A few words with French exprimentalists DRH


Band: DRH

  • Danilo Rodriguez – Guitar
  • Rémi Matrat – Sax
  • Josselin Hazard – Drums
  • Alexandre Phalippon – Bass

Welcome on Aristocrazia. How are things going?

Danilo: First of all, many thanks for having us here. Things are going pretty well actually. We just finished a tour in Germany to promote the new album. It was awesome but tiresome. We are also booking a couple of other gigs. And we are writing new songs for our next album. So, yeah, things are going pretty pretty good!

Let’s start introducing your band to our readers. Who are DRH?

DRH are Danilo Rodriguez on guitar, Rémi Matrat on saxophones, Josselin Hazard on drums and Alexandre Phalippon on bass guitar.

You chose a name that simply describes your music, yet you play some complex stuff which can’t really be restrained in three words. I agree that «Hallucinogenic Dark Rock with lots of Jazz and Prog stuff and who knows what else» wouldn’t make a great name, but how would you describe your sound in depth?

Interesting that you ask that. In fact, at the beginning, DRH was not for «Dark Rock Hallucinogène». It was a pun with Danilo Rodriguez H. and the Human Resources Direction. But we got asked all the time to classify our music. Promoters, club houses and festivals often needed to check a box for our style. So we decided we should create a new style of music. Thus came «Dark Rock Hallucinogène». It’s not easy to describe our music. It’s experimental. That’s for sure. We are just trying to put our different influences together : improvisation, groove, hard, deep sound.

While it’s not the most typical Metal instrument, saxophone made its way through extreme genres a long time ago; in your case, it practically steals the role usually assigned to a singer, which is an interesting choice. How do you manage to express with an instrument what is usually expressed through words?

The sax is the musical lead because he plays themes. Sometimes melodies are doubled or harmonized with one of the other instruments, but it is the lead in this formation. So for us it does not replace the voice, it is the voice! I guess we have to use a very strong melody and lots of expressiveness in order to touch the public the way a singer could.

Your songs often show many different facets: fairly quiet and slightly chaotic, highly dynamic and almost dreamlike, Jazz and Progressive Metal.
It seems that there are various influences in your compositions: which are the artists that inspire your style?

We all met at the high music school of jazz, so we practiced improvisation. But we each have different backgrounds: extreme metal, funk, traditional music, brass-band… Our influences could be: Christian Scott, Frank Zappa, Mr Bungle, Tigran Hamasyan, Coltrane, Nile, Meshuggah, Periphery, Haunted Shores… So many.

The cover art by Rémi Hurel is quite… weird (not in a bad way): what does it represent and how is it linked to your album?

Rémi is an outstanding painter. When we told him we wanted him to do the artwork he was pretty excited. We never asked Rémi what the Fishman represented. But to us it’s a fusion, as is our music, of many things: there is surrealism on it, decomposed elements, craziness. All of these things are characteristic to our music!

The video for “Fooled” is based on Tim Burton and Filnch Studio’s “The World Of Stainboy”: why did you choose this series for your music?

“The World Of Stainboy” is a very dark universe. Lots of weird stuff going on. But the illustrations are very colorful. The universe of DRH is also like this. On one hand you’ll have a very light beautiful melody followed by a dark chaotic distorted part. It fits, I guess… The rhythm of the images also seemed perfect for the song “Fooled”.

I did my best to avoid this question, but I can’t really help it: what’s with that ghost track? I don’t even speak French, but still the idea of putting a cappella stuff at the end of an instrumental album is great. Is your music instrumental because you saved all of your vocal skills just for that moment?

All the better if you are delighted with this joke! Long story… We had a tour in Russia that didn’t go as expected. The boys were very tired and very anxious. All the trip they kept exteriorising their feelings by singing: on the Moscow subway, cab rides, the Red Square… It was fun. On that tour we ended up recording a single at the studio. By the end of the recording session, Rémi and Josse took the overheads of the drum and started singing for fun and Alex and I (Danilo) joined them. The studio engineer recorded the whole thing and sent it to us along with the single. We thought it was awesome and wanted to share it with the public. Our music is instrumental because that is a big part of our background and influence. But we could have Rémi or Josselin sing because they actually are great singers!
Little spoiler: in the next album there will be at least one song with lots of singing… But shhh!

It feels like I’ve just finished writing some good words on “Thin Ice” and you’re already preparing its follow-up, which apparently will be recorded in December. What should we expect from it?

It will be recorded in December but won’t go out before late 2019! So, no worries, you will have time to write something until then! You should expect more extreme parts but also lots of poetic moments. Also the production will be one step further! Expect a better sound, I think you will dig it. We are having lots of fun writing it anyway.

It looks like recently you’ve been playing live to promote “Thin Ice”. How about bringing your music to Italy someday?

We would love it! There is a lot going on on the Italian scene with experimental music so we think DRH would have a good welcome. Spread the word and maybe it will happen.

Last question: should we really follow the white rabbit?

Oh yes, you should! The music scene nowadays is very formatted. You must fit in a category, a box to check. We are not like this, DRH’s music is many things at a time. Sometimes the public is a bit afraid to explore new things, but once they follow the white rabbit they never regret it!

I guess we’re finished. Thanks a lot for your time, you can leave a message for our readers here.

Thank you for taking time to read this interview! Follow us on social media for updates and upcoming concerts! We hope you enjoyed our music. Hope to see you soon, Italia! Cheers.