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Interview: Corpus Delicti

by François Zappa

Cover photo: Loic Swiny

The date in Madrid of the reunion tour of French Goth Rock Corpus Delicti created a great expectation among the audience that had a great memory of their previous gig at the Spanish capital some twenty-eight years before. In my case, my son was born just two days before and it wasn’t until the last moment that I knew that I could go to one of the Goth events of the year. The circumstances and, especially their performance resulted in one night that I will never forget. They will be playing their classics at the Belgian W-Fest that will take place on the 27th of August in the beach of Ostend.

Photo: Synthia Franco

—The band started in 1992, first with Roma, Christophe and another singer called Manu that we can hear in the album Rarities, that left. How were those days? Why did the singer leave?

—Chrys: At that time, we were looking  for ourselves a bit. We were trying to stabilise the line up and we tested a lot of guitarists. It wasn’t easy to find someone who matched our criteria, motivated, inventive and into Goth/New wave. In the end we decided to stay as a trio, and it worked for a while. But it was difficult to work with Manu. It took him weeks to decide to sing, at least that’s the impression we had. Back then, he always came to rehearsals with his angry girlfriend and sometimes even with his cat who did its business in the room. It was quite strange, the atmosphere was not very serene.

Why did the singer leave? We were offered a concert at the Rachdingue, a famous Spanish club, decorated by Dalí. The conditions were really good and it was a great opportunity. The singer refused for very dubious reasons. For us (Roma and I) it was the last straw, we decided to part with him if he didn’t accept this concert. He didn’t want to go back on his decision and so left the group.

—Being a French band, do you think that you have any French influences in your music?

—Sébastien: I don’t think so… most of the music we are listening to is English. We feel it like being more our culture than French. Personally, when I’m in UK, I feel at home, much more than in France.

—Franck has always been a big fan of The Sound. We are also big followers of the band. When did you discover them and how do you think that the band has influenced you as a musician?

—Franck: The first time I heard The Sound was in 87/88, I think. One of my older Italian friends played  “Party of the mind “ to me and let me the All Fall Down album tape. I felt in love in a split second. I love the way they composed and built the songs. Also, the bass and guitars sounds and ideas and the lyrics obviously. The energy. Great albums, great band .

How they influenced me..?

The simplicity, the beauty, the intensity. The sincerity. The love. I think they are the main ingredients for a band… and in life I would say. Really important to me.

—How was the recording of Twilight? Was it your first time in studio? Did you release any previous single before the cassette with your first album?

Photo: Clovis IV (Corpus Delicti 1994)

—S: For me, that was my very first time in studio. Chrys and Roma had already been there with their previous band. That was just… a magical moment. That was where I wanted to be since I was a young child, so it was a dream that came true.
Usually, we were giving a couple of gigs to raise money, and then we were going to the studio to record a couple of songs. The first ones were “Twilight” and “Staring”, the last one was “Poisoned Dead Flowers”. So, as we could not go every day, it took a few months to have the whole album ready.

—Franck, why did you leave the band after the first album?

—F: I was young, 21… and the first time I came in a proper studio with band to record Twilight. I instantly knew I wanted to learn the recording process, and become a “producer”, mixer. That’s what I am today. And I got a studio.

I needed to discover new stuff, new music as well.  There were really interesting bands at the time. With a new research of sound, like Portishead, Tricky, Death in Vegas, Slowdive, MBV, Kid A from Radiohead, Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada.… all this alternative scene. So, I created my proper project Curl and moved on.

—For the second album, the band recruited a new guitar player. Franck, how do you approach the guitars of that album in the concerts? Do you try to keep Jerome’s way of playing?

—F: Oh, that’s an  interesting one.

Before leaving the band, we were working on new songs. So, I can tell I wrote the “Noxious” riff , then the song has been recorded with a different arrangement. But today, it sounds how it should have sounded at the time. I also created the guitars on “Dusk of hallows” and “Dancing ghost” for example. 

On “Motherland”, I rewrote the entire line, trying to find the best way between the keyboard’s parts, Jerome’s guitars, and the vocal line. I’m quite happy with that. I also added a guitar part on “Smile of grace” which is not on the record. 

On some other songs I try to keep really close to Jerome’ s guitars like on “Patient” or “Broken” , “Of all Desperations”… “Atmosphere” has been a bit improved as well…

“Saraband” is nearly the same, I just developed a little bit more the verses. It’s subtle but you can hear it. And the rhythmic on the choruses. But mainly we want to keep the songs close to the original versions. With a lot of energy. 

Photo: Clovis IV (Corpus Delicti 1994)

—The song “Saraband” is undoubtedly one of your most famous tracks. Did you think that it could be successful when you were recording it?

—S: I have a real precise memory of the day we created that song. That was in our rehearsal room. Chrys came with the idea of the bass lines, Jerome developed this strange guitar…and Roma added this very percussive rhythm. At first, I told the band “Wow….it’s very “poppy” for us!!” We were joking, saying that it sounded like Blur! But with such inspiring music, the melody came directly to me. We knew that was really catchy, that we had something special, personal with that song.

Lyrics were inspired by the painting “Ophelia” from English painter John Everett Millais, himself inspired by a character from Hamlet.

—The band played with Rozz Williams and Gitane Demone, how do you remember them? You became friends, right?

—That was a magical tour. We were supposed to do only one date with them, but they called their manger to ask that we do more, so we were added to a nice part of their tour. I’ve spent many hours talking with Rozz, and he is the one that made me discover the music of David Bowie. Roma remained close to Gitane, long after the breakup of Corpus late 90s. Rozz gigs were incredible! Such a presence on stage. I’ve learnt a lot looking at him.

—Seb, you said that Obsessions was an ambitious album and that the band wanted to experiment more. Did you think that the band should have followed that direction?

—S: Absolutely! I think we were taking the good direction with Obsessions, but maybe that was already too late… Tensions began to be heavier and heavier. We should have done a break at that time, but we did not…big mistake.

The reception of this record was mixed at the time, perhaps also because the format was strange, somewhere between an EP and an album. But the years did good to it, and it’s more appreciated now. One of my favourite songs from us, “Motherland” is on this record.  

—What happened that the band split at the end of the 90s? Seb spoke about frustration, right?

—S: Yes, frustration, anger, sadness… the story of any band.

—And the question about Corpus, the band some of you created at the end of the nineties. Did you want to try with different styles? Seb said that it was a kind of compromise.

—S: That was in fact exactly the same members…. but we knew it was the end. Yes, we were all going in different directions, so we tried to sound different, a compromise, material more industrial. We got rid of the DELICTI but we also lost the essence of the band at the same time.

Photo: Karine Bizi

—Christophe you followed the industrial sound in KOM-INTERN. Are you still interested in that genre? Did you see Kom-Intern as a continuation of those Corpus?

—C: Honestly, I still like to listen to it from time to time, especially in the evening, but let’s just say that I’ve moved away from this style quite a bit. Maybe it’s silly but I feel like I’ve come full circle. Having said that I’m still a big fan of Einstürzende Neubauten. No, Kom-intern wasn’t a continuation of CD at all, either in terms of composition, style or instruments. At the time I needed to do something completely different from CD, but the truth is, nothing beats a real band for concerts.

—Sébastien, Franck and Christophe were in a band called Press Gang Metropol. What do you remember of the days with this band?

—S: Finally, PGM helped us reconnecting, making music together again. We had good times, made nice gigs, recorded a decent album. That was a first foot in reunion.

—You signed a contract with Cleopatra, was it for the release of some material, including the Rarities album and The Complete Recordings 1992–1996 Box set. Did you like these compilations?

—S: Yes, we do, as we work closely with Cleopatra in the making of theses. They also ask our opinion, we always suggest the artwork, track listing… and always have the “final cut”. They are a great label to work with.

—How was meeting again the four of you?

—S: We reunited in 2019. The first time was at Roma’s place, the four of us together in the same room after nearly 30 years. That was something special, very exciting. That was a great evening. We know that it would start again.

—When you realize that you want to reunite? Just after playing together again?

—S: I started to talk with each member when we signed with Cleopatra in 2019. That’s Roma who suggested that we should try to play together again. The others did not wait too long to say yes! And the first rehearsal was unreal… but really normal at the same time! We have spent so many hours, years playing together back in the days, that it only felt natural to be back together again.

Photo: MC Bridant

—Roma could not continue because she is suffering from arthrosis, how is she feeling now? Is she happy with the way the band is going?

—S: She had surgery on one hand but unfortunately, even if she feels better in everyday’s life, it’s not enough for her to play. She follows the band, we phone each others, I give her the news… But it can be difficult for her, and frustration is still there.

—What can you tell us of the new drummer Laurent? Roma told him how to play her parts, right?

—S: She did not really “tell” him how to play, as Laurent is an incredible drummer, but she showed him some “tricks” hard to get for a regular drummer. Roma really had a way to play of her own, and some parts were difficult to hear for Laurent.

We have known him for years, as he was playing with bands in the area. When we knew Roma could not play, we immediately thought of him. He was the only option. He had this tribal vibe in his drumming and he is a wonderful human being. We are SO lucky to have him. We don’t know if we would have continued if he had said “no”…

 —Seb you have talked of HMLTD as one of your favorite bands, can you please tell us more?

—S: Yes, I LOVE them. They are, to me, one of the only creative and interesting band at the moment. It’s a London-based3e band I have discovered at a festival, south of France. Then, I followed them, went to London to see them… Their music is difficult to describe, as it’s a mix of many things, but it’s ambitious and challenging, that’s what I like. One of the best bands I have seen on stage also.

—Time for the side projects. Sébastien, why did you decide to create Kuta and what does this project mean to you? You released a new album last year, right?

—S: I created Kuta a couple of years after Corpus broke up. I did not want to be part of a band anymore, I needed something of my own. This is a rather personal project in which I invite friends once in a while. My 5th album was released in 2022, but I have no live projects for it. I record the songs at home, release them…and don’t do many things more. Sincerely, I don’t have time. Corpus is taking a huge place now and it’s cool like that.

And Curl is the project of Franck, what can you please tell us about this? You are working on a new album, right?

Photo: Loic Swiny

—F: I created  Curl at the end of the 90s. We’ve got the same line up since the last 3 albums. Hayler Alker is the singer. She’s got such a beautiful voice, tone, and personality. Wil from Teenage Sin Taste is a really creative and noisy guitarist, and Jon Callender (ex-Cranes drummer) complete the band. We’re absolutely proud of our albums. You should have a go with Shapeshifters.

We’re actually mixing some new songs we recorded a few years ago. We thought it’s a good time to mix them and release something. 

—What are the plans of the band for the future? Any chance of a new record?

—S: We first plan to release a live album from the reunion tour. It will be released we hope before the end of the year, as a vinyl and CD.
And about new songs… well, nothing is really planned so far, as we were on the road and more focus on working on the live set. But… never knows.

What can we expect of your concert at W-Fest?

—S: Well, a one hour set, as it’s a festival, so we will focus on the highlights of the band. Something powerful, with energy. We are not the kind of band to stand still. We are on stage to share something together and with the audience. And from the feedback we had, people feel this when they see us.
We are really looking forward W festival. And during the same week, we are playing 3 festivals, it’s gonna be a cool way to end up our summer.

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