Hoboken Division interview with Marie Rieffly and Mathieu Cazanave

January 8, 2015

Hoboken Division interview with Marie Rieffly and Mathieu Cazanave

Just when you start thinking to yourself, “they don’t make
bands like that anymore”, you come across something like Hoboken Division.  They’ve taken so many of the things that I
hold truly sacred, like the literal building blocks of my musical interests, and
they’ve shattered the mold, picked up the pieces, putting it back together into
this completely original Frankenstein’s monster of musical creative-fancy.  Yeah, things are definitely based around the
raw, almost proto-garage, sound of the delta blues, hell the B-side to their
7-inch is a Skip James cover, but you’d be fooling yourself if you didn’t
acknowledge the tasty psych and rock influences from the first blue-rock
revolution of the 60s and 70s that lie deep in the belly of the beastly sound
of Hoboken Division.  The intimate
stripped down sound of Hoboken Division instantly conjures images of Alison
Mosshart, White Stripes era Jack White and The Kills, but they also quickly
disperse compare and move into a territory all their own.  The snarling slide guitar of Mathieu Cazanave
slinks and melts over the top of Marie Rieffly’s bass and harmonica which is
backed by a programmable drum machine. 
Like I said, there are some familiar elements to Hoboken Division, things
that you’ve heard before in different times and places, but there’s something
really interesting and unique going on as well. 
There’s something about Hoboken Division that could have only happened
overseas, outside of the chocked underground and independent scenes or major
label monsters of the US.  There’s
something pure and untouched about Hoboken Division that I find absolutely
entrancing.  Not to mention, Marie
Rieffly really does have one hell of a voice! 
The pipes on this chick are killer, and when you only have two people
making noise, there’s not a lot of space to hide, so you know there’s no smoke
and mirrors going on either.  There’s no
deafening wall of noise here, just contemplative garage/blues/psych combine
with a dose of shoegaze to round out the mixture, though I feel like that was
really more prevalent on their first EP and if their 7-inch is any indication
of where they’re going from here that they’ve minimized that influence in favor
or a more raw, live approach which suits them much better.  I could go on and on about Hoboken Division,
ranting about how I didn’t even notice that they had a drum machine at first,
how cool I thought it was that they did a Skip James cover on their single, I
could gush all day, but that’s now why you’re here, so let’s get down to
business shall we?  I sat down with both
founding members Marie Rieffly and Mathieu Cazanave to talk all things Hoboken
Division and get a little glimpse inside the creative and thought processes of
the band, they not only agreed but really went out of their way to talk about
every facet of the band they could think of. 
So, read on and cop some enlightenment, then head over to Bandcamp and
snag some tunes and I’ll see you on the other side!
               – Listen
while you read: 
© Aurore Pfeiffer
Has Hoboken
Division always just been the two of you, or has the band gone through some
evolution in that respect?  Who plays
what in the band?
Marie:  It’s always
been just the two of us!
Mathieu:  I play
guitar, harmonica, and piano and Marie sings and plays bass and harmonica as
well.  We program our drum machine
together and I choose which pattern I want on stage.  There’re just two of us but it sounds like
there’s four!
Are either of you
in any other active bands or do you have any side projects going on at this
Marie:  It’s the main
project for me.  I don’t think I could
invest as much of myself in another band as I do in Hoboken Division.  But from time to time, I sing a song or two
for friend’s projects.
Mathieu:  Same for
me.  I work hard to find riffs and
melodies for Hoboken Division.  I did
just recently join the band Poincaré in June this year, though.  It’s a ten piece shoegaze band with just
guitars.  All the members play in local
bands from our area.
Have you released
any music with anyone else in the past? 
If so, can you tell us a bit about who that was and what you put out?
Marie:  I had a band,
mainly a studio band as we never played live, in my teens.  We made some easy-listening music, just bass,
voice and drums.  It didn’t go very far,
as I had to leave for college, but it was a nice first exposure to studio work!
Mathieu:  Yes, with my
previous band, The Ventilator Blues Band which started in 2005.  We recorded a few originals and some covers
of The Velvet Underground.  It was a
learning period and the first real band for all the members where we went on
stage.  We played 60s psych rock heavily
influenced by the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Brian Jonestown Massacre,
Chocolate Watch Band, and a bit of the blues… 
A lot of members came and went in that band.
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
Marie:  I’m twenty
nine years old, and come from Alsace, a French region near the German border.
Mathieu:  I’m thirty
years old and I come from Metz, a town near the Luxembourg border.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Did
you see a lot of shows or get very involved in that scene in your opinion?  Do you feel like it’s played a large or
important part in shaping your musical tastes or forming the way that you
perform today?
Marie:  I grew up in a
tiny village in the mountains…  So, there
was no music scene!  I’ve always listened
to tons of music, but with no heavy preferences for any one style.  Mostly what my parents listened to and what
my friends at school heard on TV.  I saw
my first rock concert very late!
Mathieu:  On my side,
the local scene was very metal and there was French pop, some punk and even
reggae music, but there wasn’t much in the psych, shoegaze, delta-blues,
garage, soul department.  I saw a lot of
shows, though, from metal, to math-rock, to noise, to hip hop!  There were a lot of venues, and a lot of
shows.  There were some headliners, but
it was essentially a lot of indie and underground bands.  That was great!  It was a good way to see a lot of bands and
to learn what I wanted to know for when my turn came to perform.
What about your
home growing up?  Was there a lot of
music around or anything?  Were either of
your parents of any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested
or involved in music?
Marie:  My mother
loves classical music and singing in choirs, and I soon followed her
there.  I spent a bunch of Sunday
mornings in the church’s choir with the old ladies of the village, just so I
could sing on a basis weekly.  Kind of
weird, as an atheist, but it was pretty good classical training!
Mathieu:  I grew up in
the countryside and the first cool town was ten miles away, the first record
shop fifteen miles!  I’m the only one in
my family who plays, but my stepfather was a music radio journalist and has
always been addicted to rock music and beyond. 
He always received CDs from labels and majors, so I listened to a lot of
music even before Napster went online and helped people discover all this new
music!  I just looked through boxes and
picked out stuff based on the name, the LP cover, what I heard, and what I read
on old rock magazine.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
Mathieu:  My
stepfather started taking me to concerts at a pretty young age, maybe seven or
eight years old, and my first crush on music was at a ZZ top concert; great
sound, great playing, great energy, great show and the chicken skin for the
loudness of the sound!
Marie:  Aside from the
many cover shows I attended as a very little girl, a friend of mine’s father
was singing in them, so I spent a lot of time backstage watching them perform,
my first real concert was at Ben Harper’s. 
And I remember that aside from enjoying the music and the ambiance, I
was also really envious of the musicians on stage.
If you were to
pick a moment where everything seemed to change, a moment where you saw the
infinite possibilities that music presents and your eyes were opened, what
would it be?
Mathieu:  I’d say the
first rehearsal with some friends in high school.  We were jamming at a very poor level with our
instruments but at one point, one or two minutes of magic happened, and it was
a great feeling to be consumed by the music you’re playing, it’s
electrifying!  Everyday when I play music
for myself or to perform on stage, I do it to feel like that again and again!  It makes you feel alive, for real.
Marie:  It was when I
went from lyrical singing to jazz singing at the conservatory.  Choirs were fun and enriching, pop music was
fun too, but not really what I wanted. 
Lyrical singing was tough, mainly because I hated the fact that you
needed to achieve a “perfect voice”, a voice I obviously didn’t have.  Just after this failure, I discovered jazz
music, and even though it took me years to deconstruct everything that lyrical
institutions had put in my mind about singing. 
It was a revelation.  Singing
isn’t just about having a pretty voice, an impressive voice, or even a perfect
voice.  It’s about doing whatever you
want with it, and the very best you can, and that changed my life!
When did you
decide to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you, or
was it simply a logical extension of being given a means to express yourself
and create something?
Marie:  It took time
for me.  I’ve always participated in the
writing process, but mainly just by giving my opinion about what was already
done by someone else.  It took me time to
realize I could have ideas too, that those ideas might be interesting in a way,
and that I could propose things without feeling ashamed of them.  I’m quite an introvert!  But I’d say that working with Mathieu in
Hoboken Division forced me to embrace my ideas and it gave me that desire to
express myself.
Mathieu:  I had a band
with some friends in high school and everyone at the time wanted to play this
Blink182 and Alien Ant Farm stuff…  It
was so boring…  I listened to Stone Roses
at the time and wanted to do something groovier, more soulful.  So, I started jamming with two other friends
doing some original stuff, but there was always a touch of Red Hot Chili
Peppers, so I quit and began looking for some people who had the same taste as
me.  But the main thing that pushed me to
perform my own music was when I discovered the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  After them, I discovered another side of
music, the underground, and found a lot of great records.  At this time, I was amazed that just a few
guys (The BJM) had the ability to sum up forty years of music in one LP!  It motivated me to write and compose more and
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
Mathieu:  It was the
saxophone.  I was fourteen, I think, and
I wanted to play “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty!  Then I discovered Stax, Steve Cropper, Otis
Redding, Ike & Tina, and started acting like a Blues Brothers.
Marie:  It was the
singing!  I’ve been singing for as long
as I can remember, I cannot even begin to explain why and how.
How and when did
you two originally meet?
Marie:  We met just
before starting the band.  Mathieu and I
had a friend in common, she made him listen to a song I’d made recently, and he
wanted to meet me so I could sing a song for his previous project.  We ended up drinking beers and talking about
the music we love, and how we both imagined our life with music, and realized
we had a lot in common.  So, we started
by playing some covers we loved, and ended up starting a band.
What led to the
formation of Hoboken Division and when was that?
Mathieu:  At first, we
just met a few times a week to have fun and work on cover songs by The
Fuzztones, The White Stripes, Cat Power, Credence Clearwater Revival,
etcetera…  We were looking for gigs to
perform and one of Marie’s friends suggested a venue for us, but only if we had
original material.  So, a month before
the date of this gig, we composed and wrote ten songs!  The funny thing about it is, that show got
cancelled before we had the chance to play, but we had ten songs and a lot of
ideas for further material so, we decided to form Hoboken Division.
I love your
name.  It was just instantly lodged in my
head when I read it for whatever reason. 
What does Hoboken Division mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you all go
about choosing it?  Were there any close
seconds you almost went with you can recall at this point?
Marie:  When we
decided to get serious with this band affair we wrote dozens of random cool
words and names on a piece of paper.  It
was covered with words that we liked for their sound, or with places that could
refer to something…  In the middle there
was “Hoboken Railroad Division”, which we both loved.  ‘Railroad’ only lasted a few weeks before we
realized nobody here in France, ourselves included, was able to pronounce it
correctly!  The name is a reference to
the Hoboken terminal in New Jersey, where through out history thousands of
people have met and mixed, people from the south running away from the Dustball
in the early century were put in there when they arrived, people coming from
Europe…  It was also was a port of
departure for he GI’s during both World Wars. 
They had this maxim: “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken for Christmas”.  We like to think that they brought the blues
to Europe!  We really like the history of
the place and it’s a powerful symbolic place for the music we love.
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
Mathieu: Wow, there’s a lot! 
Musically, it would be dust, rust and burst.  It means that we want people to feel
something when listening to us.  Like
those one or two minutes of magic that I told you about earlier.  For us, music is an exchange, a sharing of
feelings, and it has to be real. 
Regarding the way we book gigs and promote our music, I’d also say
D.I.Y.  It’s awesome to play music on
stage to earn money to produce our own records. 
We get choose the studio, the artwork; we get to do it our way.  And when it’s done, we go on the road again
to earn money to put out recordings, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!  The last code would be to only deal with real
music lovers and not people who are commercial.
Marie:  We also try
our best to be very honest with each other all the time.  We have to share a lot, to know each other
very well, and when something bothers one of us and may impact the ambiance in
the band, or the music, we talk about it! 
It’s the best way to work without ending up having a huge elephant in
the room.
Where is Hoboken
Division located at these days?  How
would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?
Marie:  We’re still
located in our hometown, Nancy, in the east of France.  It’s a little town, where the culture is
currently re-birthing itself from the ashes. 
For the music scene, there was basically nothing for a long time and now
it’s coming back, so it’s very exciting to be part of!  We have a good bunch of rock, garage, stoner,
and noise music, with bands such as Blondstone, Dirty Work Of Soul Brothers,
Dead Stereo Boots, Filiamotsa, and Dirty Red Shirt.  We’re trying to make a real good scene out
here, but we’re still missing some nice venues to play at.
Are you very
involved in the local scene at this point in your opinion?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or
Marie:  We try our best
to be involved.  We try not to play too
often in our hometown.  It’s a small city
and we don’t want people to get tired of us, but I think it’s important to be
an active part of the cultural life of your city.  To be a part of its cultural development in
one way or another, by playing, attending, and or organizing shows in the few
venues we have.
Mathieu:  We attend a
lot of shows, mainly in the underground scene. 
Our town is small and we all know each other.  Since last year, we’ve been booking shows for
bands we played with on previous tours and some bands that share our
influences, from blues to psych.  As a
small town, Nancy isn’t seen as a music city by the press.  So every time we get the opportunity, we talk
about bands from Nancy and how great they are, because, they are great!  It would be nice if our city was recognized
as the musical center it is.
Has the local
scene played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Hoboken
Division as a band or do you feel like you could be doing what you are
regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by and stuff?
Marie:  I knew nothing
about the local scene before Hoboken Division. 
I was attending a lot of shows, but only bigger bands, at festivals and
bigger venues.  I discovered this entire
microcosm when I became part of it.  So,
on my side, there was no connection whatsoever. 
I just needed to make some music that was at once loud, raw, and sincere
and the delta blues roots we’re using as a basis in the band was the exact way
to express all that for me.  We keep it
that way, no matter what other bands are doing.
Mathieu: To be honest, not really.  We’re friend with a lot of others musicians
and we play with them, but regarding Hoboken Division, it would probably be the
same music wherever we were at.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any music besides your own?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that here
Mathieu:  I played
piano, organ and slide guitar on the Rumble album, a rockabilly band with
members of my last band.  And when I have
time and a band from Nancy has no possibilities of recording a demo to find
gigs, and if I like the music, I’ll record them or give them some help.
Marie:  I did a few
backing vocals for the band Les Wayfarers, who play swing/rockabilly music with
French lyrics!
Who are some of
your major musical influences?
Mathieu:  They’re
numerous, but we can directly say Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Peter
Kember, Syd Barett, Skip James, RL Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Keith
Richards, Mick Taylor, Anton Newcombe, Rowland S. Howard, John Mayall, David
Bowie, John Lee Hooker, A Place To Bury Strangers, The Beta Band, The Beatles,
The Fuzztones, The Detroit Cobras and Iggy Pop and The Stooges!  Raw Power is best album ever for me!
Marie:  We’re gonna
have a few of them in common: The White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Dead
Weather, Left Lane Cruisers, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, Cat Power, The Detroit
Cobras, Howling Wolf, RL Burnside, Seasick Steve.  There are so many!
What about
influences on the band as a whole?  A few
years ago it was pretty rare to see two-pieces but I feel like they’re gaining
a bit more prominence and being taken more seriously these days.  Did you draw any influence from early duos or
anything like that?
Marie:  Being just the
two of us was an artistic decision at first. 
We started together and wanted to keep this energy just between the two
of us, without any other opinions.  Now
that we’ve toured, we realize that being a two-piece’s also a great advantage
when it comes to touring!  It’s easier
for money too.  We can afford to do a few
shows that don’t pay that well from time to time.  There was no influence from other bands, not
consciously at least.  But seeing those
well-known two-pieces manage to achieve what they achieved showed us that it’s
possible and that you can have a full and dense sound even though you’re a
duo.  The White Stripes were very
inspiring for me, and The Kills too, but I try to avoid being influenced by
them musically.  As a duo working with
drum machines, people are always comparing us to The Kills, but even though we
share the same influences, raw delta blues, I don’t want to be an ersatz of
them, or have any of our songs sounding like their work.
You all obviously
draw from a lot of different influences and just combine and take what you want
from where you want, though you’re tastes are obviously rooted in the
blues.  Whenever I do these interviews I
always have to describe how a band sounds to a bunch of people who’ve never
heard them before.  It’s a daunting task
to say the least.  How would you describe
Hoboken Division to our readers who might not have heard you before?
Mathieu:  As Marie
explained with our name, Hoboken Division has to be seen as a crossroad of many
genres.  The influences span goes from
delta-blues to garage and psych music, but heavily fuzzed out and combined with
the blues.  I would say it’s 21st century
garage-blues-psych music!
Marie:  It also seems
important to mention that we don’t want to make “tribute music”, or try to
bring back to life old-time blues.  The
blues have always been the basis of rock music anyway.  We’re using those references to create
something anchored in our time, to pass what we’re feeling on to the audience.
What’s the
songwriting process like for Hoboken Division? 
Do you two just get together and kick ideas back and forth and come up
with stuff as a unit, or is there one of you that usually comes in with an idea
for a song to work out with the other?
Marie:  Mathieu has a
huge stock of riffs he’s working on regularly, so for the most part we start
from there.  We sit and listen to it, and
try to structure it.  See what mood it
brings, what lyrics it inspires. 
Sometimes, we’ll start with one or two sentences that were written just
because they sound nice, or even complete lyrics, and then we’ll try to find a
match with the guitar riffs we already have. 
There’s clearly no recipe, some songs come out in one hour, and others
stay in drawers for ages, waiting for the just right moment.
What about
recording?  Recording has been the death
of many a great band and while I think that most musicians can obviously
appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into making an
album when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands,
getting to that point, and getting stuff to sound like you want it to as a band
can be extremely difficult to say the least. 
What’s it like recording for Hoboken Division?
Marie:  It can clearly
be way more stressful than stepping on stage, because you may have to
compromise on important stuff, and because someone else is getting their hands
on your project.  Plus, you’re give your
music one shape, the one that was the best for you at the moment and it’ll stay
like that forever once it’s released! 
That can be scary too, you can be afraid that you won’t like the
recordings anymore in a few years.  But
up until this point it’s always ended well for us, and we’ve always had a lot
of fun recording our music!  Not to
mention as a two-pieces band, it’s good to have someone else give their opinion
on what we’re doing, or at least provide an external look at it.
Mathieu:  It’s always
a pleasure and a lot of fun to go into the studio!  We can try out a lot of gear that we can’t
afford, and it develops a lot of new ideas for the intro of this song, or the
sound of the bass on that song, etcetera. 
It’s a playground for me!
© Aurore Pfeiffer
Do you all prefer
to head into the studio and let someone else handle the technical aspects of
things so you can simply concentrate on the music and getting the best sound
and performances as possible?  Or, do you
all like to take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle those things
on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise with anyone else
on the sound?
Mathieu:  I’d say
both.  Before recording, when we’re in
the studio, we spend a lot of time explaining what we expect and discussing
what sound we imagine with the sound engineer, what’s possible, how it will
sound with this kind of mic or this process… 
So, we know where we’re going. 
But even before heading into the studio, we work a lot to compose, arrange
and search for the sound for this or that. 
We do part of this studio work at home, in order to know exactly what we
want, and be prepared to face whatever could happen in the studio.
© Hadrien Wissler
Marie:  I appreciate
only worrying about the music when I’m in the studio, so the choice of the
sound engineer is crucial to avoid bad surprises.  As Mathieu said, we know where we’re going
and have usually worked a lot on it before getting into the studio.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into working out ever little aspect of a song before
you record it with the arrangement and composition all airtight and
meticulously planned out ahead of time, or do you get a good skeletal idea of a
song and then allow for some change and evolution during the recording process
where necessary?
Marie:  I would love
to experience allowing some evolution in the studio.  Unfortunately, until now we never had enough
time to do so.  We have to be very well
prepared, as we can clearly not afford a long time in there!  But we do make some pretty evolved
pre-productions at home before heading the studio, where we try all the
different possibilities, different arrangements and different sounds, until
we’re sure what works best.
Do psychoactive or
hallucinogenic drugs play a large role in the songwriting, performance or
recording processes for Hoboken Division? 
I don’t mean this in a negative respect at all.  People have been tapping into the altered
mind states that drugs produce for the purposes of creating art for thousands
of years and I’m always curious about their usage and application when it comes
to the music that I personally enjoy and consume.
Marie:  I don’t use
them, especially not when making music. 
I know from experience that even the lightest of them makes me lose all
my focus.  I enjoy playing music very
much, and I’m afraid that taking something, even though it could make me enjoy
it even more, would also disconnect me from the moment.  I guess we all have a very different relation
to drugs, and that’s what makes it hard to explain, but I’ve always felt that I
couldn’t trust myself with those kinds of things!
Mathieu:  I don’t use
them when on stage, just some beer.  But
when I play or look for some melodies or rhythm, I do use them sometimes.  It can make you hear something that you
weren’t aware of before, but you’d better record it and play it later sober to
see if it’s good or not!
In 2012 you
released your first material that I know of, the self-titled Hoboken Division
EP in a limited edition of 250 CDs.  Can
you share some of your memories of recording that first material?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for
you all or more of a completely nerve-wracking proposition for you at that
point?  When and where was that material
recorded?  Who recorded it and what kind
of equipment was used?
Marie:  I remember
enjoying the recording, but I also remember how hard it was for me when it came
to the mix.  It was the first time I had
seen it, I didn’t know all the steps in a numeric mix, and all during the
process I was screaming “What are you doing? 
That’s not how we’re going to sound in the end, is it!?!”
inside my
head.  It was stressful, but it ended
well, so now, I know how to deal with it. 
And we really ended up having something we liked even better than we
could have imagined.  The sound engineer
was really good with the drumboxes, he had a lot of insight and information
about them, and really helped us to find the sound that fit our music.
Mathieu:  I enjoyed it
a lot, because I knew we were working on the music that we like!  Laurent Lepagneau, the sound engineer, has a
great underground rock and garage culture and lead us from the sound we had on
our demos to far beyond!  What I remember
about this experience is the good results you get when you’re extreme in your
sound choice.  It’s great.  The studio was equipped with great pedal
effects and we tested a lot of them, playground time!
A year later in
2013 you all followed up the Hoboken Division CD with your self-released 7-inch
A Night Out.  I know the CD was limited
to 250 copies, is the single limited as well or an open ended pressing?  Where and when was the material for A Night
Out recorded?  Who recorded that material
and what kind of equipment was used?
Mathieu:  The single
is limited as well, we still have some now, but it’ll sell out next year.  For the mix, we did it with our live sound
engineer, Geoffrey Duthilleul and the mastering was done by JF Hustin from
Liege, Belgium.
Marie:  We recorded
this one in Liege, Belgium in the winter of 2013.  It was a very good experience too, very
different from the first time.  The sound
engineer’s approach was more “live”, much more based on our intentions and
energy.  We recorded it almost entirely
live.  We didn’t have a lot of time, only
two days, so I’m still a little bit frustrated with all the things we could
have tried!
When I was talking
to you not too long ago you mentioned that you all were prepping for the release
of your debut album this spring.  Have
you all already recorded that material or are you still working on that?  If you all have recorded it, where and when
was that done?  Who recorded it and what
kind of equipment was used this time around? 
Is there any title in mind or projected release date at this point?  Did you try anything radically new or
different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for the
upcoming album?
Mathieu:  We already
did a session in mid-September and we’ve got another one planned for the end of
November to record what’s left and start the mixing process.  We don’t have a title yet and we’ll start
planning the release when the vinyl’s done. 
As far as the composition, two or three songs are in unusual tunings.  That was a real fun to play and mess around
with, it was a totally different approach to the guitar playing!
Marie:  For the album
we used analog material, and we’re really proud of it!  It’s a whole different way of working.  We can appreciate it now that we’ve tried
both digital and tape.  It was recorded
at a little studio in Toulouse called Swampland, and it was the best studio
experience for me.  We only used our
instruments, voices, amps, and it’s thrilling to realize that what you’re
hearing from the tape is exactly what you did behind the microphone!  There was no cheating, no plugs on Logic,
just you, what you’re capable of, the very good sound engineer Lo, a bunch of
good microphones and pre-amps and the smooth hot sound of the tape.  The sound engineer has a very ‘garage’ way of
working, so we’re staying very instinctive and raw.
Does Hoboken
Division have any music that we haven’t talked about, maybe a demo or song on a
compilation that I don’t know about?
Mathieu:  Several
songs from the first EP were featured on compilations such as psychgazer and
Psychedelic Underground Generation.
I know we talked
about the upcoming full-length for you, other than that, do you have anything
planned or on the horizon as far as releases go at this point?
Mathieu:  After the
release of the LP, we’re going to record material to realize a series of 7-inches.  The idea is that each 7-inch will be
associated to a different kind of guitar tuning, with an original and a cover
song for each.
Where’s the best
place for our US readers to pick up copies of your stuff?
Marie:  Radio Kaos
Record, Steven Point, Wisconsin and Chicago too, at the Permanent Records shop.
Mathieu:  We’ll try
our best to send the LP to a bunch of record shops in other US cities and to
reach some radios via the college radio network.
With the
completely insane international shipping these days I try and provide our
readers with as many options for picking up imports releases as I can!  Where’s the best place for our overseas and
international readers to pick up your stuff?
Mathieu:  Bandcamp is
the best place to pick up our stuff digitally, or on CD or vinyl.  We ship them with some artwork on craft
packaging, it’s pretty cool!
Are there any
major plans or goals that Hoboken Division is looking to accomplish in the rest
of 2014 or in 2015?
Marie:  We want to
give making our first album a really good shot, so 2015 is gonna be focused on
that.  Touring, promoting, touring again,
playing bigger venues too, meeting more people, and developing the band.
Mathieu:  And
composing new material with the ideas we had in 2014 and recording it for the
next release!
What, if anything,
do you have planned as far as touring goes at this point? 
Marie:  We’ve done
Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg so far, and we really hope to go
farther!  We’ll see what kind of opportunities
we can find, and follow them.
Mathieu:  We’re going
to try for the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy as well.
Do you spend a lot
of time out on the road?  Do you enjoy
touring?  What’s life like on the road
for Hoboken Division?
Marie:  Touring is
probably one of the best parts.  It’s
easy for us, I mean, for now everything fits in one car!  I really enjoy it, even though it can be very
hard mentally.  We’re still playing a lot
of small venues and bars, and you have to go through a lot of different
ambiances on very short notice.  One day
you’re with amazing, welcoming people who make you feel at home as soon as you
walk in the door, and a day later you’re in a place where they don’t even know
what kind of music you’re playing!  We
try to tour as much as we can and it’s even kind of harrowing to stop touring
to do other things.  I quickly get the
sensation of treading water.  I know it’s
necessary, but I never hold up well when it happens.
Mathieu:  Oh yeah, a
lot of time!  But it’s really enjoyable;
we meet nice people, party with them and visit some cool places around EU.  It’s great!
© Barouf Menzzoto
Do you remember
what the first song that Hoboken Division ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?
Mathieu:  The first
song we ever played live was actually our first original song as well, “Out Of
Business”.  That was in June 2011 in
Metz, France.
Who are some of
your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the
Mathieu:  We opened
for The Experimental Tropic Blues Band, a great garage-blues band from
Belgium.  Tinariwen too, and Grand Guru
this one man punk-band from Rouen, France.
In your dreams,
who are you on tour with?

Marie:  I would go on
tour without the slightest hesitation with the Detroit Cobras!
Mathieu:  I’d say
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  It would be
fun to ride bikes before playing on stage!
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to
share here with our readers?
Marie:  Like probably
every band that’s playing bars, we have a story including a dog.  He was part of our ten person audience for
the night, and barked to the rhythm of our drumboxes the entire show.  That’s the good thing with the first few
years of a band: you have a pretty good bunch of stories to tell your friends
when you come back from touring!
Mathieu:  There’re a
lot, good and bad!  I like freaks.  One day in the south of France a freaky
hippie danced in front of us during the whole show and when we stopped, he just
kept dancing.  I asked him why and he
just said, “Your melodies grabbed my brain and I’ll dance over it all the
time”!  Dunno what he took, but I should
have asked him!
© Tridim photography
Marie:  Those are the
best!  There’s often one person like
that, acting as if they were alone in the world, dancing in a strange but
passionate way.  And when they’re at a
show, the rest of the audience tends to let it go as well, it’s pretty cool!
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent,
stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs and album covers?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that
you’re attempting to get across or convey with the visual aspects of the band?
Mathieu:  There’s no
particular meaning, but we think a lot about the design of our artwork and of
our website as well.  It’s always cool to
be able to design a record from A to Z! 
But since we’re on the road, we met a lot of people who are amazing at
graphic art.  So maybe, one day, we’ll
ask one of them to design something for us.
Marie:  It’s important
to have a level of coherence to everything, an identity.  It’s part of the band, as it’s often the
first thing people see from us and I like the idea of having a special sphere
around each production, a sphere that is both recognizable as Hoboken
Division’s, and especially done for a particular release.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to or purchasing music?  If you
do have a preference can you tell us what that is and a little bit about why?
Mathieu:  I think I
use all the mediums available to listen music. 
My stepfather gave me CDs from his work and I compiled what I wanted on
tapes.  Then, the internet appeared with
Napster, eMule and p2p.  I remember my
friends and I downloaded a lot of music, more than you could ever listen to in
a lifetime!  Everything was only
playlists of the best tunes, never, or at least rarely, a whole album.  Slowly, we realized that music wasn’t
consumed as it should be and at that point we began to buy vinyl.  Actually, the music that we like isn’t in the
mainstream and won’t be available in huge distribution stores.  So, I dig Discogs and every record shop that
I visit to find new stuff or oldies.  The
fact you have to take the disc out of its sleeve and put it on the turntable,
means you have to take the time to appreciate music and enjoy the artwork.  It’s a completely different approach than
playing it on a computer.  But when you
drive, it’s great to listen to music as well, so that’s why we release them
digitally as well as on vinyl. 
Hopefully, we’ve done enough concerts to be able to release them
When I was younger
my dad would take me around to the local music shops and pick me up random
stuff that I was interested in listening to, and as a result I developed this
whole ritual.  I would rush home, snag a
set of headphones, feverishly read the liner notes, stare at the cover artwork
and just let the music transport me off on this trip!  Having something physically connected to the
music, something concrete that I could hold in my hands always made for a much
more complete listening experience for me. 
Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Marie:  I
re-discovered it when I started buying vinyl. 
I had it when I was younger with the CD, but it somehow got lost…  With the internet, the mp3s, and iPods and
stuff, I didn’t feel that connection anymore. 
With vinyl, you’re almost obligated to a ritual; the object is big, you
have to get up to put it on your turntable, and then get up again to turn
it.  Nobody does that without really
listening to it in the meantime!  Plus
it’s beautiful.  The bands get creative
with the artwork and the music almost seems more concrete.
Mathieu:  Completely
agree with all of you!  Physical music is
something special!
Like it or not,
digital music is here in a big way these days. 
There are upsides and downsides to everything in my opinion, it just
depends on how you look at and handle things. 
Digital music is really just the tip of the iceberg though, when you
combine digital music with the internet, that’s when you’ve really got
something!  Together, they’ve exposed
people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and allowed
bands and their fans to communicate like never before.  On the other hand though, while people are
being exposed to more music than ever, they’re not necessarily very interested
in paying for it at this point and while I don’t think that anyone on the indie
level was getting “rich” selling albums, illegal piracy has definitely taken a
toll on the bottom line.  Not to mention,
it’s harder than ever to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle that is the
internet these days.  As an artist during
the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and
Marie:  Digital
distribution, even if it tends to “de-sanctify” the music, is probably
something good.  Big major companies have
less power, the bands can control part of their production by themselves, and
the public is more concerned in a way. 
Digital music along with the internet has connected the artists to the
public.  But on the other hand, public
can have too much concern.  I kind of
miss the time when nobody knew how much it cost to make an album, and nobody
was asked to give money to help a band release an album.  I liked the “magic” that was implied to the
music when you had to wait until a release, go buy the album in a store, and
then rushed home to listen to it.  I
guess I’m trying to find a good middle ground between those two things: being
more connected to the public, more reactive, but in the meantime not sharing
everything.  It’s hard to accept that
your music can be easy to get, or even free, knowing that you spend so much
time and energy creating it.  But that’s
how it works now, and I think bands will always find a way to compensate for
it.  For example, being super creative on
the artwork, having beautiful and imaginative ways to communicate and sell your
merchandise, etcetera.  I don’t mind
people downloading my music on the internet, as long as those who like it the
most end up buying some vinyl or a CD, or even just support us on tour, or
leave nice comments on our website.  For
sure, I won’t be able to ask them for money. 
I have a real issue with all those websites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo
and stuff when it comes to music.  And
that’s, I think, one major change that was brought on by the internet, that and
easily being able to communicate with your fans.  Of course it’s a great way to achieve your
projects, but I’m staying old school with all this, if you want to release
something but don’t have the money, then do your job and go on tour until you
have the money!  I like being close to
the public, but I don’t like owing them anything.  It’s an exchange of energy and music, if they
like what I do they’ll come to my show and eventually buy CDs.  Maybe that’s not how it works now, but as
long as I can resist it, I will!
Mathieu:  I like the
idea that our music can be reached by people from the USA, Australia and the
whole world in general!  Thanks to the
internet, we did an interview for the Rolling Stone South Africa website!  The journalist liked our music and by talking
with her, we discovered a lot of good bands from Cape Town and
Johannesburg.  That’s the beauty of the
internet.  About digital music and
distribution, I don’t think the issue is the amount of music we’re reached by,
but rather the coverage of it by the media. 
I mean, music lovers will always be digging around for new stuff, or
oldies that they didn’t know about, that’s the underground level.  But as for the masses, radios are still
playing the major or big label game, waiting for the PR department to send them
some press communications to talk about bands to try and run the industry
well.  It’s like their judgment for
discovery is off…  We actually have a
funny story about that.  When we released
the first EP, we sent it to the independent rock station network in France;
there are about twenty five to thirty radio stations all together.  We got played on seven or eight of them and
the rest wouldn’t play it.  Three month
later, we had a good review in a national music paper and the same radio that
didn’t want our stuff at the time asked us to send them the EP for radio
airplay.  We sent it to them of course,
but it was significant.  If there’s no
recommendation from “big” media outlets, you’re still unknown.  I don’t think this situation is new, and it
was the same in the 60s or 70s, so digital distribution isn’t the problem.  That’s why music lovers are the best; they
appreciate music for what it is!  If they
like a band, known or unknown by the big blogs or big music papers, they will
share their feelings about that band with their music lover friends.  They will buy records, go to little shows,
and even organize them sometimes.  It’s
always an exchange.  That’s why the
underground is so rich and full of new music, and it’s available everywhere in
the world, thanks to digital music and sites like Bandcamp!  People today are too confused about good
music and audience.  Playing in a small
venue in front of very few people doesn’t mean that the band is crappy.  A great example is in DiG! when the Brian
Jonestown Massacre played in front of ten people, and there many others!  Curiosity and discovery are the best fuel to
find good music.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I can but with all the amazing stuff out there right
now it’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Marie:  You should
give a listen to Blondstone, Dirty Work Of Soul Brothers, Dead Stereo Boots,
Dirty Red Shirts for the rock/grunge/stoner part of our scene, and Filiamotsa
for the creative and very cinematic noise music!
Mathieu:  In Metz,
there are good psych bands, like My Lovely Underground, Feeling of Love, The
Wise Dude Revolver, and the Great Artiste. 
Then there’s Chicken Diamond, YvY, and King Automatic, the garage kings
of east France!
© Hadrien Wissler
What about
nationally and internationally?
Mathieu:  Currently, I
listen a lot to Liminanas, a French-based band, and The Jabberwocky Band, this
drone-psych band from Rouen in France as well. 
From South Africa, there’s Medicine Boy and the Very Wicked.  Plus, A Place to Bury Strangers, Birth Of
Joy, Spindrift… There are a lot!
© Hadrien Wissler
Thanks so much for
taking the time to talk to me about the band. 
It was awesome getting to learn so much about you two and getting some
background on where the music comes from. 
I swear I don’t have anymore questions for you, but before we call it
quits I’d like to open the floor up to you for a moment.  Is there anything that I could have possibly
missed or that you might just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or
the readers about at this point?
Mathieu:  I really
enjoyed answering your questions.  They
were great and gave us the space to explain more about how we see the music and
its environment!  If I were to say
something to the readers it would be, thank you for reading this far, have a
great time digging music, especially little bands from all over the world; talk
with them, make the exchange interesting. 
It’s amazing the feelings music can provide!  It’s only psychedelic baby and we like it!
Marie:  Thank you so
much for your interest Uncle Jerk!  And
just like Mathieu: People, keep on supporting your local dreamers, and bands
all over the world.  Even though they may
never make it to your favorite big radio station, you never know, music is full
of surprises!
(2012)  Hoboken
Division – Hoboken Division EP – Digital, CD – Self-Released (limited to 250
(2013)  Hoboken
Division – A Night Out – Digital, 7” – Self-Released
(201?)  Hoboken
Division – TBA full-length – TBA – TBA
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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