over in France, Renaud Louis-Servais Group released a masterful album
of jazz-rock fusion entitled Iluna in 2011. Featuring
the extraordinary guitar chops of Renaud Louis-Servais, the
nine track Iluna CD features Renaud and his band performing
a daredevil cross-section of jazz, rock and fusion instrumentals.
21st century fusion music at its best, Iluna travels all over
the musical map and comes across as state of the art instrumental
rock in the spirit of 1970s music legends such as Return To
Forever with guitarist Al DiMeola plus an added dose of Weather Report.
Renauds music is quite intriguing and overall, Iluna makes
for some amazing listening for jazz-rock fans and guitar fans in general.
Commenting on the making of Iluna during his May 2012 interview
with mwe3.com, Renaud adds 'In fact, for me, there are no real frontiers
between styles, and this is the main concept of the album. Ill
say that my purpose is to fuse the classical harmony and the jazz
harmony with the energy and sound of rock music.' www.rlsg.fr
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: Your father played classical guitar. Did you learn guitar and
more about music from your father and what are a few of your earliest
memories of learning to play the guitar? I know you were born in 1972,
the same year YES recorded Close To The Edge. Where did you
grow up and what was it like growing up hearing all the great guitar
music made during the 70s?
Well I grew up in the suburbs of Paris, listening basically to 80s
hard-rock music, which I was was very fond of. Yes, my father was
playing classical guitar, but he was a very secret person, and unfortunately
I didnt learn a single note from him because he was always playing
in secret. But he created all the conditions for me and my older brother
for having instruments to play, ability to learn music. He even built
a studio for us for rehearsals when I was 17, the same studio in which
I recorded my album Iluna last year!
Growing older, I discovered Yes, if Im correct, with a song
called Starship Trooper. I tell no lies saying this track
astonished me! The construction of it, the ideas in it, the progression
through the different parts of it, all these things influenced my
way to compose for the rest of my life. Later, I discovered Pat Metheny,
John McLaughlin, Weather Report... Another a new universe with incredible
harmonies and musical liberty. And later again, I fell into classical
impressionists French composers: Ravel, my favorite, Fauré,
mwe3: When did you form the Renaud Louis-Servais Group, who are the
musicians who recorded the Iluna with you and where and when
was the CD written, produced and recorded?
RLS: The formation of this band had been a long, long process which
started about 15 years ago. During this process, I never stop composing.
Until I found the right people for it, a lot of musicians joined my
project. Some stayed, some left... In 2008 and 2009, the band reached
semifinal stages at the International Songwriting Competition (ISC)
with three titles, so it gave us the idea to record the different
facets of our music on a real album, and we began digging through
the music material composed over the past 10 years. We recorded all
the album stuff during 2011, both in my studio and in Alains
studio. I produced the whole thing.
Now, Im very happy because the album is released, and the band
is stable, very talented, and really adapted to the music that I always
wanted to play. We are very good friends too, which is important to
me. On drums, we find Alain Bidot-Naude (Big Mama, Macqueen,
After Beat) who joined me in 1999. On bass is Henri Dorina
(David Koven, Peter Kingsberry, Art of soul, Faudel, Mokhtar Samba,
Manu Dibango). And on keys and trumpet, Franck Guicherd (Eddy
Louiss, Mory Kanté, Gérard Badini, Fred Manoukian).
mention both YES and Weather Report as big influences. Is that the
link between modern jazz fusion and prog-rock that you explore on
your new Iluna album? What other guitarists inspired you early
on to want to become a professional musician? How about 5 influential
RLS: Yes, youre right, this album can be seen as a link between
modern jazz fusion and prog-rock. A track like Chani (Cycle
du Désert) is a good example of this idea. In fact, for
me, there are no real frontiers between styles, and this is the main
concept of the album. Ill say that my purpose is to fuse the
classical harmony and the jazz harmony, with the energy and sound
of rock music.
Numerous guitarists inspired me. In my former hard-rock
period, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani influenced me
a lot, and still do. Then later, Pat Metheny was a real musical shock
for me. And later again, listening to John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth,
Frank Gambale and Scott Henderson really made me aware of what I would
like to play. All these guys are geniuses for me. The 5 most influential
albums ? I would say Fair Warning (Van Halen), The Yes Album
(Yes), Travels (Pat Metheny), Black Market (Weather
Report) and Electric Dreams (John McLaughlin w/ The One Truth
mwe3: Can you recall your first guitars? What electric and acoustic
guitars did you use to record the Iluna CD with? And can you
say something about your endorsements?
RLS: Yes, for sure! I was 13, my first guitar was a Paul Beuscher
for Christmas! (lol!) Aluminum whammy bar and plywood body! I was
the happiest boy on earth. Fortunately, with years, I had the opportunity
to afford real instruments! I think I bought tons of guitars since
this first one.
Iluna album, two electric guitars were mostly used: my alder
Tom Anderson Drop Top which is my number one guitar, and my mahogany
i1 Brian Moore, an instrument with an incredible sustain. For the
acoustic, I used a Taylor 614 CE for the intro take of Chani
(Cycle du Désert) and a Takamine Hirade with incorporated
tube preamp for the nylon takes of La Quête
de Roland. For jazz takes on Euria (Cycle de la Pluie),
I used my Gibson ES175.
Im endorsed by Tom Anderson guitars in France, and how it happened
is an interesting story. I always loved to play Tom Anderson guitars,
and one day I decided to travel from France to L.A. to meet Tom and
ask him to build me the guitar of my dreams. So Ive go there,
met him, and the human contact was very good. We talk hours with Roy,
his assistant, about the specs I was looking for this instrument,
woods, neck size, fret size, all these things fascinating only guitarists.
(lol!) Then I came back to France and 4 months later, I received my
new guitar. Since then, I enjoy so much that guitar that I use it
in most of the shows I play. I asked Tom to about an endorsement deal,
and we agreed with Audio Tube tech, the Tom Anderson guitars French
importer, about an endorsement contract. Thats very cool news...Im
proud to represent these guitars in France.
mwe3: What do you look for soundwise and feel-wise in a guitar and
how do you combine your guitars with specific amps and guitar effects?
RLS: First of all, I look for being comfortable with a guitar. Next,
I want a distinctive sound, means distinctive in a mix.
This involves woods, guitar mics, amps, cabinets, recording mics...
In this way, its difficult to say that a guitar sounds bad or
good in general. For me, a musical chain sounds bad or
good, i.e. from the guitar pick to the cabinet. And in that chain,
a guitar is adapted to the situation or not. So a cheap guitar can
sometimes gives very good results, and a very expensive guitar can
sound like a pancake! Thats not a price question. The musical
chain is a combination of acoustic and electronic properties, sometimes
These days, Im very happy about the system I use. My guitar
signal goes through different overdrive/distortion pedals, then in
a Mesa-Boogie Formula Preamp in clean tone, then in a TC-Electronics
G-Force multi-effects, and then is amplified by a Mesa-Boogie Simul-Class
2:90 amp. Then the amplified signal goes into two Marshall cabs.
do you call the CD Iluna and in addition to the musicians in
your group, who else was involved in the production and on the record
RLS: The name Iluna was found by Alain Bidot-Naude in reference
to his basque origins. In basque language, it could mean obscurity
or moon. We were searching for something referring to
science-fiction and planets, because my music is very inspired by
science-fiction books, like Frank Herberts Dune
which inspired me to write the Iluna Trilogy or Stephen
Kings The Dark Tower which inspired La Quête
Two guest musicians were involved in this project: the great film-music
composer Guillaume Roussel played piano on Gimmick and
Fender Rhodes/strings on Chani (Cycle du Désert),
and Alessandro Nocco, an Italian saxophonist who came specially from
his country to play amazing choruses on Gimmick and la
Quête de Roland.
For the recording, Steve Prestage (Gino Vannelli, Peter Gabriel, Prince,
Gary Moore) was the magician who put the mics on the right places
and made an amazing mix of the whole thing. Besides being an incredible
professional, Steve is really a kind guy too. I learned so much things,
working with him.
We made the mastering with Raphaël Jonin, who did a very good
job too. All the production process after that was made by me, because
its an auto-production from A to Z, and Im very happy
to have done things this way and been able to keep the control on
every aspect of this project.
Can you say something about future plans involving further promoting
the Iluna CD as well as other plans you have regarding live
concerts and writing, producing and or recording new music moving
RLS: Well, since the album release last year, Im working a lot
to it promotion and dates research, etc. In September, Ill be
in N.Y. for a few days and Ill try to make contacts there for
future dates in the USA. And Im currently working on new tracks
to come on the next RLSG album
so watch out!
Thanks to Renaud Louis-Servais @ rlsg.fr