The Magnetix

(c) Olivier Donnet
(c) Olivier Donnet

The Magnetix are a duo from Bordeaux made up of Looch Vibrato on guitar and vocals and Aggy Sonora on drums and vocals. I have seen Magnetix many times and am always blown away by the raw power and pleasurable assault on the ears. It is also just as gratifying to see people you know enjoying Magnetix for the first time.
Case in point, when Magnetix last played London and Liam from Scraps asked me if I knew about the band. I replied with a subdued, “Just wait and see.” Following the gig Liam came up to me, eyes and mouth wide open uttering, “Fucking hell mate, that was…” To which I replied, “I know.”
To use a food metaphor – if you have New York pizza or Mexican food from the West Coast or Mexico, then upon returning to London neither pizza nor a burrito cut it anymore. Anytime you eat a burrito or pizza in London, you know it is a substandard product with the potential to taste awesome.
This scenario applies to seeing a two-piece like Magnetix. Once you have seen Magnetix every other two-piece pretty much sucks. I spoke to Looch Vibrato about their upcoming show with Thee Oh Sees on September 2, as well as the new album they recorded with John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees.

Heatwave: How is the Bordeaux music scene?

Looch: Great scene since long time ago – a lot of punk bands in [the] 70s and 80s. Now in each style, you’ve got the best music from France, maybe, [its] really intense, rich and raw. The only thing is, we need more clubs to play, actually.

Heatwave: What bands got you into making music?

Looch: When I was 19-years-old, I discovered the album Closer by Joy Division, a big [smack] in my face. I was more into [the] 60s stuff like Syd Barrett, the Standells, the Seeds, the Kinks, Screaming Lord Sutch, the Animals, etc. But this LP (Joy Division’s Closer) changed my life and opened my eyes on 70s and 80s music, and got me into Wipers, Wire, Suicide, Kraftwerk, Dead Kennedys, the Stranglers, Les Olivenstein – one of my favourite French bands, Metal Urbain, Jean-Pierre Decerf (French electronic music), Devo, Cultural Decay, Bruce Haack, and Snake Finger. Actually, I have big respect for bands like Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, and Eddy Current

Heatwave: What are some of the good venues to play in France?

Looch: For me one of the best, where we did [the] best shows, every time, I don’t know why, it’s Le Volume in Nice.

Heatwave: You guys play amazing live show and make fucked up space rock n’ roll music, but what do you do in Bordeaux besides this?

Looch: Oysters, rest, bike, paint, drunken parties, gardening, LSD research… life pleasure.

Heatwave: How did you come up with your live guitar sound, in terms of using two amps to play different sounds? Was that a conscious decision to make you stick out or was it something that evolved naturally over time?

Looch: I started with only one amp, but the sound was too cheap for the power that I needed. One night, I woke up with a vision [and] did a drawing. The day after, I took my tuner pedal, plugged my amp guitar in the bypass and the bass amp in output. My sound was there. I play sometimes with a third amp with a tremolo panoramic (Dunlop) – Too much, but too cool.

Heatwave: How do you make your album’s sound a bit different, but still maintain the same style?

Looch: The next studio album will be a come back to our first recordings, raw, alive [and] strong as possible.

Heatwave: Why did you start Avenue Z?

Looch: We recorded this LP [Avenue Z’s LP] and when we finished, we realised it was not a Magnetix sound. This album was all in French (one in Latin), but we really needed to do a French lyrics album. A lot of synthesizers – too much for Magnetix, but enough for Avenue Z. Avenue Z was named after the last street in Brooklyn in the Coney Island direction. We asked to Antoine (Catholic Spray/Jessica 93) if he wanted to participate in this space adventure by playing synth, and few months after, for Bart (Skeptics/Frantic City records) to play bass. The LP AZIMUTH is out on Slovenly recordings and a new one will be soon.

Heatwave: If the Magnetix and Avenue Z were your two children, what would be their personalities?

Looch: Magnetix is the fruit of primitive instinct, fear and violence, no thinking [and] free playing. Avenue Z is a resurgence of my past. When I was a child, I was born in [the] 70s, and unconsciously heard a lot of synth music like in cartoons, TV shows [and] radio. My father listened to Radioactivity (Kraftwerk album) on Sunday mornings, so I think something happened at this time.

Heatwave: Last time we spoke, you mentioned something about doing a recording with John Dwyer. How did this come about?

Looch: It’s done. [We finished] last year, the day just before Burger Boogaloo fest in San Francisco. [We] Recorded with John, Eric Bauer and the excellent Chris Woodhouse (Karate Party, FM Knives and Mayyors) at the Vacation’s basement (Christin Klein Second Hand Shop). It was a crazy and hot night. John said to me, “Take Your Guitar Who Doesn’t Drink” (name of a Magnetix song), and put it live on Castleface Records.

Heatwave: How do you know John Dwyer?

Looch: We played few gigs together four – five years ago. We have got the same booker, Buzz. Thee Oh Sees and Magnetix is a good formula. First time he saw us, he said to me, “You’re like an animal.” It’s the same for him too, a fucking man on stage, maybe the best, authentic, real, wild and aware of all that happens around. Real good moments with Brigit, Petey and Mike at this time.

Heatwave: I’m going to mention some French bands/ artists and Western ones please tell me your opinion on them… Johnny Hallyday?

Looch: He did a lot of good things in [the] 60s. He wrote only one song in his life, this is a shame…

Heatwave: Jacque Dutronc?

Looch: A master, humble, class, human…

Heatwave: Foo Fighters?
Looch:I don’t give a shit of this… shit.

Heatwave: Edith Piaf?

Looch: Piaf is “bird” in French slang…never really listen [to] her, I prefer Fréhel, a realistic French woman from [the] 30s, wild!!!!

Heatwave: Serge Gainsbourg?

Looch: The best, no comment…

Heatwave: Radiohead?

Looch: Never heard more than 15 seconds, I think.

Heatwave: Daft Punk?

Looch: Good spirit maybe, but not my cup of tea.

Heatwave: David Guetta?

Looch: Gogol French music for Gogol people – Gogol is slang word to say stupid, mongoloid, sorry about them.

Heatwave: Muse?

Looch: I don’t know it.

-Stix Champion