In the last few years, one of the busiest guys in the European hardcore scene has to be Alexis Gautier. Based in Nantes, France, Alexis was the singer of Harm Done, runs Straight & Alert Records, and currently plays bass in Insecurity. But the dude is piling on the workload with his latest project, Schizoid.
Heavily influenced by the likes of Boston Strangler, Protestor, and No Tolerance, Schizoid is a one-man mission where Alexis handles every aspect of the songwriting, performing, and recording duties. Schizoid's debut demo recently hit Bandcamp, so I spoke to the man behind the moniker to see what the story is.
First off, tell me about the label and where it stands today. Last we chatted, you were closing it out, but this new project is coming out through the label, right?
Yeah, that's true, last time we talked, which was not a long time ago, Straight & Alert was dead and gone since June 2018, but I guess these things never really die. Unless you drop out of hardcore for good, which isn't the case for me. To be completely honest, less than a month ago I didn't even know I was going to resurect the label and put out Schizoid tape on it. I was planning on asking a few labels I had in mind, if they would be down to put it out for me but I eventually ended up doing it on S&A because:
A.) I don't like to wait: this project had already been in the pipeline for a year. I didn't want to have to wait any longer as I wanted to be able to focus on writing new songs for a 7”.
B.) I've done litterally everything myself for this project, from writing the songs to recording them, mixing, mastering, doing the full artwork, even doing “gang vocals” alone! So, I thought “why not pushing the idea to the max and release it alone?” In the blink of an eye I changed my mind and said “fuck it, I'll put it out myself on S&A," because why not?
But the label won't go on after this in a full-time capacity?
To be clear, the label is not fully back on track to where it was before. I've been doing the label/mailorder full time for 6 years and do not plan on going back to be that busy with it. I might release my own stuff if more comes in the future, but I don't even think I'm ready to release anything else than a tape on Straight & Alert anymore. A 7” or LP is way more money and time to invest to put it out and promote. But who knows... Never say never!
What inspired you to start doing Schizoid? Was it a matter of being fired up about a certain sound you heard on other records that you felt you could contribute your own spin on?
First of all, at the time I started writing songs for Schizoid, I had just ended Straight & Alert and was on a 6 months break before starting studying again. I assume I had a void to fill because I hate to stay doing nothing and just chill, I gotta stay busy. Plus my only band was Harm Done back then, even if I've just started playing with Insecurity, but I was really missing playing hardcore. I had an amazing time playing in Harm Done for 6 years but power violence/heavy hardcore is not really my jam. What I love over all is '80s and '90s straight edge hardcore and I never had a chance to play this kind of stuff.
Eventually, since the moment I did a few interviews with Tom from Violent Reaction or Connor from Protester for my first fanzine, I've been really inspired to do my own one-mand band too. Last but not least, I'm following the whole current NWOBHC scene and it's like they have new killer bands every week so this really fired me up to try to contribute to the current Euro scene with a band of mine. Starting Schizoid was the result of all of this, I guess!
Do you have a full lineup of musicians ready to roll and do some shows? What’s the plan there?
I actually have two full lineups! One In Nantes, my hometown, and another one in Paris. They involve members of Harm Done, Insecurity, Raw Justice, Worst Doubt, and more. I'm actually planning on having more people involved to play as much as I can. It's pretty simple: if you are a friend of mine, good at playing your instrument, and down to play live, let's do it. So far, we have two shows planned in March (Nantes and Paris) plus a Euro tour along with Insecurity in April, but I want to try to play a few shows before, maybe early 2020.
I'm even thinking about asking a couple friends in the states if they would be down to learn the songs so I could just come over to the states by myself and maybe hop on a tour with another band or something like that. I'm already writing for a 7” I hope to release in 2020, so I definitely want to play shows and tour!
What was the toughest part about putting this project together?
Without hesitation, it was mixing the whole thing. I've never done that before and was not even really interested in it before I had to get my hands dirty. But I love challenges and learning new things. So thanks to advice from a couple friends and YouTube tutorials, I guess I managed to come up with something I'm proud of. Even though I was really not sure where I was going while doing it! Another tricky task was programming drums. I'm not gonna lie or even try to hide it, drums on the tape are programmed on a computer. I'm learning to play the drums but I'm not good enough to play that tight/fast yet! Therefore, I decided to learn how to program drums and really work on the sound so they would sound as close to real drums as possible.
As I can play a little bit, my process was writing and recording guitar or bass riffs, play the track on repeat on my speakers, try to play over on my real drums to find drum patterns, then program the drum patterns, and eventually record the riffs for good over these programmed drum patterns. It took me a bit of time but I've learnt so much so every minute was worth it!
What else are you working on these days?
Like I said, I like to stay busy so I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment! Firstly, I've started to work as a freelance web developper and I love it. Then we just put out a 7'' with Insecurity, so we're starting to work on a new record. I said that too already but I'm writing new songs for a Schizoid 7''. Eventually I play bass in a new '80s-styled hardcore band. We don't have a name or demo out yet but it'll be done soon. Oh and, there's also a Doom-like band we should start soon with a couple friends. And I know more projects are gonna pop up in 2020, I just don't know about them yet!