Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 @ 2:28 am

This week I speak French guitar virtuoso & composer Julien Beyleix – the man behind Unfrethead.

Ben Sommer: Hi, this is Ben Sommer with BandsLikeZappa.com. Today I’m talking to Julien Beyleix, who comes all the way from France. He is basically the one-man machine behind the band, Unfrethead. Julien, I want you to say hi to the audience. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your music, and also your mysterious band name.

Julien Beyleix: For one, I’m Julien from France; maybe you’ve noticed by the accent. I’ve played guitar since 12 or 13 years old. The main idea behind Unfrethead was basically Fretless Project due to buying a Vigier fretless guitar. The name came from when I was looking for some kind of music that was unfretted that had some heavy metal music influences. That’s how I came up with it.

Ben: Did you manufacture your own fretless guitar?

Julien: No, the special guitar that I used on this project was made by Vigier Guitars, which makes French hand-made, very top-of-the-line guitars. I bought it because one of my greatest guitar influences played on fretless guitars. It’s Ron Thal, also known as Bumblefoot. He is actually the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses now.

Ben: Oh, Buckethead, you mean?

Julien: No, the guy who came after, Bumblefoot.

Ben: Oh, Bumblefoot. What a fun name.

Julien: Yeah, exactly.

Ben: Did you take your name after Buckethead and Bumblefoot, too, to try to come up with a neat stage name?

Julien: Yeah, something like that. I was right in front of my computer trying to build up my first MySpace page. I chose my name very quickly in front of the login page.

Ben: Oh, excellent. That’s a good story. Regardless of the fretless instrument, how would you describe your style? What music influences you? Who are your favorite artists?

Julien: It’s a melting pot of many, many, many influences. I’m a great fan of string guitar music players like Steve Vai, etc. But, on the other hand, I like very progressive music and un-metal music. And while simply learning guitar, learning music, I started to add other influences, like more metal music. Devin Townsend might have come right after all that influence; but it should come from within, not just sit in the music.

Ben: I don’t know who that is.

Julien: He was a singer with Steve Vai in the early ‘90s on the album, Sex & Religion. After that he created his own death metal project called Strapping Young Lad.

Ben: Oh, I’ve heard of that band, sure.

Julien: He is a very charismatic singer. He has his own career and his own sort of stuff that is very unique. I think it was really the first metal band that I really dug outside of being a teenager. It’s the first heavy metal band that I was really digging. That and maybe Meshugga too.

Ben: Meshuggah is a great European band. I’m curious. What did you do before this? What are you doing separately from this? Is this your main project that you pour all your energy into? What’s your history?

Julien: I played guitar early in my own corner before this. I was just playing guitar with a local band. As far as what the goal is, it’s like a side project to me.

Ben: Do you make a living from music?

Julien: No, I worked a little as a computer engineer.

Ben: Me, too.

Julien: Then I stopped because it was very boring to me. I started giving simple guitar lessons and tried to make a living with that.

Ben: Do you do that now or did you try that and then fail, or give up?

Julien: No, I didn’t really give up. It’s always cool giving lessons to…Sometimes I learn a lot from students.

Ben: Oh, so do you teach full-time?

Julien: Yes.

Ben: Oh, good. Interesting.

Julien: I use more time for the music now, but I had a full set of giving lessons in the past.

Ben: How is the scene for your type of music in France?

Julien: I think there has been a good response for a while for basic guitar. I think there’s a really French audience for guys like Bumblefoot or Mattihias IA Eklundh from Freak Kitchen, which is a Swedish band. It’s a Swedish band with an early Zappa influence, PuRpUrA-committal band with very many influences. There is this little microcosm of guitar fans that love those bands, so hopefully I can play with them.

Ben: Hopefully you can tap into them.

Julien: Yeah, that’s right. And hopefully I can gain some audience in France because there are a lot of guys who listen to this kind of music there.

Ben: I discovered you on Bandcamp just by browsing. I was very impressed and I encourage everyone to go listen to you on your Bandcamp site. Don’t do it now because apparently the site has crashed, which is unfortunate. I don’t know if you noticed that.

Julien: That won’t be long, I think.

Ben: Yeah, I sure hope so; but this is excellent and best of luck to you. Let’s touch base with you with your next album release. Do you have an album that you’re just releasing now or that you have released?

Julien: Yes, it was released one month ago. I’m working on a free EP. There’s one song in the middle of the album, which is called “Undjent.” It refers to some type of sound that came with Meshuggah and (inaudible). In 2004 and 2005, many, many bands came up online with projects that were Meshuggah-influenced. This word, “djent,” came as an inside joke for some type of heavy, heavy pun use. Djent is not a varied style of music, but it’s going to be a style like in the…

Ben: So it’s a style of heavy, distorted, palm-muted, chug-chug metal guitar playing? It’s a slang word for that?

Julien: Yes, and I want it because it’s not a varied style of music by itself, but many online guitar players from many forums or community sites about metal music came within this genre called djent.. That was the meaning of “Undjent.” It was just basically pooling rhythmical arranging with riffs onto metal music. I’m going to release just three or four songs in that particular style. I don’t know when I’ll finish, but maybe it will be in one month or something like that.

Ben: That’s pretty fast. That’s a quick turnaround. Notify us when that’s released. Again, I encourage folks to check you out on Bandcamp and your MySpace and Facebook pages as well. This has been great, Julien. Thanks for taking the time to talk.

Julien: That’s nice of you.

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