Hey Jeff! First off, let me extend my thanks for taking the time do this via email while you guys are on tour. For those that are unfamiliar, you’re currently involved in playing guitar with The Great Old Ones. Outside of this, you also handle the band’s album artwork, correct?
Jeff: Yes indeed, I have been quite busy lately with working on artwork for TGOO and other bands as well. I am currently working on a cover artwork for a black metal band called Daughters of Sophia, one for a thrash metal band from Paris named Lurking, and one for Ssanahtes, sludge from Bordeaux… and many more to come!
Growing up, was there any particular painter and/or album covers that influenced you during your formative years?
Jeff: I learned a lot of techniques in art school, so yes, studying the great masters was a part of the process. My teacher was fond of Rembrandt and all the others in the Dutch school. He made us work on sketches for hours, and taught us how to create a harmonious and consistent work. He looked like an old wizard and had endless knowledge – very severe but flawlessly fair. I don’t know if Rembrandt or any other artist had an influence on me, but they surely had an impact on my technique, and the way I see art.
As far as album artwork, I have a substantial CD collection. I love the artwork of the old 70’s psychedelic rock bands – King Crimson, Pink Floyd, etc… – but I also love metal bands’ artwork. I prefer the album artworks of old school death metal, like those done by the artist Dan Seagrave, who made illustrations for Morbid Angel, Entombed and most of the bands of this time. Otherwise, among illustrators nowadays, I’m a big admirer of Richey Beckett, who realized some illustrations for Mastodon and Metallica. I can add to this list Alexander L. Brown, whose perfectionism in line I love.
Between all of this work, is there one style that you feel most comfortable working in?
Jeff: I feel comfortable with painting, which is for me something more of an instinct, as opposed to black and white artworks that lean more towards tattoo art or engraving, which requires a great deal of accuracy and a long process in the making. It goes the same for me with cover design, actually.
There was a series of five portraits that you did, which included William S. Burroughs and Alfred Hitchcock among others. Was there any particular reason you choose these five?
Jeff: The reason is simple: I’m a big fan and admirer of these artists. I started to read some William S. Burroughs books after seeing Naked Lunch by David Cronenberg. I found this movie totally mad and dreamlike, a big trip from a junkie stoned on insecticide. Actually, the movie is a kind of an biography of W.S. Burroughs. The protagonist’s name is Bill Lee, he killed his wife with a gun trying to play William Tell as the author did, he’s a drug addict and he accepts his homosexuality. So, as I’m a curious man, I immediately searched for the book, and then, I found it even more insane than the movie. The entire book is written in cut-up (a physical reformation of the chapters after they’ve been cut up, mixed together in a new method that you can compare to the creative trances of the surrealists). The book was written with hallucinogenic drugs, it talks about politics, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, body modifications, conspiracy, etc… I really advise the CVLT Nation readers to read this fucking book!!!
About Hitchcock, if my memories are accurate, I may have seen the Birds, or North by Northwest, with my family when I was very young on a Sunday afternoon, and from then on I was a total fan of these movies. Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft – the same thing. These artists are very important in my creative and imaginary process. I most likely will continue to do portraits; it calms me and it’s way more simple work than black and white, for me.
Included in those portraits was one of Ishtar, who among other things was the Babylonian goddess of war and sex. What was about this mythical goddess that provoked you to do a portrait of her?
Jeff: I did this portrait without having a name for a theme or a character, I did this completely from instinct, the name came to me after finishing the portrait. I searched among the names of the goddesses and I found this particular one suited it well!
You mentioned the long process involved in your black and white work, which looks insanely meticulous. Typically, how long does it take from start to finish for one of these projects?
Jeff: It depends on the drawing, but about 4 to 5 hours a day for two or three weeks.
For our global readers that might not have an insight into France’s metal scene, can you give us a run down of some projects lately that have been coming out of your country? Is there anything particular that might help define the French metal “sound,” say over the Scandinavian or American scene?
I really like the last album of Paramnesia (Black Metal). They’re on the same label (Les acteurs de l’ombre) as The Great Old Ones. They are an atmospheric black metal, sounding like Wolves In The Throne Room but more tortured and cold, but still melancholic. And with that band, the drummer makes their illustrations and I find his work remarkable. I think the metal scenes are very prolific and interesting in every country. I don’t see what could define the French sound, there are so many things I like and as many things that I hate. Black Metal has evolved so much!
Finally, because you know that I wasn’t going to pass up this chance to ask, but what’s brewing with The Great Old Ones right now? You guys just wrapped a tour over in the UK, correct? How did that go? Also, any chance we’ll be hearing some new material from you guys this year?
Jeff: Yes, we did quite a lot of concerts in 2014 and we made a lot of plans for 2015 (Hellfest, Speckiaga Summer Solstice). The UK tour went well – we played in Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and London.The audience was great there and we got to spend time as tourists in Edinburgh. That’s a wonderful city, with its architecture and landscape. We even made a night of it and walked with a tour guide in the cemeteries and catacombs.
Concerning the new stuff with The Great Old Ones – for now, no new stuff. But I’m now recording my solo project SPECTRALE (acoustic experimental music) and I hope I’ll be able to release the record at the end of 2015.
Thanks again for taking the time to do this Jeff!