INTERVIEW. Philippe Maneuver: “In rock, drugs have given absolute masterpieces”

the essential
“Clean” for twenty years, the rock critic Philippe Maneuver? 67 years old, continues the publication of his memories in “Flashback Acide”, a memory-trip of everything he has seen, tasted and experienced with the giants of rock. White nights and dark glasses protecting his eyes … brown green.

Flashback Acid, why a new book of memories?
Because one day, a reader of my previous book told me “it was very good, but you don’t talk about the drugs that are in rock, we really can’t say anything anymore. ‘hui’… I thought about it and I got down to it, you had to tell how a cocaine blizzard hit rock in the 80s, and it was an opportunity to remember all the greats that I could meet, David Bowie, Lemmy from Motörhead, Marc Zermati, full of fascinating people who had been on the white line.

David Bowie, whom you call the mastermind of rock?
Yes, because he was intelligent and extremely literate, interested in a lot of things. He could suggest to a journalist sent to Vienna to meet him to go and visit an Egon Schiele exhibition at the museum … In rock, he did everything, he took 180 ° turns, and he was one of the few. to continue to rise despite the surge of Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna who paralyzed the world of rock: temporary stoppages of the Stones and final of Telephone …
In my first encounters with Bowie, he turned a lot to cocaine. The interviews could last two hours, but he kept going to the bathroom to come out energized, it was only later that I understood. But when I find him in the 80s on the worldwide success of Let’s Dance, he walks a la Vittel, later it will be tea.

Did we discuss the rocker title with him, like Johnny?
It is true that when Johnny died, some people said “He didn’t rock”, and then Zermatti replied “Oh well, and what was it if it wasn’t rock?” », Coming from the organizer of the first punk festival in Mont-de-Marsan in 1976, it has passport value. I have always defended Johnny, it must be said that I was there in the 60s and therefore I saw the monumental slap he gave to the country.

Is it true that the Stones were going to have their blood changed in Switzerland …
It was Keith Richard who invented this [Il éclate de rire, ndlr]. It’s true that they wrote poisonous albums: the Sticky Fingers fly album is full of tracks on drugs, Bxrown Sugar, Sister Morphine, etc. These are important records that bear witness to a time when everyone went on epics to discover products. It was a way of facing loneliness, shyness for some, and finding refrains, notice that it gave absolute masterpieces. The Beatles’ Revolver album was designed around LSD, same thing for the first album of The Doors or Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix.

Combat sport, drugs?
Rather an indulgence. In the beginning, it was also a way of supporting tours that were experienced in terrible conditions, hanging on the backs of vans or in flight in cuckoos without WC. So we made a little rail before unpacking the gear and to learn that there were five to stake in a room. For decades, drugs have been the fuel of rock. Things calmed down, but it continued for a long time. We know the story of Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse disintegrated in two years before our eyes. In addition, she had sold 20 million albums, nobody in the record company would have gone to tell her between four eyes, Amy you kidding!

Haven’t you dived?
I almost crossed the line several times, but I hadn’t come here for drugs, just for music, to meet Mick Jagger or Led Zeppelin. And when I found myself leading a team at Rock & Folk [rédacteur en chef de 1993 à 2017] it was better to insure. I have known drug addicts in the team, it was very hard to help them drop out and not infect others. For me, the most difficult thing was to stop drinking, there I drooled, I say thank you to those who supported me.

Are you in favor of the decriminalization of cannabis?
I am only a spectator, but I see that the countries which have decriminalized are doing better, this is what I see in Holland since 1976, and in Switzerland now. The ban on soft drugs in France leads to the world record for the number of users [en proportion de la population].

By closing your book, we tell ourselves that rock is over!
Yes, it is atomized. The last rock group signed by a major was in 2008 with the BB-Brunes. Since then, not a rock group has been signed with the giants that are Universal, Sony or Warner, My next book may be that, what happened to rock’n’roll?

Why do the record companies no longer believe in it?
I think that by hearing the demands of rockers who were anything but lambs and who did not want to be on television, the record industry said to itself, “We’re going to work with the rappers instead, they love music. TV ”. The idea then circulated around the world that rock was a twentieth century thing. But I am reassured when I see that 4,000 fans want to play Rockin’1000 next May at the Stade de France in front of 50,000 spectators.

We meet few women in your story, but there is Virginie Despentes, your companion at the time …
She’s the greatest rocker in literature, a post-punk Balzac! But Vernon Subutex, that’s not me.

To read: Acid Flashback, 263 pages, € 19.90, Robert Laffont