‘Initial’ the debut album by Swiss hardcore band Cortez turns 10 years this year. An intense mix of post-hardcore, noise, and metal, the album is getting a new life with a new remixed and remastered version.
WOOAAARGH and Get A Life Records! are co-releasing the album on 12″ Vinyl next month.
Transcending Obscurity (Peter Kotikalapudi): It has been 10 years since the release of your debut album ‘Initial’. How does it feel looking back at the album?
Cortez (Grégoire Quartier): Honestly I didn’t like the sound of the album at the time, and until now. That’s why we decided to remix and remaster it. Also because since we did the last album ‘Phoebus’, and found out we were able do the sound we want by ourselves, we realized it gives us plenty of time to reconsider everything. As it has never been released on vinyl, we thought it was the occasion to do it for the 10th anniversary of this record.
Listening to it hundred of times, correcting every single detail, having time to do it without paying on top of the time we spend, it was very interesting. With a more comfortable sound we started to have pleasure to listen to our work again, and frankly, I discovered the songs were pretty cool. Better than I remembered. I think we really had a personality from the beginning, and the touch we had at the time is still present now in what we do. I think our style was settled, and we still are searching in the same direction today. We have different new approaches of music, but I still like the one we took 10 years ago. And I cannot say the same about everything I did 10 years ago, hahaha. So I’m proud about that.
TO: What are your memories from the recording sessions for the album?
Cortez: It was our first studio experience. It was the first full album experience of our sound engineer. So… we did everything very candidly, and accepted what the situation was offering, but we had no clue about what to expect, what to be aware of, what was possible in the time we had to do the job, etc… So it was really a learning experience. I have really no regret, cause even if the album didn’t sound the way we wanted (and what we wanted was pretty vague at the time), it still worked for us. We did sign on labels, we did tour, and we started officially the band outside of the place we come from. That was mostly what we wanted, and we got it.
TO: ‘Initial’ has been mixed and mastered by Samuel Vaney at their Autoclave Studio in Singapore. How has the sound being improved upon?
Cortez: We tried to diminish what was bothering us on the sound of the records, and we tried to push in front what was not obvious enough in the first mix. Guitars were noisy, but in the bad sense of it, like you cannot listen to it loud without having your ears suffering. Drums lacked of depth. The sound, overall, was not pleasant. But again, it was not only the mixer’s fault, because our instruments and performances were also lacking of perfection. So we had to edit some things to make it more proper to work on. We also wanted to mix the album the way we would mix it today, but with the original takes we did. So in the end, the sound is a compromise, and not THE sound we dream of. But for that we did our last album ‘Phoebus’ and we’ll have the next to come. It’s still, and has to be, a process of learning and exigent artistic direction. Here we gave a rebirth of our first album, with an adult view on a child’s work, if I can say. Of course, we prefer it that way, and we wish it was like that from the beginning, but for some who like the first album how it was, it’s also part of our history, and we don’t want to erase it. We assume what we were at that time. If some people disagree, the good news is you can now chose between a raw and a polished sound. It don’t bring the same feeling to the same songs, but a different view of what it could have been at the time.
TO: Your music is a mix of post-hardcore, noise, and metal. How did you develop this unique sound?
Cortez: I was more a guy that wanted to be pro musician, so I was studying everything, without really having a strong idea about art and all that. I liked neo-metal, and stuff supposedly cool in the early 2000. Sam, on his side, was more an experimenting musician. He had a poor technique compared to pros, but had amazing ideas and a very strong vision about music as an art. JR was more a guy that follow the stream of the band. Before rehearsing, I remember we stood hours in old sofas and listen to music that mostly Sam was bringing. Things like Shora, Botch, Neurosis, Breach, Coalesce, Converge, DEP, Keelhaul, Knut, Snapcase, Turmoil, Will Haven, and many others… So when you listen 1 hour of music and then start to play, you are in the mood of the music you just listened, and you have the reflexes of the music you already know. So I guess it came like that. Old neo-metal/metal reflexes from a drummer who was inspired by Sam’s music, and it all came together. I remember also we liked a lot to construct weird stuff for hours just for the pleasure of trying, and then when it was cool we kept it, or we trashed it if it didn’t fit. We lost a lot of time doing that, but we also found our sound this way.
TO: What music have you been listening to lately? Are there any acts that have inspired you of late?
Cortez: I like very varied stuff like (I’m checking my digital music player): Johnny Cash, The Bad Plus, DJ Shadow, Dave Douglas, Django Reinhardt, Drive Like Jehu, Guided by Voices, Juj, Ken Mode, Knxwledge, Kurt Vile, Lumisoeka, Meshuggah, Method Man, Monno, Ocoeur, Olof Melander, Ras G, Sun Ra, Supersilent, The Flamming Lips, The Shaggs, Ultralyd, Uri Caine, amongst others.
TO: What are bands from Switzerland that our readers should check out?
Cortez: Shora, Knut, Nostromo, Convulsif, Monno.
TO: You recently added a new singer and guitarist to your line up. Do you plan on playing any shows this year?
Cortez: Probably not. At the moment, we are working with a new singer, and I will audition some guitar players during august.
TO: Are you working on any new material? When can we expect it to be released?
Cortez: Yes. That’s why we work with the new singer. I hope we can release a new album in the beginning of 2017. All songs are composed. We add the voices now. As we are independent in all the producing process, we can really do what we want, when we want. Then of course we have labels and partners with their own agendas.
TO: Thanks for answering our questions. Do you have any final words?
Cortez: Thanx for your interest. Hope to tour everywhere by 2017 and beyond. Tell your friends, and harass your local promoter to make him listen to our music!
Initial releases on September 9th 2016 via WOOAAARGH and Get A Life Records!