Guitarist Cedric “Cede” Dupont
Interview by Chaosankh
Interviewed on Wednesday March 21, 2007
Congratulations on the release of another unique metal record. Become Death continues SYMPHORCE’s tradition of releasing very distinctive sounding metal albums. How has the reaction been from the fans and the media so far?
Oh you know here in Europe the records been released like two or three weeks ago. So we already have first reactions from the fans and they are very positive, so are the reactions from the press. I mean everybody is talking to us saying you know it’s the heaviest album we have released so far and I agree. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a negative album you know. The reactions are positive and the album is rather, um, I don’t know. It’s heavier and also a little bit more in this gothic and dark mood and everything. But the reactions are just great which is really, really important to us all. First of all you know we do play music for ourselves, but if there’s other people who tell you that you did something good, you know what I mean, it’s a huge compliment.
Although you guys are usually lumped into the power metal category, you guys never really seem to fit that genre, which is kind of refreshing. On my first several listens of the new album, I definitely hear some of the things you said, like a lot of gothic metal, even some death metal riffing, along with evolving the sound you guys have had for the last several albums. When you guys set out to write the album was their a conscience effort to push it in a heavier and darker direction?
I don’t know. I think the word push is wrong because everything happens to be a natural development. You know SYMPHORCE has always been hard to be labeled. I don’t see it really as a power metal band. I don’t see it as a melodic metal band. It’s not heavy enough to be death metal. I think we have something from everything a little bit. Maybe it’s also because we are huge music fans also. We do listen to a lot of heavy metal music, rock music, whatever. So we have different influences that come across in our songwriting, which is melodic metal, or modern metal like DISTURBED or even KORN or whatever. We have so many influences that come to our style which makes it hard to be labeled again. You know when we started writing the songs it was not that we said to ourselves we need to be heavy on the next album. We started writing and after a couple songs we heard that the material was pretty heavy so we went further on with that direction. In the end we have ten or twelve or thirteen really heavy songs. Then we wrote a couple slower or more melodic songs. In the end, when it came to choosing an album title, of course, it had to be something dark or even negative. I mean Become Death is not the most positive album title in the world. I think you have to have something that fits with the songwriting and how the songs sound and the lyrics.
Was everyone in the band satisfied with the direction the album took and how it turned out?
Yeah. Absolutely. I think Become Death is probably also the album where we sound the freshest we ever have because we have not been under a certain pressure. We have not played one single show in 2006. So we really concentrated on the songwriting. Everybody was really a little bit afraid in the first place because you know it sounds heavy. But on the other hand we have our trademark, the melodic aspects, the guitar riffing, the groove and everything. It’s still SYMPHORCE but it’s a little bit like a darker SYMPHORCE this time.
How was the writing done for this record? Do you guys get together to work on songs or do you, like a lot of other bands, do writing on your own and kind of send things back and forth through the mail and things like that?
Yeah. We pretty much do it like that. I’m living in Switzerland and the other guys are based in Germany, which is like 200 miles away. So it’s not possible for us to meet twice a week and get to the rehearsal room to jam on tracks and stuff like that. So, basically, me, Marcus and Dennis are the guys who write all the music and we do so on our own and record demos at home. Then we exchange it through the internet which is a great thing actually because we can discuss it. Everybody uses the same recording programs so if Dennis comes up to me and says the chorus is great but try something different for the guitar solo part, I can do it immediately and resend it which is a great way to work. And after all the music is finished then it’s up to Andy to do his vocal lines and write the lyrics. That’s how we have always been working, and I think it’s really great that way. Of course, sometimes I am missing a little bit of the real band feeling if we were jamming and could discover each other once again. But you can’t have that all the time. We basically have to deal with distance.
Are there any particular songs on the new album that you are especially proud of?
Yeah, of course. The songs I wrote. (Laughs). You know I mean songs like “Inside the Cast” or “Towards the Light” are songs that I wrote and I’m really proud to. Also, they mean a lot to me personally. I mean it’s pretty interesting with SYMPHORCE because if you know the band well enough you hear exactly which guy wrote which song. Markus is the guy who writes more of the heavier material, like “When Darkness Fills the Sky” or “Condemned,” songs like that. And me, I’m more the melodic guy. I write songs like “Inside the Cast” or “No Final Words to Say” and these kinds of songs. So it makes it a pretty interesting mixture actually. Combine everything. Since we’re both guitar players we have to try outdo each other all the time and say things like “I can play faster.” (Laughs). It’s competition but there’s also great friendship. Everybody learns from each other.
How has your new drummer Steffen been getting along with the band and vice versa?
Oh. Absolutely great. For us it was a really big surprise when Sascha told us he wanted to leave the band. We played this really, really cool tour with SONATA ARCTICA in 2005. We played in the states for the first time. It’s been a lot of highlights in our career and then Sascha comes up immediately and says I don’t see a future with SYMPHORCE. So we had to think about how we could continue and we knew that Steffen would be a really good guy for us. We know him for a couple years. He has always been a very good friend of ours. He’s a cool guy. He’s a hell of drummer. So his name was pretty soon on the table when it came to picking a new drummer. And I think he fits in perfectly. I mean you got to have a certain sense of humor in SYMPHORCE. And of course our songs are quite technical to play. I think he’s a really perfect guy for us.
Your guitar is very deep and rich on the new record. What kind of equipment do you use to create that sound?
You know after Phorceful Ahead, we started playing on 7-string guitars, which is a very cool thing. It gives you this certain modern touch. I really like playing 7-string guitars. That’s basically what concerns the dark and heavy tone from the guitar. We do play Mesa Boogie cabinets. Markus and I both play basically the same gear. We’re endorsed by ESP guitars which concerns the 7-strings. We do play Gibson guitars. I think it’s the basic metal gear. I mean we don’t really have huge stuff. We don’t really have the money for that. So, in the studio, of course, we try to get a really heavy tone. You try to take your time making a good set up but it’s not always possible.
I saw that you were recently endorsed by Gibson guitars. How much does an endorsement like that help you as an artist?
I don’t know. I hope a lot. (Laughs). First of all, I really love the instrument so for me it’s a really big honor to be endorsed by Gibson. I’ve had a Les Paul for a couple of years, sold it, and went on with ESP guitars, but you know you’re always coming back with Gibson. The tone of a Les Paul is really great, and I hope that this Gibson thing will also help me as a musician to take another step.
I read on the band’s myspace page that you had to record all of the guitar parts for the album in 4 days! What was that like? Did you think you’d get it done?
It’s not like we have the biggest budget in the world. I mean bands like KORN or METALLICA spend millions of dollars in the studio. We don’t really have that. I mean we had two weeks for everything, recording the whole album, mix it, and master it afterwards. So Markus and I are sitting at the table saying you know what we just have 4 days. I mean for Godspeed it took us 5 days, and it was really in the last minute that we played the last chord. So this time we had one day less. So it was like “4 days. Oh my god.” We have to play all the rhythms, all the lead guitars, all the overdubs, so it was incredible. But in the end I think we have been well enough prepared to do it in 4 days. But don’t ask me why I think we very well prepared. I just can’t believe we made it in 4 days.
Speaking of myspace, how do you feel about its emergence as a marketing tool for bands?
I think it’s a good thing. I just set up my own page one week ago. I mean a lot of friends of mine already have one. They always told me that myspace is the coolest thing in the world and you should do it to promote yourself, but I was always too lazy but in the end I just had to do it. And I think it’s a great thing. You get to see and meet a lot of people. They have the possibility to listen to your songs, which is a good thing. You know when I want to check out a new band, I’d rather go and look for a band on myspace or youtube or pages like that instead of just downloading the stuff. A lot of people are denying it but it is a really, really huge problem for the music industry, especially for bands like SYMPHORCE because it’s what makes us grow. If everybody was just downloading the stuff we wouldn’t be able to do other records or come play in the states or tour. It’s very important for us that people who like our music buy the album. It’s ridiculous because even SYMPHORCE, the band, we haven’t had out promo cds yet and I already found it in the net, which I don’t know how they do it but obviously it’s the press guys, which really pisses me off. A lot of press guys already have the possibility to get the album for free to prepare for interviews. They don’t know anything better to do than put it to the net. It’s disgusting in a way.
Are there any touring plans taking shape for the year ahead? If so, is there any chance you will make it back to the states?
We would love to come back to the states because as I told you it’s been probably the biggest highlight in our career so far. We have always dreamt of coming to America to play there. Obviously, it’s really far away from home you know. So far, unfortunately, we don’t have any plans set up yet, but we’re in contact with our booking agency and we are trying to set up maybe a small tour and at least we want to play a couple festivals either in Europe or the states. I don’t know yet. It always depends on the label’s support, of course, and it depends if there is a promoter out there who thinks it will be worth it for Symphorce to play there. I really hope and I really trust that some will book us.
Are there any plans to shoot any videos for Become Death?
Actually, we’re thinking about doing something for the song “In the Hopes of a Dream,” but I don’t have any updates on that yet. We haven’t yet done a really professional video shoot. Of course, it costs a lot of money. And here also it depends on the support of the label. I don’t know how Metal Blade thinks about that. I just really hope they are also on our side and can support us in that, but I don’t have any updates.
You recently left FREEDOM CALL to focus on SYMPHORCE. Was this something you had to do in order to keep things fresh and the quality high for SYMPHORCE?
Not only SYMPHORCE, but for my whole life because when I play in a band I really want to give a hundred percent at least. In the end, it was quite impossible for me because obviously both bands are professional bands, recording albums, doing tours, and so it takes a lot of time to play in a band like that. And if you have two bands it’s even worse. I’m still doing my job. I have a girlfriend. I have family. So it’s very hard to keep everything under control. And in the end, I just felt exhausted and I just had to do something about it. SYMPHORCE has always been more the kind of music that I love to play. The decision was hard, but also easy in the end. I’m not saying I don’t like FREDDOM CALL. I mean I still do love their music and I’m still in contact with the guys. We have a great friendship. But in the end it was just the music and my heart that told me I should continue with SYMPHORCE.
Who are some guitar players that you really admire? New or old? And any particular reason you like certain people?
Yeah, you know, I would have to name Slash in the first place because he is the guy that made me play guitar. He was so cool. I had posters all over my wall and I just wanted to be as cool as guys like Slash or James Hetfield. So that’s basically the first guitar players that I really started to love. And then Paul Gilbert is also a very, very, very cool guitarist. He’s one of my favorites. I’d go for Dimebag Darrell because he was probably the coolest guitarist ever with really fast guitar solos. Unbelievable. Zakk Wylde is very, very cool. John Norum is a very, very good feeling guitarist. I’ve seen EUROPE lately, and John Norum is “wow” amazing.
How do you feel about the state of metal music right now as a whole, and where do you see SYMPHORCE’s place in it?
I think metal is coming back. From a lot of friends from the United States, for example, I heard that European kind of metal is growing up there. I think it’s coming back. It’s not probably going to be like in the eighties here in Europe. Metal was very, very big then. I recognize that a lot of young people, a lot of teenagers, they start listening to heavier music, and I really hope that SYMPHORCE will have the chance also to get heard out there. I mean it’s very hard. The competition is so big. There are so many bands out there. I just hope that SYMPHORCE makes its own corner and hopefully we’ll get the listeners.
Are there any particular bands or albums you are enjoying right now?
Actually, I’m listening a lot to QUEENSRYCHE’s Empire album at the moment. In the car I listen a lot to the latest KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album. I do listen to a little bit of blues also like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. Basically, this is the kind of stuff I am listening to right now either in the car or at home or on my IPOD or wherever. I’m just always surrounded by music because I can’t stand silence. Whenever I come to my apartment if there is not TV or a stereo running it just gets nuts. I have to play music and I have to listen to it all the time.
On your personal myspace page, I read that you consider yourself a songwriter but not only of metal music. Some of that comes through in the variety presented by Symphorce; however, have you written other kinds of music? And, if so, do you have plans for any of it to see the light of day?
As I told you, I do the blues of course. I think here and there you can hear it in my lead guitar playing. I mean my solos like “In the Hopes of a Dream” where the guitar solo is pretty bluesy. Yeah, basically, you hear the influence in every lead guitar I play or guitar in general. I do write a lot of rock songs with some blues orientation compared to SYMPHORCE. So I have a couple I have already written so far and probably I am starting to work on something of my own as a side project or whatever, but it should be more for the fun. We have a lot of cool guys over here and probably I am starting something, but it’s more like for the blues, rock, metal thing you know. I’ll see where it leads me.
I understand this is the last album you are contracted for with Metal Blade records? Do you guys want to sign with them again? If not, when do start shopping for a new label?
It’s hard to say. At the moment we are quite busy promoting Become Death, which is of course for Metal Blade. It’s really hard to say. To be honest, every band will tell you that they are not really, totally satisfied with the label’s support. That’s also something we have from Metal Blade. Of course, they do a great job setting up interviews and supporting us with each album, which is a really, really great thing and we are very thankful for that. On the other hand I think they could do a lot more. So, I don’t know yet if we will do it with Metal Blade or if we will be looking for another label. We are not really focused too much on the future. We are really for the next half a year and then try to set up time for that. It doesn’t really make too much sense to think too far. So we’ll see what is coming up.
So would you say you don’t have any long term goals for the band then?
Of course, we have long term goals, but in the last couple of years with Become Death as our sixth album already, it’s just so important to keep your feet on the ground. We have so many expectations. Everybody in SYMPHORCE is really working his ass off for the band. We have been disappointed a lot. Maybe also that’s the reason why Become Death sounds so heavy because we said to ourselves that we’ve tried everything possible. Everybody gave more than 200%. It’s not just writing songs and playing live. It’s really a lot of work doing a band like SYMPHORCE and trying to get bigger, actually. So, we seem more relaxed nowadays. To be honest long term plans, most of them are going to be destroyed anyway. You just have to take it as it comes and that’s why we are just more relaxed. We’re not worried too much with the long term.
I want to thank you for spending some time to talk to me about the new record and the band. I’m sure you have been asked a lot of these questions before. So, are there any things not asked that you would like to leave the readers with metal-rules.com with?
It was absolutely my pleasure. It’s always nice. Of course, we are trying to get back to the states and, hopefully, Canada as well. That would be just amazing. I really hope people will give us a chance and come to our myspace pages or even to our official site, www.symphorce.net, and they can listen to an excerpt from every song on the album. I really hope they give us a chance and support us like they always have done.