After the concert at the Endstation in Winterthur, we are speaking with guitarist
Mr. J-F Dagenais: Welcome back in Switzerland, J-F!. What do you feel when you play in Europe and which are your expectations for the next
gigs in Germany and in UK?
I'm always amazed every time we come back here, that people still support the band, every CD has a good impact and people are really into the set. It is very surprising, cause the album has been out for 2 years and still people are really into the songs and stuff. Yeah, i appreciate Europe, always wait to be back here, can't wait to be to London and Scotland, because in Scotland i have a lot of friends they live there, I know a band there they're called Man Must Die and i spent a whole month at Glasgow and Scotland with these
guys, i'm very looking forward to meet them again.
Congratulation for having won the award as Best Metal Group at the" Canadian Indie Music
Awards", it's great!! Which are your comments, have you ever thought you could win?
For us it is kind of weird, cause the Canadian
Industry never release Northern Blast for some kind of reason. I think because we are an extreme
band for them, we are not really recognized by them, but now they started to see that we are a band
that is doing something, get good tours and tours the world that constantly, we have pretty hard
albums within every 2 years and they are starting to acknowledge that. We had there some pretty
commercial bands, you know , and we still won, so it's pretty amazing.
Related to this, there is an other awesome detail, the song As I
Slither, from the album "Serenity and Fire", was included in the soundtrack of the movie "Alone in the Dark". Kataklysm together with Hypocrisy, Dark Tranquillity, Death Angel, Dew -Scented, Lacuna Coil, Mastodon, the best...
The amazing thing about the soundtrack is, that on the DVD itself we have the video on the Bonus Features, they choose only 6 bands out of the whole cd and we are one of them. I think there is the video from Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish, us and Hypocrisy on the DVD, so it is very good for us.
Would you like to compose music for movies too?
That's an interesting thing, yeah of course, i have my own studio now
home, so i could just sit down and write music. There will be a lot to do for all the instruments and
everything, but for me it's a lot of work, as lately i'm touring with the band 8 - 9 months of a
year and the rest of the year i'm on producing other bands in the studio, and we have written the new album in between all of
this. In the future maybe something interesting to do.
I have a question actually about your studio and your activity as producer of other bands. Which are these bands, and why those bands and not other ones?
I started doing the studio thing, because for me it was a little passion i had but also i needed
some money, because we are doing good money with the band, but it is not enough to live through a
year with the money i'm making, so i have to get another job, because i have to pay the bills and everything,
for me it was a way to stay in the music business to do this and it is cool cause i get a lot of
bands they wants to work with me now, so i get the time to pick the phone when i like to work with another
band and the other say, yes, i like your stuff, i want to work with you, so i was like, yeah, lets do it. So i did 2 records for
these guys, Misery Index, a lot of these bands are also been friends for a long time before, and i say lets do it together, it will be fun and they come and we have a little party for a month and it's very nice, but the
studio is growing up slowly and is getting better and more professional and hopefully the records in the future will sound even better.
Tonight we have listened to a new song (Crippled
& Broken), could you reveal us something about the next album?
Oh, it is very hard to do that, because the song we played tonight is not very
representative for the CD, because every song has it's personal identity, but what i can say is, the songs are very high energy at high tempo and lot of melodies, a lot of dark melodies, not happy melodies. Big power grooves and big riffing, lots of thrash elements also, it's different from every other record we have done, but everybody can know right away that it's us. I think it is a step of our career......
...yeah, an evolution, for us too, but it's still the same style but in the same time its not, so. Hard to describe, but i'm very anxious of people hear it.
The song Blood on the Swans shows some particular guitar distortions,
so which are the distortions and style in playing guitar that you prefer?
When we started writing this song, we wanted to really push everything together, extreme, and we came up with some crazy ideas, in maybe 45 minutes we wrote the whole song. As far as distortion, i think, we use pretty much the same effects and same setup for all the songs, but because of the difference in playing it might looking some other, but it is still the same setup. I like the sound starting to be clean, but at the same time to be bassy and powerful. If you do it too loud and powerful, it lacks to the cleanness to do our melodies and so we have to try to make it in a middle to get a good tone for the melodies and also get the tones for the big pounding bass.
By the way guitars, you have inked an endorsement deal with Ibanez guitars
I was very happy, because my old guitar was getting the sign to be old and doing all the tones dizzy, now the new one is amazing, all the notes are precise, it feels great to have a new instrument, but my old one... i had it for 8 years. for us,
buying good quality instruments is really expensive, like a guitar that cost about 3000 $, it is heart braking to put 3000 $ in a guitar. For the same amount of money i can pay my rent for 6 months and my bills and everything, so, to get the free instruments like that is not easy, but we have a deal and every 2 years they will give us 2 guitars and 2 bass, so we can keep the old one and make sure the other instruments are in shape Also the strings, we get the strings to play live and this is also expensive. You change your strings every night, it's like 10 $ for me and 30 $ for Stéphane. It is 40 bucks just for the strings every show and when you tour for 8 months it is still a lot of money we actually pay for this. I think , most people come to see the show but
don't realize the expenses a band has, to do this without a sponsorship. It works real for both, us to save some money on touring and the company show their instruments to the people, so i think it's a really good deal.
Let's speak about drumming, how is the story about Max coming back and Martin Maurais leaving the group?
Yeah, at the end of last year we did our last show with Martin, in December. We decided that way, because with the band we want to go somewhere else, i think for the next record,
we felt that also the chemistry was not working well, it worked on stage and on the CD, but it was not really what we wanted for us, so i just decided to do hard ways, and now he works on music with other people. We met Max,
...we played with him 8-10 years before that and so, he came back in the
band. Martin wanted to leave and Max wanted to come back, i was very happy about that. He had some problems in his life, but now they are solved, he is happy to play music again and we are very happy to have him back in the band.
Future projects beyond the new album (which is great)... No Mercy next year and maybe big tours, apart from the No Mercy one?
Now, we're still thinking about next year, everything get to be planned. Once the album is out we want to be on tour for a long time again, so
that's pretty much for to plan. We worked very hard for the record, in wintertime we start touring for another 9 or 10 months in the world. But from that there are no projects for the future yet. It is too much work at the moment.
Cover art for the next Album. You have invited fans, friends, designers what ever, all people
interested to create a cover art.
Yeah, there are a lot of artists, there is killer stuff around and you never hear about it, we are also tired of getting this thing we have done in the last 2 records, we want to try out something new, a new vision for the
band, also giving a chance to people that don't work in that industry to be able to get that art on a bigger level. For us, it made sense to do it, so we received about 400 covers from all over the world and there's
a lot that looks great, so we might take some of them for artwork and for T-Shirts and for other stuff. We have the DVD coming and we need an artwork for that. We received so many great artworks and we might use them for every stuff.
...so, the response is good!!...
..Yeah, it's very, very good. We were satisfied with the other
artwork, but this one is something different, something fresh, and i think there are
fans who maybe have the vision for the next one, so we will see.
Back to movies: "This is the life we choose, the life we lead and there is only one guarantee, none of us will see heaven" Album Serenity in Fire's intro, words taken from the movie
"Road to Perdition". Why?
Me and Maurizio liked the whole scene in the movie theater, we heard the line and, at the same time, we looked at each other and said "Yeah,
that's the beginning of the record"
And your personal road, as an artist, as man... is it a road to perdition, a road to salvation, or a road towards what?
I dont know, it's a very hard question to answer,
i think everybody in their life have a dream, have goals, experiences, done something of it and move on, maybe that will be, what it is for me.
How was the recent tour with Danzig?
It was an incredible tour we have done, you know, in the States, i can not believe how many people Danzig brings every night, all those rooms were packed and for us it was a great chance to play in front of different kind crowd they
don't know much about extreme music, so every time we go on , everybody looked at us like "what the hell is that"
, and we got lots of new fans, killer merchandise sells, a lot of CD's sold to people they
don't even know about that Metal before this tour, so it was a really good
opportunity we had. They chose us out of 36 bands they were on the list for this tour, they picked us out from all these groups. It was an honor
to do a tour with them, and i would do it any time in the future, because they treated us with respect and we had a great time on tour with them, so any time they ask again, we will be there.
Do you like cars?
No... not so much, i mean, i have a car that brings me from point
A to point B and it works. As long as it doesn't die, i'm happy with it.
Reading with attention the lyrics of Kataklysm, and in particular the lyrics of the first albums,
is quite blowing: nightmares, passages to another dimension, problematic of suicide... considering your logo and these lyrics , how strong is the connection between Kataklysm and the book Necronomicon?
Yeah, that's what Sylvain was into, this type of subject, he was really into, like the hell and the magic stuff, which was cool at that time. Now Maurizio has more
a psychological approach to the the songwriting. I like more the Maurizio style, but i'm happy that people like also the older stuff, because it is something we've done.
I'm really looking forward to see the result of the next record, because i have read the lyrics just in words, but to sing it live, i'm very curious to have the scene in front of me.
What is the song you prefer on the album "Serenity in Fire"?
Oh, i like a lot of For all our Sins, because i like the meaning of the lyrics and i also like the music, all of them
fits together so well. I like the whole song and i'm very happy with it. I also like the last song,
Under the bleeding Sun, it's the song i wrote, but it's not that
like it because i wrote it, but because it is a different song. Anyway I must say, that my favorite record, i think, is still
"Shadows & Dust" for some reason. I dont know why this one, but this is the one. But i like the new songs so far.
When you think of your career, do you feel that you have sacrificed something for it?
Yeah, you see, being in the music industry what we achieve a bit, i have enjoyed so much all the traveling and meeting the people, everywhere i have friends around the world i can visit, and i can invite people home to visit Canada, so
that's very cool, but of course we have sacrificed a lot, but we had so much in return and i'm very proud and happy of what we have done. Again, all of us lost jobs, girlfriends, everything along the way, because it is so hard to deal with this kind of life, the lifestyle is very hard, but, in the end, i'm very happy with what we achieved.
You can leave a message for your fans!
Yeah, people still support the underground and stuff,
that's amazing and i think, when you start playing this kind of music, you never know how long it's gonna last. Sometimes it's just a trend and people move on and listen to something else for some reason, but that's not all in Heavy Metal in general. It's always been here and i think it will always be, because it is a lifestyle, it's everything people are into it, and i think it's in their heart for the rest of their lifes. For me, i think it's amazing, so my message is, just
don't give up and still support, because i think this is a great lifestyle.
What would you say to a person, who tells you, you are mister metal number one?
I don't know, i don't see myself that way. I'm just like everybody else, some guy playing in a band, coming home, eating pizza and drinking beer with some friends, i
don't see myself as someone special, i'm just happy that people enjoy what we do.
Our last question is the typical gryphonmetal question: The Game. and the bands we interview for the second time
are invited to the Game of the Emptiness. I will suggest you an empty place and you should tell me, what or who you would put, as first thing or person, in this place.
The place for you is... an empty cage!
I would lock a lot of people in this cage, because there are a lot of assholes and stupid people in this world. I
don't have any person in particular, but i think any person who makes your life misery should be locked in this cage.
thank you so much, J-F!! \m/