While this dude is reading himself to burn his historic punk memorabilia, because detachment from reality and sitting one’s ass in a pile of money at London’s high-end might make you think a whole genre is sleeping with the fishes, punk keeps thriving in basements, in cities’ outskirts around the world – as long as we have youth, the anger and the need for fun will do the rest. Cocaine Piss have both and they claim them in the loudest, messiest, danciest way possible – or, as they call it, a «glittershitstorm».
A four-piece hailing from Liège, Belgium, fronted by the high-spirited Aurélie, scribbling misfits who spawn short-fused songs that get you tangled up in a web of hooky riffs, in-your-face-high-pitched-howls, spasmodic rhythms and amplified dissonance. What’s there not to like? Cocaine Piss‘s debut happened last year with the “The Pool” and they recently flew to Chicago in order to record their debut LP along Mr-You-Know-Who: you’re right, Steve Albini himself. If all this is not enough interesting for you, let’s add this: they are going to play Roadburn in two weeks [April 15th, Cul de Sac], seizing the opportunity to release a 7” called “Sex Weirdos” via Hypertension Records, which has a totally brand new track and stuff from “The Pool” reforged by Legends [alter-ego of Daggers‘ vocalist Gregory Mertz] and Mauro Pawlowski from dEUS! Of course we had to ask them a few questions… And Aurélie had the answers!
That name. Cocaine Piss. Please, do tell me why you picked it and, while on the subject, tell me as well how you started this band, your punk background (other bands), etc. And, also, Glittershitstorm?
We’ve all been friends for years, and we have this habit of spending hours talking about shit. You know, these moments when you just hang with your friends, and at some point, you’re saying so much bullshit that it actually gets exciting. That specific day, we were doing some nasty words associations, and we ended up with Cocaine Piss. We found ourselves very funny and kept the name. The same week, we were composing something like 6 songs for an upcoming show we were organizing, and for which we didn’t have an opening band. We played the show, had a lot of fun, and decided to keep on playing as Cocaine Piss.
Our punk background is actually what brought us together as friends in the first place. We all grew up in a very calm (read dead) area of Belgium. There was not much going on, except going to the few shows organized in the area, and playing music in your parents’ garage. We were all part of this large group of friends enjoying music, and we still are. We are now organizing shows with Jungle booking here in Liège, Yannick and Mathias are playing together in a psyche project called Umungus, and Yannick is playing with Daggers. I guess we are just a bit more international now than we were when we were kids – all the bands before initially come from the south of Belgium. Julien used to play with Elizabeth and is still playing in Vuyvr (both from Switzerland), and Yannick is currently playing with Hombre Malo (Norway).
“Glittershitstorm” is how some friends described us and our shows, and we really like it. It shows that besides the noisy aspect of what we do, we’re all about love, dancing and feeling fabulous.
I might be wrong here, but, to me, you seem that you do not give a damn fuck and just want to have as much fun as possible, while fornicating people’s ears to the maximum. I like that. But you have influences, don’t you? What do you enjoy the most in punk music? A lot of newcomers, thanks to the internet, have been breathing new life into powerviolence, crust, UK82, d-beat, 80s American HC… What about CP? I smell some Sonic Youth, Big Black, Flipper, even Nirvana noisy things in you.
It’s always a bit of a struggle to define our influences as a band. We all individually listen to a wide range of genres, and discover new stuff every week. If you put all of us together in a room with a list of a billion music genres, probably one of us would be able to find at least one band or album he/she loves. There’s clearly a common noisy punk baseline that influences our sound. It’s a bit like if music was food. You need it every day, but sometimes you need greasy disgusting stuff, and the day after all you want is steamed vegetables. In the end, I really don’t know what we’re cooking, but it feels right.
That lean into noise you have is perhaps what made you work Steve Albini. Dude is a legend, everyone wants to record with him and, of course, has a tough schedule. You flew to Chicago… Most European bands can only dream it. Tell me how that happened!
The whole Albini thing happened very quickly. We were meeting for the first time with Franky from Stage-mania, who is now our booking agent here in Belgium, and talking about music and our dreams as a band. The name Albini came out – not a big surprise, he has been our hero since we were teenagers -, and Franky told us we should record with him. At first, I didn’t really believe in it. I mean, when you meet a guy for the first time and he tells you you’re going to record with Steve Albini, it seems too beautiful to be true. He sent an email, and one week after, the studio was booked. I really believe Steve Albini is open to any project, especially after meeting him. The guy is true to himself, and sticks to his values regarding the music industry. But yeah I guess he has a tight schedule. I never thought of it actually, but I’m glad he found a few days to record us.
What are the best and worst things you remember from Chicago? I’ve never had the chance to be there, but I’ve read about the city’s music scenes and free jazz or black metal can easily live door to door. Did you catch some gigs there?
We didn’t see any show, which is very weird, because it’s normally the first thing we do when we travel. We stay in Chicago for 6 days in total, 4 at the studio, and the whole experience, when I think about it, seems completely unreal. I would probably feel the same if I was sent on a space mission. We had one day off before going to the studio, and we spent it hanging around the city center and practicing in our hotel room. The best thing about shitty hotels is that you can actually play drums on the nightstand without being in trouble. The next day, we were at the studio already.
Recording there was the most exciting experience in my whole life. I can’t actually remember a bad moment. There were so many great moments. One girl from the staff looking at me like if I was the stupidest person for asking if I can eat in the control room. Yeah, you can actually have a giant-ass stinking burrito in the control room, Steve doesn’t mind. I think that’s amazing. The guy could be a diva, but he’s not. When we met him, he said «Oh, great, Cocaine Piss. Love the name, I’ve been looking forward to that session every time I saw the name on the schedule». He was singing our songs when taking bathroom breaks! All these tiny things were so cool, and made us feel very good during the session. That together with Steve’s legendary calmness and professionalism, and the awesome people at Electrical Audio. I think it all comes to their way of working. No matter if you are huge as a band or not, you’ll get the same (very kind) treatment. I think that puts you in a position where you can give your best.
Beyond all the fun and noise, is there a socio-political stance you fight for? You tagged your music as ‘queer’ on Bandcamp: are the LGBT rights a primary subject for Cocaine Piss or is not that much of a flag for you?
It’s always funny when you look at the “queer” tag on bandcamp. I mean, it’s hard to tell if a guitar riff sounds queer or not. More seriously, I really like the word queer because, in my opinion, it’s the most inclusive word you can put on someone’s gender or sexual orientation. Way before we started the band, as for today, we discuss a lot about gender questions, about our personal experiences and struggles, but also at the societal level. There’s too much fucking suffering about these questions. Labels are killing people. Being queer is rejecting these labels, and it is something we actively do.
About the record you did with Albini, the thing is scheduled for October only and you’re first going to release a 7’’ with tracks from it. Why did you choose to do the things this way? Why not release the album right away?
We are working with an awesome label here in Belgium, Hypertension Records. They release their stuff in autumn most of the time, and we’re happy with that. There’s so much going on right now with us, I think it makes sense to plan the release a bit ahead. Ahaha I’m pretty sure we’ll be in a rush anyway. Meanwhile, they’ll release two singles from the album, one in April (“Sex Weirdos”, already online for streaming, to be released on the Roadburn weekend), one in June.
«We have reserved the B Side for friends who try their hand a Cocaine Piss songs. For the first one, they are: Mauro Pawlowski and Legends». Can you explain this a little bit further? Is Pawlowski going to jam a Cocaine Piss song or are you taking a piss (no pun intended)?
Ahahaha, what we did there was to ask artists we love to do a cover from any song they wanted from our previous release, “The Pool”. The idea was to let them completely free with that, and that we’ll release whatever they come up with. We don’t live in a vacuum, and we don’t play music in a vacuum. What we’re doing is somewhere out there, and I love the idea that people can do what they feel like with it and throw it back at us.
You’re going to play Roadburn next month, an iconic event. We’re going to be there, so what can we expect from your gig at Cul de Sac?
We are so fucking happy to play at Roadburn! I guess you can expect noise, happy faces and stupid dancing moves.