Witness (French band)

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Paco, Gil, Man, Cyril, Thierry.jpg
Witness during recording of "Grimace"
Background information
Origin  France (Le Mans)
Genres grunge
Years active 1989—2001
Labels Arcade Music, Wit Prod
Members Cyril Mercier
Pascal Berthault
Gilles Laurent
Emmanuel Berthault
Yann Kaddachi
Past members Partrick Bourgoin
Denis Cochin

Witness was a French grunge band. The band start in 1989 and created two albums (Smooth and Grimace) and 3 EP (Witness, Elec-oustic and Word Give). Witness split in 2001.


WITNESS was created in 1989 and was composed of former members of BLUE BIRD. Their music is mainly based on the seventies’ Blues Rock and Hard Rock. The original line-up was: Cyril as vocalist, Bob as drummer, and Paco and Manu shared guitar and bass guitar. At the time, the band played some gigs on small stages. Eventually, Paco moved definitely to guitar, while Manu officially became the band’s bass guitar player. The band enlarged its playlist and performed more and more often in its home region, the Sarthe, but also in Brittany. WITNESS took part in various festivals and opened for CALVIN RUSSEL. Around 1992, many important events occurred: the band played a lot of concerts (72 in just one year), recorded an entirely DIY demo cassette (First Shoot), and turned more toward hard rock. The following year, WITNESS hits the road and opens for alternative rock bands throughout France, playing in several festivals.

In 1994, the band recorded a darker 5-track disk named after the band, played for 15000 people at the Mans’ 24h motorbike race and adds many festival concerts to their list. The band’s style then became more grunge-like and they recorded another DIY cassette: the 8-song Smooth. This work was followed by a 15-track album having the same name in 1996, released by Move On Prod. Gilles, who had already played guitar on some recordings, became a full-time member of the band soon after. This 5-members line-up appeared on stage during Rennes’ Transmusicales that same year, as well as in other occasions. In 1997, the members of the band shared an unplugged experience in bars and show-cases that can be heard on Elec-oustic.

WITNESS hit the studio during January 1998 to record Grimace, many guests contributing to this definitely electric album. Unfortunately, Bob was severely injured in May. Dennis became the drummer for a while before leaving the job to Yann, who had already helped out with percussions on Grimace. Bruno, who played the keyboards parts on the album, shared a few stages with them before taking part in some further recordings. Bob returned as a drummer in 1999, even though he was still suffering from the effects of his accident. The band then recorded a few demos in its home-studio, in order to prepare the Avatar album. The band performed on stage for a while, but Bob was forced to leave his drumming to Yann once again during spring 2000, his handicap making it difficult for him to endure the band’s long sets and unleashed live energy.

Soon after, the band published a 4-track demo. The recording sessions for Avatar took place from summer 2000 on until 2001 at the MASTER STUDIO with Thierry Chassang, who had already worked on Grimace. The band released a 3-tracks demo the same year. WITNESS opened for POPA CHUBBY for the Mans’ 24h and gave its last concert in September, before dissolving 2 months later.

The near-complete album Avatar will unfortunetely not be finished and remains unpublished. The media only took small interest in the band, apart from a few positive articles in rock magazines and an appearance on a local TV.


  • Cyril Mercier: vocals (1989-2001)
  • Pascal Barthault: guitar (1989-2001)
  • Gilles Laurent: guitar (1996–2001)
  • Emmanuel Berthault: bass, vocals (1989-2001)
  • Yann Kaddachi: drums (2000–2001)
  • Patrick Bourgoin: drums (1989–2000)
  • Denis Cochin: drums (1998)



  • 1996: Smooth
  • 1998: Grimace


  • 1994: Witness
  • 1997: Elec-oustic
  • 2001: Word Give


  • 1992: First Shoot


  • 2008: We Were Born To Destroy

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