Puts Marie's Interview
Musical projects and group dynamic
– When and how was Puts Marie born?
Sirup Gagavil (guitarist) – When? 1999. So it makes 20 years.
– And how did you meet?
Sirup – I met Nick first, the drummer, who asked me to play jams. And he had a mate, Igor, who plays bass. At the start we were 3. And there was another member, who’s not part of the band since a very long time, Philippe, who left, let’s say... we made him leave. We were just an instrumental trio.
– Which was called Puts Marie, already?
Sirup – Yes, the same. Afterwards, a few years later, we started with Max as voice. And another few years later, we started to do stuff with Beni on keyboards. It stayed like this until now. And the drummer Nick left after 20 years.
– Nick Porsche left? Since when?
Sirup – It’s just happened, he made his decision.
– So, who replaces him?
Sirup – For the moment, we’re fiddling with 2 persons.
– Where can I find the lyrics of your songs?
Max Usata (singer) – You can’t find them. But maybe I could, when people ask... There’s a press kit.
– What do they speak of?
Max – They speak of the world...
– Who writes them?
Max – I do. At the beginning, the others wrote a little. But the last years it’s me.
– In April you released in mp3 format two new tracks ("Kiss Them Goodnight" and "A Boy Called Monkey") that I love, especially the 2nd one. Are they sequels from your album Catching Bad Temper released last Autumn, or an anticipation of a forthcoming album?
Max – It’s both. "A Boy Called Monkey", we recorded it during the same session as...
Sirup – The version was recorded during the recordings of Catching Bad Temper. We didn’t put it in the LP because of time purpose (on a vinyl, we’re somewhat limited) and maybe for concept grounds too.
Max – And "A Boy Called Monkey", we recorded it later [I think he meant "Kiss Them Goodnight" in fact (editor’s note)]
– Do you perform them in concert?
Max – Yes.
– A question for Sirup. I think your guitar playing in Puts Marie is especially made of raging big strums sometimes noisy ("Garibaldi"), and of flights of melodic notes in often high counterpoints. Do you consider yourself as a solo guitar player or as a rhythm guitar player?
Sirup – I’ve always had trouble with these 2 definitions. In bands often, especially when they have 2 guitarists, there’s a guitarist who’s considered as the rhythm player and another one is the soloist. In my mind it isn’t as clear. I consider myself both actually, because there are moments in music you need to do the rhythms, to make way for voice or synths which have some lead stuff, and at another time you can take up room and become a soloist. A good guitarist must be able to do both.
– You seldom create riffs? I can only think of "Sugar Run", can’t remember another.
Sirup – In the band, musically, we ask ourselves so many questions, a guitar riff often looks rather banal. The banal ideas often are put aside, not only by me, but by the group dynamic too. That may be the reason why there aren’t too many guitar riffs.
– What's the biggest concert you've ever did?
Max – With the biggest number of people? Les Vieilles Charrues, in 2015.
– How many people?
Max – 100,000. (laughs)
Sirup – No but it’s the biggest festival of France, isn’t it? I think it is.
– What are you doing each of you when you aren't with Puts Marie? Tell me a little about your side projects.
Sirup – I’ve got 2 musical projects. No, 3. Sometimes I play solo some improvised music, under my name. And then I’ve got a duo with a guitarist-singer who plays quite calm little music. We’ve just released a record, it’s called Sirup Gagavil & Hari Köchli. And then I’ve got another duo with a female singer from Zürick, Sarah Palin.
– This name rings a bell...
Sirup – Yes, the politician. With her we’re doing rather pop stuff, pop-rock stuff. Then I’m a sound engineer too, I work in a small club in Biel. And I’ve got a small recording studio.
– What about you Max?
Max – I’ve got a couple of musical projects too: Mister Milano, Meta Marie Louise which is an impro project with a drummer and a pianist, in a jazz noise tendency.
Sirup – They rather do experimental new jazz.
– That’s all very varied.
Max – Otherwise, I’ve done some stuff in Italy with a musician who’s called Toni Cutrone, the project’s named Mai Mai Mai. I’d like to do more of this too, a few concerts, but I haven’t found time so far. That’s electro-noise. He does live music with tapes, he mixes. Otherwise, I work as a comedian: I’m a clown. (laughs)
– And with all these activities, you manage anyway to maintain Puts Marie as a constant, homogeneous and solid band?
Sirup – It’s clear this is the difficult point. There are a few projects you can trifle with because not much happens, you do a few concerts per year, so it doesn’t take you much time, but you do it because you’re pleased to. But you always have to know: what is really important? To which project will I give the biggest room? Puts Marie also is the thing that’s been existing for the longest time; it’s increased a little more than other things.
– Besides it works, it’s starting to get a little success, it’s taking off.
Sirup – Yeah yeah, we aren’t complaining, we can have a lot of concerts, it enables to travel. We went to South Africa, to Reunion...
– I wondered why, on Masoch I-II was written Puts Marie in cyrillic characters (ПУТС МАРИ) and like in a mirror?
Sirup – The artwork is collaboration between Beni and another artist, Andreas Becke, who comes from East Germany. So they learnt Russian at school. I think it comes from that.
– I propose you to have a look at the list of the albums reviewed in japprecie. Which ones do you know? Which ones do you like?
Max – We only listen to dead music.
Sirup – I am Stramgram. I don’t know his music, but I’ve seen the name on a poster somewhere.
Max – Clara Luciani also played at...
Sirup – At Check-In [Check-In Party, a festival which took place in Guéret in the end of August (editor’s note)]
Max – Yes. Franz Ferdinand you know them?
Sirup – Yeah, I do. I liked the first records.
– I like the last one.
Sirup – I didn’t follow then.
– There’s an almost disco trend, it’s amazing. It remains rock music.
Max – Stereophonics it rings a bell too, by name.
– Do you have some more to suggest to Appreciators?
Sirup – An emerging artist whom I find very very good is Émilie Zoé. She’s touring in France now. It’s a duo, sometimes she plays solo too.
Max – Who’s the one who plays with her?
Sirup – I don’t know her drummer’s name. It gives goose bumps.
– Which style is it?
Sirup – Hey she’s a rocker finally, it’s the guitar big sound, with a drummer, both sing.
– She’s French?
Sirup – No she’s Swiss. French-speaking Swiss. She sings in English.
– You know her personally?
Sirup – Yes, also, a little. Not that well, but we met; we already had common concert dates.
– How do you deal with time, duration, in your songs? Because some tracks are very long, and other less.
Sirup – This is funny, we think this topic is really interesting, this idea not to be fixed to a duration. Sometimes it’s good too to fix and say to ourselves it should last ‘so’. But there’s also a lot of musical painting which is a bit different every time, so it doesn’t take the same length every time. When it’s good it can last more, when it’s less good maybe we’d better move on.
– And in your concerts, do you have a tendency to extend?
Sirup – We try to do it especially in concert. In records sometimes it’s a bit difficult.
Max – But we did it on the record too.
Sirup – Yes we did. But anyway, when you’re working on a record, you’re always thinking a vinyl is twice 20 minutes. There are constraints. Sometimes in concert too when you’re limited, but we try to take the most possible time to play them live, even though there is not time, we think we don’t care, we take our time all the same. So maybe we only play 2 songs and half. We prefer that, rather than stress out and absolutely want to play our 5 tracks.
• eat well
• listen to good music on vinyls
• meet people, travel
“A guitar riff often looks rather banal.”
Created23 September 2019
Words recorded on August 24th 2019.
Thanks to Max and Sirup, to Vincent (Yotanka) and to la Sardine.