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Interview with Pascal Humbert

from US Radio-station (Boulder, Co) Radio 1190
27 October 2000

[Erado by Lilium]

Radio 1190: Lilium on Radio 1190 and we are here with the man behind Lilium, Pascal Humbert also known in the area for his work with 16 Horsepower. Welcome Pascal.
Pascal Humbert: "Thank you."

Thank you so much for coming on ... to talk about the new project on Glitterhouse records? Is that right?
PH: "Yes. That is correct."

Hasn't been officially released, but it's available at Twist & Shout (Denver, Co, USA).
PH: "Right, the only place here, actually. It hasn't been released on this continent yet."

And that particular track had ... the whole album is instrumental with the exception of that track. Although the vocals are kind of instrumental in a way.
PH: "Exactly yes."

And those are done by ...?
PH: "By Ezster Balint."

We have an album by her, called Flicker. It came out last year. She is an actress, comedian ... done some other things. One of the interesting things on your new album: Transmission Of All ... ??
PH: "All The Good-byes."

... is kind of compiling work, some of it is as early as 1984.
PH: "Yes, that's correct, I started long time back. I was just working with my 4-tracks. Just keeping compiling material as I went along. Meeting some friends ... that's why there is David Strayer playing drums on 3 tracks… and Ezster with whom I shared a band in Los Angeles ... called 'Rex Boto' for a while … and Dang Head who lives here in Boulder. It's pretty much the work I've collected on my little notepad, as I just kind of strolled along."

And working with 16 Horsepower, you guys tour quite a bit, seems like … or at least you go on long. Just came back in fact from an American tour.
PH: "Yes, we just did a great tour here, with Slim Cessna's Auto Club. Just came back about two weeks ago."

Supporting the two new albums, that you guys have going on right now.
PH: "Hoarse, which is a live album, also available at Twist&Shout, and Secret South. Yes, that was the official tour for the US for that."

Very exciting … you worked a lot with John Parish, not on this particular album, but with 16 Horsepower.
PH: "With 16 Horsepower, John Parish produced Low Estate. And I just kept a good relationship with him. We became sort of friends. Eventually came back to him in Bristol to do some recording with him and Rob Ellis. We keep in touch."

You brought in a couple of very interesting records, that we will be playing later. One of them we are going to play now, is John Parish.
PH: "It's a soundtrack he did … I think a year or a year and half ago. I doubt that this album had been released here in the country. It's for a kind of an underground movie, that came out in Europe, which I didn't even hear of. The movie's title is Rosie. And this is the soundtrack.; He just send me the CD in the mail. And I thought it was really brilliant work, as usually or as often from him."

And we're gonna hear the 7th song from that. And..?
PH: "Yeah, I can't remember the title. Sorry."

[musical intermission: John Parish followed by Dakota Suite]

Dakota Suite here in Radio 1190, picked by Pascal who is in the studio with us talking about his new project Lilium. Pascal why did you pick that song? Or the group?
PH: "Well, it was actually hard to pick just one song. It's a band that doesn't usually do instrumentals. It's just a side project under their same name. It's really insightful and really beautiful, maybe pretty depressive in some respects … but that's kind of the music I really like."

Definitely. The album it looks like it is called Navigator's yard? You are telling me it's a British band?
PH: "Yes, that's right. They are British, don't even know where from in England, but they are on Glitterhouse as well."

How did you hook up with Glitterhouse? I hadn't heard much about Glitterhouse, and then everyone was wondering where the next 16 Horsepower album would come out. It became Glitterhouse. I was looking at their website and there are a number of great bands on them.
PH: "It's amazing the list. They keep coming up with so many bands. Well, it's just that they approach us, 16 Horsepower, they are big fans. And such a refreshing thing for us, to be approached by a label that was so motivated. And then I just passed down the tape of my music, looking for a label. They really liked it. And wanted to release it. It was just very simple."

They are in Germany?
PH: "Beverungen, in the center of Germany, in the country-side."

Lilium started in 1984 to give it a date, but had it started before then?
PH: "Yes, I was in a few bands before that. Even though I was working with other people, I always worked alone, and just composed music on the side. I always did it and I always will. I think it is just part of what I do. I put a date down, which was 1984. It was the first time I started really recording. It was a very important time of my life right there, I lost my parents. And I just started to record stuff instead of letting things go. As I was doing that I realized it was important for me to do."

Was it hard when being involved in the bands that you've been involved in or 16 Horsepower to be able to set that time that you might need?
PH: "Even when we go touring with 16 Horsepower I spend time composing music too for myself or whatever it will become. I bring along a little sequencer machine, and write some notes on the side. And compose as we go. I have a little studio at home and I just record. I also have a great possibility to work with a great friend of mine, Bob Ferbrache, who has an amazing studio here. I have all that help here and there, and that's how things get done."

Definitely. As we said before, all the tracks are pretty much instrumental. Why do you choose to do the tracks instrumental?
PH: "Because I am not a songwriter; I am no Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie or David Eugene. Maybe one day I will. Maybe one day I'll find the urge to do it and the words will come. Being French and thinking half in two languages doesn't help to make myself clear. I rather stick up with the music. Also I listen to a lot of classical contemporary music. You know, Gavin Bryars and Arvo Pδrt and all those people. I'm really turned into instrumentation in general. But, maybe one day I have something interesting to say and I'll do, I'll try. "

You are the bassist for 16 Horsepower, but you do a number of things. You also play the violin with them?
PH: "No, I play guitar … I've played violin for myself, but I would never call myself a violinist. I like to touch everything and play with them. I'm not a keyboardist as well, but I definitely spend some time on the piano. I'm primarily and mainly a bass-player and a guitar-player. I went to the music conservatory when I was a kid. I started with classical guitar. And that was my main instrument which lead to the bass, I guess."

You mentioned that you're French. Jean-Yves is another member of 16 Horsepower, who is also French, did you came over to America together?
PH: "We did. Jean-Yves and I know each other for 18 years now. We were in another band together, called Passion Fodder and we moved to the West Coast in '89, that's where we met David. And we played bass and drums together for a very very long time."

And Passion Fodder have a couple of albums out?
PH: "We had 5 albums out. Six with a soundtrack. In the States, one on Island and one on RCA. The rest is available on Beggars Banquet. "

What type of music was that? I've never had the opportunity to hear it. Is it hard to describe?
PH: "No, … euh … It wouldn't make sense if you listen to 16 Horsepower that we have been in that band … that's all I can say … violin, guitar, bass … the singer was American, the rest in the band was French. Influences back then were from Camper van Beethoven to Birthday Party. I would not try to classify it, but that was what we were listening to back then."

I noticed that there are some other projects you have worked on.
PH: "Yes, in the last few years I have worked with Rob Ellis, the drummer for PJ Harvey and with John Parish. They're like best friends together. He has his own side-project called Spleen. I came along to record on 4 songs on his latest album. So, that was one thing. And the rest, I don't know what else I have done in the last …"

We're gonna play Spleen in a little bit. First we're gonna play another track from your album Transmission Of All The Good-byes. And this is number 4.
PH: "Yes, it's End Of The Waterline, which was like sketch I did for a little movie that never did anything. But I kind of re-arranged it. I wanted to have it there, 'cause it is kind of different from the rest, I think. And David Strayer plays drums on this. A really amazing drummer. I really love his sensibility. "

[musical intermission]

You picked out Spleen, why?
PH: "Spleen is Rob Ellis, the drummer of PJ Harvey … and I collaborated with him on that album, the second album we just heard. Worked on 4 pieces, 4 tracks. With John Parish as well on guitar, Rob did all the programming and the drums."

You were telling me you had 4 hours to play 4 songs?
PH: "We took the train from London to Bristol. We took the car from Bristol to the farm near Dorset. Got there with the cows, … checked it out, took the bass, we spend about four hours in the studio. Then I spent the night on the farm, got up very early in the morning, went back to the train, went back to Paris to play the next day with 16 Horsepower. It was really great to do it this way, actually."

Definitely. Somewhere I had read Lilium meant "Fortress", but you really had gotten it from a movie?
PH: "Being a kid I saw that movie called Liliom, but spelled with an 'o' instead of an 'u'. I didn't pay any attention to it at the time, but I was really impressed by that movie, it really touched me deeply. It is a movie made by Fritz Lang. He fled Germany and took refuge in France and directed that movie with all French speaking actors. It's a story of an angel in a circus. Which really made me think and I'm pretty sure that Wim Wenders has kind of taken a lot of that to make Wing Of Desire. It really takes the same story. But I didn't know and I misspelled it and then I realized that Lilium spelled with a “u” still meant something."

Pretty interesting. And the album artwork done by your wife, Tree… It's beautiful … and a picture of you in the inside …
PH: "Taken by David Zimmer, who also worked on the artwork of Secret South."

Oh, very cool. So lot's of stuff going on for you. What's next? You had mentioned that you're already working on more…
PH: "What's next is that - even though this album has to come out in the US, and I'm going to work on that, and right now it's just coming out in Europe - I'm working on the concept of the new Lilium, with more collaboration … hopefully with Dana of Morphine, Warren of the Dirty Tree and John Parish. And …who knows, I don't know. It's going also be a slow process, because of the touring schedule of 16 Horsepower. But I'm not going to wait 15 years to put this one out."

[Sleeping Inside by Lilium]

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