pompa