On Tour With   

Far from a punishment

Spending the whole day with the members of Punish Yourself is far from a punishment. Furthermore, on this Saturday 5th of May, the weather is pleasant and even quite hot in Lyon today. For those of you who (still) don’t know Punish Yourself; they are the leading “electronic rock ‘n‘ roll” band in France. Their music is very similar to industrial metal even though the band from Toulouse have managed to evolve towards different sounds, such as batcave (Gore Baby Gore) and instrumental (Cult Movie). Moreover, Punish Yourself was headlining the Lyon Metal Fest V of which you will be able to read the live report in the next few days on Radio Metal website.

Arrival at the Transbordeur

« GET IN : 2.00 pm
SOUNDCHECK : 2.30 pm – 4.00 pm
PAINT : 10.00 pm
SHOW : 11.30 pm – 12.35 am

This is the program sent to me by Polo, the floor manager and Punish Yourself’s tour manager. When I get there at 1.45 pm, Punish Yourself hasn’t arrived yet. The band finally arrives around 3.00 pm. The band played in Albi the previous evening and it seems that the night was rather drunken…

As you can see from the photo above, the band was quite willing to unload their own equipment from the van themselves. Of course, the Base Productions team are supervising and actively participle in the unloading of the van also. In a matter of 10 minutes, instruments, stage props and personal items have all been placed in the band’s room. The band then hurries off backstage to unpack their things but only stay in their dressing room a very short time. This is entirely understandable since today is not only a Punish Yourself gig but a whole festival. Accordingly, if one of the bands’ is late according to the planning, they disturb not only the organisation but every other band as well. Unfortunately, the band Loudblast are also running late, consequently, Punish Yourself must hurry to give way to the thrash/death metal band.

In order for tonight to be a success, each act must respect the time allocations since the doors to the venue must open at 5.00 pm precisely.

Punish Yourself appear very relaxed and there appears to be a good mood running through the members. Since 2008, the band has evolved a great deal, however, the current members have been the same for a long while as the line-up hasn’t changed since 2001. To demonstrate their good mood, at one point Fab, the sound engineer, asks Xav the drummer to hit on his bass drum in a jokingly desperate tone. To which Xavier, joined by the guitarist Miss Z shout back – “Oh there will be none of that tone ey!” with their strong South Western accents.


VX at the soundcheck

During the soundcheck, the intrumental of Punish Yourself songs (« Blast Off Siddharta Junkie » for example) are blaring through the speakers, and by God does it sound good. The techno beat is not normally associated with the general atmospheres frequented by metallers with long hair. This is what makes Punish Yourself’s identity: a mixture of styles and sounds. On this hot summer’safternoon, the Transbordeur is vibrating to these electronic sounds and it feels really good. In fact, we can imagine that blasting such heavy beats must be quite an adrenaline rush for the band, even during the rehearsals. Isn’t that right VX? “Nope, not at all. You know, when we do the soundcheck, we just want it to end as quickly as possible.” Well you can’t say that it’s a chore for you guys, can you? “Oh yes we can, we can even say that it is definitely a chore!”.

Well now that’s said.

Pierre-Laurent (guitar)

It is true that the sound check is nothing amazing for the musicians since they merely rehears their songs, check the instruments are in tune etc. This compulsory technical step doesn’t seem to be particularly rewarding for musicians. However, what truly is rewarding, is talking with the band members. “The problem with machines is that disables us to change the setlist the way we would like to because it takes long hours in the studio to program the whole thing” Xavier tells us. “And it is true that we have grown sick of a few of the songs…”.

Fab is a funny guy

Which ones, we want names! Xavier, you know that Radio Metal is the metal equivalent of Hello magazine so you had better give us some gossip… “It’s true that “(Let’s Build) A Station In Space” is a pretty boring track to play but it is part of our classics in the same way that “Gay Boys In Bondage” is. We want to please people so we don’t really see ourselves not playing them”… This is an interesting point made by the drummer as it highlights an important fact about the band: the strong link that Punish Yourself shares with its audience. The band was discovered in 2001 with the album Disco Flesh: Warp 99, so it is understandable that after 10 years, they are tired of playing some of their older Rammstein style songs. Xavier also reminds us “This is also the reason we have side projects”, allowing them another form of freedom.

Necessary footnote.

On stage as well as in life, this is really what Punish Yourself represent: a certain vision of freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of choice and freedom of tone. In fact, this very night, VX announces to the crowd before the song “Gay Boys In Bondage” for all the “gays, lesbians and trans-genders” in the room. Besides, VX also told me “you can write anything you like in your report you know…”, but the singer needn’t even tell me that since my work is intrinsically linked to the nation of “freedom”. This is a truth that needs to be reminded, freedom of speech makes sense to anyone who believes in what they are doing.

Footnote ended.

Miss Z checks out the overall picture

We know that Punish Yourself has a great reputation for their stage shows in France. The band is famous and recognized. However, is this applicable in England or Germany? “The last time we went to England, we played in pubs” explains Vincent. “The atmosphere is very good, the people are receptive, but honestly, the catering is terrible: there was nothing to drink! Nothing at all… So now we understand why when English bands come to play in France they are so delighted!”. Oh that treacherous Albion! “In Germany, they have insane rigor. When it comes to machines, when we play, we know exactly where we are in terms of timing because everything is set up beforehand. Some time ago, we played in Germany and there was a guy who was holding up a sign for me saying “10 minutes” then “5 minutes” etc. It was hilarious!” confesses Xavier.

Rigor, rigor!


Nap time and relaxation

It’s around 4.00 pm and while I am talking with Xavier, Miss Z is having a long nap, clearly under the effects of the heat. Later in the evening, Rose from Season of Mist will even ask Base Productions for a fan so that Punish Yourself can resist the heat. “It’s strange, it feels like we have been on tour for 3 months!” says Xavier. “Yet we’ve just come from Albi and tomorrow we are returning home to Toulouse”. It’s easy to feel tired with a combination of stage performance, partying, being on the road and waiting around. In fact Punish Yourself also regrets missing the other bands playing on the tour. It’s always nicer to see the other bands live rather than sitting around to wait for your own gig to start! “I rarely take a nap, but it happens occasionally” asserts the more discrete guitarist Pierre-Laurent. As for Fab, he attempts to follow the females tennis live on his computer… but fails to in vain.

Compulsory make-up

To come back on the subject of freedom mentioned previously, we notice that the Punish Yourself members don’t have make-up on in their other projects. Xavier and Fafa, dancer and pyrotechnician for tonight replacing Klodia, admits that the make-up is now an intrinsic part of Punish Yourself. The side projects allow the band to avoid this constraint throughout the rest of the year. “When it is hot, the make-up is even worse, even if it’s actually a pain all of the time!” emphasizes Miss Z.

Red alert : aliens incoming!

One of the main differences between Punish Yourself and the other bands is in fact the make-up. As indicated by the program seen at the head of this article, Punish Yourself must start painting themselves at 10.30 pm, one hour before the start of the show. You can imagine what it’s like on the big tours… The band’s identity is as musical as it is visual. As a young female fan stated Radio Metal’s facebook page, attending a Punish Yourself gig is like watching “a little theatre close to home”. It is true that today, we can no longer imagine the band on stage without the paint.

Ceremony in darkness

Punish Yourself manage to shine even in darkness. At 10.30 pm, in the heat of their dressing room, Xavier laments “It’s time to go…”. It’s time to switch off the lights and turn on the lights that allows us to see the paint – in the same way that they will in a few minutes on stage – to see the multicoloured paint glow in their dressing room. During the concert, the effect is very impressive and even during this pre-seance, the experience is pleasant and colourful. In the dressing room, the paint brushes are there, with the paint pots and this is when the real work artistic will commence. The members themselves complain and even ask for help to paint the most difficult areas: back, neck, back of the head and backside for Fafa!

Once the make-up session is over, Pierre-Laurent plays along by painting himself too with a little blue and pink. “How do I look?” he asks VX, to which he answers “Yes, it honestly looks good”. Of course, what did you think? It takes great taste to paint yourself! Clearly Punish Yourself have lots. “Usually, we stick to similar graphic themes” says Miss Z “however sometimes we change it a bit, so you could say that it goes by cycle”. One question that your faithful reporter has been dying to ask: it must be really long and hard to get all of that off afterwards, right? “We have a special powder” Xavier answered maliciously a few hours previous (see under) “It’s meant for mechanics to clear up oil stains so the product is really good for getting rid of paint”. Aren’t you afraid of any after-effects on your skins? “Honestly no, we don’t have any issues. »

The magic powder

It is almost time for the artists to go on stage. After being warmed up by Ultra Vomit, the young crowd will be very receptive. “It’s been a while since we played a gig like this” admits VX right after the concert. The band’s show was in fact very good despite the lack of catchy songs during the second part. Either way, it is no longer time for the concert but rather for relaxation again. What better way to do that than to have a beer with the guys from Ultra Vomit! Apparently, the bands do not know each other very welcome and hit it off on Saturday. Before Punish Yourself’s concert, some staff members were attentively watching the Ultra Vomit performance.

Ultra Violet in Ultra Vomit’s dressing room

It is now 2.00 am and the dressing room needs to be emptied. Everyone takes their belongings and makes their way down the Transbordeur stairs running from the 3 dressing rooms leading to the back of the stage. Once again, Annecha (merchandising) and the whole of the Punish Yourself crew take part in the loading of the van: it’s time to go home!

Good times

Current events: the band will be playing in England from the 29th to the 1st July. You will also be able to see them in France and even Germany at the end of the year.

Are you ready to be (re)punished now?

MySpace Punish Yourself : myspace.com/punishyourself
MySpace 1969 Was Fine : myspace.com/1969wasfine
MySpace Cheerleader 69 : myspace.com/cheerleader69theband

Bonus Photos:

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