Interview with guitarist and vocalist Samuel Robert
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 19, 2020
Canadian old school Death Metal mongers, Leprosy, formed in 2015, have been trying to make themselves known little by little by playing mostly around their home turf of Sherbrooke, Québec. The band's potential was noticed at one gig in a very unusual way, which you can read all about in this interview. This one special event led them to a deal with the Canadian label PRC Music, run by scene veteran Rémi Cote. The band's debut album, Obnoxious Futuristic Vision, was released on October 16, 2020, and, much to the surprise of both the band and Rémi, the album started selling like hot cakes.
It wouldn't be surprising if this bunch started making some hot headlines in the coming months because the band shows a lot of potential, so it's just a matter of time before they get a good dose of extra attention.
Well, let Samuel in to talk more about his band, how it all started for him, where they are now in their career with a killer debut album out, and what their plans are for the coming months or for the future overall in a world where many things seem to be going into a worse direction...
Good day, Samuel! How's life in the 'Queen of the Eastern Townships', better known as Sherbrooke?
Samuel: Life is nice!! And from now on winter is coming!! Having good times playing music with the band!
THE START OF LEPROSY
Why we are here right now is our ever-growing curiosity about your band, Leprosy. You started the band in 2015, so could you kindly enlighten us as to what led you to form the band in the first place?
Samuel: I fell in love with Death Metal when I was 17, and I was already playing guitar, but only playing covers of old Heavy Metal! But when I heard Death Metal, it really inspired me to start composing my own songs.
Was it easy to find like-minded guys around the concept of the band who all shared the same musical vision of what Leprosy should be all about, musically?
Samuel: Not that easy! I went through a couple of bands, but I was always the only one who wanted to do this seriously... or it was just not the right fit. So, it's been a lot of research and trying to find the guys that I am playing with today—and I hope we will play together for many years!
When you read reviews and articles about the band, the critics have been, more or less, overwhelming and very praising. Were you surprised by this extremely positive response, or did you expect it, knowing deep down that you actually have a pretty kickass musical concept?
Samuel: No! I didn't know what to expect from other people. But at first, the response came from the people I was playing with and then the people who saw us at the very first show we did, and then I knew at least some people were going to like it. But I know some of them don't like it for some reason. It's impossible to make music for everybody, you know! The thing is that, first and foremost, I am doing music for me: First to please my own ears... and then see what happens with other people.
DEATH METAL... WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL?
Where does your fascination towards old-school Death Metal come from? I mean, it's no denying that you have some love for bands like Death, Pestilence (the Dutch one), Obituary and such when we hear Leprosy's material...
Samuel: Yes...! But it was not our goal to sound like those bands, it just came out naturally like it is. I think today it's hard to not sound like another band, you know.
Do these band comparisons ever bug you in one way or the other? Or do you feel it's good to get promoted this way when you are constantly being compared to some 'legendary bands' that have been around for ages?
Samuel: No! I like it!! Death, Pestilence, and Obituary are very popular and good bands. Like I said, it was not our goal to sound like them, but we know that many people would like to be able to do it and just could not!! Any good musician would notice that it's a hard task to play like Death, Obituary, or Pestilence.
Your vocal tone reminds me strongly of both Chuck's (Schuldiner) and Patrick's (Mameli). Is that something that comes naturally for you, or have you put some serious effort to get your voice (or growls, to be more precise) shaped up to that of the Chuck/Patrick mold?
Samuel: No not hard at all, haha! It came out like that naturally!! I wish I could sing like Ronnie Dio... but I can't. So sad. Maybe if I practice a lot... wait, I don't have enough time... 😭
HANNEMAN DID NOT USE ANY SCALES
Also, when I was listening to your solo work on the record, I couldn't help thinking of one Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.). What kind of figure Mr. Hanneman was for you, especially when thinking of your solos on the album? Do you see the similarity between your and Hanneman's solos?
Samuel: I love Hanneman's solos! He sounds like doing whatever very aggressively, fast and evil... so he inspires me in this way. I like to compose solos while doing whatever but then learn it and try to almost do that same whatever every time! It makes it sound randomized and improvised! It takes your ear curiosity like what the f***! No scales... or maybe there is. We don't know. Is he on the same notes as the rhythm guitar?? Can't tell... too weird! Hahaha!! I think there aren't enough guitarists who sound like him.
What about your personal so-called soft spot for the Araya type of screams like you do, like at the beginning of "Back from the Dead"?
Samuel: I am able to do it and I know not many people can. Especially man... so why not! And the fact that we heard that mostly in thrash, I thought that in death metal it would be interesting! I tried to do the most different thing I can with my voice to make it more interesting and different... and still, there's a lot of things I wish I could do, but cannot!
Just to break out of the invented and existing Death Metal mold a little bit, you also have a few unorthodox things in this record, like the mouth harp part in "Transplanting the Brain", or the piano at the beginning of "Born in Nuclear Waste". Were those intentional moves, kind of like to give a fair alarming sound for the listeners like, "Wait a sec... What on earth is happening here right now?!", just to keep their brains alert and busy while the album's on?
Samuel: Exactly! I know people's attention goes away when listening to music after two or three songs. So, if you want to get their attention back you have to make them hear something else that will cause a kind of surprise... and for the mouth harp, it's like 50/50 for who likes it and who doesn't. But this is for the first two or three times listening to it... after that, half of the people who didn't like it at first begin to laugh about it and even start enjoying it!
Do you want to try out some other 'unorthodox' things in the future, if only to find out whether they might suit your sound or not?
Samuel: I don't know. If the inspiration comes, yes, but I won't force the ideas; if they just come naturally then yes. I don't feel obliged to do such an unorthodox thing again. But I'm inspired by many different kinds of music so there's some chance it will happen again.
FINDING A HOME AT PRC MUSIC
Your 9-track debut album, Obnoxious Futuristic Vision, was released on PRC Music on October 16, 2020, and from what I heard from the label guy, Rémi Cote, it's been selling pretty darn well ever since. I suppose it makes you happy that the album's been recognized so well thus far?
Samuel: Of course, yes!! I worked hard on it! Everybody is happy! The reviews are overwhelming and, because of that, there's another album in progress!!!
Could you tell me how you ended up signing a deal with PRC Music? Was it a long process, or did it happen easily?
Samuel: Easily! The guys from Spirit of Rebellion saw us live and immediately called Rémi so he could hear us through a cell phone and then we got in touch and signed with him!! I had never heard of PRC before! Very happy it happened!
What are some of your expectations from the label's side? What is required for you to stay on the label for many more years to come?
Samuel: Help us booking shows, promoting the band, sell albums, find new fans. But really, it's a day-to-day deal—like a business, we are always looking for the best opportunities. At first, we wanted to be known in our own town. Then the goal is our province (Québec) then we wish the rest of our country (Canada) and maybe the world... why not. It's nice to dream, haha!!
As far as the promotional side of the band is concerned, do you have any intention to shoot a promotional band and/or lyric video any time soon, to get both the band and album promoted as much and efficiently as possible around the globe?
Samuel: Yes, we are working on some videos that are going to come out in 2021... there will be three videos all in all!!
FOLLOW-UP ALBUM IN THE WORKS
So, how are things looking for you on the live front at the moment? Are you still booking gigs for 2021 even though we just cannot predict how quickly or late this whole virus episode will be over?
Samuel: We are not thinking about playing live right now, we already canceled a few shows, time is just so uncertain right now. Maybe we'll do virtual shows. So, for now we are composing the second album—and I think many bands are composing right now! Not many other things to do due to the virus.
Canada has always had a strong underground/international metal scene. How do you see, as a Canadian citizen, the future of the Metal scene over there? Does it overall look bright and what are some of the most promising Canadian underground Metal bands that you think people should keep their eyes out for in the future, besides Leprosy, of course? ;o)
Samuel: Honestly, I don't know about the future of this music. I see a lot of people older than we are at our shows. Yes, there's some younger or the same age as us but... I don't know. Not that many Death Metal bands with members in their 20s in Québec! I know I should but, unfortunately, I'm not aware of all the bands around my country but it's our goal to make this music more and more popular and try to make it accessible for everybody. I know there must be many other promising bands, but the only one that quickly comes to mind is Tomb Mold.
What would you like to achieve with the band in the next 3-5 years or so? I guess playing around Europe at some of the biggest festivals might be one of those dream-come-true goals for you personally, right?
Samuel: Yes, of course!! Becoming a big rock star, haha! But we have to keep our feet on earth and work hard and climb the ladder from the bottom to the top, step by step. There's a lot of bands who want to be at the top. Will have to find out what will make us different and deserving to get there. But we know it's more like dreaming and we won't be disappointed if it never happens 'cause, at first, we do this and will always do this for ourselves and, most importantly, for FUN!!!
OK, I have one last question for you and then I let you go for a cup of coffee or a pint of cold beer, whatever. What's the most important album for you personally from the whole album catalog of A) Death? B) Pestilence—and why?
Samuel: For Death, I would say Scream Bloody Gore simply 'cause to me it's the first Death Metal album back then (when I was not even born, haha!). As for Pestilence, I would say Consuming Impulse 'cause it's really raw and aggressive and the guitar riffs are totally insane!
Thank you, Samuel, for your time and telling us what Leprosy is all about, and I also want to wish you all the best with any future endeavors with the band. If you have something else in your mind, feel free to spit them out to wrap this conversation up...
Samuel: We are impatient to go back on stage!! We have our album done and merchandise that just can't wait!! We are ready for some shows!! Hope this shitty pandemic will end soon! At least we're wasting no time preparing our next album, but we are in a hurry to do shows! Maybe someday in Finland 😉, haha! p.s. I'm a huge hockey fan and my favorite hockey player is from Finland: Teemu Selänne!!
|Other information about Leprosy on this site|
|Review: Obnoxious Futuristic Vision|
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