Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Guitarist Cede Dupont

Interview by Rick

One of the best kept secrets in the metal world is Symphorce. Though they have been around for over 5 years and have released 4 albums they are relatively unknown. With the release of their latest disc TWICE SECOND that is about to change as they have taken their style of modern power metal to a new level that is sure to attract many new fans. 

First I have to ask you where are you from?

I am half Swiss, half French living in Switzerland. I live almost 250 km away from the Symphorce guys so we use the internet and phone calls a lot to communicate. For me every rehearsal or concert outside Switzerland is like a holiday.



How did you get hooked up with Symphorce? Were you living in Switzerland at the time when you joined the band?

I have always lived here. I was playing in a Metallica cover band. It got boring playing cover songs. I decided to put some ads on the internet webzines. Andy saw one and contacted me and asked was I interested in just coming over and having a rehearsal. I wasn't really thinking about joining a German band. How would I manage playing in a band so far away? But I said to myself I was going to have a good rehearsal with an awesome band with excellent musicians. Everything was sounded great playing with those guys. After a couple of weeks they said they wanted me to be their new guitar player.



When you joined the band you seemed to bring a bit of aggressiveness to the bands sound?

Absolutely, I am still the youngest guy in the band. Those old guys need a kick in the ass (laughs) I was only 21 when I joined the band but it great being in the band with the older guys. Andy is around 30. In Freedom Call all the guys are in their mid 30s. I am always the young guy.



It must help keep things fresh in the band that you guys come from slightly different places in metal. ?

Its always fun. Especially when Andy and the guys start talking about their gigs they did in 1985 and I have to say " don't tell me that. I was 6 years old then" (laughs) They all laugh when I tell them my first metal album was the Black Album by Metallica. But it keeps the influences fresh and adds an interesting aspect to our music. Dennis and I wrote all the music for TWICE SECOND and Andy comes up with the vocal lines and lyrics. Everyone has good ideas but we have some bands that we all like but Andy likes the 80s thrash metal bands and I like some of the newer stuff. It makes it interesting.



The new album is titled "Twice Second". What is the significance of the title?

There isn't really any special meaning. It was just a stupid idea of me an Andy to come up with another game of words. Since it is our fourth album we came up with 2 and 2 is 4 hence TWICE SECOND.



This new CD runs the gamut of metal from thrashy songs like "Face of Pain" to groovy songs like "Take Whats Mine". The song that really caught my interest was the "Cry on My Shoulder" which was very dark and gloomy. Was it a conscious decision to create a CD that had so many different sides and textures?

It wasn't something we were really focusing on. When Dennis and me started writing the song we weren't thinking about which direction to go. It was just jamming on some riffs and suddenly when a good riff comes out I feel it. I think everything happens really naturally. I think its great that we have so many styles on this album because it has something for everyone. Maybe we play a modern type of power metal but we still have a lot of melodic stuff. We have thrash metal guitar riffs. Fast songs, slow songs, boring songs! (laughs) Everything.



Whose baby is crying in the song?

The song is a very emotional song. Andy wrote the lyrics and wanted to pay tribute to his newborn baby so one night he heard the baby crying and he recorded it. So when we were recording he came along with the tape and said he had a cool idea. He played the baby scream and along with the guitar solo it gives the song a very melancholic touch. I like this song a lot.


What are some of your other favourite songs on the CD?

It is hard to say because I like the whole album. I like "Tears" very much. That's a song that I wrote. It combines all the trademarks that make Symphorce. There are groovy parts, sharp guitar riffs, a very cool chorus and melodic vocals and solo. It is one of my favourites. "Cause of Laughter" is a pure headbanger. It is hard to say which ones I like. I like the whole album.



I guess your favourites change from time to time?

Yeah, it changes from day to day. When we were playing live with Grave Digger my favourites were the ones that we played live: "Cause of Laughter", "Tears", "Fallen" and "2 Seconds to Live". After that show "2 Seconds" became one of my favourites because it has a certain power. But if we stay here any longer they will all be my favourite songs. (laughs) The only thing I regret a little bit is that we don't have a guitar solo on "In the Cold". "Cause of Laughter" doesn't have a guitar solo and I am fine with that because it was written like that and is not necessary to the song. But after hearing the CD a few times "In The Cold" would probably sound better with one. But it is never going to be perfect anyway.



I guess you can go back and look at every album you did and hear things you wish you could change?

Absolutely! You are never going to write the perfect album. There will always be little things that you would like to change. We are happy with TWICE SECOND but the solo is something that came to my mind afterwards.



On TWICE SECOND the band again worked with Achim Kohler (who helped produce the last 2 Symphorce albums.) Why did you choose to work with him and did you consider working with any other producers?

It was the third time we worked with him. Working with him is very funny and relaxing but its great because he knows exactly what we want which is good for us. He is not the kind of producer that says "double this chorus" or "play this guitar riff in this harmonic". The songs were finished and we knew what we wanted to do. He was more like the guy who sits behind the knobs and makes sure the production is blowing everyone away. It was very funny working with him. On the European edition we have a short video that shows how great it was working with him. We weren't too sober at some points but it was very funny. In the future I would like to work with Andy Sneap because he has done some huge productions like Nevermore and I think he would be great for Symphorce as well. Checking out something new or recording in a new environment can be very refreshing as well. But working with Achim right now was the best thing for our songs and us.



You mentioned that you write a lot with Dennis. I believe that Andy writes the lyrics and you concentrate on the music. What is the songwriting process for the band? Do you create music to fit Andy's lyrics or do you give him the riffs, which he then turns into songs?

We live so far apart that we can't get together often. I prepare songs at my place and Dennis does the same. Then we compare and when we think a song is pretty good we give it to Andy so he can try to put the vocal lines together. It wouldn't sound like Symphorce without those 5 guys working together. I'm recording my songs at my computer and when they are ready we send them to Sasha and Markus and then we jam them. Sasha develops his own drumming to the songs. Markus and I wrote 2 songs and we will probably write more together in the future.



The band has always used various electronic samples on your CDs and TWICE SECOND is no different. How do you guys come up with the various bits and pieces that go into each song and how do you decide what fits a song and what doesn't?

Actually on the SINCTUARY album it was only me playing guitar and we had H.P. (Walter) on the keyboards. He was working with more samples and when he left after SINCTUARY he decided to still work with us in the studio. He still does those little keyboard things even though he is more in the background now. Its something he comes up. Now the new 2-guitar lineup is crunchier but HP still adds color to our songs. On TWICE SECOND Andy plays around a bit with different vocal effects because we wanted to try something else. I think it makes the CD sound a bit fresher. I know everyone says it in interviews but I think this is our best album.



Has anyone ever said anything negative about Symphorce using the vocal or keyboard effects?

Actually we have had people come up to us and say we sound like some bullshit nu-metal (mallcore) band. To us its important to be open minded because Symphorce has always been a band that does what we want. We are not afraid of trying new sounds. On TWICE SECOND we have some stuff that could be called Korn-stylish but we can't continue to copy our old albums. That would be boring. I can't imagine Symphorce coming up with DJs or anything but its something that keeps us open minded. If you keep listening to the same bands all the time you wouldn't become a very good songwriter. I listen to some pop music and I love Blues very much and that makes it interesting. If anyone doesn't like our sound they aren't forced to buy our albums. It's a question of taste anyway. You can't make it right for everyone.



Speaking of taste. The cover artwork for TWICE SECOND is very unique and impressive. I think it is the first time that I have ever seen a seahorse on a metal CD cover. What is the significance of the seahorses?

Thank god they aren't pink!! (laughs) Of course it is not a typical heavy metal cover. We have never been a band to follow clichés anyway. At first we really wanted to work with Travis Smith who has also worked with Iced Earth and Nevermore. It was important for us to have something blue because the previous albums had some kind of main color theme. This time we wanted something blue. He came up with some different ideas and the cover with the seahorses is different and looks great. Not a typical cover but its great.



You just did a short tour with Grave Digger and Wizard? How did you guys get hooked up with Grave Digger and how did the fans react to the new songs?

The whole idea came up when I was playing at the Blind Guardian Open Air with Freedom Call and Andy was playing with Brainstorm. Grave Digger was also on the bill and Andy was talking with Chris Boltendahl and Chris said that Grave Digger was doing a tour in January. We were looking for a tour to support TWICE SECOND so we asked if they had an opening act and he said no. That was when we started discussions to open for them. The only thing was we needed to have a new album before the tour. By September we were already recording TWICE SECOND. The tour happened and it was a great tour. We weren't sure what to expect from Grave Diggers audience. They play more traditional metal but it was amazing. So may headbangers and mosh pits. It was great. It was a cool experience. Wizard were a cool band and the whole tour was a lot of fun. The Grave Digger guys were great. I was talking to Manni (guitarist of Grave Digger) a lot about Jimi Hendrix. About half way through the tour we said why did we play some Jimi in sound check and at the last show we played "Hey Joe". Jimi Rules!!



Symphorce didn't tour in support of PHORCEFUL AHEAD. Why wasn't there a tour and do you think it hurt the sales of the album?

I think the best way to support an album is to tour. We didn't play a lot but we played some shows on the Kamelot tour. We also played some of the big festivals like Wacken. After the last summer festival we went into the studio a week later and I think that's why TWICE SECOND sounds so fresh. We still had the live energy going on. The Grave Digger tour for TWICE SECOND was unfortunately only Germany, Austria and Switzerland but we are working on some English and European shows. Probably if we are lucky and TWICE SECOND does well we will tour in the fall again. If TWICE SECOND does REALLY good we can come over to Canada and the States. (laughs)



That would be great because it seems like the metal scene here is growing bigger all the time.

Yeah, it would be a dream come true for me to play over there. So come on everyone!! Don't download the album go and buy it!!



How do you feel about people who download albums? Do you think it has hurts sales of the album and your chance to get out and tour more?

Absolutely! Downloading a couple of songs is cool and we have samples on our own website. But if everyone downloaded whole albums that makes a difference. The labels wouldn't get enough money to make it possible for the bands to record quality albums and they wouldn't have money for tour support. It comes back to the fans. I can understand that the kids can't buy 10 albums a month still they should think about it carefully. I think the internet is a good platform to check out new bands.



What exactly does the name Symphorce mean?

It is just a combination of Symphony and Force. Symphony describes the melodies we have in our music. Force stands for the ass kicking part.



Do you consider either Symphorce or Freedom Call your main band?

Playing in both bands is huge fun and I listen to everything from old Helloween to Pantera so its good to play different things. Freedom Call is a much more melodic side of metal and I like that a lot. I sing much more backing vocals. I also have an aggressive side that comes out in Symphorce. It wouldn't make sense to play in 2 bands that are the same. I am a musician and a songwriter playing in 2 different sounding bands so I can't say I prefer one or the other.


Freedom Call will headline the Wacken Roadshow starting in April. Can you tell me a bit about this tour like how you got involved and what other bands will be playing?

It is Freedom Call headlining with Metalium and the main idea is Wacken comes to your town. It's a sort of mini Wacken festival with a metal market in each show etc. I think it a pretty cool thing. It is more an event than a concert. For Freedom Call it's a new way to promote the new live album.



When does the new live album come out?

Its going to be release April 19th and its a double album CD 1 will be all the live tracks and CD 2 will be the TARAGON e.p. and a couple of bonus tracks which are cover songs.



Cede, you are endorsed by ESP guitars. How did you get associated with that company and what do you get in return for them using your name?

I always wanted to have an ESP. As a guitarist you are always trying to find the best equipment. 5 or 6 years ago I was trying every guitar and amp to find the best for me. I wasn't happy with what I had and I bought an ESP. I liked it and a while ago I contacted them and asked about supporting me. After some discussions we worked some stuff out. As a guitarist you think you should start out on an expensive guitar. It is not the case. You have to try a lot before you find the one you like.



Are there any new bands that you have been listening to a lot?

I listen to a lot of different stuff. Some of it is not so new. I really like Jorn Lande, his solo record WORLD CHANGER. I also listen to a lot of the new Soilwork and Children of Bodom. There are so many new bands coming out that it is hard to keep up with them.



Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

I just have 2 words! METAL RULES!!!!!!

Thanks Cede

Symphorce Official Website: www.symphorce.net

Label Website: www.metalblade.com