As someone who spends a ton of my time working hard to spread the word about hardcore music, I relate to Benoit, vocalist of Cold Decay. With a sound that has been likened to the bruiser jams of Billy Club Sandwich and Everybody Gets Hurt, they're one of the sickest bands coming out of Paris, France right now.
But outside of his frontman duties in Cold Decay, Benoit is also behind Paris Hardcore Shows, putting his blood and sweat (and hopefully no tears) into booking gigs for both touring and local bands in his region.
Since Cold Decay just dropped their self-titled debut EP today via Quality Control HQ (Blow Your Brains Out, Existence, Big Cheese), I spoke with Benoit about the band, his work as a promoter, and his thoughts on some of the other hardcore bands from the Paris area that we should all be checking out right now.
Tell me a bit about how Cold Decay came to be?
Cold Decay came to be during COVID a bit less than two years ago. Baptiste (guitar, now also in Worst Doubt) and I (vocals, ex-Black Spirals, ex-Dig, ex-Mad at the World…) had no bands for years prior to this period and we talked about doing a '90s/early '00s NYHC-influenced band for people to mosh to.
I was playing drums at the beginning and then we decided that I would move to vocals and find a better drummer [laughs]. Later on we came together with Régis (drums for Prisonnier du Temps, ex-Harm Done, sometimes in Syndrome 81) and in a couple of weeks/months we added Nicolas (bass, Deviant) and Jeremy (guitar, Corruption Pact, ex-Jaw Crack) to have a solid lineup.
After some rehearsals, we decided to record our first EP at Maxime Smadja's (Rixe, Boss) infamous studio: Château Vergogne.
What are some of the influences that drew you guys together?
Definitely New York bands such as Everybody Gets Hurt, Merauder, and Billy Club Sandwich, as much in terms of songwriting as in the raw production they had at the time. We could cite other bands from other scenes and/or time periods like Cold as Life, Biohazard, or Trapped Under Ice as well.
Lyrically speaking, it was kinda hard for me at the beginning, I started this band as a drummer as I said so I had to re-focus my mind to singing and lyrics. At the same time I was going through a hard period in my life, depression is hard, and I wasn’t able to write anything for months. It’s like you wanna say so many things about what you’re going through but you just can’t. For some people these periods are the best to write things but not for me, it was a struggle.
At one point, I was just going through old French artists and songs I love and I was just analyzing the lyrics and it all started like this. I started to write things in French, It helped me to express my feelings. I know the lyrics aren’t typical hardcore lyrics, it’s a lot of metaphor and stuff like this, but all of it means something to me personally. Maybe some people will think it’s too poetic or whatever but I just spoke about the life I was living at this moment (and still have sometimes).
Since you have Quality Control HQ releasing your EP on cassette, I was curious about how the band connected with Ola and the label.
A good friend of ours, Fredo (bass player of Take it in Blood) gave my contact to Ola about shows in Paris. As I'm a promoter here, he said maybe she could contact me if she needed. We just talked a bit and I ended up sending her the demo and luckily she liked it. It's sick for a band from Paris to be on this label which is one of the best in Europe.
Yes, Ola told me you were a promoter in Paris. Tell me a bit about that. How long have you been part of the scene there, and do you think it’s the best it’s been in years?
I've been booking shows in Paris for at least 15 years now, going to shows for more than 20 years, and honestly I can tell you that right now it's the best period we have had in years. The atmosphere is insanely great, nothing compared to when I used to go to my first shows. I was the small 17-year-old kid trying to find my place in the pit with all the skinheads and other guys that were punching me instantly! It was a hazing of sorts back then, just to see if you’ll stick around or if you’ll vanish in a couple of months.
The shows now are packed, people are moshing from the first minute to the last one. When a new band is playing, it's instant chaos and it's something we never had before. A lot of people are doing shows and they all add something to the scene, this variety is rare, unique and precious. I'm so proud of what we have here now. More kids are interested in hardcore, it’s not just something for 150 people now.
When you see festivals everywhere in Europe or the USA, you can understand that hardcore has stepped up. Some people don’t like it, some like it. For sure it’s an underground music, it’s hard, it’s violent but I think this kind of music speaks to so many people today. We all have so many problems and issues in our lives, I personally found a shelter in this music and in these people. All my friends are from this scene and I know we have this unique connection that people outside hardcore can’t understand.
Shows from different promoters are almost always sold out, from 150 to 450 people. It’s hard to think that we lost this at one point. When I started going to shows, there were packed shows for Kickback or Madball or big hardcore bands at that time, but for local bands, it was only a small audience.
With my friend Kevin from Délivrance Recs we did a show right after COVID with only bands from Paris and we had 400 people, it was insane. Things changed after this show for us and the scene. We can have packed venues for local bands. We’ve quality bands, we’re not afraid to support our own bands and that’s a huge change for this scene.
Do you think it's a stylistically diverse hardcore scene over there?
Bands here are really different, for sure it's mostly heavy stuff, for example, Worst Doubt (who is the best French band at the moment) have huge breakdowns, almost death metal riffs, really technical drums. Sorcerer bring that melodic kind of Converge vibe, TIIB are more like a Neglect band, Cavalerie more punk/crust/black vibes, Headbussa have the '90s beatdown vibe, etc.
It's different and the mix is perfect. I'm sure a lot of people still have some ideas for new bands and we'll have some new things in the near future. To me, maybe except the UK, we’ve the best scene in Europe.
What can you tell me about Paris Hardcore Fest? I’m sure putting together a fest is a lot of work and a bit of a headache!
I'm doing this alone so it's a lot to handle but it's so fun to do. The first editions (2018 and 2019) were sick, I had Turnstile, Incendiary, Terror, Jesus Piece, Backtrack, Arkange,l etc. Then COVID happened so we had nothing in 2020 and 2021.
Last year wasn't a good year for me personally and I didn't have the mindset to do something like this. This year I wanted to do something for the people here in France, something they can be proud of, our scene.
I'm from Paris, I grew up and live here and I love this scene. So I was like "let's do a 100% Paris bands fest" and that's what I did ! I've asked a couple of friends to bring back bands from the dead (Lodges, Backboned, DIG, Jack Move) and it was a wrap. Small venue, only friends playing. That's something that will help the scene I hope.
What are some other bands from there we should all be checking out right now?
There are so many!
- Worst Doubt
- Take it in Blood
- Corruption Pact
- Forbidden Zone
...and there are many more new bands coming too, so keep your ears peeled!
The Cold Decay EP is available both digitally and on cassette via Quality Control HQ (order the cassette).
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