Interview with SERVO: Dark Post-Punk & Noise-Rock from Rouen

SERVO’s Dark Path in Post-Punk Music

SERVO is a French three-piece band from Rouen, consisting of Arthur Pierre (guitar/vocals), Louis Hebert (bass/vocals), and Hugo Magontier (drums/vocals). They play dark post-punk noise-rock, combining heavy psych-rock and gothic post-punk elements. SERVO’s music explores themes of pessimism and duality, influenced by both their urban environment and elements of nature.

SERVO‘s official Bandcamp & Instagram

What were some of the key influences that shaped your music during the early days of SERVO? What’s the story behind the name SERVO?

We picked up this name when we were younger. It’s the name of one song of The Brian Jonestown Massacre but it doesn’t mean anything particular to us. We kept using it because it’s short, not so hard to remember and it looks good on posters or vinyls.

Here are some bands that had an influence on us : Dead Skeletons, A Place to Bury Strangers, The Dandy Warhols, The Blue Angel Lounge, Gilla Band, Ditz

What drew you to the darker side of psychedelic and post-punk music?

Probably the fact that we are dark.

What impact has the Rouen music scene had on your development as a band?

The Rouen music scene has been moving and has been developed a lot in the last 5 years. Bands such as We hate you please die, MNNQNS, Ellah a Thaun and many others tend to prove that it’s worth the try to create a band and work on developing our own music in France and abroad.

What was the first song you wrote together, and how did it set the tone for your future work?

The first songs we played together were mostly pre composed by Arthur and then modified and adapted in rehearsal with the three of us. For the new album  “Monsters”, we changed a bit our way of composing together. We started to create songs from scratch together. Glitch2.1 has been written in a few hours of rehearsal.

SERVO © Melanie Lhote
SERVO © Melanie Lhote

How do you approach integrating vocal harmonies into your heavy, noise-laden soundscapes?

It comes pretty naturally. I guess our process is to fill as much space as possible. As a matter of fact we are only three on stage but we want it to sound as big as if we were four or five.

Hugo, the drummer is also what we could call a vocal-harmony-addict. He grew up mostly listening to System of a Down, so that could be an explanation.

What inspired the creation of your debut album, “The Lair of Gods”?

The lair of gods was released 8 years ago. We had released an EP before, and we had enough songs to record an album, so we did it. The name came because there are several songs that are about gods and spiritual things, and the artwork (made by Louis, the bass player) is a photo of a cave. 

SERVO © Julie Jarosz(1)
SERVO © Julie Jarosz

How did your sound evolve between “The Lair of Gods” and your latest album, “Monsters”?

« The Lair of Gods » might sound a bit more psychedelic, whereas « Monsters » tend to be more punk. « Alien » is a good transition. But we never really talked together about the fact that we wanted our sound to evolve. It evolved pretty naturally, as long as what we tend to listen to. 

And, with the experience, we know what kind of songs get a good reception during a show, so we may have tried to make the new album in a way that it would sound good live.

SERVO © Carine Mansire(1)
SERVO © Carine Mansire

How do you use technology and effects to create your unique sound?

Drum machine sounds, samples, loops, heavy bass with a lot of fuzz, modified fx pedals.

What inspired the lyrical themes of your latest album, “Monsters”?

It talks about pessimism, relativism and duality. It’s a vision of how we lived the last few years, about different experiences we made. It goes through introspection and a will to make it mean something for us when we sing it live.

SERVO © Melanie Lhote(1)
SERVO © Melanie Lhote

What are some of the non-musical influences that inspire your work, such as literature or visual art?

We have a lot of different cultural influences, such as video games, sci-fi novels…

What role does your environment or surroundings play in the music you create?

Hugo’s brother Baptiste, who made the videos for Stadium and Glitch2.1, and is also a fan of nature and more specifically birds, told us that the loop that we use in Day and night Monsters (that we recorded on a very small piano) is very similar to the song of a bird called chiffchaff (pouillot véloce in French), that we hear a lot in Normandy, where we live. So we probably can say that nature plays an unconscious role. But we live in a city, so we are more likely to hear motor sounds and drunk people yelling at night, and it is probably closer to the music we make than the birds singing. 

What future directions or projects do you envision for SERVO?

We’ll be trying to tour as much as we can with the new album « Monsters ».  We start to think about new ideas for the future, but it is way too early to talk about it. 

Featured image © Julie Jarosz
Photos courtesy of SERVO

Last Updated on July 9, 2024 by retrofuturista

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