Interview with Bruno Dolheguy (vocals/guitar)
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: December 30, 2002
KILLERS... Many will instantly think of Paul Di'Anno's band. NO! That would be a huge mistake. KILLERS is in fact a French metal band that released its first album back in 1985. Their 13th album, "Habemus Metal" has just been released on Brennus Records. That's right, 13 albums (one in English). Now you're wondering where the hell you've been? :) Probably ignoring bands that do not sing in English? Hmmmm? Killers have been through several lineup changes throughout the years, with only Bruno Dolheguy (guitars/vocals) left as the original member. Despite this, the band has carried its distinctive sound to this day. Despite a somewhat limited success outside Europe, Killers have steadily been releasing some first-class heavy metal to the masses, and show no sign of slowing down. Maybe it's time you checked them out - and you'll kick yourselves for not discovering them earlier. Vocalist/guitarist Bruno Dolheguy answered some questions about this legendary band - enjoy!...
Killers have been around for nearly 20 years now. How did this all start? What made you one day decide to form a heavy metal band? (band(s), etc..?)
The desire to form KILLERS is in fact a musical progression. We began by massacring songs in a barn in 1979. When I say "to massacre", it is a little exaggerated, it is especially that we just played the passages which our limited musical levels allowed us to play. For example, we played songs of rather basic Hard Rock the time who connected us well but sometimes just the intro and the stanza because the chorus began to ask us for too much level. Thus we turned extracts which burst us during hours by drinking beers and that was o.k. Later we told ourselves that it was necessary that we manage learn these damned songs and we arrived there bit by bit.
I had then the opportunity to join the group in which sang Patrice LE CALVEZ (Killers' first singer) as rhythmic guitarist. We played at a ball with a set-list essentially based on bands like STATUS QUO, DEEP PURPLE, RORY GALLAGHER, TED NUGENT, VAN HALEN, AC/DC, TRUST, SAXON, IRON MAIDEN, SCORPIONS, TELEPHONE, DUTRONC, CAPDEVIELLE, CABREL, ROLLING STONES. We also played compositions from the lead guitarist. One was called "GENOCIDE", in reference to JUDAS PRIEST song. Then the lead guitarist and the bass player stopped and we continued by adding JUDAS PRIEST, DEF LEPPARD, KROKUS songs, for example.
As they stopped the band (for hearing problems), we were not able to play in an important ball and we decided to change name to avoid carry- ons of credibility which would have been able to ensue from this cancellation. We thus decided in an evening to be called KILLERS.
From there, we continued playing at balls by beginning to include new compositions in our set-list. Then, we decided to stop playing balls to play in a springboard rock in 1984 in Bayonne. We won this springboard rock and from there we left with the idea to make our first album.
Was the band name inspired by the Iron Maiden album of the same name?
A little but not only that. I looked for a name which begins with a "K": Why I do not know, but it is like that … On the other hand I was inspired by this "murderers'" universe, which to me seemed interesting for all which concerned the writing of the lyrics.
Is your market pretty much limited to France, especially since almost all your albums are in French? How are things going for you elsewhere in the world?
Apart from France, we sell especially in Europe and in the nearby countries. It is sure that it is not very easy because we sing in French, but things are really improving from day to day.
Was "Killing Games" an attempt at penetrating foreign markets? How was the response to that album?
It is a first attempt. That allowed us to obtain distribution licenses in countries which had never known our other albums. What is very good is that, in addition to the very good reception for "Killing games", some countries showed themselves interested in our albums sung in French.
Are you waiting for more feedback on "Killing Games" before deciding if future albums will also be released in both French and English?
No: if our schedule allows it, we will continue to do a version in English. It is especially a question of schedule, not of feedback. On the other hand, this time we will not do the same tracks. For example, of the ten tracks found on the new album, we will keep only six and the four others will be new, unpublished tracks.
What do you do when you play live? Do you pick songs from both "Mauvaises graines" and "Killing Games" or do you just stick to one language?
In France we play the versions from "Mauvaises graines". We played several times the English versions, but people prefer the French versions. They prefer to understand the lyrics.
How much more work is it to release an album in two languages? What exactly is involved?
The approach is different. In English, you need twice fewer words to express the same idea. Melodies are thus a little bit different and it is exactly that which is interesting. I have no talent to write as well in English as I do in French. It is Xavier LORENTE (our designer) who takes charge of it, and the work is thus shared.
What were the reasons for re-releasing "Mise aux Poings" in 2001? Was it just to re-record it with the new singer or were there other reasons - were the instruments re-recorded too?
The instruments were not recorded again. "Mise aux poings" was released in 1987 with vocals which quite a lot of fans found too aggressive. In the fact it was always classified at the end of the list of favorite albums. I like this album very much, so much at the level of the compositions and at the level of the texts, and I wished that it could have a new more favorable existence more than 14 years after its recording. I re-did all the vocal parts and a priori the result seems to please because after all, the message is conveyed better, and the music is also heard in a better light.
"Mise aux poings 2001" was released on Brennus, which remains our exclusive label for France. It is decorated with a quite new packaging realized by Xavier LORENTE with a magnificent booklet. Other novelty: it contains effectively a video of a dozen minutes realized by Olivier NELLI from GOREDOC productions. I believe that all these elements do an indispensable piece of our discography. (Indeed it is - highly recommended! - Ed.)
Why did you decide to sing in French? Surely, not singing in English must have shut a few doors close, especially back in the mid-80s?
That's for sure, but I always did what pleased me before pre-occupying myself of what the others wanted me to do. At the beginning, I began by writing texts in English but I quickly preferred to express my feelings in the language in which I spoke best: French. The meaning of the texts is very important for me and it is thus in French that I chose to write them because I do not master English well enough to do it as well as I do in French.
What do you think of the general feeling (at least outside of France) that the French language is not suited for heavy metal songs?
I can understand it but I find that unfortunate. For example, I listen to heavy metal in Spanish and I find that very good. If a song is good, it is a pity not to know it only because the group does not sing in English. So, too bad for those who think like that: they're missing out on many excellent groups.
"No good metal can come out of France" - discuss after you're done laughing. ;)
It is sure that it is not easy to cross some borders, but now with notably Internet, I think that things are improving. Please, go listen to the mp3s on our site and if that pleases you, you will see on the merchandising page that it is very easy to get good metal from France; o)
Do you think playing in North America will ever be a possibility?
It would be a big pleasure but we are not enough known in North America to do it.
You seem to have been with Brennus Records forever! :) I take it you are satisfied with their services? Have you ever received any offer from larger labels?
We did not try to get other offers, and we have never received any. Brennus do, just like us, the best they can with the means they have but at least they do something. With Brennus we are totally free to do what pleases us. With a more important label it is sure in no way that that would be the case.
Do you have any plans for a live DVD? (and if you do, *please* have the DVD available in Region 1/NTSC format! :))
Yes, that's gonna be ok for 2003. That's a work from Olivier NELLI. Now we don't know exactly when it's gonna be available.
I was surprised to hear a cover of "L'aigle noir" on "Cités Interdites". Why did you pick this song? I actually thought the song was an original from a French-Canadian artist (Marie-Carmen) - suffice it to say her version has been played to death on the radio over here. :)
"L'aigle noir" is Barbara's song. I've always liked her songs and it is thus quite naturally that we did that cover. Our version is rather different from the original but it is really a tribute to an exceptional artist.
You had two other singers before you decided to take on the vocal duties. Why did you decide not to continue with a standalone singer?
We looked for more than year, but as we did not find anybody who was convenient for us, it turned out that it was the best solution.
Where and when was "Ennemis en public" recorded?
In 1995 we bought the recording equipment and we began to record some concerts. These concerts were recorded in the western South of France and in the Basque country.
How big was the crowd? They're either very quiet, or in small numbers, or the crowd noise was mixed low. :) (I got really worried when you asked them if they were sleeping during "Clandestinité" - lol)
Even when there is a lot of people I often ask people if they are sleeping: It is a way of motivating them to move even more. There were from 500 to 600 persons. We not hear the public a lot because there was no microphone intended to record the crowd.
Do you keep up to date with the French metal scene? Any bands you like in particular?
I will not name any group for fear of forgetting, but the French metal scene is getting better and better and I really suggest that you listen to the current bands because you will really find there are interesting bands.
Have any of the current band members played in other bands, or any current side-projects?
KILLERS is my only group. Thierry played before with Nicko (his brother) in CHAIPAS. Patrick played in VINI VITY and Florent in SPASM. Now we have only KILLERS for band (no side-projects).
It's the end of December 2002 as I write this. What are the short and medium to long-term plans for Killers?
Our new album went out in France on November 15, 2002. It is called "Habemus Metal" and contains 10 songs. It is really KILLERS' best album and I am sure that you will not be disappointed.
The review from Rock Hard says that it is the best album sung in French released to date.
For all the information, you can visit our site http://www.killers.fr.fm. It is available for 15 euros or 15 US dollars (including postage) for the whole world.
For any information you can send me a mail to KILLERS64@aol.com.
Otherwise for 2003 we are going to re-record with the current lineup some twenty old KILLERS songs. This new album should go out in the middle of the year. The DVD will also go out in 2003 and at the end of the year a new album of new songs will go out. Also we will continue playing concerts. As you can see we have quite a lot of work for this new year. (That's putting it mildly! - Ed.)
Well that's all the questions I have for now, thanks for your time! The last words are yours...
The first reactions in France on our new album "Habemus Metal" are excellent. Please, do not wait to get it: all the information is on the merchandising page of our Web site. Thanks to all and happy new year.
|Other information about Killers on this site|
|Review: ...Fils de la haine|
|Review: Danger de vie|
|Review: Mise aux Poings|
|Review: Cités Interdites|
|Review: Habemus Metal|
|Review: Documents 1999-2004|
|Review: A l'ombre des vautours|
|Review: Le baiser de la mort|
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