Interview with Paul Champagne and Kevin Church
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: November 22, 2008
Gévaudan are one of Ottawa's metal secrets, one of the most original bands in the area. Originally a one-man project releasing a single album so far, the band went through some hardships in terms of line-up. Very interesting guys, I chose the band to do my first ever in-person interview and, simply put, we had a blast (and it wasn't all beer-induced!... No really!) Lots of stuff to talk about, so grab a cold one and a comfortable seat and read on...
Michel Renaud: Paul, if I'm not mistaken, Gévaudan was your one-man side project while you were still with Mog Ruith. How did you come up to start the band?
Paul Champagne: I started the project probably around 2002 when I started playing around with software where you can program drums. When I was in Mog Ruith, the problem that I was having is that I couldn't get the songs to sound the way that I wanted. I wanted a more polished, really good production. So I took some of the Mog Ruith songs and a bunch of my own compositions and put it together, programmed all the drums and then went in the studio. It took me about two and a half years to record the album - which is 80 minutes. That's basically it, just to get a quality product out. It's just unfortunate that I couldn't do it in Mog Ruith.
MR: So you actually took some material that you had written for Mog Ruith?
PC: Oh yeah, there are songs on the Gévaudan album that are Mog Ruith songs. I just did them the way that I wanted them to sound, which was tighter...
MR: More melodic I guess? If you compare the two bands...
PC: Yes, more melodic. Mog Ruith is more Black/Thrash, and my album leans more towards Black Metal.
MR: The first album is quite varied in sound. What were your main musical influences when you wrote it?
PC: Well, my musical influences are from when I first started listening to metal going back to 1983 and I started listening to glam bands, then heavier stuff like 80s Thrash - Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, old Metallica, Megadeth. That's where my influences come from and I tried to incorporate that into the music, but as well also the early to mid-90s second wave Black Metal and I liked some of the European bands. I incorporated a lot of different styles to make this album. I would even go as far as to say some New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and even some classical.
MR: We can hear that on the album. You try to categorize it and it's like... "Ok, this is the predominant sound, but there's so much going on..."
PC: To quote Aaron Small when he reviewed the album, he said "it requires extreme sonic digestion to listen to the album" - I thought that was pretty good!
MR: Yeah I remember reading that review in BW&BK a while back... Can't remember what issue it was.
Kevin Church: It was issue #110 just a few months ago.
MR: How was the album received, I've seen a couple of overall positive reviews...
PC: It's doing pretty good. We have a great consignment deal with The End Records and we've managed to sell a few copies. We had to send a fresh batch last month because they ran out of CDs. It's going pretty good, but as far as promotion goes, we have to handle that ourselves. We don't have label support and this is something that we have to take care of. Whatever means we have such as Myspace or sending our CDs to radio stations, fanzines and magazines and hope that they review it, and follow up with them and see how it's going.
KC: Interestingly at the show last November we actually sold 9 or 10 albums.
MR: That's not bad when you consider that there were quite a few people there, but not all that many - and a lot of them just don't buy any merchandise. So, overall it's sold well... I saw you being dropped off by an extended limo up front earlier...
PC: Oh yeah, and prostitutes and cocaine. It's rampant man, we're living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle! *laughs* (Editor's Note: We're obviously joking at this point...)
MR: So you're doing everything by yourself for now. Are you looking for a label deal?
PC: It's something I'd like, to get signed to a label, but realistically when you look at it it's probably more difficult than I initially thought because there are so many metal bands today trying to get signed to a label. What really made me realize how many bands are out there was when Nuclear Blast did a competition to add one band to their roster and they had 3000 submissions. That's a lot of bands, so you really got to stand out. I don't know how to go about it, but we just hope for the best.
KC: We really put a lot of time and effort into all the materials that we've developed. We try to coordinate our mail-outs, so if we're mailing say to a bunch of labels in Eastern Europe, we try to mail them all together. The other problem is that there are a lot of labels now, a lot of independent labels and it's hard to know who to go to, and who's going to give us the most support. You don't want to sign to a label just because it's a label.
MR: A lot of bands are glad to sign with Nuclear Blast or Metal Blade, but sometimes they end up so low in the label's priorities that they may just as well have remained unsigned. Hey maybe you guys should start to suck?
KC: Yeah, we could start playing shitty music! *laughs*
MR: Exactly - play metalcore or something!
KC: Yeah and get a record deal overnight.
MR: But then could you sleep at night?
PC: I agree about the labels, and it's not because that there's a label out there... It might not be good to be on that roster. You actually have to pick and choose who you send material to and who you don't send it to. There are certain labels I probably wouldn't want to be on...
KC: Just knowing they wouldn't give you the attention you'd need...
PC: Exactly. It may be better, weighing the pros and cons, to just keep the consignment deal that we have with The End Records and do the promo ourselves at this point. We make a fair bit of money per sale through The End Records, while through a label, you're not making as much money. The only downside is with a label, you probably have more promotion depending on how much they want to promote you, set up tours...
MR: Yeah, with good enough sales they might get you on tour with one of their bigger bands.
KC: It's probably the only way to get on a festival these days. The labels are competing to get their bands on the bills of these major festivals that keep popping up.
PC: I noticed that a lot of the European festivals are including a lot of unsigned bands these days, not just bands that are on labels, which I find fascinating.
MR: A few months ago I saw that you guys took out an ad in BW&BK magazine. Do you know if it had any effect? Usually - we were just talking about label promotion - we see lots of ads paid by labels, not that much by unsigned bands.
PC: Well, what happened is that we initially contacted Tim Henderson to get on the Knuckletracks sampler, and it just so happened that at that point they stopped the sampler and replaced it with an online player. We were talking with Tim and he offered combining an ad and having one of our songs on the player for a month, and he gave us a great deal, so that's how that came about.
KC: He also promised to put us in Hot Flashes, which eventually happened.
MR: Yeah I saw you guys in that section, at least once. Have you had any feedback about that ad? Other than today? ;)
PC: *laughs* Other than today.. There wasn't as much as I'd hoped for...
KC: That's very hard to tell though...
MR: Of course, people won't necessarily say "I saw your ad". It's not like it said "mention this ad and you'll get a pair of underwear signed by Paul!"
KC: *laughs* Maybe next time!
PC: I was hoping for more album sales, but it just didn't happen. But I think as far as getting our name out there, it's picking up. There's a lot more traffic on our Myspace page which is a good tool, and hopefully in the next year or two we'll see what happens. Ideally it would be great to establish a "cult following"; that would be awesome.
KC: That's why it's hard to tell how much impact an ad in Bravewords has, because we use a lot of tools like Myspace, Facebook and other sites that are out there. It's hard to tell where people are hearing about us. One of the things we do is when we send friend requests to people, we try to initiate some conversation with them so they know we're not just some cheap band trying to get as many friends as they can. We actually want people to check out the music, listen to it, and maybe buy the album. And, like Paul said, maybe develop a cult following that way; and have people understand that we're real people and we're trying to make a go of it and we’re interested in people listening to the music.
MR: A lot of bands are now not only selling their music on CD, but also as downloadable music through legit distributors such as eMusic, iTunes, and also there's that new all-digital metal music label Metalhit.com and they focus on extreme metal, so I guess you would qualify. Is this a distribution format you are considering?
PC: I have to get on that actually and see if we can make the album available digitally. I was thinking we could start with iTunes and as you mentioned there are a couple of web sites or labels that offer this service, so it might be something to look into as well.
KC: From what we're hearing, at the end of the day it's more money in your pocket with downloads versus having an album on consignment.
MR: Yeah well there's no shipping cost etc.., so even if they sell them like half the price of a CD.... It's not cheap, but it's pretty cheap compared to the cost of the physical media. Some people just don't care for CDs. I've seen people who converted all their CDs to mp3 and then sold their collection - which kind of makes it illegal, but that's their problem. :)
PC: I've always been more old school. I prefer a tangible product. I like buying CDs and I like having the packaging.
KC: There's something more satisfying about having that actual album. I mean as much as I do have mp3s of different artists...
MR: Not much bragging you can do about having 10,000 mp3s versus 1,000 or 2,000 physical albums!
KC: *laughs* Exactly!
MR: You played one live date last year and then you kind of vanished from "the Ottawa live scene". I think that's because you lost your drummer not long after that, and then you had a hard time finding a replacement - Paul and I were discussing that a couple of months ago. Could you tell us a little bit about your quest for the ideal drummer?
KC: *laughs* That was pretty tough. It was kind of awkward because we were between jam spots and had no place to rehearse, so we were renting space on an as-needed basis. We put a bunch of ads up online, sort of specific but open to newcomers provided they could play. But we were what... Eight months doing auditions and it's hard for the band to stay motivated. In some cases somebody shows up and sounds really good - they have the right credentials and it sounds like they have the right attitude, and then you get into the jam situation and you just... I remember at one point we were looking at each other going "Really!? Are you kidding me?!" Some of them just couldn't play!
MR: I remember Paul mentioning a couple of these. It must have been depressing at some point I guess?
KC: It was! On the plus side, most of the people who tried out were really good people, they weren't assholes or anything, they just wanted to come out and try. But it just wasn't there....
MR: If you can't feel the vibe, it just won't work. You can try, but you know a couple of months later... oops!
PC: Yeah it was hard to establish a line-up. When Pat decided to leave, we were pretty much starting from scratch and like Kevin said, we auditioned a couple of drummers and for some reason they just weren't good enough. We had a couple of no-shows too, which I though was unusual. We finally managed to establish a semi-solid line-up.
MR: You're at a point where you guys still need to put your own money into the band.
KC: Absolutely. You’ve got to rent space, you’ve got to do mailouts, produce products. That cost a lot of money. We do a lot of the stuff ourselves too; I'm sort of in the "digital design" kind of realm, I developed the web site, the band imagery - aside from the stuff that's on the album - the newer stuff that we put out and there's a lot of hours that goes into that that you never get back.
MR: Yeah, that kind of time, unless you become very successful, you don't get that back in money form.
KC: I think Paul and I definitely understand that... Just a fundamental understanding that that's just the way it is. Sometimes it's harder for other musicians to grasp that concept. It does cost money, it does cost time.
MR: Some people think that when they end up in a band, they're going to get rich. They watch too many movies, I don't know, but... Well, I don't like this band so I guess I don't care about criticizing, but Cryptopsy... They got I think a keyboardist and she left a few months later and blamed the downloaders etc... But you read her diatribe and it's as if she was expecting to get rich. I'm sorry but you won't get rich with Death Metal, unless you're maybe Deicide or Cannibal Corpse - one of the very big names and even then...
PC: I think everybody in metal is suffering these days, and would suspect even the bigger bands are probably having quite a bit of a battle with album sales versus downloading. But yeah, if you put that into your mindset - that you're gonna get rich, especially playing underground metal, it's just not going to happen.
KC: I think that's why you're seeing a lot more tours these days. The bands play every festival they can get; they’ve got to make their money somewhere.
MR: Merchandising is where it's at. I download some music but usually end up buying what I like. But some people just... Well... I don't think I need to spell it out....
KC & PC: *laughs*
MR: Beside the drummer, have you had any other line-up misadventures?
PC: Before we get to that point, I just got to say that we're no longer a functional band - or a live band anymore. Kevin and I decided to...<
KC: ...shelve the live aspect because we were having such a hard time with the line-up.
MR: So you don't have a full lineup?
PC: Not anymore. It's just Kevin and I right now.
MR: So somebody hasn't updated the web site… *evil stare at Kevin* I'm not looking at you!
PC: *laughs* We're not saying that it's not going to happen down the road - start up Gévaudan as a live entity again, but for the time being I think we're just going to write a new album, record it and see what happens. There are a few reasons for that. One is that the Black Metal style is not really what I'm rooted into. I want to move away from that as much as possible, especially musically. So the next album is going to be a lot more varied, with a lot more influences and we'll see where that goes. I didn't feel comfortable with the lineup as it was to do the show - because we had that show lined up with Woods of Ypres on November 21st and we backed out of that show. I don't think we could have pulled off a solid set.
MR: I was wondering what happened with that cancellation. So this is all relatively recent then?
PC: This happened a few weeks ago. It wasn't easy to shelve the project, or to put the live aspect on hold. It's something I really want to do, but it was getting too tiresome at this point to continue this way so... It's probably better to maybe put out a new album and see about a change of direction, and more so with my influences, my real roots and see what happens. As well with Kevin, he's got his own style and ideas. We work really well together, and we understand that it's a lot of work. Until Kevin came along, I didn't realize how much work it is to be in a band and it's like you said, it's not just putting a band together and playing live shows. It's not that simple. There's a lot of work involved just trying to get it going.
KC: And having good songwriting fundamentals as well. I mean it can be easy to write a song, but the difference is yeah, you can write a song, but can you write a good song? I didn't realize how much work was involved in setting up a band until we started getting into it, and it just snowballed. We were all enthusiastic about it, going oh we need to do this, we need to do this, oh it would be great to do that. You know like doing a music video... I've never put in so much work, not just myself but Paul as well. You have to do all the prep work, like finding a place to do it, finding somebody to shoot it, finding all the equipment they need. That was what, a 3-4 month process I think.
MR: Yeah I read that you were working on a video for the song "The Anti-Art... A Fortunate Unfortunate". Why did you choose that song?
PC: I think one of the reasons is that it's a really catchy song...
MR: It is! Of all the Gévaudan songs I think that's the one that, when I think about the band that's always the one that first comes to mind.
KC: It's also the album opener, and it really sets the tone for the album I think.
PC: Yeah, it's catchy and it's got some good hooks in it, so we figured that it would be a good song to do the video for. We did edit though, it's a shorter version of the song...
MR: So you guys can be on TV like MuchMusic and MTV... *snickers*
PC: We looked into that, and the submission process is quite difficult.
MR: Yeah I guess this is going to be an online venture mostly...
PC: Yeah, YouTube, Myspace and the web site for now, and see what happens. So yeah, that's part of the reason. In my opinion it's a good song, and also it's one of the first Gévaudan songs that I wrote specifically for Gévaudan. Like I mentioned before, some of the songs were Mog Ruith songs. So that was really the first song that I tried to record on my own. So for the video it's the perfect choice.
MR: Without giving away too much, what type of video can we expect?
PC: You know what, it's turned out better than I expected, and it doesn't look like a demo type of video. It's very well done. We did the filming in one day (with our friend Chuck), and a friend of mine did some 3-D animation that we've included in the video. For an independent video and for the budget that we had...
KC: ...and no experience!
PC: ...No experience, no producer...
KC: Hey! *laughs*
PC: :) We managed to put together a pretty good quality video. I think MuchMusic should play this thing every week.
KC: At least... Every day even! :) We had a lot of help with it. Chuck and Eric put in... I don't know how many hours they've logged editing, doing the 3-D animation. That was again I think... I don't think any of us realized, Chuck and Eric included, just how much work was really needed to do this.
PC: Everybody's exhausted at this point.
KC: It's killer. I mean you have to get in there, and for each sequence spot everything that's wrong and fix it. It's labour-intensive.
MR: So where are you guys at with it at this point?
PC: It's almost done, and I figure another couple of weeks we should be posting this thing online.
MR: The Internet will slow down to a crawl because there will be so many downloads of your video...
PC: *laughs* 1.2 million views on Youtube...
MR: That would be nice!
KC: There's a little something for everybody. It's more of a performance-based video, not quite in a live type of setting, but the focus is on the musicians. That's why we threw in some extra stuff, just to keep things sort of "intriguing".
PC: Like Kevin said earlier, it was finding the venue and getting that all setup, that was tough. Just to find a place to shoot the video. It actually turned out pretty well. It was at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre and they had a bunch of props there that we were able to use and incorporate in the video and it turned out really good.
MR: Getting into a more generic question.. What kind of musical experience do you guys have, let's say prior to Gévaudan.
PC: I've been in bands for the last 20 years or so. I started playing bass when I was about 14. I played guitar before, but I really started joining bands when I was around 14 years old. I started with generic rock and then I played in Thrash bands, Death Metal bands, glam bands and I just merged into the more extreme style - I just love playing that style. Today, I'm not sure. If I wanted to join a band today, I'm not really sure what I'd want to go into. I've been in many bands and experienced tons and tons of drama and bullshit. It's tough.
MR: I'm not sure if I hallucinated about this... Have you played with Exciter?
PC: Yes, I played for 6 months with Exciter. John (Ricci) wasn't easy to work with and he was unhappy with me in the band. Towards the end we really didn't get along and I quit. It wasn't an amicable split either - he wasn't very nice about it...
KC: ...a big clash of personalities...
PC: Yeah definitely a big clash of personalities. I think John has a vision of what Exciter is and if it's compromised in some way, he gets worried, and I think with me in the band he started worrying especially about image and stage presence and these are the main points that he talked to me about. He actually didn't really talk to me about it; he just bottled it all inside, waited until the last minute and started to tell me about this. Then I just said I quit. I remember he called me up... He asked me... He had a show lined up and I basically told him to go screw himself, I'm not doing the show and so that's how that came about. But all the best to the Exciter guys, they're a great band and I truly enjoy the first three albums. I just wasn't the right fit for that band.
MR: And what about you, Kevin?
KC: This is sort of a shorter tale I guess. Gévaudan is sort of the first serious project that I joined, prior to that it was more like screwing around with friends, jamming in basements. I tried to get a project off the ground a couple of years before I joined Gévaudan. It was about 4-5 years from the beginning and we really didn't get anywhere and it was pretty frustrating for me, being a creative person who wants to get out and make a go of it. Toward the end of that project I actually met Paul through thea friend that I was working with, and he made me listen to the first draft of the masters for the Gévaudan album and it peaked my interest right away. So when I ended the other project, we were talking about me being interested in playing guitar to fill the need for a second guitar player. So that's sort of my brief experience in the music biz, so this is my first experience with a real band and playing live shows - a live show at least - hopefully more to come eventually. It's been a pretty interesting learning experience for me so far, and like I said the amount of work that is required gave me more appreciation for some of the bands that are out there and at least made a bit of a name for themselves. It's actually got me back into buying albums again because for a while I wasn't, but now that I know the amount of work it takes, I make sure that if I hear an album I like, I go out and buy it. I'll even buy the damn t-shirt man! *laughs*
MR: The first album was Paul's thing. Now there's the both of you. How does that change things in terms of songwriting etc...?
PC: It's going to work out pretty well, because we both have our own little home studios where we can do all the pre-production. I have my friend Eric who did some of the keyboard arrangements on the first album, and he's going to help out with that as well. Kevin's actually a pretty good singer, so we're going to incorporate many new elements. Between the both of us it's probably going to be a lot easier this time around to record the second album. The first album... I went into the studio with really no studio experience and now, just by spending two and a half years with one engineer on the Protools system you get to learn a lot, and I decided to get my own Protools system and work at it from there. So it's not going to take as much time to record the second album. Of course it's going to be a lot quicker, and not having all the songwriting onus on me is going to be a lot better.
KC: Same I guess... *laughs* It's certainly going to be a good opportunity for me to flex my muscles with the songwriting process, something I didn't have a lot of opportunity to do in the past. So I'm surely going to learn new things, and certainly learn from Paul's experience as well, working at arrangements etc... It's also nice to have somebody with experience to bounce ideas off of, like a sounding board I guess - "this is good, this is not so great..." I guess it might be a little bit easier... I have experience playing guitar, drums, and now singing as well which I just started this year. It's a bit easier to get a better idea of what sounds good, especially from a drumming perspective... What's feasible, what makes sense. The next album is going to be a lot of fun, because we're going to be experimenting a little bit I think, with the change of direction, and we're both looking forward to it.
PC: Yeah there's quite a bit of material floating around and again unfortunately I don't think we're going to use a live drummer for the album. We're probably going to program the drums again. But between the both of us... Kevin sings, plays guitar... Actually if he would want to play drums on a couple of tracks it would be great as well, and myself I'll handle vocals, bass guitar, some guitar, some keyboards. There's enough versatility there to make a strong album, in my opinion.
MR: Are you thinking of using the same studio and engineer?
PC: Absolutely. It's Scotty from Sound Creation Studios, and it's absolutely the best studio experience - or the only studio experience I've had... But he lets you do what you want and he's not a pompous engineer, he doesn't flex his knowledge and impose it on you and tell you what you should and shouldn't be doing. He'll have suggestions and help you out along the way basically. I find his attitude towards recording is a healthy one, basically saying "I'm going to record the way that you want it to sound, not the way that I want it to sound", and I think that's where a lot of engineers go wrong.
KC: He also puts in the effort to make sure that the end product sounds good.
PC: His rates are very cheap as well. I consider him my friend today. I'll be honest, with the first album, if I hadn't found this engineer, I don't think the album would have come out the way it did, the way it sounded... And would probably have cost me about three times as much!
KC: Also he's playing guitar in Beehler now?
PC: Yes, with Dan Beehler, ex-Exciter. Actually, they just did a festival in Germany.
MR: Yeah I saw that this morning. I didn't know they were back in business. They had started something a while back, then stopped, and now they're back.
PC: Yeah, they're back on track and it looks like things are going really well for them.
KC: I think they have another festival lined up too, if I'm not mistaken, in the new year.
PC: Not to get too much off-topic, but I think a lot of people will want to hear the original Exciter voice and drummer...
MR: That's a common "criticism" ever since he left Exciter, a lot of people say "Beehler is not there so I don't want to hear it" or "It's not the same".. Even though the guitar tone is there, unmistakable I guess. Back to the new album... I think the first album was pretty much based on some sort of concept?
PC: No not really. I'm the opposite of what concept should be because I like it when there's no structure whatsoever... Not to say that the music shouldn't be - the music is structured, lyrically and the way it sounds. I find my lyrics are more poetic, rather than follow any "theme" and I prefer it that way. I like to keep people guessing. It's a lot more fun.
MR: Serves me well for not reading the lyrics on the web site. There was no booklet with the album and I was too lazy to click on "Lyrics" on the web site. :)
KC: I find that too many bands now are getting into this whole concept album thing...
MR: Don't get me started on Nostradamus....
KC: *laughs* It plays out like a damn opera; since when is metal about opera!?!?!
MR: Some bands do pull it off pretty well.
PC: King Diamond is a great example...
KC: It doesn't sound like a damn opera, though. It doesn't have a bloody intro, and then Act I Scene II...
MR: It feels just like a "normal" album, but there's a whole concept behind it... That's the beauty of it. You don't need a university degree on some obscure subject just to figure out what the hell is going on... Not to sound like an idiot, but sometimes I just want to listen to an album, period.
PC: One last point on the question. I find that too many bands limit themselves on style, on theme or on concept. It's too much of the same and I think people should keep an open mind and try to incorporate as much as they can into their musical experience, especially when it comes to forming a band and recording.
KC: It's happened in the past when you could bring up a certain style like a little bit more like rock-sounding here for this section without changing everything. Some people aren't very receptive to that idea. You get the, "I don't want to be doing some kind of Goth shit or 80's Pop..."
PC: I guess for me... I listen to all that stuff. I listen to so many different styles of music that it's only natural that they get incorporated into what I do. The Gévaudan album, as much as there's a lot of styles incorporated into it, it does sound kind of unidimensional which is more Black Metal than anything else. But the next album will be better for sure.
MR: The album art and graphics on your first album were some excellent work from our mutual friend Annick Giroux. Were you planning on working with her again for the new album?
PC: She's moved to Montreal and as a result we don't talk that often...
MR: Yeah, that sucks!
PC: *laughs* ..but yeah absolutely if she's interested in doing another album cover for us, I would definitely work with her again. We had a great time doing the art for the first album. I went to her place a few times and we just kind of went through it, and it was really easy to work with her and it was so much fun.
MR: You can't get bored around Annick anyway.
PC: She's a very positive person and that's why she's easy to work with. When she did the pastelle I was like "wow! This is awesome". She's really good with Photoshop and with layouts. She did it in no time at all. Sooo.... Yes Annick, I want to work with you again!
KC: Speaking as an outsider (who joined the band after the album was released), I thought it was really cool to see album art that had actually been done by hand versus you know, most album art these days are digitally produced.
MR: Yeah and it's easy to tell. It doesn't mean that the art sucks, but it still feels artificial when it's computer-generated.
KC: And you know, a lot of it is starting to look the same. It's the same theme… Sabaton is probably the worst one for this. When bands always use the same artist, you have these elements that carry over... And that's not to say that it's necessarily a bad thing, it's unavoidable in some cases. But I was really impressed to see a hand-painted/drawn cover, and it was also of exceptional quality.
PC: The other thing too is I wanted contrast... Because the music was... I hate that it's categorized as melodic Black Metal, but I guess it does tend to sound that way. But I didn't want that imagery on the album, especially on the inside I just wanted something more straightforward, like a picture of me and some instruments in the background, making it look more 80s-style. Like Kevin said, you rarely see that these days.
KC: To a certain extent, it’s all about the art; the imagery. Trying to convey a certain image. To an extent, you have to have an image, but I find it’s just getting a little too cheesy.
MR: I found the art... Well when I think of the album, I think of the song you used for the video, but the next thing is the cover art... I don't know, it just catches the eye and it's mysterious to see extent, like "Hmmmm what is that about?" with the wolf and the village in the background.
PC: The pastelle does have a concept to it, depicting the legend of the beast of Gévaudan. Well it's not really a legend, it actually happened - it was a hybrid wolf/dog in the 1700s in that part of France which is now defunct (i.e., The Province of Gévaudan), and the artwork does depict that imagery and that concept.
MR: Earlier we were talking about promotion. I remember hearing bands talk about getting e-mails from various fanzines/webzines that they'd never heard of..... What about you guys, have you had a lot of requests for freebies?
KC: Absolutely - early on especially. Not so much in the last little while we've noticed, but early on we were getting e-mails from all over the world. Things like "I have this fanzine or web site or whatever and I'm interested in trading for your album", which I thought was a little odd. I don't have a lot of experience in this kind of thing, but you know the whole concept of having a fanzine is to take the album, take a look at it, and then you review it and promote it, right? So this whole concept of trading the album for another band's music...
MR: They're trading promos!
KC: Yeah they're trading promos, and that seemed really strange to me. Paul and I had many discussions about this, like is it just some guy who is just interested in getting a free album. I don't think there's any appreciation for how much time, money and effort that goes into creating an album.
MR: Did you end up sending out a lot of promo copies?
PC: Not necessarily... We're a little more careful this time around as opposed to with Mog Ruith where we did send a lot of copies to fanzines. I did send out the album to some obscure fanzines and to be honest with you, I've had some strange requests from a few of those zines. I wouldn't do it again. Unfortunately I don't want to say this, I don't want to pigeon-hole Eastern Europe but there's a lot of piracy that goes on there and you have to be careful when you send your stuff over to those countries. I made the mistake of doing that and the album never got reviewed, or I just never heard from anybody again. I've had a few zines wanting to trade some of their promo stuff, which I did and I got some stuff in the mail, but it was absolutely terrible. I think I just ended up throwing it into the garbage - it wasn't really music that I liked. I also had this one request, which was funny, from this guy from a fanzine in the Ukraine... He wanted me to look into getting those little toy soldiers and exchange them for some free CDs and I laughed and responded to him "Are you kidding? Are you joking around?" and I just told him that no, I'm not doing that. That was a strange request.
KC: You have to be careful. There are so many unsolicited e-mails that come in "send us your stuff" or "enter this contest" or "we're this label working with such and such and we're really interested in promoting *insert band name here*"...
MR: Sounds like a form letter or something...
KC: Yeah exactly...
PC: It's a good idea to send to the bigger zines, especially the online zines that are reputable...
KC: Like Metal Crypt! *laughs*
PC: There's a few other ones that are really good, and it's good to send your stuff to them and follow up with them to see if they'll review the album. But I think they're legitimate and they're generally interested in music as opposed to just wanting to get free stuff.
KC: So yeah, as a band starting you definitely have to be careful...
MR: Basically your message to the fanzines is not "don't ask us" but rather "please be legit"...
PC: Of course we want to send as many as possible, and we do understand that there are a lot out there that are legitimate, but those who are just out there to get free music, that's not supporting metal in my opinion, that's just supporting your own cause to get stuff for free.
MR: And as you pointed out earlier, there's a lot of work that goes into a band...
KC: Studio time alone, I didn't realize how much it cost until I started talking with Paul and that was at the reasonable rates that Sound Creation offers for studio time, and even at that I was like "wow!"
MR: Over the past few years there's been quite a lot of metal shows in the Ottawa area, be it local or bigger bands. What do you think of the local metal scene?
KC: I'll let you answer this first....
PC: See, I'm a vocal person and I'm jaded as well... I speak my mind. I'm not "in" the Ottawa metal scene, but I've been going to shows since 1990 in Ottawa and I've seen many, many bands and unfortunately in Ottawa, they're not all good. There are a lot of generic bands that play around in Ottawa. We really don't have our own scene here and I find that there's a lack of camaraderie as well here, a lack of real closeness, people wanting to help each other out, which is why I'm not in it and I don't follow what's going on. But if a band I like comes to town, I'll go check them out and if I don't like them, I don't go see the show. That's basically it.
MR: Well, that makes sense... If you don't like the band, you don't go anyway and just yawn in their face.
PC: Yeah that's it. I'm not criticizing the Ottawa metal scene, but I'm just really not into it.
KC: I started paying more attention in the last couple of years. It's not something I was really involved in before. It seems to me that things have sort of picked up recently there seems to be more shows more frequently… dare I say, ‘bigger’ names coming in...
MR: BlackWidow Promotions are bringing a lot of bands in town...
KC: Yeah, and I think it takes a lot of effort to pull that off...
MR: Yeah, and when I go to some shows and look around and see the number of people there, I think "are they actually losing money on this?" and it makes you wonder why they keep at it - I never asked. :)
PC: I think it's great to have them. There was Eric Mulligan before with Reverie Creations, but unfortunately that didn't work out so well.
MR: I think the "WASP disaster" broke his legs - he stopped not long after that.
PC: So yeah, I think what BlackWidow Promotions are doing is great; they're bringing in bands, a lot more variety lately which is a good thing. I can't go to every show and I don't like every band that comes to town, but like I said if I like the band, I'll definitely go check it out.
KC: That was amazing when they announced the Rotting Christ show, I was like "Really?! Holy crap!" you know... It's Rotting Christ!
PC: Incidentally it wasn't their first time in Canada, I saw them live in Montreal in 1998 and it was not bad, but the Ottawa show was better.
MR: If I recall correctly there was a good attendance at the show... It's been a while about a year or so?
KC: Yeah they had close to 200 people I think, from what Christina (from BlackWidow Promotions - Ed.) was saying. At the end of the night when you can sell 9 or 10 albums and still get $50 for showing up...that’s alright! *laughs*
MR: Yeah exactly - the headliner gets the money first, and if there's anything left the local openers get something.
KC: Yeah it was amazing; at the end of the night we get $50 for our effort. Granted that's not a lot of money, but that speaks as to the success of that show - four bands played that night. It definitely was a great opportunity for us. We had a lot of help for that show too. Our friend Martin (and Pascal) from Overdose filmed the show...
PC: He took photos as well...
KC: Yeah. It's interesting. There is a little bit of a community where people do stuff for one another and there's not necessarily the expectation of getting anything in return. We all try to band together and sort of compensate, in whatever way we can, but it certainly doesn't go unnoticed - we definitely appreciate it.
PC: Back to the first question, something I forgot to mention... When starting this project and having it span over many years - probably five years, the uphill battle is to decide... OK so I'm going to go into the studio, I'm going to record a bunch of tunes... It wasn't easy because throughout those years I had to deal with difficult girlfriends, excess in alcohol, it was tough and I just think at the end of the day when you finally see the release of the product after all the crap you had to go through to get to that point you know, it's rewarding.
MR: The usual closing question: Anything else you'd like to add?
PC: Yes, I'd like to say: "If all else fails, drink another beer."
KC: *laughs* I can't top that one!
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|Review: A Requiem For The Dead, A Deity For The Living...|
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