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Thot - Interview + Concert Review

5th May 2014 was the first time Thot ever played in Slovenia and also my first time seeing this Belgium based band live. Being newly introduced to Thot’s music, luckily everything is available for free download on their Bandcamp profile. I deliberately did not watch any of the footage of their live performances, because I really wanted to be surprised. As I became immediately addicted to this band’s musical repertoire, I must admit I did have some expectations, as something was telling me; this won’t be an ordinary concert.
Thot's latest release, The City That Disappears (you can read the review HERE) was released on 14 April 2014 and the band was set to start a short Spring tour on the 4 May in France. The next day already playing in Slovenia. I was checking out the route the band published on their Facebook profile and was sceptic from the very beginning, they will start on time. They did not. But (yes - there is a “but”), it was for the better. Arriving at 20:30 to a small venue of Stlop 3 in Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, I was shortly introduced to the idea, that I won’t actually be attending a pompous big concert. This show was set to be more like a small gathering of people, who seemingly share love for more alternative culture and thus, alternative music tunes.
Entering a small concert place (in the size of a living room, and I kid you not) I felt in a glimpse of a moment, that even though small, this place holds a lot of atmosphere and carries a very pleasant energy. Stolp 3 is located right by the main train station in Maribor and through the windows, every once in a while, you could see a train passing by. Considering the fact The City That Disappears delivers ethereal city ambient, the alignment of the band playing and the location seemed to fit perfectly.
Thot. A crew of 9 people, 5 on stage, 4 helping out. They arrived in a van approximately and hour before the show should officially start, and as they are doing everything alone - from placing the equipment and sound check - it was absolutely understandable the gig would be delayed. After hearing the guitar shredding and the explosive drumming from time to time, as the band was preparing for the show, I already knew that the band is really giving everything they can, to make the best out of it. Finally, roughly around 22:30 Thot was ready and set and started a show, which I re-played in my head for days.
Thot's live show is not merely a music concert; it's an artistic amalgam of ambient visual and musical stimuli. The light show and the videos playing on the background, which are present for the whole set, are there to create an incredible amount of hypnotizing feel. For the set, Thot mainly focused on presenting the explosive songs from their latest release, but also kicked in some older songs, to which I was so delighted, they played "Ortie", a song I truly love. Besides the beautifully arranged visuals, intoxicating and mesmerizing light shows and flawlessly performed music, another plus came from the band members themselves. It seemed they really enjoyed while playing and it was really obvious there is a great energy and understatement between the band members. Playing a few shenanigans here and there with the occasional “Hvala” (Thank you in Slovenian), the band created a great interaction with the crowd. The audience, to which I counted more or less merely 20 people, really seemed to feel the intoxicating energetic flow delivered from the band and I got a strong feeling, we all enjoyed the show from the moment it started. We also proved that - with the loud manifestation after the band finished its set, so we were in for a treat – a two song encore.
“Short, but sweet” were my exact words when Thot ended its journey on stage. The show lasted for about an hour, but it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts when it comes to superb artistic performances, such as Thot’s. Even though we were staying in an incredibly small place, I felt like I was standing in Vienna’s Stadthalle, looking the greatest rock band ever perform for an enormous crowd. It’s nothing I cherish more when it comes to concerts, than realizing the band gives all its got, no matter how big the audience. And with this small concert, Thot proved what a great band they are, with sole purpose of introducing their music. They truly gave all they’ve got on stage and thus left more than positive imprint in my memory. I can’t speak in nothing but the superlatives about this performance. As the show ended and band sold some merchandise and got a chance to breathe again, I had the privilege to speak a few words with the band’s charming and charismatic frontman and its creative force Grégoire Fray, who was, even though probably tired, incredibly kind to answer some of my questions.

Setlist: "HTRZ", "Rhythm.Hope.Answers", "Moved Hills", "Spellbound Fields", "Blank Street", "Traces", "Citizen Pain". Encore: "Ortie", "Solid Insecure Flower".

Interview with: Grégoire Fray
Conducted by: Ines

Ines: Hello Grégoire and thank you so much for your invitation and of course taking the time to do this interview with me. Was this your first time in Slovenia?
G.F.: Yeah, it was the first time.
Ines: So, how are we treating you? Do you like it here?
G.F.: Yea, it's very good, the people are very nice.
Ines: This is a really small venue today where you just played. Was this the smallest venue you've ever played? Because I’ve counted more or less 20 people in the audience.
G.F.: I think so, yes. It was the most punk show we ever played!
Ines: I can imagine you doing your shows in much larger venues. Do you perhaps remember what was the largest amount of people in the audience you had on your show?
G.F.: I believe that was in Czech Republic two years ago, in Prague. We played in front of 6.000 people. It was one of the best shows we've ever made and it was the first time we played in Czech Republic.
Ines: On your Spring tour you're doing this week you're touring alone, you're the only band playing. Is that something you usually do and prefer to do it so?
G.F.: Yes, we prefer going on the road alone, because there's nine people in our crew. With all of us and all the equipment we carry, from the instruments to the lights, it would be very hard to bring more bands with us.
Ines: It was my first time seeing you today live, but the show was absolutely amazing. Not just for the music and the overall great vibe you guys were giving away, but it was also a visual treat. Is the incorporation of videos that play in the background and light show something you've been doing from the beginning?
G.F.: Yes, from the very beginning. The visuals have been and will always be a part of our show.
Ines: Are the images playing in the background connected to the songs you're performing at a specific moment?
G.F.: Yes, the visuals are synced with the songs we’re performing.
Ines: This question is - as you can imagine - absolutely inevitable, but I really do need to know what does the term “vegetal noise music” mean? I've read that if someone wants to put a label on your music, it should be called like that.
G.F.: Well, it's hard to explain that. “Vegetal” is a French word, probably the English equivalent would be organic. I like the French word better. And as Thot is completely my project and I was growing up on the countryside, everything around me was - so to say - organic. It is where I took my inspiration from, when making the music. Everybody keeps asking me what it means, and as I said, it's hard to explain, but it relies on the organic atmosphere.

Ines: As you mentioned the atmosphere in your music, it really does carry a very captivating ambient. Was that something you aimed for when beginning with Thot or did it just occurring naturally while the song writing process took place?
G.F.: Well, it was something that I wanted to create from the beginning and has remained in my music ever since.
Ines: You are the creative force of Thot that is totally your project, so it really reflects you. Besides the countryside you mentioned as a main inspiration, what else inspires you when creating music?
G.F.: For the new album, The City That Disappears, I took a lot of inspiration from big cities. I have been travelling a lot for the past two or three years and saw a lot of different cities, which really inspired me.
Ines: Your music is also very easily accessible and you also mentioned that to us – the crowd – during the concerts, that we can just download your music for free on Bandcamp. Why did you choose so?
G.F.: Well, what I like is, giving the people the option to choose if they want to pay or not and if they're capable of paying, or not. Of course, I'd like it if they pay and that makes them somehow involved with the band, as the money goes further to creating more music. But if they don't, or can't, they can just download it for free. The thing is - I want my music to travel. And if someone downloads it for free and shares it and recommends it, it's just as good.
Ines: When I saw the official invitation to your show tonight on the event created by Stolp 3 it said: "Thot is a band on the rise and this show is a must see for fans of Nine Inch Nails and Muse". Would you agree to that? Do you consider yourself and your music be influenced by those two bands?
G.F.: I think it’s the first time someone compared us to Muse. Nine Inch Nails was, however, a big inspiration for me years ago, when I was starting with Thot. When I was a teenager, Muse was a band I liked a lot too, but I don’t think we can be compared to Muse. I can see why we can be compared to Nine Inch Nails, but not Muse.
Ines:  So you’re not a fan of Muse?
G.F.: Not anymore. And you know, we’ve also been compared to so many different bands and some of them I don’t even know or I don’t like. So it depends on the listener, I guess. But comparing us to Nine Inch Nails is something I’m totally okay with and can see where people come from.
Ines: With Thot you do everything alone: song writing, composing, playing all the instruments and singing. Where does that come from, what is your music background?
G.F.: When I was a child I was forced to taking piano lessons, but I didn’t like that, so I stopped, because I wanted to enjoy and play football with my friends. Then, when I was in my early 20s, I started to regret that decision, and I went on by playing the piano. Then I started with the guitar, when I heard some random guy playing a cover of Rage Against The Machine on the radio and I was like “Oh, I want to play the guitars, because that sounds easy!” There is some musical influence coming from my family, but I’ve created my own style.
Ines: Well, as I know you’re really tired from the long drive from France to Slovenia and the show, I’m going to call it quits and thank you again for your invitation and for the amazing show. If you ever get the chance to play in Slovenia, will you play again?
G.F.: Yes, absolutely, we hope so. If we get invited, we will come back for sure. We’ve been doing some arranging for the shows and if all comes to plans, we will play here again next year.
Ines: Ok, so hope to see you then.
G.F.: Me too! And thank you for the support!

(Live photos from Stolp3 - Maribor, copyright by Matija Brumen)

Thot links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp


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