Justice’s Gaspard Augé Defends Against Stalkers & Pukers
French electronic duo Justice recently completed the kind of road odyssey that comes only when people really, really love your music. They’ve spent the better part of two years raining distorted bass lines and chainsaw synths over sweaty, hysterical fans around the world, and now that they’re settled back in their native Paris, a visual relic has emerged from the debris. A Cross the Universe is a CD/DVD compilation that features a live recording of a San Francisco concert, but even more notably, a film documenting their March 2008 US tour. The movie doesn’t chronicle their performances in typical concert-doc fashion so much as offer up fly-on-the-wall glimpses of backstage mayhem and tour-bus depravity. Gaspard Augé of Justice dialed in to describe some of the bloodier moments on tour, reveal some preshow rituals, and explain why despite the religious iconography, they’re anything but godlike.
The DVD was the last three weeks of the tour, but how long was the tour? I guess we played more than 150 shows, and it lasted for one year and a half.
So how many shows is that a week? It depends, we had a schedule from time to time, but it was about four or five a week.
What do you guys do on the nights when you’re not playing shows? We’re just sleeping on the bus in between towns.
After your shows, are there any quiet nights when you guys don’t party, you just go back to the bus and go back to sleep? We always had to leave right after the shows because we had to go to the next city, so we had to keep quiet, but we had some fun moments.
Do you remember maybe one night that was the most memorable? It’s a bit blurry you know, but I guess you can see some of it in the DVD.
Have you watched something on the DVD that you don’t remember happening? Yea, kind of, we were a bit surprised afterwards when we got to see the final edit. But we’ve been working on it too, so we didn’t have to censor the directors, because we knew that we couldn’t take back activities.
When you were editing, was there stuff you left out on purpose, that you didn’t want people to see? Yea, but the directors shot 200 hours of footage, so there’s just a very small part of the reality that we’re showing. But it’s mainly true to the fact that we had to push some directions, and to do a bit of the caricature of who we are. But I guess there were just a few outtakes that we couldn’t use, just to respect some people’s privacy.
Were you trying to portray a specific image of Justice? No, because it’s just kind of avoiding the two main concerns of music documentaries. We didn’t want to talk about music, because we’ve only done one album, so it was pointless to talk about music, and as we are not famous as characters, we are kind of not very present in the DVD, just to make the story more entertaining. And so we could have made a DVD to our own glory, but it would have been very boring, and so far it was way more relevant to just take a piece of that. We just wanted to do everything that was entertaining, even at our own expense.
What do you think about the craziness of touring? I guess it’s just part of the touring process, because when you’re a child, you kind of fantasize the pieces of the touring life, and then when you’re doing it, you just realize that everything was true, but it’s not only your fault, it’s the process of touring that creates all the pieces. The tour was a great experience. We learned a lot about people, especially girls.
Are girls puking on your bus a common experience? Eh, no, it’s not that common, but at least it was funny enough.
Is there a lot of vomit on tour? No, not that much.
Have you ever found a girl on tour that you’ve been attached to and didn’t want to leave, or are there so many of them? Of course we did meet some great people, but it’s kind of hard to have a relationship when you’re always away.
Was there one time when you just wanted the tour to be over? No, because it’s not the worst job on Earth. Now we stopped everything, and it’s kind of cool to be back home, but touring is exciting as well.
Are you looking forward to going back? No, not really. We’re just going to step back for a bit and make some new music.
When you’re on stage, and your hands are in the air, and thousands of people’s hands are in the air with you, do you ever feel godlike? No, because we don’t really relate to the music we are doing, we are not frontmen. We are not singing or playing guitar. We are just happy that the music we create onstage is efficient. People scream when you raise your hands, so at some points you have to do it, but we are kind of shy people, so sometimes it’s a bit violent to go on stage in front of other people. You always kind of get away with it, but it’s kind of frightening at some points.
What about the moment in the film when you guys are covered in blood? We have a stalker on tour, a guy who was harassing us, so at some point he was very drunk, and came to us and starts to beat up our friend and stuff, so finally he got bottled by Xavier.
Over the head? Yea, it was a bit violent, and so the security staff called the cops, and finally we didn’t get any charges because it was self-defense, but we got kind of scared that we wouldn’t be able to come back to the States.
What is your most favorite city to play in? I guess the Montreal and New York shows were really amazing. Just because the crowd was amazing, and we were kind of happy after the show we did.
Did touring the US make you consider moving here? No, not at all. We want to avoid the cliché of the band that moves to LA to make their second album.
And what about the food in the U.S.? The food was okay because it’s kind of impossible to eat late at night in France, so we were really happy to always find something to eat.
Is it hard to eat healthy when you’re on the road — do you try? Yeah, its kind of hard. I guess we gain weight and stuff, because we always have the same rider, and so we always end up with the same sandwiches, so we eat the same stuff every day.
Did you get to make the rider yourself? Yeah, very simple sandwiches and two bottles of alcohol, rum and vodka. We have this ritual before the shows, a shot of rum and Tabasco.
Do you ever drink a lot before you go on? No, we just need to drink a bit to get in the party mode. It’s hard to get excited every night, so we need some rum.