It is likely that the name CNX sounds familiar. And it should. After all, the man was part of France's legendary aggro-tech group Tamtrum, is busy producing artists in his very own sound studio, and the mastermind behind Temple of N.e.m.e.sys, his latest project that already birthed two fantastic albums, Temple and Warm up before apocalypse. We sat down with CNX for a no-holds barred discussion of the upcoming third album, touring and the current state of the music industry. Prepare for an exclusive glimpse into the mind of the man with the impressive hairdo.
The first thing that struck us at the beginning of the interview is how funny and nice CNX is, in stark contrast to the wild beast he is on stage. If you have seen a Temple of Nemesys show (or Tamtrum), you know how energetic his stage presence is. But when we asked him to present himself with a few words to our fans, he chuckled "you already said everything in the intro!". Okay, great then, interview over in one question. "Shortest interview ever", CNX jokes. "Okay, thanks, bye bye". Lots of laughter ensued, and the lighthearted mood and wit were ever present during our conversation, even when touching more serious issues like how the music scene has changed and how it affects bands.
Tamtrum were one of France's biggest musical export in the last years, with a near legendary status among fans of harsh dark music. Extensive touring left little room for Temple of Nemesys, a project CNX started already back in 2006. "I was gone 5 days a week, at least, we toured relentlessly, and despite having a clear idea of what I wanted to do with Temple, there was just no time to bring the ideas to fruition. don't get me wrong, I love Tamtrum, it will be part of my heart and guts until my dying day, it was / is a huge chunk of my life."
More than four guys in jeans...
When asked about the similarities and differences between both bands, CNX is quick to point out "Temple sounds more metal than Tamtrum, and it's also more mental. It's more thought through. Tamtrum was pure hatred that came from the guts, while Temple is more thought through. I like to take an idea and examine it from different angles, a more conceptual approach. But the mayhem, the chaos on stage, that is still very present. By the way, the last Tamtrum Live DVD is still available, if you want to see for yourself!" he adds laughingly. And we agree, Temple of Nemesys live is impressive to witness, they have a huge show going on, lights, lasers and pyros and pure untamed energy emanating from all four musicians. "We definitely have more to offer than just four guys in jeans and two red spotlights, that's for sure!" laughs CNX. "Our shows are huge, synchronized stroboscopes, video mapping, naked girls..." Naked girls? "Yes, that, and free drugs for the first audience rows!" he laughs again. "Seriously, we have lots going on, I am probably forgetting half of it, so you better come and see for yourself, it's worth it!".
CNX is a true frontman, hypnotic, charismatic, and knows how to whip up a crowd into a frenzy. How do you prepare for such an intense show, how does a typical day on tour look like? Are there pre-show rituals? "It's true that our shows are very physical and challenging, which is why I don't like to hang out before hitting the stage. Even two hours before, I need to isolate myself, warm up and get into the right mindset required to deliver such an energetic performance. I must admit, I am not good company before a show. So I let the roadies do all the hard pre-show work" CNX laughs again. "Just joking, but it's true that we have a tight and well organized set-up and crew, the whole technical aspect is like a machine. So how do you unwind after a demanding performance like that? "After the show, it's open bar, I love hanging out with the fans, taking photos, meeting new people, chatting, chaos, madness, just like we already did with Tamtrum. I love company, just not before the show."
A physical and challenging stage show
A physical and wild stage show like Temple of Nemesys delivers nightly takes a toll on the body, but probably on the clothing too. We know the band has more to offer than 4 guys in jeans, so what does CNX value in his stage outfits, how does he chose clothing that survives the Temple-torture? "I honestly never know what state my clothing will be in when I leave the show, everything is unpredictable. With Temple, you never know what will happen. But with all the fake dust, the maque up, the UV paint, the holes from falling on your knees and jumping around, yeah, our clothing needs tu endure a lot!". So how do you pick them? "At the beginning we had custom made outfits, but now we want to keep things more simple with the clothing, because there is already so much going on, visually. The only rule is, no shirts with text. No band names, no brands, not even our sponsors. I think that looks bland visually, and can't stand that. It does not fit in with the look of our shows. We're simply all black and covered in dust."
Dark clothing covered in dust, you might think that Temple of N.e.m.e.sys was inspired by gothic rock icons Fields of the Nephilim, but actually the dust and dirty image was inspired by Nine Inch Nails Woodstock mudbath. And musically? "NIN, of course. Septic Flesh and Hypocrisy. No industrial at all." No Rob Zombie? "Okay, granted, Rob Zombie too, but that's it." laughs CNX. So despite not having been influenced by our favorite Hertfordshire band, there undeniably is a mystical, spiritual (almost religious) side to Temple of Nemesys that Carl McCoy and would love. So what exactly is Temple about, thematically, lyrically?
Nano element metabolism experimental system
"There definitely is spiritual side to my work with Temple of Nemesys. But it's more about personal reflexions and thoughts on various topics and theories. I have a big issue with religion, so it's a recurring theme in my songs - but I don't preach. My texts are reflexions and evolving ideas, the opposite of religion, which is static and limited. I want my texts to inspire people to think for themselves. There is no dogma in my texts. If I address religion, it's to show it's limits. Initially the band was not called Temple, only N.e.m.e.sys- which means 'nano element metabolism experimental system' - an entity made from several small... things... that interconnect and end up being autonomous."
Warm up before apocalypse...
The band name sets an ambitious premise for the music, and Temple of Nemesys does deliver. The first album, 'Temple', was a sort of initiative guide, announcing the birth of an entity. 'Warm up before the apocalypse' hailed the decline of that same being that had succeeded to elevate itself on 'Temple'. Fueled by anger and rage that had built up inside the band prior to recording, the album explores the end of existence from all kinds of angles. It is direct and very personal for singer CNX ("it was a relief"), who produced it together with bandmate S.D. And the new album, which will be titled 'Death of the Phoenix' will be about resurrection ("a bit more complicated than 'just' a resurrection") - so the three albums form a sort of triptych. The songs tell a story, a journey, but not like Tolkien, okay? There's always a double-entente. There is continuity and differences, but the differences are connected. For example, every album was recorded with baritone guitars (and Torpedo - a fantastic speaker simulator by Two-Notes), but everyone had a different tuning."
A journey of elevation, death and re-birth
Speaking of recording, how should we imagine the recording process? CNX is a professional sound engineer with his own sound studio, which most likely comes in handy, right? "Absolutely, working at my Temple Studio, it gives me time to experiment with my ideas. When I am not recording, usually local metal bands and hybrid music that combines keyboards and metal. I've also done a remix for Morbid Angel, for example. But when I am not working on other projects, I spend my time on songs for Temple of N.e.m.e.sys. Most of the compositions, it's me in the studio, working on my own." So is Temple a solo project? "It's my project, but everyone in the band who wants to bring creative input is welcome. Usually I record the base of the tracks myself, maybe the the drums, bass or guitar, maybe a sample, and we take it from there. We don't jam, though, but I am always open to suggestions on how to improve the tracks together. I am very picky though, and not afraid to spend several hours on just one riff or drum loop."
Not afraid to spend several hours on just one riff
The new album is a bit different though, because of the more complex structures, CNX recorded all of the guitar work himself instead of relying on his two talented guitarists. "For this album, I did all by myself in demo-mode, and my guys then took the finished tracks and learned to play them. They're fantastic." Okay, so who are the sonic soldiers who make the music come alive on stage? Can you introduce your band mates? "No!... I've changed my mind, let's not speak about the others anymore! HAHA" laughs CNX. "S.D. is on bass and provides additional vocals. Vinz is on drums, and he also plays some fucking awesome guitar solos on this album. Seth is the new guy, our reinforcement on guitars and backing vocals." How did you recruit them? Did you hijack them from other bands by offering them beer, or was it the nude dancers from your live show? "Haha, how did you know, were you there?" laughs CNX. "But you're right, I recruited them from other bands, because they're good. So thinks work out great. We get along great too, it's uncomplicated, and that's rare.
So when will we get to hear the new album?
"The first songs are ready, like Firebird (produced by Philippe Eberard), but there is no release date yet. There will be a new video clip early next year, for the song Firebird, so it will be the first single. We're currently thinking about distribution channels, but things are more complicated now than a few years ago. The music scene has changed. People have less money to spend on music, and instead of going to many smaller gigs, nowadays they will save their money to be able to afford tickets to major concert events, like the Hellfest. Don't get me wrong, I love the Hellfest, we play there. But tickets prices for major events like this, including traveling and hotel / camping costs, it's expensive. The way people consume music has changed too. Especially in metal, people used to go to concerts and buy their discs.
But now, they get all their music online. There is not the same pride in owning music, listening to songs on Spotify and similar services is not the same as having a physical CD on a shelf. Sometimes fans no longer know the name of a song, instead they'll just say 'I love track 3' and I'll be like 'what?'. Also, illegal downloading, it's not only hurting major labels. People need to stop believing that myth. Downloading and streaming has made music a commodity, people no longer value and cherish their music.
Downloading and streaming has made music a commodity
This also shows when we tour. We receive many booking requests, the want us to come with the band, our technical crew, our dances and show and pyros and lightning rigs and everything, but they don't want us to play. Fuck that. We're professional musicians, delivering a professional show, but promoters expect us to work for free." Sadly this is not something new. It's even worse. Many venues that used to give an opportunity for young bands to hone their skills in front of a live audience and earn a few bucks to pay for new strings and better equipment, no longer pay bands, no, they expect the bands to pay to play. But despite these hardships that make the life as a professional musician difficult, CNX is determined to soldier on an deliver the best stage show and best albums a fan can hope for. "I am thinking about releasing a limited edition with bonus material for fans. I've been thinking about it for quite a while, so if we do that, it will be something really nice." We're impatient to see what that will look like, but knowing how passionate CNX is about Temple of Nemesys, we're confident that it will be a dream for fans (can we get a signed copy, please? Pretty please?).
The worthy hair of Wayne Static...
We have one last question though: we mentioned the formidable hair of frontman CNX. It's the most impressive buzz-cut Mohawk since the late Wayne Static. Fess up, CNX, what's the secret behind the hair? "LOL! The hair! Yes, you're right, it's indeed similar. It's something I did spontaneously, out of a mood, I simply took a clipper and went straight for the middle. I tried to use gel, but the hair would just not stay straight. Until I discovered Wayne Static. He was explaining how he did it (with his hair), and I stole his technique! True story!". Very awesome, after all we're on a fashion website, and now we're discussing beauty tips! So, is it egg or beer? "Haha, I have more class than that! Hairspray and dryer, dude!" Thank you CNX for joining our little beauty chat, next week Robert Smith tells you all about eyeliner and mascara! Any last words?
"Watch concerts with your eyes, not your smartphones!"
Official website: http://temple-of-nemesys.com
Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF3_Y6MUeYVjmpxZDMNa81g