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Melanie talks to Jean-Francois of the French Death-Masters Gurkkhas, Sept. 2000

MR: What is your present lineup?

Our line up is –
Joel: Drums
JF: Vocals
Rich: Guitar
Romain: Bass

MR: Can you give me a brief history of the band?

JF: It formed in ’99 under the ashes of DAB. Three ex members of DAB have founded Gurkkhas and signed for Massacre Recs. Before, with DAB, we made 2 cd’s, one “best-of”, did 5 tours in Europe, one in the USA, one in Central America, two videos, two TV shows, 6 cd compilations, and so on! Over 500 live gigs, we have stopped because DAB was going to be too slow musically for us. We wanted to come back to a strong brutal death metal, and this goal is a cool one to reach, haha!

MR: What are your musical and lyrical influences?

JF: Well, I would say that the main bands are Morbid Angel & Massacra. Of course we all like other acts like Disgorge, Disgust, Inhumate, and also other musicians like M-Oldfield, more “quiet” but cool also. We also like some Black Metal bands like Darkthrone, and some brutal HC ones, the US NY scene is good for brutal HC bands. We try to take the best from each band and influence, to create our own style & atmospheres.

MR: What music styles and genres do you listen to, outside of the style you play with Gurkkhas? Do these creep into the music at all as influences?

JF: I listen to some traditional music for all the world, like Africa, Asia, and so on, and this help me, especially with the atmopsheres I want to create when I write about battles and so on. I listen to some French Music, not a lot – especially rock sometimes, we have a big scene for ths style here but most of the band are sadly quite bad, haha! What I would say, is that evrything around me & Gurkkhas influences the band and its’ musical writing. The rest – because the good and the bad of course influence you, days after days, this is life.

MR: Describe two of your favorite songs and their composition; key elements fans should listen for, etc…

JF: From our CD?… I would Say “Crucified”, & “the 12 Gurkkhas CDts”. The first because it’s dealing with God but could also be understood as the suffering of a Gurkkhas soldier & I like this double view of the song. Inside this one, you have the basis of a brutal death metal song, with grinding acceleratinos sometimes, broken by loud parts. It’s also a kind of shout, saying “you like this God?”, we say “Crucified”! About the “12 Cdts”, we have created this song to claim what is for us what a human have to do to respect his “brothers” and “sisters”, no matter about your race or whatever, the most important thing is the respect and your honesty.

MR: What do you think of the underground metal scene? How do you think it has changed during your involvement?

JF: It has so changed in the last 10 years… well, I think that the most change is the professionalism of the bands and their devotion to the Death/black style. The technique is better too, generally speaking, more and more good & technical bands, so the level is a little higher I would say.. The only thing that has not changed is that too much shit is said by other bands on the neck (behind the backs) of others just because they are jealous!! This is a stupid atttude – we are not 4 years old… haha!! In France, this is a National sport (shit-talking), haha, and I hate this. In France, to really do a Death band, you have to be reallly strong, because you don’t get a lot of support from the others supposed to be “your brothers in Metal”, believe me!

MR: What’s the scene like in your hometown nowadays?

JF: In my hometown, there is something silly, … I explain: before signing on Massacre recs, this big label, the other “metal” bands nearly said us that we were crazy to go on this brutal way, but when we have signed, everyone has started to join the Death style, hahhahaha!! This is the most stupid thing they can do, because there is 1 Gurkkhas, as there is 1 Cannibal Corpse or Disgust or Disgorge, or D-Fetus, you see?… You have to follow the road, YOUR road, not the other’s one, if you don’t, you won’t reach the right level to tour and put out CD’s one day.

MR: What are your current goals and aspirations for Gurkkhas?

JF: Well, we would like to be respected as a “real” death band first. (this is now nearly done I think, because of the deal signed with Massacre & the reviews garnered by our CD). We want to tour all the world and continue to record CDs, this is a cool life and we feel very well that we have a lot of chance. Not a lot of young (or even old) persons have had the chance to play in ALL Europe, USA & Central America already; I mean played, but also visited!

MR: When can your next release be expected?

JF: We have finished three songs, and we also have the title. In two months, we will turn a video that will be added to the CD as a CDROM part. I think we will enter the studio in April/May for the cd to be out in July/August, or maybe September. We take our time to put out a new BOMB!! The theme is still about WAR!

MR: What do you think of the Internet?

JF:I think it’s a good commercial weapon; it’s also cheap, so it’s good for metal fans, haha. No, to be serious it’s fantatsic, look, without Internet I wouldn’t maybe have got the chance to meet a so sweet woman like you, hmmmmm, haha!

MR: Any funny or horror show stories?

JF: When we played in Poland, I was laying on the grass in front of the club with the others of the band and few members of the security. A troop of guys has then come and one of them had a Nazi cross on his TS. I’ve said to myself “what is this cow?”, haha… And before any thing, he has taken a giant knife and tried to cut my thoat, but.. how to explain it in a good english? Hmmm, he has passed the knife in the wrong side, so my throat hasen’t been cut, (he used the blunt side of the knife blade – not the sharp side) hopefully because I wouldn’t be around today!! This is terrifying when I think of it… ten seconds later, he was KO’d by the security, hahaha!!… and 20 minutes later we were on stage! (*phew* – ed.)

MR: Is song or lyric writing collaborative, or do certain members do certain things?

JF : I write all lyrics, but if a member says to me that he wants to write some, of course he can. We exchange opinions, I show them my lyrics, and if they like it we keep them or change some points. About the music it’s nearly the same – Richard writes the structure of the songs; he then records the riffs and comes to show us, and afte we say “yes”, or “no” or maybe, then a song can be created by all members, it’s a lot better to hear the opinion of the others, you are more rich then.

MR: Where and how did you get your band name? Who came up with the idea? What does it mean?

JF: Two years ago, I bought a knife for Richard as a present for his birthday (so nice I am), and when we decided to chage the name, he said to me, ‘why not Gurkkhas, this is the name of the knife you gave me, JF’ … We then bought books about the Gurkkhas elite soldiers and found it great. That is the history. The Gurkkhas are some Nepalese soldiers fighting in the GB army since 1815, they are considered as the most savage elite soldiers of the world, they are cruel!

MR: Is anyone in Gurkkhas involved in any other bands or projects?

JF: Rich does some Muci on PC; he has never recorded a CD but he does it mostly for fun, as he has a lot of work with Gurkkhas now. I was the singer from Flesh Divine, but, as we have so much work, I have left the band. Now, we are only involved in Gurkkhas. I also run Deadsun Records.

MR: What is the funniest thing you have seen lately?

JF: My daughter dancing, haha, the most funny thing you could imagine. She is 4 years old and she like to dance a lot, and it is so funny, hahaha, I laugh just at the thought of her!

MR: If you could tour with with any 4 other bands, who would they be?

JF: Morbid Angel, Dying Fetus, Vader, and Pantera.

MR: What do you feel Gurkkhas brings to the scene?

JF : Nothing, haha… we don’t have a big head you know, maybe the little diffence is that we bring elements from a lot of styels and we mix them, you see… and then we produce maybe, I really say maybe a different but still very brutal death metal, strange and brutal atmospheres. Fans & Mags say that to and about us.

MR: I also know you run DeadSun Records. Has running a record label, changed anything in the band (like the way you market yourselves)?

JF : I would say that now you know what the Music scene is made about – it’s only business, really, even you are small or big it’s business. I have to say it’s a bit sad. I have seen and heard terrible things about bands, labels. Everyone is saying bad things, you couldn’t imagine. A guy is smiling at you and afterwards he is saying horrible things.. still like in the common life, but from the Death scene you are waiting for something better, really, more friendship.. maybe I am too idealistic!

MR: What are your current releases on DeadSun? (and are you part of Sonic Wave Int’l?)

JF: Yes I am from Sonic Wave but mainly from Deasun. I am the French branch of Sonic. I have released the two CDs of Godless Truth (brutal death), the DAB demo (death – the ancient name of Gurkkhas) the Mcd from 7th child, and now I will put out the CD from Disinter (US Death), Kemet (French Dark) and Umbakrail (French Black), the Cd from Dark Legion (death-PL) and Horrid CD (Italian Death). You guys and women can write me to receive my free mail-order list.

MR: Any parting words of wisdom to the masses?

JF: WAR!, hehe. Thanks, really thanks for all, I wish you the best for your mag, HEAR Gurkkhas. Necropolis has recently said that we were the new Euro Death Gods, believe them!