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INTERVIEW JOHN WAITE 2013

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2013 - INTERVIEW KATAKLYSM Jean-Francois Dagenais

 

KATAKLYSM'S JEAN-FRANCOIS DAGENIS

TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

After more than 2 decades of extreme metal blasting it's way to fans around the world, Northern hyperblast masters Kataklysm are back with a new album "Waiting For The End To Come" and a world tour which kicks off in Australia in December. We spoke to guitarist JF Dagenais to discuss their latest effort and their longevity in the metal world.

 

 

Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, it's much appreciated.

 

 

JF: Absolutely, it's a pleasure.

 

 

Andrew: I just realized now that you guys have been around for over 20 years which is amazing! How does it feel to be around as long as you have and for the band to be still as successful as ever?

 

 

JF: It's really amazing, we never believed when we started this band that we would still be here together and I feel one of the reasons why we are still here is because we are really passionate about what we do. We really love what we do, we love touring, we love writing music, play our records, we love it all. I think that's what's kept us alive and especially having great fans. People have been supporting us since the start and that number kept growing and growing every year and I think we have the best fans in the world. They buy our stuff and come support us every time we are touring, it's amazing!

 

 

Andrew: The new album "Waiting For The End To Come" sounds fantastic, lots of groove and heaviness and melody. Can you tell us a bit about how the album came together?

 

 

JF: We wrote this album seperately. Basically we all live in different cities now, I'm based in Dallas, Texas and Maurizio (Iacono, vocals) is in Chicago and the other guys are in Canada and for us the writing process was...it's easier now with technology and the internet and stuff so I started writing riffs on my computer and then I would send that to Stephane (Barbe, bass) over in Canada. He would add to it and write more and send it back to me and I would take that and send it to the other guys to the drummer (Oli Beaudoin) and Maurizio. We wrote all the album pretty much like that or at least 80% of it and the last 20% we got together in Canada in the same room and pieced the last part of the puzzle together. It worked pretty spontaneously, we went into the studio and worked for another month and a half and a couple of weeks to mix and before we knew it we had the album finished and ready to go. I'm pretty happy with the results, I feel the stars were aligned on this one. We were looking back at things and I like the way it sounds and I like the way the songs are structured and pieced together and the performance of everything. I gotta say everyone gave their 200% so I'm very happy about that. The drums are flawless, the bass and guitar tracks I'm happy with and Maurizio's vocals are outstanding. I'm really happy with it.

 


 

 

Andrew: Was this the first time you had written and recorded an album seperately like that?

 

 

JF: Yeah usually what we did before is I had my own studio and everyone would come to the studio and plug into amps and write together and put the album together. This time we did it seperately but it felt like we were all connected because of Skype and the internet so it was the first time for us to work like that but it turned out really good so I'm looking forward to the next one already haha! I feel there's more I need to say, I'm looking forward to start writing new songs already!

 

 

Andrew: The lyrics on this album have a bit of a statement on how the world is right now but as a guitar player what inspired you for this album?

 

 

JF: I get inspired by many things like sometimes I'll just go and take a walk in the forrest and I'll get inspired by the way the scenery looks or I'll watch a movie or for instance the song "Fire" I got inspired by the old TV series "Twin Peaks" with my girlfriend and by the end I came out with riffs for "Fire" so I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes I'll play music and that will give me an idea to write a part and from there you build songs and that's the way I work. I try not to copy or listen to too much like, say extreme metal because I want to keep whatever I write unique. I try not to listen to too much new things out there because I don't want to copy things subconsciously, I want to create very unique songs and parts.

 

 

 

Andrew: The other thing on this album is the song "Elevate" which you did a video for, I heard it's linked directly to the album cover. Can you tell us what the connection is between the two?

 

 

JF: Yes when we wrote that song we were thinking about concepts for the new album and "Waiting For The End To Come" is about this old man that is on his death bed and he's waiting for death to come because he's about to die and he's reflecting on his life like what he did right, what he did wrong, what he had wished he had done and the things that matters and the things that don't matter in the end when you are ready to die. You're not going to take your belongings or your house to the other side and all that stuff and he's rejecting his past life so that's the concept of the album and that song "Elevate". That's what we try to explain and the video we added the zombies to it because we want to have fun and we needed it and we tried to explain the concept with that but that's more us goofing off in the studio but we wanted to explain the concept of the album as much as we could but in a fun way.

 

 

Andrew: And what came first, the idea for the song or the album cover?

 

 

JF: We started writing the song first and then the album cover came a little later. Peter Sallai sent us the artwork and thought it was perfect for what we were writing and that's what we gave to the producer as a guideline, 'That's what we want in the video, can you make it happen?' and he came up with a lot of crazy ideas. We went over to Serbia for 3 days, we shot everything and I was really happy when I saw the end result.

 

 

 

Andrew: I also noticed as a bonus track on the album there's a Sacred Reich cover "The American Way". Why did you pick this particular song to cover?

 

 

JF: That's a Maurizio and I thing. That was one of our favorite songs when we growing up and when we started Kataklysm we would sing it for fun in the practice part as a cover. When we decided to do a cover for this album we said why not do "The American Way" because it was one of our main influences back in the day but also because the subject of the track we felt is still relevant in today's time. It made perfect sense for the album so we decided to go ahead and just record it. It's our first cover ever to be recorded, it turned out good, I'm very happy. I also heard that Phil (Rind, vocalist) from Sacred Reich heard the song and he thought it was awesome.

 

 

Andrew: That's good to hear from the originators that you guys did a good job. Obviously your version is a little bit different to what they did but it's still good to hear feedback on it. Just looking back on your back catalogue there's a bit of progression from your earlier albums going to the later albums. Is it a conscious decision to go forward and try different things for each album or has it happened naturally over the years?

 

 

JF: I think it's the journey of an artist that you try to do your best with what you have and the way that you paint at a certain point in time. As a musician I like to think that we have gotten better over the years and you improve your skills on your instrument and also improve your skills as a musician like the way you see songs and structures and basically we try to do our best on every record. For me I got to do every album like it's one of my kids, you try your best and you want to do your best with it and it comes up the way it comes up for different reasons. I think you can see the musical journey and progression from a young artist in the early 90's trying to learn or master his art and then you get better at it and you go from there. I feel like the new album is our best work of art musically and also songwriting wise and also on our instruments. I think it's the best performance everyone gave in the studio so I'm very proud of this album.

 

 

 

Andrew: Yeah it sounds fantastic. It has a bit of everything that you guys have done over the years. Obviously it has a lot of groove and is heavy but there's a lot of melody on there as well which is always good to hear.

 

 

JF: Thank you! It was a goal of ours to try to keep the idea of the band, the roots of where we come from but at the same time include modern influences and who we are as musicians and artists today and that was always the goal. And I think we achieved it in a big way on this album.

 

 

Andrew: Of course you guys will be hittng Australia in December which we are looking forward to immensely. What can we expect on this tour?

 

 

JF: We're gonna give a good show and I'm glad that we are starting with Australia on this tour because we're going to be the headlining band and that gives us a longer set time to play a lot of new songs as well as the classics from the band. So we are coming in prepared with a lot of new and old stuff and we're going to come with a show with all the sound and lighting, we are working on a lot of stuff right now and we're coming with all we have so we're gonna give a good 200% and hopefully people come out and check us out. Last time we played Australia which was 4 or 5 years ago we had a great time so we are really looking forward to this run.

 

 

Andrew: Is this the first time you are headlining?

 

 

JF: No not in Australia, we were headlining last time as well. But we were supposed to go to the United States this month to support Sepultura and our set time was only 45 minutes and we were wondering what songs we were going to play as 45 minutes is not a long set time. But the tour got cancelled because they had problems with their work visa so they had to pull the plug at the last minute and now the tour is not happening. So we are officially starting this year with Australia.

 

 

Andrew: Well that works out in our favor as we get to see you guys first on this tour then!

 

 

JF: Yep!

 

 

Andrew: As mentioned before you guys have been around for a long time now. A lot of bands that have been around for as long as you guys have usually do some kind of anniversary thing like play one of their albums in it's entirety. Is this something that you would consider ever doing sometime?

 

 

JF: Yeah maybe in the future. I really like writing new music and to me that's one of the parts that I really enjoy is to actually sit down at home and come up with new songs. But I think we could do some kind of old material tour or say like what Iron Maiden did with Back In Time, like all those stuff so it might be neat later on to do a tour like that for sure.

 

 

Andrew: Which album from your back catalogue do you think you would play? I was thinking maybe "Sorcery" or "Serenity Of Fire".

 

 

JF: Yeah "Serenity Of Fire" I really like that record or "Shadows & Dust" would be a good one. "Serenity Of Fire" there's a lot of good things on there or maybe a medley of the older stuff (or play) each track from the old records and do an old classic type of tour, that would be an idea.

 

 

Andrew: Yeah definitely. Well it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. As I said the new album sounds fantastic and we are really looking forward to seeing you guys in Australia in December. Thanks again man!

 

 

JF: Awesome, thank you very much and thanks for your time.

 

 

 

Jean-Francois spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe November 2013

 

 

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