Interview for Metal1.info
Answered by : Syriak, December 2011
Hey! First of all thanks for taking time for this interview! How are you?
I’m fine thanks, really busy with all sort of things but it’s all good !
“Fables Of The Sleepless Empire” was released some months ago – as far as i’ve seen, the press reaction was amazing. Did you expect that, and what are the main differences between the press reaction to this album and to your last one?
Indeed the reaction has been overwhelming and we’re getting a lot of great reviews. In general, our previous album “In a Flesh Aquarium” also got amazing reviews at the time so it seems like history repeats itself, to our greatest joy
The difference would be that we were more unknown at the time and IAFA came as big surprise for everyone as it was our fist album released on a major label on an international scale.
Now with “Fables of the Sleepless Empire” people were already aware of us and expecting something that would go further and beyond what we already created. I guess that some people must have been wondering if we were a one-trick pony kind of phenomenon, but we just proved that it’s not the case !
You released the album on your own, without a label. Why did you do that, and what are the main pros and cons of that decision?
We wanted to have control over every aspects of a release and actually learn all the different steps to really understand what’s going on. Of course it takes a lot of time and energy but it’s also extremely rewarding to reap directly from what you sow. I guess it’s the same feeling a farmer may have when he’s eating his own products. You see the whole process from A to Z, appreciate the time and devotion it takes to complete, and at the end, it tastes even better.
Do you believe, that the classical band-label-structure of the business is obsolete and the self-promoting/releasing-system is the future of the business?
I don’t think it’s completely obsolete and the metamorphosis of the industry has not yet been completed. There’s still a need for labels as there are a lot of bands who are not organized enough to pull it off. There are more and more tools and ways of doing business for bands wanting to go solo but it’s still an emerging phenomenon. The DIY wave will be sweeping more and more bands in its wake and the following years will be quite interesting indeed.
Let’s talk about the album now… Concerning the music I am used to start my interviews like this: Please describe your new album in one sentence! And i’m really anxious to read your answer to that, I could imagine, thats not an easy one for a band like UNEXPECT
An audio microcosm; A receptacle of evolving ideas with enough meat to feed all treasure hunters of this free thinking bubble. Am I clear ?
I think, “Fables Of The Sleepless Empire” is a very nice title with many possible ways to interpret. What’s your interpretation of it?
The “Fable” term came easily as our lyrics are most of the times very metaphorical and subject to double meanings. A fantastic and surrealist survey of our fast paced system. The Sleepless Empire would be a parallel world to the one we live in…where productivity, individuality and greediness unfortunately becomes more and more the norm. This album can actually be seen as a collection of modern Fables.
What are the lyrics about? I read most of them, but all in all they are not very easy to “understand”. Is it more a feeling or a message, you want to bring to the listener with the lyrics?
I guess it’s both…my lyrics are extremely mischievous and I love playing with words and surreal images. In a lot of cases, after reading some of my sentences, someone will be left only with feelings and a vague impression of a possible meanings and that’s quite all right! I like to be meaningfully opaque; for people to craft themselves a personal opinion of the underlying meanings.
The lyrics are filled with personal ideas and messages but the main idea is not to make them clear. I prefer to create a literary universe that can live on its own and morph with different reader’s minds in unique ways. For example, a song like Unfed Pendulum is actually talking about an imagination in lack of inspiration. When said, with that kind of thematic key, it can be easier for someone to fathom what I’m trying to say. I know that this is not for everyone, but just like our music, they’re little challenges for the curious of minds who like to be intellectually stimulated.
The lyrics are very long and elaborated, so it’s obvious that you spent a lot of time writing them. I think, most of the people who listen to music don’t care about the lyrics. How important are the lyrics as a part of UNEXPECT’s art? Is it possible to “understand” the album without knowing the words of the songs?
Like I just mentioned, I perfectly know that a lot of people don’t care about the lyrics at all…so more the reason to actually make them special and deviously entertaining for those who are actually interested. I won’t write lyrics just for the sake of sticking easy words on music just so people can sing along and remember everything easily…I don’t have an interest in doing that. Creating an album like ours is all about feelings and as it happens that I find literature to be another great tool to convey those, I always wanted to ally the beauty of words with the beauty of music.
But then, it’s not necessary to know the words or lyrics to really enjoy the album. The music is enough to fill someone with all the necessary factors that can result in an unadulterated and total appreciation. Words are just an additional layer that will spice up the whole experience but again, it’s not for everyone and I personally think the recipe is already good enough to eat without any seasonings.
Like the title, even the artwork seems to show something very tangible without showing anything tangible, if you know what I mean. What’s your interpretation of the artwork, who did it, and why do you think, is that the perfect artwork for the album?
I don’t know if there’s something like a perfect artwork for a given album…it can be so many different things. That’s one of the hard decisions to make when releasing an album because the artwork becomes indefinitely associated to the music and kind of influence the listening forever after. Just a simple choice of color can influence the listening experience so it’s always a tearing to choice to make. Just think about “Enter Sandman” if the Black Album would have been green…
Anyways…when we saw this piece by the Spanish Artist Mario Sanchez Nevado, we knew there was something going on. There’s a unique serenity and sense of equilibrium glowing from it even if the character seems to be made out of living chaos. It made me think about our music…a vast sonic-scape containing elements of both calm and craziness, all in the purpose of achieving a whole and profound result.
In the booklet you write very detailed, how disjointed the album was recorded. Is it more a bug or a feature of your working methods, that you don’t record the album in one go in the studio?
Actually, the recording has been disjointed like that for a few reasons, but it has nothing to do with our usual working method. We booked the studio quite last minute and had to take what time was left on the studio’s schedule. Guitars and Violins were recorded in home studios to save time between each recording sessions and the song “In the Mind of the Last Whale” was a special project we created collectively on the side. The fact that we love to constantly rework our songs until last minute also makes that we sometimes go back to change details, go to friends studios to add some layers and such. Seems like this work out for us !
It’s your third album now… what changed, and what will never change in UNEXPECT?
You never know…
I guess we’ll always change on the whims of the collective. Everybody in the band is a big music fan and constantly discovering new bands and music genres. Since we want to create what we like, there’s always new influences added to the melting pot.
I think the best answer to your question would be that the only thing that will never change in Unexpect is the fact that we’ll always change and evolve into something else.
Could you please look back for us to the beginning of UNEXPECT: How does a band like that emerge? How get seven people together, who like to hear and are able to play that kind of music?
When the band first started, most of the members were already friends since a couple of years. Exod, le bateleur, Merzenya and I were going at the same classical musical school so we already shared a taste for the same bands. For some strange reasons, except for the drummer position, it always has been quite easy to find the right persons to fill the roles in the band. When Zircon and Elda quit the band in 2001, Leilindel and Chaoth stepped in very fast as they were already good acquaintances of ours. Same thing when le bateleur left, we found Borboën right after from another friend. I know it seems hard to think that it would be that easy to regroup that many persons with such varied tastes and capacities and keep them together, but it is what it is.
Exod left the band not too long ago. Could you tell us a bit about the reasons for his decision, and how it affects the future of UNEXPECT?
Will he be replaced, and how difficult is it, to find someone to fill this gap?
Exod was talking about leaving the band for a while before he actually left so it was not a surprise.
It was mainly because he wanted more time to work on his personal project I Fury which is more electronic. We parted in good terms and there wasn’t any animosity…it was just time for him to try other ventures.
We don’t have plans to replace him yet as we’ll be taking care of the keyboards and sampling for the moment. A couple of members are at ease with a keyboard ( including Leilindel and I ) so we may want to continue as a 6 members band. Of course there will always be keys in Unexpect, as it is too much a big part of our sound and I love it. We’ll see what the future holds.
Is there a big prog metal scene in Canada? If yes: Which bands would you recommend fans of UNEXPECT?
There are quite a lot of original bands hailing from Canada…to name a few I would say Devin Townsend, Protest the Hero, Augury, Martyr.
Exod has a new project now that you recommend in your booklet. Could you tell us a bit about I Fury?
From the little I’ve heard so far it’s really good ! Though it keeps this weirdish Unexpect signature, it’s completely different and completely on the electronic side of music. It’s hard to describe but I could try with something like : Orchestral Psy-Trance with a DarkProg touch.
Warning : If you don’t like to dance madly, well…I’ll announce that you won’t be able to hold back, so get those moves ready…;)
Listening to UNEXPECT, it’s not the first thing that comes to my mind is that it’s music to be played live. Was it an idea that came after some time, that you could try to play it on stage, or was UNEXPECT founded as a liveband?
It’s always been a liveband. Back in 1996, I actually joined the band because they needed a guitarist for a show. Of course, there was only Artagoth at that time and it sounded nothing like what we would become later on, but it still started as a liveband project.
Talking about gigs: Will there be a Tour in Germany in foreseeable future?
We’re talking with some people about coming in Europe next year and do some dates in addition to our participation at the Hellfest. We’ll be posting news about this when we get confirmations !
Ok, that was my last question concerning UNEXPECT. To end the interview, I would like to do the traditional Metal1.info brainstorming with you. Please select one of the two terms and explain in one sentence, why:
metal – jazz: I’ll say metal so I don’t get reviled by everyone…;) No…really, metal is definitely more part of my history and blood. Love jazz too though.
beer – wine: How can you do this to me !?! I’ll say both because I’ll feel bad if I choose one over the other. Such cruelty to ask someone to take side on this…
online magazine – print magazine: Online magazine because they seem to be more democratic. Like everything else on internet I guess there’ more freedom of speech in an online form.
bear – salmon: Never tasted bear, so I’ll go with Salmon…smoked on a cedar plank…hmmmm…
mp3 – vinyl: MP3 for the convenience of it. Vinyls are the perfect media from a collector’s point of view, but it doesn’t fit well in my pockets.
Germany – France: Haha…both great countries, but the best Doner Kebab I ever ate was in Berlin so…
winter – summer: I really am an Autumn kind of guy, but since I have to choose between freezing in the Canadian winter or sweating in Montreal’s summer oven…I’ll still go with Autumn.