Drummondville and YFE: A Love Story.

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

We moved here in Drummondville 6 years ago already. After looking for months to find a place, and then waiting for several more months to officialize the papers in order to move in the church. But ever since that time, Drummondville has really become our home. Not only a house, but a home. The people welcome us right away and warmly. Nonetheless, we had never played in Drummondville before; circumstances made it so that we would spend more time on the road than at home in the years following our move in the city. Being invited to play at the Festival de la Poutine was a true honor.

Started in 2008 by another Drummondville band, the Festival de la Poutine was simply amazing. It was absolutely everything you want a festival to be when you’re in a band. The staff is helpful and makes you feel like they care, there’s power everywhere, an espresso machine, a kettle, the food was delicious and not too heavy (ok, there was poutine, but other stuff, too). Amongst the other bands, you could feel there was a friendly vibe instead of that competition you get just way too often. It felt like family.

A special zone in the stage. Had to go over it before getting to your instruments. No stress allowed!

The original Poutine Clock, along with the line up of the bands on Thursday night.

Drummondville is a very international place… Signs were even translated in Chinese!

Band tents were all under the drummers’ names. We can guess these are printed by the drummer of the band who organizes the festival!

Chilling out in the artist area before getting on stage

Adding the final touches to the set list. I’m always surprised Alex can understand anything of what he writes… Call this the writing of an artist!

Vocal exercices are a must before getting on stage!

No mirrors around? No worries, a car window will do!

The last few seconds before getting on stage… and then, let the show begin!

Standing on the stage just before the show, I looked at the crowd, and was astounded to see just how many YFE t-shirts and hoodies I could see! They were not only everywhere, but they really pop out, and catch your eyes more so than the other t-shirts around do! And what a beautiful crowd that was. People came all over North America to see us, some doing crazy long trips to get to see us live. This is something that I have noticed. Seeing YFE live is something contagious. When you see them once, you want to see them again. And for many people all over the summer, YFE has been their very first show – EVER! Their question is always the same after that… When is the next show? When can I see you again? And that show, was just mind blowing! I get to be in front of the speakers a lot when I take pictures, and it usually feels like an agression. Loud music is good only to a certain point, after what it feels like it is attacking you. And this is what usually happens when I spend time just next to the speakers – my whole being is being attacked. But tonight, it was different. Tonight, it was simply loud. It never reached that agression-like level. Was it too loud? Yes. But for the very time, it didn’t feel wrong to be in front of the speakers! You could hear the very little subtleties of the band’s sounds without a problem, every note, as quiet as it was, was dancing along everybody else on stage and in the crowd. The show was perfect in its imperfection. Just like Your Favorite Enemies are. Just like we all are. The summer couldn’t have ended on a better note… 🙂

– Stephanie

Rocking for a Cause

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

Our summer was planned well in advance. It all started late in 2014. Before the year ended, we knew already what festivals we would be playing over the summer. Festivals are like that – acts are chosen way in advance, and you are deemed to keep everything secret until they announce it themselves. After spending so much time on the road in the last 3 years, the guys of Your Favorite Enemies wanted to spend a little bit of time at home. That, and they wanted to take some time to work on upcoming projects. In the beginning, only 3 festivals were planned. The “Rock Fest pour la Santé Mentale” wasn’t one of them. But when the organizers, Roger and Stephanie, invited us to play, told us about the festival and its meaning, there was no way we could say no. It was a little crazy schedule-wise, didn’t make much sense for us to play there. But we had to do it. The cause, Mental Health, was one that was close to all of us, for so many different reasons. And somehow, we all feel it’s a shame that so many people are still ostracized for things such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder. They’re everywhere around us, and we’ve always believed music could bridge people together, could cross borders and crush self-imposed limits.

It’s with a lot of excitement that we drove the 2 hours separating Drummondville, where we are based, to the city of L’Épiphanie, where the festival would take place. A humble place, dimly lit as the sun was slowly going down, where music was loud, but a place where you could still sense the laughter through it all. A place that felt like family right away. This is what it felt like to me; these huge outdoor family reunions, where people usually gather around a campfire and eat corn on the cob. But this time, what was gathering people wasn’t any family bond. There was no need for that. What was gathering people was music, and this hope that something could be changed in this world, starting by our very own actions.

Your Favorite Enemies got on stage, filled with excitement and welcomed by the screams of the crowd. The show lasted for 90 minutes. And it’s been a wonderful 90 minutes. Meaningful, and powerful. I guess you could say that every concert from YFE is just that way. But that night, it was that little bit more special. It’s hard to explain, but I think that with everybody having the same desire in mind before the show even started made the flow of emotions even stronger than usual, right from the start. People were jumping in the crowd, Alex had a little boy get on stage with him, and as the show ended with the drums being dispieced and thrown into the crowd, one of the organizer joined in and did crowd surfing. The show ended in a rage of applause and screams for an encore. Unable to get back on stage, we did the classic YFE encore: spending time talking with everyone after the show! The band members took pictures, signed albums and t-shirts, and talked, talked, talked! Even though the show ended around 11:30pm, we didn’t leave until well past 2am.

We got home it was 4:30am. But somehow, even though the ride had been very long to come back, much more so than to go there, but we just couldn’t sleep. The tension was still too high! Thank you for making of this moment such a wonderful one, for making of the night one that will never really be over!

See you guys for the next concert, in Drummondville, on August 27th at the Festival de la Poutine! In case you do not already have your tickets, they are available here!

– Stephanie

A Multicolored Crowd United as One

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

We arrived at the Otakuthon not knowing what to expect. It was our first presence at the Otakuthon, and on my side, I had never even heard the name of it… In Japanese, “otaku” has somewhat of a negative meaning, and it was hard to get past it, to be honest. What would it be like? Would people enjoy music at all, or will they all be about video games and manga and anime?

The room was huge and filled with rows of empty chairs. The stage was empty. The room was really bright. It was clean. It didn’t smell of booze and sweat like other venues, that, as clean as they are, are still impregnated with every emotion that is being lived within their walls. Even backstage was sparkling clean – you didn’t feel bad for sitting on the couch in the artist room. Somehow, it felt kind of strange to be here. Especially the chairs. What would people do sitting on chairs during a concert? That was meant to be no conference at all…!

Sound check went well. Usually, we use up all the time we have for them, and more. But not this time. It just felt right, right away. The team was professional, they knew what they were doing, and they were able to give the guys what they wanted in terms of sound right away. We quickly went backstage, relaxing, eating, and warming up before the show would start, 2 hours later.

And then the show started. The empty seats weren’t empty anymore, filled instead with high excitement and color. The room was finally back alive. People gave this room a soul of its own, bringing in who they were. After a short introduction, the band got on stage. Alex’s first words were to invite people to get up and come to the front of the stage. “And there goes my freedom of movement for pictures”, I thought. Nonetheless, I was happy to see everybody rushing in to the front, the rows in the back probably very happy to have a chance of seeing a little better!

The show lasted 2 hours. I have NEVER seen Alex jump like this on stage, from left to right, back in the middle, and from left to right, and back in the middle again. There was a very special flow of energy that was going on from the stage to the crowd and back again. But I think what I will always remember is when everybody got on stage. There was no band, no crowd no more. Everybody was jumping on the stage – so much it made me afraid it would break down. The last time people actually got on stage in such a fashion was in Tokyo, in 2011.

But I think what will truly remain within me is what Alex said while he was on stage. How important it was to be who we truly are, without fears, without masks. As colorful as we are, sometimes from colors we do not know, or do not want to accept. And in such a conference, I think it was truly befitting. Because what was going on was REAL. As different as people were, everybody was welcoming, and the only thing you could see around were smiles. And this is what was going on at the concert as well. We didn’t want the moment to stop. And I guess that after a 2 hour show, this is why we stayed about just as long talking with the people before going back home, very late at night, or very early on the next morning, depending on your perceptions 😉

We left early in the morning. Once again, the day would be packed. Q&A session, signing session, and then judging at Otakuthon Idol. The Q&A went well. We talked about the creation of the songs for the soundtrack of the game “Dissidia: Final Fantasy”, yes, but mostly about “being real” and true to who you are… I guess that was the keyword for the weekend. We have been gently “kicked out” of the conference room after everything went black, letting us know in a quite radical way our time was over, and that we needed to move to the next event: signing sessions.

We were allowed 1 hour for that autograph session. It took over 2 hours. Once again, we had to be kicked out in order to move away…! It was so much more than only a “signing session” however. The discussions were deep, real, intense. And though I was watching from a distance, taking pictures, I could feel just how real everything was, and how mutual the feelings were.

And then came time for Otakuthon Idol. Jeff – who can’t sing a single note on pitch, and who seems to reinvent what a scale is every time he sings – was to judge. He did good, despite probably being more stressed than all of the contestants…! A whole bunch of talent was there, once again, without a mask, without fear. And it was truly inspiring to see.

We finished the day with the closing ceremonies, where we could see the complete team of volunteers at the Otakuthon! Thank you, to each and every one of you, volunteers and attendees, for making this such a wonderful event. It might have only been our first time, but we do understand how meaningful this has become for everyone, and for us as well.

PS: Here are some of the pictures I took during the autograph session. If you remember me taking one and don’t see it here, don’t hesitate to tell me so I can send it to you 🙂

– Stephanie

Festival d’été de Québec, all smiles!

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Uncategorized

We left for Quebec City early, as Alex had several interviews on schedule before sound check time. Already, on the road, Jeff caught a call for an interview. It lasted a few minutes only, and though I was in the back of the car and couldn’t see his expression, I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was really happy and enthusiastic. About the interview, maybe, but about the whole day that was up ahead. The same vibe was coming from Alex, sitting in the passenger’s seat. There was no nervousness at all, which would have been pretty normal. After all, it would be the band’s first time at the Festival d’été de Québec, the biggest and oldest festival in Canada. Day after day, the band had been rehearsing in our church/studio/home, trying to figure out what the setlist would be. We were only allowed a 45-minute set, and I think that it was the biggest challenge. After the first draft of the setlist, in which they included “only the short versions of the songs we must play live”, they were well over the 60-minute mark. Then followed a puzzle of songs and their successions, to make sure everything would be as smooth and quick as possible. They got everything down to 45 minutes. Until they realized that such a setlist didn’t even allow them to say “hello” to the crowd at all, nor introduce any song, let alone talk with people. And there we went again! Some more changes! The final setlist that was decided was as follows:

– Satsuki Yami
– Empire of Sorrows
– Midnight’s Crashing
– Would You Believe
– A View From Within
– From the City to the Ocean
– Killing Another (a cover from The Cure the band started doing during their tour “Outside It’s America”)

And then, rehearsal time, fine tuning absolutely everything. You cannot imagine how much care is put in the slightest details with these guys! Even though there was a true pressure of finishing on time, the vibe was always cool, easy-going, but not taken lightly. Done in the middle of the church, at sunset time very often, the view was quite spectacular! It all ended with a toast between the band members, to what had happened between them during these rehearsals, and to everything that was to happen.

We reached Quebec City, and already, the lady who would do the first interview was already there, waiting for us. We quickly checked in, and as Alex started the interview, the others headed to Starbucks for a well needed coffee! The schedule was tight. There were only 20 minutes between every interview. The ones that had longer gaps needed us to move to the radio stations directly. And believe me, we made it tight, but on time, everywhere we went! We shared wonderful moments with every interview we did, and truly enjoyed ourselves. Though we could all have been stressed with the schedule, it all went smoothly, we took things as they came, and laughter was always at the rendez-vous!

And then came soundcheck time. Of the 3 bands playing on the Loto-Quebec stage that night, we were the last ones to sound check. That’s how it always goes – soundcheck order is opposed to stage appearance order. We were given 1 hour for sound check, but barely used 30 minutes. Everything sounded great, everyone could hear what they were playing. It’s always a huge relief when sound check goes well, you start with a positive for the show that is to come. And let’s be honest, the crowd that gathered behind the fence (the festival site wasn’t yet open to public) to cheer us up during the soundcheck made things that much better, too!

We then went backstage, in a little caravan only for us! The guys ate, got changed, talked about the show to come, about the people they couldn’t wait to see once more. Then everybody went their separate way, warming up for the show that was now only minutes away! Moose drummed on a towel placed on a coffee table, Miss Isabel and Alex did their singing exercices, while Ben, Jeff and Sef went outside jumping and kicking around. A quick word of encouragement all together, and there we went, it was time to get on stage!

And then it was show time. And it went fast, very fast! Too fast. The band was nowhere to be seen on stage yet, but as the announcer pronounced “Your Favorite Enemies”, you could hear a delirious crowd, excited and waiting for them. All over the place, t-shirts of the band were popping out. People taking days off, driving for hours in order to see us. The festival site was packed. The tension in the air was tangible, but had nothing to do with the thunderstorm alerts that took place that night.

The media pit was occupied by several people, but large enough that it would still be comfortable for us all to move around. Even there, you could see people were looking forward to the show. Some already knew the band, while others were shooting them for the first time. “I was so focused getting the shots, as they kept coming and coming, that I didn’t even pay attention to the songs they were playing”, a friend told me after the show. And I do understand the feeling! The guys are stage beasts, nothing less. They know how to fill up a stage, to make it alive, and to let the passion they live transcend to the crowd, making everything feel as one.

The show went well. Very well. I remember being in the pit, looking up at the guys on stage, unable to stop smiling. This was it. They had it. This show was their best one EVER. And you could feel how happy they were on stage, too. From accomplice looks between them all, Alex’s defying glare as he sang to us, going on the PA system more than once, and even crowd surfing once, Sef and Jeff shouting at one another while playing and laughing, Ben coming to the edge of the stage, a foot on the wedge, Sef’s hair flowing all over the place, Alex head banging with as much sweat as hair flowing around him, Jeff jumping everywhere, Ben’s indescribable facial expressions, Moose focused and steady on his drum, Jeff singing all the lyrics while smiling, Sef moving much more than he usually would, Miss Isabel’s confident playing, to the wink Alex gave me as he looked down briefly, as if to tell me “I’m having fun!”. Over time, these are all things I have learned to look for in concerts. I know if one’s missing, something’s not right. Ok, the wink was a first, but for the rest, they’re all things you’ll learn to recognize in their interactions on stage as you get to see them more and more often!

One of the best moments, though, the moment that made that show completely magical, was when the rain started pouring, gently yet steadily, as soon as the first notes of the song “From the City to the Ocean” had been played, as if heavens themselves were approving of everything that was going on that night, telling the band “way to go, never look back, you won’t ever find yourself alone”.

It’s with smiles brighter than stars that the band members got backstage after the show. But the night wasn’t yet over. Despite the very long day they already had, they had also organized a private after party at the Dagobert, where Alex would be the DJ. We got there at 11:45pm, and the party kick started at midnight, lasting well over 2:30am, and would have lasted some more wasn’t it of the curfew we had already gone over…! Mosh pit, crowd surfing, and crazy dance moves were at the rendez-vous with a playlist that was as diverse as there were people. It was a blast, that’s the least we can say! Something to do once more? Probably, yes! Until then, we will miss you, Quebec City!

Don’t forget, we will also be playing at the following events this summer! Make sure not to miss your chance to see the band live!

August 8th – Otakuthon @ Palais des congrès de Montréal
August 22nd – Rock Fest pour la Santé Mentale @ L’Épiphanie
August 27th – Festival de la Poutine @ Drummondville

– Stephanie

Southern Hospitality, Texas Way!

Written by Your Favorite Enemies. Posted in Outside It's America

One last stretch to our tour “Outside It’s America – Where Dreams Hang In Wonders” took place in Texas. It started in Houston, followed by San Antonio, Dallas, and ended in Austin, where our trip also began a few weeks earlier…

Eating habits and local specialties do change when you change state, and they’re all proud of it. They say the more you go South, the more oil they use (and probably the tastier it is – I’ll leave this to the expert in the matter, no one else than Jeff). Yet, seeing a sign that so graciously did the promotion of “fat” left me a little puzzled. I mean, the sign is really inviting. But were “Happy Fatz” really the right words to use? This was the very first thing I saw on my way to the Starbucks in Houston. And I must say half of it was true. The people we met in Houston all were on the happy part of the sign, and they all did bring sun in what has been a rainy day!

We went back to the venue, where something a little different was waiting for us – fresh pastas! Not bad for a touring band, right? We’ve had a lot of sandwiches, too, and I guess that this is life on the road for us! A huge thank you to Sef and Moose who cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, making sure everyone was pleased with what they had (in other words, making sure the picky eater in me would like it, and that there was nothing Alex couldn’t eat 🙂 )

Back in the bus before the show. As funny as it may be, even though there have been green rooms / dressing rooms in most of the venues we have been to, we ended in the bus most of the time. This dear bus we’ve started calling “home” sometime along the tour. I can’t say when that happened, but I can clearly remember the moment we all realized it; when Alex said “Ah no, let’s not go out, let’s go back home instead, and let’s spend time together there. We’ll create our own fun, and we’ll give it the spirit we want”. We all looked at each other and laughed, realizing that for all of us, this bus has been home for 3 weeks…

Conrad was waiting for us inside with something he wanted us to try, a new drink nobody had tried before. Called calimocho, it mixes cola and red wine. Yes, you read that right. The wine lovers in us cringed, but we tried it anyway. Surprisingly, we didn’t dislike it, and tastes somewhat similar to sangria. Got a not so good wine? Mix in some cola, and add slices of oranges to save the night! 😉

The show in Houston was the first one of the tour, one we greatly enjoyed, and that we will forever remember! We didn’t know what to expect, really. And we were in for quite a party. It was our first time there, and people were incredibly welcoming. We could also meet with some old-time friends for the first time, which made it quite special. We often say that what truly defines a moment is what is shared with the people, and this concert has been no exception!

And then after that came San Antonio. This actually went by in a flash. It had started raining all over Texas the previous night, and it hadn’t stopped when we reached San Antonio. We decided to go to a Starbucks that was close to the Alamo, and so opted for the one that was marked in Alamo Heights. Neither did we know it had nothing to do with the Alamo at all, and that it was a very residential district…! We settled in anyway, and had a truly wonderful time. We might have seen nothing of San Antonio at all, but there’s always next time, and nothing beats a good time all together!

The show went well, very well. I can’t remember much of the show, as it was quite “uneventful”, but nonetheless a very good show. I do remember though that my highlight was the fact I managed to take a picture of Alex as he jumped at the beginning of the song “Midnight’s Crashing” for the very first time of the tour. It took me 17 shows to make one, and I must say I was very, VERY happy about it!

And then came Dallas… The second to last show of the tour. It was hard to believe that so much time had gone by already, that we had played all these shows, and that only 2 of them were left. It was great to meet with people we had seen in 2008, when we played SXSW, and some others we had talked to for many years but never met before.

We hit Austin the next morning with a certain nostalgia. I mean, the last concert of the tour would be tonight. And even though we knew, we couldn’t really feel like it. Were we tired? Yes, of course. But did we want it to end? No! We couldn’t imagine, understand, or realize that the tour was already so close to being over…

We walked the streets of Austin, remembering some great moments we had shared previously in Austin, seeing the famous Maggie Mae’s, where we played the first time we were in Austin. But all this wandering in the streets had one very specific goal: to find something we could use to raise our glasses to the end of this tour.

On our way back, we couldn’t help but laugh at how we cheer with some whisky while eating sandwiches all day long. We raised our glasses to the wonderful moment we have spent together. The tour has brought us to discover not only what was outside, America for instance, but especially what was inside. These relationships that we have all together, that we share, and that are the most wonderful things we will ever be able to discover.

And then the concert! The very last one. The concert has been amazing! The guys were raging on stage. It was the last concert of that tour, yes, but the emergency they had was amazing. You could feel this tension, as if they said to every one in the audience “we were here 8 years ago already, but we’ll make sure you do not forget us and make us come back sooner than that next time”. It’s been an incredible show! I can remember seeing Alex kicking around on stage, and seeing he was getting close to the wedge, I thought “if he climbs on there, then I need to be in the best position to take pictures”. He didn’t climb; the wedge fell on me before that. But oh well, I am happy he wasn’t the one to fall down as it happened to him before in Montreal…! The concert has been a wonderful one! A true celebration with people from all over the world, sharing what we have that is most precious: ourselves.

“There’s no time like YFE music and family time!! AWESOME!!!! Only YFE ends a concert with this kind of communal explosion!!” – Elizabeth, Knoxville, TN

“I have discovered you guys 1 year ago on Spotify, and I have been following you since then. I know Trail of Dead, and I have seen them countless times, more than I can remember, but tonight, I came to see YOU guys. There was no way I would miss this show!” – Johnny, Austin, TX

“It was beyond belief. I turned around and Sef was right behind me. I hugged him really hard and cried like a baby” – Brenda, Perris, CA

“So blessed to have been part of this, it happened like a blink of an eye. I know I will see you again. Thank you for being so amazingly awesome you rock my world.” – Reyna, San Diego, CA

And it ended where it all began, in Austin, on a ranch where people became family to us. After such an intense tour, it’s been good to spend a few days relaxing… and relaxing, we did well! We played with the horses, embracing what life on a ranch is all about, went vinyl shopping, spent wonderful moments around the table eating some food; mac and cheese, Texas famous barbecue, and the ever popular tacos!

Once again, thanks to each and everyone of you. I think I can say that so far, this tour has been the best one we’ve ever had. Not because the guys played better than they usually do. Not because there were more people at the shows. But because of who we’ve decided to become; us. We all look for something in life; a better job, longer vacations, better looking clothes, cooler sunglasses. But throughout all of this, I think that everybody’s lifelong challenge is finding who they are, truly. I know that for me, at least, it has been. Being surrounded by 20 people everyday is something that is fantastic, but that can also cause you to wonder what it is you have to bring to the people around you, and what your place in that family is, wondering why you’re there. It’ll be different for everyone, as everybody leads a different life, in a different context; but we all want answers to these things we cannot understand. But as we had our last toast in the bus, I have realized that the answers to all of my questions would never be “outside”, but “inside”. And that all around me, I had on a daily basis 20 people to remind me who I was truly called to be, and countless more people, some I have never even met, but to whom I talk to on a regular basis and still call family… And for me, this is what “Outside It’s America” has been all about; finding myself through my people. And this is what I hope you will be able to do as well. As truly, there is no greater gift than the one of knowing you are loved, and be able to give love back in return.

– Stephanie