The 20 Seconds Falling Man adventure continues.
After two EPs and an album, the Nantes-based band led by Arnaud Le Guiader (vocals), Gregory Dutein (guitar), Pierre-Denis Hamel (guitar), Maxime Cuypers (bass) and Alain Minot (drums) return in 2024 with Resilience, their second full-length.
The album opens with the energetic playful rhythm of In The Gloom, the first composition which immediately offers a heavy dissonant sound, complemented by visceral heart-rending howls. Riffs naturally fluctuate, becoming at times more majestic as the vocalist unleashes his fury, even adding a few heady leads before calming down to explode and drive us into Resilience and its gentle melancholy. Clean vocals fuel the soothing ambience, which then ignites to feed the intense contrast, which is adorned with a heavy saturation before soaking up oppression on the final acceleration, before letting quietness accompany us on the chaotic Shadow of the Past. The unifying choruses join lead vocals, preparing us for the waves of darkness that the band brilliantly unleashes before opting for a more haunting but still profound sound that will only stop when Crossroads decides to make us soar with its airy guitars. Even when the rhythm becomes more solid, the sound remains incredibly spidery offering a veritable mental stroll punctuated by these cries of despair right up to the climax, which immediately releases us on Fear of the Unknown, renewing our anguish. The track is both the longest and the most nebulous on the album, letting its breathless rhythm underpin hazy harmonics while vocals haunt it, then all disappears into nothingness to make way for Our Life Is Now and its bellicose influences, barely repressed by the calm but disquieting approach. The restful break allows us to catch our breath a little, preparing us for the hurricane to come, followed by New Moon and its cold introduction, which gradually puts on its veil of shadow before finally becoming majestic, letting instruments express themselves without a word until the last note.
While 20 Seconds Falling Man had already hit the mark with their previous opus, Resilience clearly shows their evolution. The roots remain the same, but they are much more complex on this album, which definitely takes them to the next level.
A few questions to Maxime Cuypers, bassist of 20 Seconds Falling Man, about the release of Resilience.
Hello, and thank you for your time! Could you briefly introduce 20 Seconds Falling Man for those who don’t know you yet?
Maxime Cuypers (bass): Hi, it’s a pleasure! I’m Maxime, the band’s bassist. 20 Seconds Falling Man is a band we label « Post-Hardcore », but with many influences ranging from Noise music to Post-Rock. The band has been around for many years, but really started to come into its own with the current line-up in 2020 and the preparation for the release of debut album Void.
The last time we spoke was at the end of 2021, for the release of Void. How was it for 20 Seconds Falling Man during those two years?
Maxime: We’ve had some great experiences since the release of Void, including appearances at Hellfest and Motocultor in 2022, as well as taking part in the OZ Fest in 2023, which took place at Zénith Nantes Métropole. At the same time, we’ve been preparing our second album, Resilience, which is the second part of the diptych initiated by Void.
Resilience, your new album, comes out next month. How do you feel about it? Do you already have any feedback on it?
Maxime: We’re feeling really good, we’re excited about presenting the album, we’ve spent the week preparing for the live release (Saturday February 10th, Le Ferrailleur Nantes) and we can’t wait to play the new tracks in front of the public!
How would you sum up Resilience in three words?
Maxime: Delivering, rich and (still) cathartic.
Resilience comes out just over two years after Void. How did you go about composing it? Did you notice any changes or evolutions in the creative process?
Maxime: Well, to be honest, we came up with the idea for Resilience during the conception of Void, and we were in pre-production on the first album when we came up with the idea for this second opus, which would serve as a direct response to the first. There are even song ideas from that period that we’ve reworked for this second album, like Crossroads for example. Since 2020, we’ve set up a composition method where we get together as a small group in a home studio to develop each other’s instrumental ideas, then Arno puts his voice to them and we try to get everything right in rehearsal, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This allows us to know which tracks we’re selecting for the album.
The first two singles to be released were In The Gloom and Shadow Of The Past. Why did you choose these two over the others?
Maxime: We chose In The Gloom because of its Rock feel, which for us was a return to our roots. With its rhythmic parts, we wanted to break away from the mood of Void without making too hard a transition. For Shadow Of The Past, on the other hand, we wanted to bring out our most violent side!
I noticed a real duality between the more violent parts and the soothing moments.How do you manage the contrast and balance between your different influences?
Maxime: We really wanted to incorporate a lot of nuance on this second opus, to do something more varied, to multiply the different emotions, but I think we didn’t think too much about the influences, and rather followed our instincts.
Maxime on stage at Hellfest Open Air 2022
While the whole album flows very naturally, I find that the transition from Crossroads to Fear of the Unknown is incredibly raw. Is this something deliberate? How did you manage the order of the tracks?
Maxime: Yes, we wanted a brutal transition between these two tracks, which doesn’t mean that it’s not fluid or natural for us, but it’s understandable if it comes as a surprise! We thought long and hard about the order of the tracks, listened to them in every possible order, and sometimes there are obvious transitions, and sometimes we just had to rack our brains!
I know this is a difficult question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that seemed the most natural to compose?
Maxime: My favorite track, if I had to pick just one, would have to be Resilience. The addition of melancholic melodies and vocal harmonies, as well as the perceptible hope in the lyrics, warm my heart. The most natural thing for me to compose was New Moon, which is purely gentle and relaxing, full of comforting emotions after being bludgeoned for over 30 minutes!
What can you tell me about the artwork? What were the guidelines for its creation, and is it related to the next two?
Maxime: We worked with Jeff Grimal on the artwork for both our albums, which, as we said earlier, are complementary. We’re big fans of his work, so it was a no-brainer for us to work with him. We wanted to represent Resilience through a face. In this case, a female face, because we’re sensitive to the need for acceptance of these people in a society on the brink of collapse.
Resilience is self-produced, as were the previous releases. Is it the band’s intention to remain independent?
Maxime: We’ve already approached some labels, but we haven’t been able to reach an agreement that would suit us, so we decided to release this album ourselves, but we’re not closed to the idea of what’s next!
You took part in 2022’s Hellfest festival, a performance I was able to attend. How did the show go for you? What memories do you have of it?
Maxime: We have incredible memories of it. The concert went really well for us, despite the time (10:30 a.m.), we don’t often get to play on such beautiful stages (apart from Motocultor and Zénith in Nantes), and above all it was our first stage of this size, so it was magical for us.
In your opinion, what are the must-have bands on the current scene? Whether they’re established or emerging.
Maxime: My latest musical crushes were A.A. Williams, Loathe, Svalbard and Birds In Row. As far as emerging bands are concerned, I recently saw Kibosh, in a Hardcore way, who atomized us at PoumPoum Tchak in Nantes last December, and in a more Noise-Rock register a la Metz, we’re also big fans of Tickles, who’ll be playing with us at Le Ferrailleur!
What are your plans for the follow-up to 20 Seconds Falling Man? In the immediate future, or in several months’ time?
Maxime: For the time being, the plan is to spread the word about our second album, and play in France and beyond, if possible!
Resilience is being promoted by Agence Singularités. How did you get in touch with them, and why did you choose them? How is communication with them?
Maxime: Absolutely, we chose to work with Agence Singularités because we’d heard a lot about them and their professionalism. Communication goes perfectly, and we’d like to thank them for their excellent work and for listening to us!
Are there any musicians or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Maxime : Oh yes! A lot of! To name but a few, I’m a big fan of Pencey Sloe (a Parisian Shoegaze band), and I really liked the split they did with Sorcerer!
Do you think you’ve improved as a musician with this album?
Maxime: Every time I record, I feel I’ve improved! As a musician, but also as a chef, the sandwiches are getting more and more elaborate!
Is there a recent work (be it musical, visual, literary…) that has made an impression on you? If so, why?
Maxime: I loved The Last Of Us series, taken directly from the two excellent video games. It’s not a very original choice because I feel it’s been unanimously acclaimed, but the music from 20 Seconds Falling Man would make a great OST, I think!
That was my last question, so thank you for your time, last words are yours!
Maxime: It was a pleasure answering your questions! I’d like to invite people to continue supporting the artists, to go and see them in concert, to come and share strong emotions, to make sure that it becomes something essential! Hi everyone!