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waitingforwords Interview with

ZeN (Vocals, Keyboards, Programming), Soe V (Vocals, Keyboards) and Peter Rainman Keyboards, Programming and Backing vocals) from Waiting for Words

The French cult act WAITING FOR WORDS is back with their 9th album, ‘Egocracy’, and some stunning new videos. While the band is touring, it’s another opportunity to discuss the background of this surprising album and tour and, as usual with ZeN, Peter and Soe… about the world we live in and life in general.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Last time we talked, back mid-2015, you were in the process of recording this new album... what took you so long?
Soe: Internet connexion (smile). We were waiting for High speed connexion, so transfers with Peter were easier! Just kidding. Inspiration has to be there... We had some music and words here and there, but they didn’t match until it came out of space when Peter and ZeN worked together on songs that inspired me. Creation was there. Sometimes, we just have to wait for the right time, the right persons, and it may last for a while.

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ZeN: Although we didn’t plan touring on the back of ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’, we ended up travelling for a year with it. And when we finally got back to the recording, the ways of the world got into it. Our albums are often drove by a theme. The one we started working on, back in 2015, was around the concept of “Time”. That lead to the first single, ‘Only Time Will Tell’ (May 2016). But looking at the way the world moved on, we felt like “Hold on a sec, the world is going through major events, how can we not talk about it?” We wanted this one to be relevant, to hit a nerve and have people thinking about it.
Peter: We also wanted to record without any emergency or pressure. We knew about each other’s way of working by then, which synth or drum machines we had etc... But we didn’t want to record quickly and then go on stage faster than light, without any feedback or outlook about our songs. We listened to demos again and again, changed details months after because then we knew what all was about. It’s a much matured album. Another reason is that our vision of the production moved from a minimal approach (‘Away’ or ‘Egocracy’ were composed at that time) to a wall of sound with more complicated structures (‘Until the end of time’ or ‘Then You’re Gone’ for instance...). And most of all, we wanted to create a coherent album, a unity. We thought again and again about each song, each mix... This took time!

RoD: There’s an obvious theme to the album... but what could you tell about this concept of ‘Egocracy’? Does it relate to the world we live in and the changes we’re going through for 3 years or so (Brexit, Trump, French social movement, rise of the extremisms)?
Peter: It’s definitely about the world of today, yes... But it’s not political, according to me, it’s private, intimate. It’s about how we are changing, going to the most extreme selfishness, hidden behind our screens...
Soe: If you stop for a few hours in a French café, on a terrace, and you look at people around you or passing by... most of them have an extension of their arms called smartphone. This thing never quits hands or ears. Anything is subject to selfie or posting. The smartphone reflects yourself, what you publish online makes you the centre of the world... of your world. For today’s youth, it is the way of living. If Facebook or internet says so, it’s the truth. Are you sure people today really worry about politics, Brexit, social movement, rise of the extremisms, or immigration? I don’t think so... most of them care about their latest profile picture. Sad. So sad.

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ZeN: That’s what I like with music: everyone can see what they want and feel, even within the band ah, ah. Political? Not Political? It started as a joke to be fair. Despite some like to think, I’m absolutely not ego driven. I’m not confident in my voice, in my song writing, in the band management and always need my fellow band members and staff’s support. We thought it would be funny to play the “Ego” card, and it was more of irony than anything else. But the world outside rung the bell. I had this famous “Idiocracy” thing in my mind, obviously. But the situation we’re in goes above and beyond. We already touched the matter on ‘Follow The Signs’ (2012) with the song ‘Message’ and the least we can say is that it didn’t really improved since then… quite the opposite in fact! Everything, I mean literally E VE RY THING, is focused on the Ego. We moved from a society build around the common good and the “live together” to an aggregation of communities, of self-interests. A world where a minority representing less than 0.5% of a country can dictate its view to the rest of the 99.5%.

Don’t get me wrong. We have to stand and voice for minorities, and we’re the first to do so… but where is the common good? Where is the common vision? Not to mention that everybody has an opinion about everything without knowing much. Social networks are incredible. A place where people comment stuffs they wouldn’t even had care about in the real life. But the real concern is that the Ego virus spreads now to the very highest level of our society, starting with world leaders. It ultimately became political.

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RoD: Already three videos were released online, pursuing the collaboration with Raphael Duvernay. What can you say about it and how does it illustrate the ‘Egocracy’ theme?
Peter: Shooting video was new to me, and delightful! Raphael perfectly caught our messages, especially my anger. I like working on opposites: a band talking about being selfish, three videos about technology and not a single computer in it, etc... and I adore his visions in black and white!
ZeN: I guess Raphael is our Tim Pope or Richard Lowestein! He’s a friend in whom we trust and his role in the all “Egocracy project” went far beyond simply directing the videos. He ended up being the artistic director of the all thing. He came with the idea of those mirrors that would later be on stage and on the sleeve cover. The sunflowers too. When we told him about the ‘Egocracy’ thing, he simply told me I’ll have to pull my own ego out of the box and really be on the frontline, but with irony and self-derision. Which lead to the ‘(Have We) Lost It All’ video.

We shot ‘Cause I Do Believe’ with my brother and ‘(Have We) Lost It All’ with Raphael back to back in July 2017. When we edited ‘… Believe’, I felt something was missing. I’ve spotted this “Escape Walk” of me in Raphael’s video rushes. ‘HWLIA’ was rich enough with contents so we decided to use it in ‘CIDB’. And it gave the all meaning to it. This song is our anthem for almost three decades now. Sometimes I want to run away from it, but it always finds a way of catching us back. For ‘Great New World’, there was only one constraint gave to Raphael: no more outside story with me walking hundred miles under catastrophic weather conditions (laughs). Wherever we shot in December, May or even August, Raphael brings rain with him and I was just sick of it!

Seriously though, we didn’t want to repeat the same routine and we never did a studio video shooting before. I had some of the INXS’ video such as ‘Need You Tonight’, ‘The Gift’ or ‘Suicide Blonde’ in mind. We had fun playing with some references here and there both to cinema or music in it… some obvious, some not.

Soe: Raphael is a great artist. He knows how to highlight with images what we want to highlight with words. ‘Egocracy’, consumerism, he got it. It seems that we haven’t lost it all because Raphael is still there, alive and filming. As a complementary man, he is kind of part of the band.

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RoD: Will there be some new singles and videos?
Peter: Zen knows about it. He has the strategy I could never think of…
ZeN: I’m so strategic that I didn’t even believed in ‘Great New World’ as a single (laughs). I really didn’t believe it would be a hit. We first thought of ‘Love Me Forever’. But when Raphael heard both tracks he had a pretty smart opinion about those: “With ‘Love Me Forever’, those who already like WAITING FOR WORDS will love it, and those who don’t like you… will keep it on. Whereas ‘Great New World’ brings a heavier feel that could easily seduce Darker and edgier music fans”. And I must admit it worked, both on those edgier music fans, and to my surprise, to a very pop mainstream audience too.

We have a couple of videos planned to be released. First off, we made contact with two great artists, Al Morgen (Argentina) and Pawel Kuczynski (Poland). Their respective drawings about the society and the social networks were a strong source of inspiration during the recording process, and when I came to work on visual screenings for the Tour, I started using their works on our Cure’s cover of ‘Want’ and for the re-recorded album version of ‘Only Time Will Tell’. I’ve contacted them to ask for authorization of using it and they were surprised and honoured that a band was so interested in their work. We’ll released both of them soon. And we have ‘Egocracy’, the song that will most probably be released as a single in September / October. It will be the first single with Soe on lead vocal and in French! I’d love to release a Blu-Ray with all songs of the album with videos. It’s in the back of my mind. Just have to figure out how.

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RoD: The album was released some months ago. How happy are you so far with its reception and sales?
Peter: It’s incredible to see or read we can touch people with our stories, our notes or chords. A lot of people tell me we painted something big with each song, with this variety. They also write very nice words about the work on the vocals. It’s true we worked harder than ever on this album. There are some nice harmonies mixing up our three voices together.
ZeN: Reception is incredible. People really understand what WAITING FOR WORDS is about now… Or we were clearer in showcasing who we are, who knows? The best comment we had, and I think you’ve talked about it in the album review, is that “It sounds like pure WAITING FOR WORDS… and like nothing WAITING FOR WORDS did before”. Made my day. As per sale… what can we say? It becomes almost impossible. I was going through the archives of past albums reviews and 80% of the webzines, magazines, radios (web or FM) that supported us other the last 15 years simply don’t exist anymore. And the one remaining are managed by passionate people, like you, who have day jobs aside. We sent some promo in October / November and some of the reviews are only published now. Which makes it really complicated to work on communication and promotion plans.
Soe: People seems to like it... They dance during our shows. We are happy to see our words on lips that aren’t ours, to see people we don’t know dancing and smiling while we perform. We are always happy being on stage.

RoD: The Tour already started with key dates in Athens, Paris and Lyon. Paris, from the pictures and videos online, seemed to be a giant gig. What can you tell about it?
Peter: Yes, we plaid with TRISOMIE 21 in Athens in October, it was insane, crazy and unique! About Paris, Zen had this crazy project, as we now have a big repertoire to perform live, to give not only one, but two concerts in this great theatre. And I have to say, despite the pressure, I had the time of my life! The list of dates for the tour is a perfect clue about the quality of the album and the band I think, both on cd and live.
ZeN: Performing live after three decades requires first to maintain the fun, the envy and the pressure. We always have to find new challenges and the more the album was shaped, the more we believed we had to have a real concept, with stage decorations, a real imagery. And most of all, we don’t want to play 45/60 minutes set anymore. As a music fan, if I go and see a band that have 8 or 9 albums, I expect them to play long enough to hear the new album, hits and surprises. That’s why some 40/60 dates tour to support an album has now become impossible. We rather do 20 real shows. As per Paris, I swore many times in the past I wouldn’t produce and organize shows anymore as it’s very time demanding. But we couldn’t find any decent gig. Wherever some promoters wanted to program us, but the technical spec didn’t match the show’s requirements, or we were face to incompetent assholes. So, we took the risk and made it. As we were producing the thing, why not doing it on a real big stage with the full stage decoration, big screen, guests… More than 200 tickets were sold for the 2 nights, and believe me, without any support from anyone, this is a real accomplishment. No radio, no webzines or magazines apart from the very loyal Obskure Magazine, no one from the so called Dark / Synth / Gothic scene. This gig was as WAITING FOR WORDS is since three decades: us against the rest of the world ah, ah.

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RoD: And how do you transcript such a big show in smaller venues?
Peter: I’m on a diet! More seriously, three keyboards, a drum machine, a bass guitar don’t take much space. Most of all, Zen jumps less high and walks less hahaha!
ZeN: We sometimes have to sacrifice the set up with all mirrors and stuffs. But we don’t negotiate on visual screenings and duration.

RoD: El Lute, your former drummer, is now back on stage with you. Is it a full reintegration?
Peter: It’s good having him on our back. I know him for more than ten years now. Actually, he never completely left the band, you know. There were phone calls, mp3 transfers, emails and chatting all the time. When we prepared the Paris shows, we thought of having various guests and inviting him (and Mycrotonik on keyboards) was obvious. He brings a high energy in the groove and the mix. Plus, a bit of WAITING FOR WORDS’ soul lives in him...
ZeN: El Lute and I know each other for 24 years and as Peter said, although he left the band back in 2010, our friendship remained intact. He always came to see us live to support us, he listened and advised on a lot of demos I sent him and most of all, and we are friends. We moved together from young adults to men, attended our weddings, saw our kids born and grew up… Back in 2010, it was already clear he would play with us again in the future. We never closed doors to each other. We discussed of it for ‘Secret’ (The OMD cover on ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’) but time constraints and logistics… The Paris gig was a great opportunity to bring him back on stage. If there was to be some other stuffs after that gig, it was key to me that the call had to come from Peter and Soe too. Therefore, I managed to keep myself busy all over the place all day long in Paris, leaving El Lute, Peter and Soe sharing fun time together backstage to create bound and see how chemistry worked. I guess you all have the answer on how it worked (smile). Is it a “full reintegration”? Only Time Will Tell (laughs). We take things one step at the time. For now, we have those gigs and plans for the rest of the tour. We’ll see what happens next.
Soe: As I often say, WAITING FOR WORDS is like a ship. People come and go, for one part of the trip or the all things. El Lute likes to take some longer stopovers than we do (laughs).

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RoD: The setlists posted so far are impressive, both in length and differences from one set to one other. How do you work on this?
Peter: We wouldn’t like to have followers saying, “Oh you’re on a daily routine job, I heard that setlist last month!” Every concert should be a surprise for the audience, and for us. And we never stop working on new songs or covers so we can always introduce new stuffs.
ZeN: There’s a lot of things impacting a setlist. Length of the set, venue, type of audience… We generally know which fans attend this show or this one. And we often choose songs depending on that. And of course, El Lute being back brought some changes. We reintroduced some songs he used to play and that we rarely performed since then such as ‘Above The Sky’, ‘For All My Sins’, ‘Here Comes The Shame’ or ‘We Are Lovers’. The length of our set has always been critical to us. The more we play, the more we enjoy ourselves and the audience. I still don’t get it seeing major artists providing a 90 minutes show. Guys! It’s your job!

RoD: What are the future steps of the tour?
Peter: There are some secret plans for gigs abroad.... husshhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
ZeN: We’ll start the 3rd leg of the tour for the autumn. Sadly though, we’ve given up on Germany. It’s a shame for our fans there, but bookers and festivals ignore us (and nearly 99% of French acts). It’s especially harder for us considering the number of German bands we’ve set up some gigs in France whereas nobody else believed in them. The real shame is for our fans who’ll probably never get to see us there ever again. We often talk about the French typical big mouth and arrogance… but what to say about this silent disdain? It would be just us, I’d say “Ok we suck” LOL. But it’s almost the entirety of the French (and other countries too) acts that are ignored. And honestly, do German acts really sound THAT good and original? Some people over there need to understand we’re not in the 90’s and 00’s anymore laughs. The days when the only decent electronic music was coming from Germany are long gone. There’s a huge world outside with very talented acts that pushed electronic music far beyond. Looking at the programs of all the WGT, Amphi Fest and so on will soon look like the “Remember The 80’s” festivals: Old and outdated bands.
Soe: One thing for sure, we’ll play two more gigs in Poitiers on November 8th and 9th. More than three hours each night. It’s going to be real fun!

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RoD: Aside from live drums, ZeN plays more instruments and Soe sings more solo number? What’s the master plan behind?
Soe: There is no master plan... well, depends if God has one! We just want to have fun, and people not getting bored with us.
Peter: It’s about feeling free. Giving. Bringing new colours to the soul of the band. Filling empty spaces with it.
ZeN: Just the idea of bringing new stuffs on stage to maintain the interest. We all know how hard it is to have a show with two musicians behind a keyboard and a singer upfront, especially when you play for two or three hours. I came to play more bass and drums on the last albums. We thought it would be a good thing to perform it live. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and also, still a cliché even in 2019, it shows electronic music is made by musicians, with real instruments. And as per Soe, it’s now the 5th album she works on. She now has a full choice of songs to perform.

RoD: Back to the album, what changes did you bring to the recording process?
Peter: We had jams that brought new songs (‘Great New World’ for instance) and I played synths in more live conditions. We also wanted to work on different tunes of voices instead of just one.
ZeN: What really changed was also lyrics writing. Till now, one of us would write a song lyric on his own. This time, for a lot of them, it was collaborative. I wrote the first verses of ‘Have We Lost It All’ and Soe wrote the second part. We sat with pen and paper with Peter and wrote down ‘Until The End Of Time’ together based on one of his amazing improvisation. He almost had the lyrics in one go and we shaped it together. We also had some real studio time all together whereas it used to be a lot of internet file transfers between us by the past, but most of all, we came back to the old days in the 90’s where we tested out almost all the album live before. The ‘Egocracy’ tour really started in December 2016 with a gig in Paris where four or five new songs were performed, and it went on with five more gigs from summer 2017 to summer 2018, including a full album performance in Poitiers in March 2018. Those live performances had a strong impact on the recording process.

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RoD: You also released THE CURE’s covers album, ‘Lovesongs’, last year. How did this project fit in the recording of ‘Egocracy’?
Peter: In 2015 it was the first time I really worked as a full band member. As I’m a workaholic, I’m also part of several bands, such as PEOPLE THEATRE. Zen and I wanted to learn about each other’s way of working and that gave birth to ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’. ‘Lovesongs’ came a bit out of the blue and we took the opportunity of testing out more things. “Oh let’s try this way and experiment”. In the end, three albums in three years, isn’t that nice?
ZeN: Once again, a project coming from our local radio in Poitiers, Radio Pulsar. One of their shows organizes some various tribute concerts once in a while and they did one to pay tribute to THE CURE and kindly asked us to perform. We had to prepare a 12 tracks live set. As an electronic band, it demands therefore much more than a couple of rehearsals with some acoustic guitars. As nothing’s ever simple with us, we asked ourselves “How do we cover THE CURE with no guitar, no bass, no drums” and came to the idea of taking a… DEPECHE MODE approach to it. A kind of “What if those were some Depeche songs”… of course, the 80/90’s version of DEPECHE ah, ah. And yes, it was also a laboratory for ‘Egocracy’.
Soe: It would have been a waste to only perform this live once, so we made the album out of it. We’re really proud of it and it has its well-deserved place in our discography. We include a lot of them in our setlist. ‘A Forest’ and ‘Lullaby’ were really part of our repertoire since ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’… Now ‘Want’, ‘Lovesong’ and ‘Pictures Of You’ were added to it. For the two nights show in Poitiers, we’re thinking of performing it in its entirety once again, for all those who missed the 2017’s show. We’ll see.

RoD: There’s a CD3 consisting of various covers with the “collector” edition of ‘Egocracy’. When will it be available and what will feature on it?
ZeN: I know we are incredibly late with it and we sincerely apologize to our fans for this. But they trust us enough to know that when we push back things it’s always for the best and that the end result will be worth it. Initially we just wanted to pull out some covers recorded here and there… but the quality of ‘Egocracy’ and ‘Lovesongs’ set the bar high. We also have some new collaboration with Mc Jesse (from the French band COFFEES AND CIGARETTES) on guitar on three or four songs. The recording is pretty far advanced, but the recent changes in the tour with El Lute being back made us work a lot on re programming the backing tape sequences and setlists. We’ll focus on completing it in July and August and will make it available in September! There will be some covers we performed live the last four years such as IGGY POP’s ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Bang Bang’, U2’s ‘Unforgettable Fire’, NOIR DÉSIR’s ‘L’Homme Pressé’, a new version of THE CURE’s ‘Want’ as it evolved during the tour… and maybe old ones: CAMOUFLAGE’s ‘We Are Lovers’, DEPECHE’s ‘See You’. And of course, some rarely plaid or brand new one like PRINCE’s ‘Gold’ we performed for the first-time last month.

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RoD: Last time we spoke, we were talking about the differences in working with Peter and Steve Prestage. On ‘Egocracy’, both of them were involved (Peter for obvious reasons). The perfect combination?
Peter: To me yes. When you are part of the whole process, it’s painful! I love composing, producing, recording, but if you add mixing and mastering, it’s way too much work for one man. Steve is my guardian angel for frequencies and mixing the stems. AND he is skilled. AND Steve brought very nice ideas on some songs!

RoD: You don’t seem to be big fans of streaming platforms. Why that?
Peter: I want a fair reward of my sleepless nights. 0,00000001 euro isn’t fair. Streaming is a robbery, both for the artists and the listeners.
ZeN: The streaming’s “Business Model” is probably the biggest industrial, economic and social scandal EVER. It would take a while to talk about the matter. You should probably interview Foundry Records’ manager as the label have a firm anti streaming policy… but my dear readers and fans, just bear this in mind: Every time you listen to those Spotify or YouTube music, you’re killing artists. And I mean “killing” in the primary sense of it. I’m ashamed of the music industry and ashamed of all artists making publicity of their Spotify playlists. It’s ironic seeing all those people making petitions and organizing boycotts of firms like Amazon, Apple or Starbucks because those don’t pay taxes, while listening all day to platforms that actually ROBBED, I mean literally ROBBED, music out of artists and labels and use them without paying one penny to the musician.
Soe: Don’t get us wrong. Streaming is not a bad thing in itself. We consider it being a great radio that can have artists discovered. It’s Ok for us to have our singles and EP’s there. But not the albums. Or at least, just like in the cinema industry, we should have a “lock up” for a year or two before having albums available there, giving artists and labels the time to refund the production with sales. And why not a number of listening allowed for free. If you listen five times to an album, I guess you like it enough to purchase it don’t you?

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RoD: 2020 and the 30th anniversary of the band is approaching. Any specific plans?
Peter: Well I know the band for half of his life then. I think we’ll do something, but as we always say, it will be “higher and bigger”.
ZeN: Don’t know yet at this stage. We’ll probably still be touring with ‘Egocracy’ and have a series of festival gigs, therefore I don’t really know how to fit this in. The 25th anniversary that was supposed to be simple ended up booking us for more than a year… I’m not sure being up for a 2nd round. If we were to do something, it would be one or two gigs max.

RoD: Plans for the 4th decade?
ZeN: For the moment, all plans go to 2020. What happens next is not really in our hands to be fair. We have plenty of things we want to achieve. I mentioned a full Blu-Ray of ‘Egocracy’. We filmed the two nights in Paris, have a lot of unfinished tracks and demos from the last sessions, ideas for specific live performances… 30 years is already a huge achievement isn’t it? I would have never hope to live half of what we lived since 1990. Music is part of our life for more than 30 years and it will always be. In what form? With what projects? With WAITING FOR WORDS? Only Time Will Tell (smile).

Waiting For Words - New Album: ‘Egocracy’, CD available on and + Worldwide Digital stores (

Live pictures by Marie Laure Duarte & Stéphane Vasco

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