Without further ado, here’s another interview with France’s Les Trois Huit (you’ll find an earlier interview with the band below…), this one from February 2016 and published by Alternative Libertaire in France. English translation by Mathieu of the crucial Sous Pression radio show…
Of course, we’re excited to be hosting Les Trois Huit for a couple of their Canadian shows in July…July 29th in Hamilton and July 30th in Toronto…and, we are equally excited to be one of the labels helping to release the Les Trois Huit / Les Partisans split 7″
LES TROIS HUIT: WE WANT TO RECHARGE OUR AUDIENCE’S BATTERIES
Les Trois Huit (LTH) are five guys who got together to play some antifascist street-punk/oi! for the working class, and to struggle for a world without oppression. They’re new album was released in November, and here is our interview:
Alternative libertaire: Could you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Les Trois Huit : The band was created in 2013 in Grenoble, originally with four friends. We already knew each other from protests or other collectives. Our first practice was in a squat in Grenoble called Le Greta. We just picked it up as we went along. We didn’t really know how to play our instruments, let alone play together. So the past two years were spent playing a lot of shows, and then we released an album in November. It took us about a year to put it together.
Can you tell us about the album?
The band members put the entire thing together, so it’s totally self-produced. We found a space, and renovated it to create a studio that we’re calling le Stud’Oï!. We recorded everything ourselves, but the mixing and mastering was done by a comrade, Manu Akaes, an old member of Ya Basta. We looked for people who could help us put the album out distribute it. We found people that we have absolute trust in, people from the same militant circles. In exchange for their help, we gave them copies of our CD and LP, and we manage to remain independent. For the album, we worked with labels like Fire and Flames, which Is German, Dure Réalité from Québec, some French labels like Générale Strike, FFC Productions, and Rusty Knife, who are credited on the album. They have a DIY ethic and aren’t there to make money.
You say that play street-punk/oi. How important is it for you to play music with a political tradition?
Yes, for us, our music is completely political. We don’t identify as redskins or anything like that, we don’t like to give ourselves specific labels. People can just listen to the lyrics to get an idea of what side we’re on. We’re in a struggle against all forms of oppression and discrimination that people might face, whether it be at work, based on their origins, their sexual orientation, their gender, etc.
What are you biggest musical influences?
There are the big names in the genre, like Brigada Flores Magon, Opcio K, Non Servium, Stage Bottles, Caméra Silens, but also bands from other musical styles, like Ya Basta, Guarapita, Bolchoï, or Los Tres Puntos. Lots of rap too… And depending on the musicians, there is a lot of ska and hardcore influence too….We have a pretty eclectic mix of influences!
You’ve played in a lot of independent spaces, like squats. Is it important for you to place in these spaces?
Since day one, we’ve played in spaces that we support, and some of these spaces are like homes for us. We’ve squatted them, we’ve seen concerts in these spaces, and we’ve met friends there. In these kinds of spaces, you give what you can: give a few bucks and you get to see a great show. That’s what’s important for us. Our shows are also opportunities to meet friends and militant, antifascist, syndicalist, anarchist, and communist tcomrades.
Supporting these spaces is important, especially when we can see mnicipal governments, including in Grenoble with Éric Piolle and the EELV/PG team* who told us, just before they were elected, “Yeah we’ll support the squats” but now that they’ve been elected, there are evictions in Grenoble, especially targeting Roma people. These inhumane practices disgust us, and our way of fighting it is by supporting squats.
[*Translator’s note: Éric Piolle was elected Mayor of Grenoble in 2014. He was supported by a team of local leftists and environmentalists.]
What message do you want to share in your lyrics, and who are you sharing it with?
The lyrics are written on part at a time. It’s pretty spontaneous. We didn’t try to write an album on a single subject, but instead lyrics on a subject that was important to us. When we want to talk about a topic, we talk about it, and we also write lyrics about it. We’d like to talk to everyone in the public. Some of subjects we talk about include antifascism, anti-capitalism, anti-sexism, and other subjects in our lyrics. The subject of migrants is also important. Given the police violence happening at the moment, we wanted to write a song about cops. We also want to write about some more usual topics. We have plenty of ideas, but they’ll have to wait for the second album.
On the subject of migrants, there’s a beautiful song on the album called Au Fond Des Yeux…
That song was written by our bassist, Riad. When the media talks about refugees, they spread a lot of misinformation, or at least, the subject is completely dehumanized. They talk to us about numbers, quotas, selecting what type of migrants we want, and we wanted to give that tragedy a human face. The song tells the story of a female migrant fleeing war and misery, who has plenty of hope of making it to France, and like many like her, doesn’t make it. It’s a bit of a sad song, and a story of young woman who could be any of our sisters.
Do you think that music can serve a purpose in a political project?
Music, for us, is a uniter. Obviously we usually play in spaces where the crowd shares a lot of the same ideas, so in that case singing together and listening to some good punk sounds can be pretty invigorating. We aren’t convinced that music can have a real impact on people though. LTH isn’t a band that will change peoples’ opinions. We’re there to recharge our audience’s batteries, and make sure they leave knowing that they aren’t alone. In every case, we try to make sure that it’s uniting, but that isn’t enough. We believe that things need to happen outside of music, and that we should struggle directly against oppression. Music, though, does allow us to express our anger, to go a bit wild. That’s what our music does for us. After that, the audience can choose to like it or not, but good for them if it they get motivated!
A show is one night. The struggle is every day. When you’re on stage, you aren’t the same person: you’re playing, you’re comfortable. But when you’re an activist, you’re involved in a real life, direct and concrete struggle. So it’s best to distinguish between of those things.
It works out well that the music that allows you to go a bit wild is also a means of expressing your convictions, your rage, and your solidarity.
Definitely. We also can’t forget that a lot of activists need those lighter, celebratory moments together. We need to know how to let loose a little, especially in a context where it’s easier to be pessimistic. So when we play a show and see a lot of excited people, it’s a huge pleasure for us. We sometimes see fewer and fewer people show up to demos, but we want to make sure that that optimism isn’t lost.
Where did you get the name for the band?
Riad suggested it. It’s a reference to the 3-8 system of work, and refers to the working class. Even though none of the band’s members work under this system, we’ve pretty much al done it and know what it’s like. We wanted to serve as an homage to those who work under this regime.
Interview by AL Grenoble
Here a song off of the upcoming Les Trois Huit / Les Partisans split 7″: