Maine in Havana
Rock TripPour découvrir l'article en français
A deeply US sound of a band from Montpellier with a Puerto Rican singer. Maine in Havana resonates a world rock, like an incentive to travel. The icing on the cake, the musical escapade is well worth lingering on, on record while waiting to find them live.
Maine in Havana sets the tone for the theme of travel from the moment its name is mentioned - even if the origin of the name has nothing to do with a tourist postcard, we'll come back to this later. The group was founded in 2016, around the meeting of Eduardo Lecleres Diaz, a Puerto Rican singer, and four French musicians, around a common idea: to return to the simplicity of the emotion created by the voice, while the music would serve the lyrics, creating variable climates, at times calm, stormy or disturbing. The group took the time to form, almost two years in fact. Eduardo, Yanis Blancas (keyboards, backing vocals) and Boris Blancas (guitars, backing vocals), who had played together in a tribute to the Ramones, began working on songs. Then Frédéric Loumagne (bass, double bass, backing vocals), who had known Eduardo for a long time, joined them. Finally, after trying out several drummers, Vincent Thoyer, who was also playing with Boris and Yanis in another project, completed the group at the end of 2017. On this project, each of the musicians agreed to leave their comfort zone, this one being in rupture with their musical habits. Boris and Yanis come from punk-rock, Frederic from garage, surf music, extreme metal, Vincent from ska, reggae, jazz and Eduardo has participated in various projects. Each member, with his different universe, opens more the horizon of the musical possibilities of the group. The result of this melting pot is striking and exciting: minimalist, alternately serious and lively, intriguing and inhabited. Inspired by folk, blues and rock, a mix of psychedelic, American and Latin atmospheres, fuzz guitars and vintage organs. Realistic and raw poems, sung in English, where the night accompanies solitude and alcohol in the mist of a New York transformed into a Mediterranean city. The result was a superb album, released in May 2020, plunging the listener into a fascinating road-trip rock in the broadest sense, sounding as much blues as psychedelic rock, giving the impression of not belonging to any era.
Right from the opening of the album, Eduardo's voice leads us into a deep road-trip, we can have this impression of discovering the soundtrack of an ageless road-trip to the farthest reaches of deep America. A deep and grave voice, bluesy guitars tuned on keyboards adding a temporal confusion: the atmosphere is set, it will be confirmed piece by piece, Maine in Havana will take us far away. Eduardo's experience can partly explain this feeling. "I lived in New Mexico for a while, and it's true that the long, straight roads that cross the desert give a lot of time for contemplation. There's a kind of void in the sound that, in a spiritual way, becomes the most important actor? We try to remain as minimalist as possible to let the notes have a whole life in the space". What will strike any listener of the album is this deep musical richness. Maine in Havana is unclassifiable on the rock scene: psychedelic, blues, garage, and much more. Thus, after "Cimarron" - a disturbing post-blues melody reminiscent of the deep south and haunting the story of a slave who has escaped his condition, comes "The Veil", more powerful and raw, the falsely joyful quasi-psychy "Preus"... The influences of each one allow the sound to take various forms, with obviously the coherence of a common goal.
"Our influences come a lot from modern folk... Vic Chesnut...Townes Vand Zant.... Tom Waits... Jeffrey Lee Pierce... Nick Cave, of course. We also like the cold coast of post punk and the psychedelic musical experiences of Latin America and Africa in the 60s and 70s. The album, indeed, is a melting pot. We assume that the constraints imposed by a style of music prevent the development of a sound that we can call our own. Our band is made up of musicians with different musical backgrounds... so we take advantage of that to give a song a chance to be what it wants to be." Album that can be broken down into two distinct parts, like two sides of a vinyl, an impression that will reinforce the pleasant feeling of listening to a record that is impossible to date. The first part, in spite of an obvious energy, gives an impression of intimacy, with an obvious cinematographic side. Always this feeling of being in possession of a soundtrack of an imaginary film. The second side will be more raw and rhythmic, and inevitably makes you think of the live potential of the band. It is finally on stage that the idea of Maine in Havana took shape.
"The first time we played together was for a tribute to the Ramones a few years ago. That's when I, Eduardo and Yanis Blancas had the idea to explore other musical interests we had in common. As soon as we started the composition process, we called on musician friends that we considered suitable to work collectively". Obviously the health situation is frustrating for the band. While waiting to meet them on stage, Eduardo can make our mouths water with the ideas of Maine in Havana on stage."Our concerts are always based on the desire to tell a story and present the soundtrack that sets the mood for the lyrics. We hope, each time, to be able to give the audience a wide range of emotions. The saddest part of this period of confinement is to completely lose this contact with the audience, it's an exchange that nourishes us and makes us want to go even further. But, in the meantime, we try to compose and refine our ideas for the future. We miss the concerts very much. The confinement has cut us off. Everything is postponed or cancelled and we can't foresee much... We had two important dates, the Festival des Primeurs, in Castres and Massy: Castres has been cancelled and Massy is being maintained for the time being. We hope that it will be done. We still have other projects in mind, it's a little early to talk about it."
We will thus be satisfied for the moment with this sublime album and the trip proposed by the group from Montpellierrain. Like a symbol, it ends beautifully, with "We Night Birds", a mix of emotions between melancholy and joyful lightness, ideal for a progressive rise to the climax of a deep and sincere journey. Travels and explorations often come to mind when discovering Maine in Havana, and this is anything but a coincidence. "Maine in Havana is a self-produced album in which we allowed ourselves a lot of freedom and collective exploration. The recording took place in two two-day sessions. It is based on live takes. Afterwards, some additions were made by Luca Sapio (Blind Faith Records/Rome). He mixed and produced the album and Gabriel Kerpel (King CoyaBuenos Aires) and Yoann Poncet (Montpellier) mastered it". And finally, beyond the sound odyssey proposed by the group, authentic, spontaneous and profound, the name Maine in Havana alone can also offer another reading of the group's deep sound. "The name Maine in Havana refers to a historical event: the explosion of the USS Maine, a U.S. Navy ship, in the port of Havana, which triggered the Spanish-American War." No matter how you look at the music of Maine in Havana, its discovery is as disturbing as it is exciting. How beautiful and pleasant this mixture of sensations is.