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Alain Clément (No Return)

Interview with Alain Clément from No Return
by Marcos "Big Daddy" Garcia at 17 March 2015, 10:17 PM

In an era full of clones of what existed a long time ago, it’s good to see veteran bands arise with very good musical works. And some has more to say that those who hear some albums from the 80’s and try to make the time backwards. No, the greater ones always look into the future, as the French quintet NO RETURN does. Their latest album, “Fearless Walk to Rise”, is a very good lesson for many of how to have a modern sound with attitude and personality. Marcos had the opportunity to interview them, and here is the result.

First of all, I want to thank you a lot for your time for this interview. The first question is about your origin. It’s because in somewhere, it’s written that you started the band called Evil Power in 1984, without ending time, and then, in 1989, returned as No Return. Is there some reason for that? And what is the link between the two bands? And there were some similarities between the musical works from the two bands?

Actually, Evil Power was a heavy speed metal band, and in 1989 we decided to go further brutality. So we changed the name by choosing NO RETURN what we felt was already more original than Evil Power. There is no real musical link between the 2 bands.

If there’s some link between Evil Power and No Return, what’s the reason for a new name? And where the newer one finds place in your music?

This new name clearly reflects the desire to always move forward without compromise. The best proof is that we're still here 25 years later, stronger than ever!

Well, let’s talk a little more about the past: your first album, “Psychological Torment”, is from 1990, one year before the advent of Grunge in USA, causing the demise of Metal in that country. Back then, did you have some idea that Metal as a whole musical style would pass such trial?

At that time, as now, we did not care what was fashionable or not. Grunge exploded so what? It was a more ephemeral style among others. The early 90’s really pushed metal underground for a long time. Whenever it gets so over flooded, it just disappears for a while and comes back with more strength.

1991, the year of the end. Metal went down the tube on USA, and it seemed dead in the entire world. And did this affect you in some form? These questions are due you released two albums between 1991 and 1995, “Contamination Rises” on 1992 and “Seasons of Soul” on 1995. It seems that even on Europe, Metal gave some steps backwards on that time…

For the metal it has been ups and downs in every country. Thrash metal especially has been out of the focus just because other styles were more popular. No Return's music is based on Thrash/Death Metal since the beginning and it’s important for us to evolve in this style. We had to fight against the wind for a couple of years with the style of music that we are playing. I think you have to play the music that you like without following the trends. That really counts the most for us.

And after “Seasons of Soul”, you released an EP on 1997, “Red Embers”, but then, only on 2001 “Self Mutilation” came to the light. What happened between 1997 and 2001 for taking four years between the two albums?

Well, I think there are several explanation for this. At first, it’s right that we had line-up and label changes which didn’t really help the band. Also, I really took time to write "Self Mutilation" because I wanted it brutal and aggressive.

Well, I think we have a lot of questions about the past (laughs), so let’s come to nowadays. Well, “Fearless Walk to Rise” is now release. So how was the composition process, and how many time it took to be ready, in the point you were satisfied with it? And by the way, I hope it can be licensed to Brazil!

I wrote all the music except the intro which was composed by Jerome. Mick took care of the lyrics and we work together to finalize the arrangements of the songs. Everyone can contribute ideas and modifications if desired, in order that each title be as efficient as possible and match the spirit of No Return. It took about 9 months, and it was quite a challenge, because last year was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the band and we did a lot of shows.

And how do you decided to work with Jacob Hansen in recording, mixing and mastering of “Fearless Walk to Rise”? And how was to work with him?

The fact that Mick has worked with Jacob made things easier because from the start we wanted to give back to No Return a European dimension in terms of producer. We wanted production highlighting the brutal and melodic side of the band and Jacob Hansen's very good at it. It was a big pleasure to work with him. Besides being cute humanly he is very talented and can make it sound incredible way both groups like Aborted, Pretty Maids or Volbeat. So it was perfect for us and the sound of the album shows that we were right to trust him.

Strangely, when I was reviewing “Fearless Walk to Rise”, my senses were screaming clearly “it has nothing to do with some comparisons that were done”. Yes, I saw them, point to similarities to Testament and other good names. But I don’t agree with them, I think you have your own personality. Don’t these comparisons annoy you in some form? And by the way, I heard a lot of Metal in all my 32 years on Metal scene to say that (laughs)!!!

Thank you very much for these kind words. This does not bother me that we are compared to other bands , even if I think that No Return actually has its own personality. People often need to label the music to have benchmarks, they want to know if they are listening to thrash or death metal. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. The important thing is that the music is good. I like all kinds of stuff but it’s right that ‘‘modern bands” aren’t the main influences of the band. When I start writing new stuff I try just to please myself in order to make the songs the more efficient as possible. We’re trying to keep faithful to our style of music and, at the same time, become better musicians, better song writers and create the best kind of albums that we possibly can.

The album is out, I believe that great reviews were written, but how about some shows? How are things going in this matter? Is there a chance for some show on a big festival?

We’ll be promoting the album all throughout 2015/2016 so there will definitely be a European tour .We are actually preparing this tour with famous headliners but I can’t say who at the moment. The first part of the tour will start in April/May with more than 18 shows in France then festivals (Hellfest) and then a European tour for October. Stay tuned on our Facebook and website for all the upcoming  tour dates.

The last one: 25 years of career is something astonishing for a Metal band. So, is there something you repent for? Is there something that you would do different that the one you did? And we hope you can stay on the road for more 25 years!

When we started No Return 25 years ago, I don’t think we were really thinking about what would happen in a couple of years. It blows me away every time I think about the fact that it’s been 25 years already! I had so many great moments with the band: a lot of shows with great bands, seeing distant places and making a lot of friends in the turn of the years! We probably did some “mistakes” on different levels, but I guess that’s normal and you hopefully will manage to learn from those and shape your career better afterwards? All in all, it has luckily been more good than bad things on our way… That is why I have no regrets, I prefer to focus on the future.

Well, it is finished… I want to thank you again, wish all the success, and the space is yours for your message to our readers.

Thanks to read us and support the band, don't forget to listen to the new album "Fearless Walk To Rise" and we hope to see you on tour! Thanks for your time and your support, "Big Daddy"!


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Edited 07 June 2023

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