RYL: Let’s start from a song we love « Great Illusion », what inspired its lyrics?
MINGMEN : It’s just a statement I made about how we’re never satisfied, we always want more and everything is made for us to stay in this dissatisfaction, like if there’s always something missing to feel complete and happy and once we have this new thing we’ll be feeling great, but it’s an illusion because happiness is inside of us, it’s not a thing we can buy, it’s how we see the world, how we feel it, but when you realize that you’re not a good consumer anymore, you don’t feed the big machine of ¨work harder so you’ll make more money to buy all the things required to be considered as an accomplished person in this society¨
It’s an never ending story and I just wonder how we could get out of it, when we’ll stop letting others, big companies, marketing guys, tell us what we need to be happy and how we should look like, be dressed like, why do we still let them controlling our lives so easily, our dreams and our wishes.
And I don’t think I’m above the rest , it’s not because you have understood something in theory that it means it’s easy to change, to break all this bad habits.
We’re living in a consumerist system and most of the times we’d prefer to keep our eyes closed so we don’t have to see that all our actions have consequences…all those things we’re buying for cheap, there’s a reason why it’s so cheap, it’s not because the major industry bosses earn less, it’s because a lot of poor workers at the end of the food chain are exploited and live like slaves so we can have all the things we think we need.
All those things have also a heavy ecologic cost….we are more informed now, they’re talking about it on tv, newspapers and internet…but we still aren’t changing. So I wonder what we’re waiting for to get out of this « Great Illusion » !?!
RYL: Your last album is titled « There is a Place », what was its main achievement?
MINGMEN : We decided to record everything live, all together in the same room. We lived one month in the studio so the main achievement is that everything in the album is real, the sound (rough, no samples, few post editing) and also in the way we did it, live dit, the philosophy.
We had this song « There’s a Place » who’s the most progressive of the album (and more than 8 minutes long) beginning with an acoustic intro and then grows into something very epic, so this song was for us the symbol of our new sound, the freedom we take in terms of music genre and the fact that we completely assume having non-radiophonic format songs !
We never know how to name our albums at the beginning but « There’s a Place » sounded like the most appropriate, it’s mysterious, it can be different things.
We wanted a particular kind of gear, anagogic desk, vintage microphone and pre-amp to record this album so we ran for a one day « Studio Tour » across the country, we visited four great studios this day (Switzerland is very small) and the studio we finally chose was the first one we visited, when we saw it we had this particular feeling, it’s seemed familiar, a studio in the middle of nowhere, felt like home, a strange home…but it was the exact configuration and the perfect gear we were searching for, so we thought we’ve found the right place to achieve our dream of a real musicl band experience with a sound very close to what you can hear on a real MINGMEN live !!
RYL: Is there a common « thème » among the lyrics of its songs?
MINGMEN : I guess there’s a few themes that comes out of my wicked mind when I write, all the things that moves me, makes me angry or sad, or all the questions about our human conditions that a lot writers, philosophers, artists have been trying to answer since the world is the world.
The more I grow up the more I’m kind of worried about all the questions about the ecology, how we could live in harmony with this planet and the fact that we’re a part of a big thing, not a superior specie who can control and annihilate all the others, in fact that’s what we do but the way things are evolving so fast now make me believe that we have to change if we don’t want to destroy ourselves, our humanity… and our planet.
Relationships, love and friendship are also the themes I often write about, all the humans emotions, there’s been a thousand songs written about it, with the same words, to express the same kind of pain but the challenge is to always find your way to say what’s in your soul, what you lived, I know it’s not unique and that’s why music can touch everyone, everyone has been hurt in his life, everyone’s heart has been broken once.
Writing is my therapy, it’s how I transform all the bad things into something creative, it’s probably the reason why i’m not completely crazy .
RYL: Tell us everything about the song « Bastards »….which of its verses you like the most?
MINGMEN : Bastards is for all the guys who tried to put me down, all the liars, cheaters, losers. It’s just to say: fuck you, I wont’ be destroyed by some stupid cowards like you.
It’s also to say that tables are turning and you can be so in love with someone and then realize that this person didn’t worth any minute of your time, any pieces of your heart and brain. I love all the verses and the chorus because it’s an evolution, they all mean something but I really like the phrase: « I fuck you from the heart » It’s strong !!
This song is like « Great Illusion » and « Cross The Line », a first take recording full of energy from the band.
RYL: how do you, usually, write the lyrics of your songs?
MINGMEN : There’are no rules, I don’t sit saying to myself: « now it’s time to write a good song » ! I find out over the years that it’s something that I CAN’T control, it’s like it’s falling down on me, sometimes it’s automatic writing, my head and my hand working together but it’s not very conscious. But I know that I’m more productive when I’m angry, sad, pissed off, when something’s wrong and I don’t know how to react or how to go over it, most of the time I feel better after, like I’ve put this big weight on paper and everything seems kind of lighter !
RYL: From the moment you released your 2006 album “Undercontrol”, how did your songwriting evolved ?
MINGMEN : First of all English is not my mothertongue, I speak French so my songwriting is evolving as my comprehension and my learning of English do.
When I start writing songs I was 13 so I hope I’ve understand a lot of things since then, i’m growing up as an human being and as an artist.
When you’re young you have the feeling that nothing can touch you, that you know everything, you a little bit more fearless and unconscious of yourself and of what’s all around you, when you get older you start realizing some things …sometimes I wish I’d keep this innocence I had, I can’t say I was happier when I was a teenage but I was certainly more unconscious, more naive.
RYL: Which is the best verse you ever wrote?
MINGMEN : So hard to answer this question…..I never look back, I don’t listen to our albums anymore once they’re out. I just want to make better for the next time so maybe I will always have that awful thought that the best verse is yet to come !!
But I really love ¨Dead Today¨ it’s an acoustic song on our last album and when we recorded that song a sound engineer who was working with us was so moved about this song, he told me he had the feeling I was talking about his personnal life. It was the first time that I realized how my lyrics could touch someone, it was beautiful and a little intimating too.
I also love this chorus on « Beneath the surface »: « There’s something wrong inside of me, I don’t even know how to breath, tell me why do I feel alone and empty, maybe if you search underneath, beneath the surface of all my fears, you will find someone that I could have been. »
These words really represent how I can feel sometimes… we did a t-shirt with a part of this sentence by the way !
RYL: Do you remember the day you wrote « Lost Generation » what inspired its lyrics?
MINGMEN : I don’t remember the day. I don’t exactly remember what inspired me this song either, I mean what happened that day… but I know it comes from a fear I sometimes have…We are maybe a lost generation !!
When I talk with my parents about their youth, we’re so much more serious, so much aware of every bad things in this world, I know there’s always been wars on this planet, they had Vietnam War, even if for them it was very far away but the reactions to this war, the contestation, the Hippies, there was a wind of change blowing all over the world.
May 68 which in Europe was huge, all the old patriarchal system was challenged, the birth control pill, they were truly thinking that the future would be better.
Today there’s not a day without a new technological invention, we can almost rule and monitor our lives with our Self-phones, everything’s changing so fast we don’t have the time to adapt and understand all these new technologies, I mean we know how make it function but we don’t know how it’s builded, how to fix it, we use it but we’re also depend on it and it’s taking more and more control on our every day’s life.
We’re always connected and never been so alone, we’re chatting on social network from our sofas…we’re supposed to have everything and to be informed of everything live but we’re addicted to antidepressant.
Something is missing in this new way of life.
Maybe I’m a little paranoid with these machines stuff, but I don’t think it’s really good to substitute humans by machines, and i’m the generation of people who have seen a big guy on screen knocking on a door saying with a german accent: « Sarah Connor ? » I just don’t want that to happen !! OH, and about this topic I recommend a Swedish Tv Show: « Real Humans » !! It raises all the questions we should ask about Robotics and artificial intelligence versus humanity !! Great show!!
RYL: If we give you 1$ to spend in music, which song would you buy?
MINGMEN : I rarely buy one song, if it’s an artist I love I’d rather buy the album, I know that the way we consume music has changed but I’m still old school for that and I hope there’s still people out there who like to have an album in their hands rather than a bad sounding mp3 on their computer.
But if you ask what’s my favorite song I really can’t answer this question: I’m addicted to music since I’m 12 and I have very eclectic music tastes, so it depends on how I feel or what song I need to feel better or to feel worse… if I need to hear music to inspire me to create, or more like a drug to escape my mind for a while or just for fun… so I have a thousands of favorites songs for the right moment !!
RYL: Let’s talk about touring; until today, which was the best show you have done?
MINGMEN : we had an amazing show on Palco do Rock (salvador do baïa) in Brazil, the stage was huge, people were crazy, that was a great gig in a cool Fest.
But it can also be a great moment in a small club, when we feel this connection with the public, when the magic happens !
I hope we’ll have more opportunities to play out of our country and out of Europe because people are so different around the world ! Some understand what you mean more than others.
RYL: What inspired the verses of “Forces”?
MINGMEN: I’m getting really sick and tired of all these discussions about religions, all the hate and conflicts it spawned through centuries. It’s always the same shit : why can we just believe in what we want without trying to convince everybody that OUR belief is the best ?
Religions are led by Mens and all these wars that were carried out in their names were in fact done in only one or two big God’s name: Money, Power or Control !! To me God (every gods in every religions ) is just a good excuse !! We have justified so many atrocity in God’s name and it keeps going those days.
For me believing in Satan is as much stupid than to believe in God, of course everything is based on the principle of complementarity and duality (masculine-feminine, darkness-light, good-evil, life and death, creation-destruction) but it can’t be that as simple as two dudes in sky, one with a long white beard and the other with hooves and a pointed tail, fighting each other forever and since the beginning of times.
They are symbols, they’re represent these two ¨Forces¨, we had to name them, give them a face so it would be easier to understand !! I just wanted to say in this song that I don’t need a special place or any ritual. I don’t know why we’re here, in fact we have to admit that there’s so much more that we don’t know, but I believe in the strength of energies, positives and negatives ones.
I believe that our thoughts are very powerful, that there’re some invisible forces that we have not yet understood, I believe in the spiritual world but I don’t think that it needs to be ruled, explained.
It’s something we have to discover and experience by ourselves as free spirits, we should’t need to be told how to pray, how to be connected to our souls and to each other’s.
We just need to learn how to be fearless because FEAR ruins everything and it’s fear that make us fight each other, hurt each other.
Try to be a good person, be happy without hurting anyone around you, learn to love yourself and then you’ll love the others… it should be all we need to evolve as humans being and stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
But it seems we’re a little slow to understand and a huge part of people doesn’t really want to be free and think by themselves, it’s way more comfortable when someone tells you how to live and take all the responsibility !!
I would say thank you To Rock Your Lyrics for this interview, thank you to be interested in lyrics and what bands really want to say, thank you to give me the opportunity to talk about it and to order my brain a little and sorry, I know it’s long, I’m even too long when I text my friends !!
And thank you to all the Readers of Rock Your Lyrics !! KEEP ON ROCKIN !!