Leeches with Théo Jude, Guillaume
Cover photographs: Victor Léonchenko
Edited: Evguenia de Fleury
Costume designer: Clara Jude
The story of Greyborn begins in this small interval between light and darkness, somewhere in the cold and mineral city of Limoges, France. The hopes of a hedonistic generation are shattered as they come up against the programmed decline of our civilization. Greyborn is the messenger of this mass disenchantment, providing its corrosive, disturbing, but highly hip-swaying soundtrack. Their decadent brand of heavy rock feeds in the world’s darkest corners and follows its own rules, and you won’t help but get struck by its lyricism, taking the form of both hopeless and poetic political satire.
Beholding the ashes of their former band Mama’s Gun, the rhythm section made up of Théo Jude (vocals and drums) and Guillaume Barrou (bass) felt the urge to materialize their new ideas and ambitions, and quickly invited guitarist Maxime Conan (also a bandmate of Jude in Blackbird Hill) to seal the lineup of their new project: Greyborn was alive. A handful of demoed tracks and salutary jams later, the trio gave birth to their 5-track debut EP, released in March 2022
We picture our music as heavy and balanced. We pay much attention to the power and energy of our riffs, but we also love to search for efficient lead vocals, harmonized backing vocals and fluid song structures. Creating music that is both accessible and original matters to us. As for its meaning, the next questions and answers will cover it.
HMA: What can you tell us about your new record?
Théo Jude: I have written the five tracks of our debut EP ‘Leeches’ and some more during the pandemic. Back in 2021, we gathered as a band and began to rehearse. We felt that some of these tracks were better than others and formed a coherent whole. We focused on these, refined our parts, the lyrics, and the structures, and demoed them. We recorded the five songs ourselves, with the very precious support of our friends at the local concert hall. This is one of the main things about Greyborn’s debut – and it will probably continue: we love producing things on our own. It’s an incredible way to learn skills and control how you’re going to sound or look. It costs time and energy as none of us is trained to be sound engineers, directors, or video editors. We always call on professionals for mastering duties and sometimes on friends and/or pros for photography or video duties. Seeing or listening to your band through another person’s eyes or ears is also precious. Sometimes, this is simply the best way to help the band’s singularity stand out.
HMA: How would you describe the lyrics?
Théo Jude: They don’t have any particular theme. It depends on what impacts us when the song comes alive and when the lyrics are written. We let the music’s atmosphere tell us what the theme should be. Sometimes, a song feels quite unreal, ethereal. Sometimes, it should be down to earth and dwelling in the material world. Looking back at it, Leeches mostly talks about lies, the ‘outer’ world evolving so swiftly, and the search for meaning. Greyborn (and probably any artist, right?) is about expressing a form of untamed energy that, for some reason, we don’t allow in our day-to-day life. In our case, it’s often about graveness, urgency, wildness, and somehow, violence. Any song we create has to feel like it’s ‘ticking a box’ inside of us, so to speak; it should feel good letting it out. That’s probably the reason why we’re particularly productive when something’s not right or when we’re not at ease.
HMA: Do you have a philosophical fixation?
Théo Jude: It’s hard to gather three different philosophical opinions about life under a unique band’s banner. There are seldom moments when we don’t think about it, talk about it, or see life through music. Each of us has his mix of music, a spiritual, scientific, fantastical or material experience. But it’s too rich to be only one of these things.
HMA: How were you initiated in the dark arts of heavy metal?
Guillaume: My first exposure to rock music was through my brother’s CDs, the live album of RATM, Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, and Placebo’s Sleeping with Ghosts when I was around 10. Shortly after, I saw an internet video of two guys singing SOAD’s Chop Suey! and immediately bought the Toxicity album. At that moment, I thought, “Okay, this stuff is amazing”. Then, going through the random music my brother had downloaded onto the family PC, I discovered various/heavier stuff like Gojira, Slipknot, QOTSA, and A Perfect Circle, which sealed the deal for me.
Maxime: I remember listening on repeat to the live recording of ACDC when I was 13 years old. I think that was the moment when it all started for me, the same year Metallica released the album St Anger (which I bought on vinyl at Virgin Music Store in Bordeaux), and I loved the sound of down-tuned guitars. I learned to play the guitar by practicing James Hetfield’s riffs, among others. Among the first albums I bought were Alice In Chains and Motorhead… I left metal in all its forms for several years but returned to it when I discovered Amenra, Russian Circles, Kylesa, etc.
Théo: When I was 15, a friend lent me the sampler CD of a music magazine he had subscribed to. I remember Them Crooked Vultures’ ‘No One Loves Me And Neither Do I’ and The Dead Weather’s ‘Cut Like A Buffalo’ blowing my mind. This is where I began listening to heavier rock music. Meanwhile, I don’t remember how I fell into Jimi Hendrix’s music, which led me to Led Zeppelin, who taught me to Black Sabbath, who led me to plenty more recent heavy bands like Greenleaf, Clutch, Kyuss and QOTSA, The Sword, Red Fang, Mars Red Sky… the day I began to listen to metal stuff (Meshuggah, Gojira, Loathe, Sâver…) was the day I attended a friend’s grindcore gig at our high school.
HMA: Why is music important?
Music shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but it is not entertainment. It may be superficial to the ones who aren’t really into it. To us, blockbusters movies, for example, are simple entertainment. But it is probably not in the eyes of other people. Each discipline is a way of discovering things, feeling connected and part of something, thinking and developing yourself, escaping, and expressing things that shouldn’t be locked in.