Carpenter Brut: “Perfection is pretty boring”
Carpenter Brut has been one of the leading artists in the synth-wave movement for several years now. While the music is fully electronic, the solo project of Franck Hueso has also made a lot of traction in the metal scene. Having a history with progressive metal band Hacride and rumoured to be involved with the ever-enigmatic Deathspell Omega, it is clear that we are dealing with a versatile, forward-thinking artist here, so when we got to opportunity to discuss his latest release “Leather Terror” with him, we just couldn’t say no.
Hi Franck, thank you for taking some time for us. First of all, congratulations on your new album. Are you satisfied with the result?
Thank you! Yes, very. I don’t know if it’s a good sign by the way, haha. But anyway, I have less the feeling that I could have done better than on my previous EPs or album. Now is everything perfect? Maybe not. But perfection is pretty boring and bland in the end. I still think this is an album that will divide the fans again, like “Leather Teeth” did in 2018. Soon I won’t have any fans left, haha.
Can you tell our readers a bit about the development of main character Bret Halford in the story on “Leather Terror”?
On my previous album “Leather Teeth”, released in 2018, I tell the story of Bret Halford, a young high school student with a passion for physics and glam rock. Bret is in love with the popular girl in high school: Kendra the cheerleader, who in turn is in love with Chip, the quarterback that all the girls want. After being humiliated by Chip’s football team, Bret seeks revenge by making some kind of magic potion that would allow him to get back at everyone, but the experiment goes wrong and he ends up disfigured. So he vows to put his revenge off until later. On my new album “Leather Terror”, the story is set 4 years later. Bret has become a big glam rock star, but he still hasn’t forgotten the humiliations he suffered and he still has the idea of revenge.
While “Leather Teeth” was heavily embedded in a retro ‘80s sound, “Leather Terror” reminds me more of the late ‘90s/early 2000s industrial & EBM scene. Can you tell us something about your musical inspiration for the new album?
In “Leather Teeth”, as I was presenting all the characters of my story, I needed to encompass all of the teenage feelings: first love, passion, sweet memories, jealousy, anger… so the sound had to be lighter and less dark and aggressive. So, for “Leather Terror”, we’re four years later: Bret Halford has become a rock star bent on revenge. The album was supposed to be more mature, dark and aggressive than the previous one. The musical evolution follows the evolution of the character and his story. It also follows the musical evolution between 1987, the year when “Leather Teeth” takes place and 1991, the year when the story takes place in “Leather Terror”. I tried to stick a little to this period by taking inspiration from Nine Inch Nails or Ministry, for example.
How was it to work with all the guest vocalists in a period of lockdowns and isolation?
It was actually quite simple, as everyone was at home being bored, haha. I don’t think this album would have been like this under normal circumstances. Without the pandemic, many bands would have been on the road and no one would have had time for collaborations. Ben Koller took advantage of a recording session with Converge at Kurt Ballou‘s studio to record his drum parts. Greg Puciato, who works regularly with Steve Evetts, was able to do his vocals at Steve’s studio without any problem. Kathrine, Alex and Persha recorded from home and Kris has a studio with Ulver where he goes every day to work.
It has been a hard time for artists ever since Covid struck the world. What has the impact been on Carpenter Brut and how do you see the near future?
Since I didn’t plan to tour in 2020 to focus on the record, I didn’t have to cancel any concerts or tours. Professionally speaking, I didn’t really suffer from the pandemic: I was at home working on the album. It was obviously weird and scary to be in such a situation because it was completely unprecedented, but still quite exciting artistically speaking. Now about the near future of Carpenter Brut, you know, I live from day to day, so I can’t project myself enough to tell you what the next months will be like. For now, I’m waiting to see how the public will welcome my new album.
Carpenter Brut feat. Greg Puciato – Imaginary Fire
I happen to be a huge Hacride fan and was pleased to see that Adrien and Florent were part of your live band. Do you plan to keep on touring with them and do you see a role for them on future albums?
Yes sure, Adrien and Florent are like family for me. I was Hacride’s sound and live engineer since their beginning, so I have known them for many years. I know their talent, how hard working they are and how they act on tour, so it was obvious to have them with me on stage. For the moment, I don’t think I will need them on the last part of the trilogy, but at the same time I don’t know. Adrien is working on his new project Erei Cross and Florent also has several projects on the go.
The title track of “Leather Terror” is probably one of the most brutal synth-wave tracks ever made. How did you come to the decision to hire Ben Koller (Converge) for the drums and Johannes Andersson for the growling vocals?
I knew Ben was a fan of Carpenter Brut and as I am a fan of Converge, I thought it would be interesting to get together on a track. Originally, this track was even more violent, but in the end it was too much. So I told him that I couldn’t integrate it in the album, but that I had another one a bit softer. And since I love Tribulation, I thought that Jonka‘s voice would be perfect to accompany the music. The result is a very unique track in the Carpenter Brut discography and I’m very happy with the result.
On the other hand, “Lipstick Masquerade” is super poppy and I am sure that our readers have never heard of Persha before. Can you introduce her to them?
My wife, who manages my label, No Quarter Prod, sometimes receives requests for musical collaboration. One day she received a request from Persha with links to her own compositions, saying that she would like to sing on one of my tracks. My wife and I listened to her songs and immediately liked her voice. She sings very well and is very talented. You have to know that she also composes a lot of music for herself or for others, so she is not just a singer. So, I went for a Madonna-like track, because I knew she had the voice to do a very ‘80s pop track. It’s the brightest track on the album because that’s also when Bret Halford discovered this singer in a club in L.A. and started to fall in love with her. However, as you hear on the album, the lull will be short-lived, hehe.
“Leather Terror” is the second part of a trilogy. Can you give our readers some insight on what we can expect in the third and final part?
At the end of “Leather Terror”, Kendra manages to escape by locking Bret/Leather Teeth in a cold room and he ends up frozen like Jack Torrance in The Shining. The next and final stage takes place in the very distant future (think of Iron Maiden‘s “Somewhere in Time” cover): following a massive power failure, Bret is thawed out. As he discovers this new futuristic society, he will have to face Kendra’s descendant who will seek revenge on her ancestor: a revenge story again, but with robots haha!
If our (prog & metalhead) readers would like to explore the electronic scene some more, which artists would you recommend to them?
My favourite electro musician lately is Sierra, who I invited to open for me on my European and North American tours. Sierra is a very talented and incredibly gifted young woman. She is alone on stage and behind her machines she is just phenomenal. Her music reminds me of Gesaffelstein, a bit more angry I would say. Speaking of him, Gesaffelstein would be a good bridge between electro and metal, as well as Justice for their more rock punk side at the beginning and rock/pop for their last albums. Otherwise Chemicals Brothers, Boys Noize or The Prodigy, but honestly I think a lot of metalheads already know them.