Worth Dying For Interview with
Guitarist Alexandre Fisette & Vocalist Alexandre Tremblay
Interviewed By EvilG
Quebec has always been a hotbed of metallic talent, spawning forth a multitude of bands. One such band is making waves with their new and diverse album TEARS & ASHES. As soon as you think you know where the album was going, it takes another turn in direction, keeping each track unique and individual. We spoke with Alexandre about the band, their goals, and get a feel for what they are all about!
How would you classify your sound? I hear bits of Swedish Death Metal, prog, and even metalcore?
That’s the hundred-dollar question, right there. I’ve seen "progressive metalcore", "extreme progressive metal", "unclassifiable" and "weird" when reading descriptions of us. We usually say "melodic death metal", since we’ve got many comparisons with Soilwork. I would personally say "progressive melodic death metalcore", but it feels much like genre overkill (laughs).
Do you think that the diversity of your music might turn away some listeners or are you cool with that if they at least enjoy the hell out of 1/2 your album?
We’ve actually had many people telling us that they appreciated the variety, that they wouldn’t listen to a band that has screaming parts or sung choruses, but that somehow it worked with us because they could balance what they didn’t like with what they actually like. Our bassist, Vincent, literally hates screaming and despises when I do "pig-squeals", but he always stuck with the fact that it blended so well with the rest that he could get over it. So, hell, if even our own bassist can find something he likes in every song, we figure almost everyone will.
Since you will no doubt be a new band to many of our readers, tell us a little about how you met and developed the band and its sound until today?
The core of the band has always been the same, the Bessette brothers (JP, keyboards / Keven, drums) and Alexandre Fisette (guitars). They started playing together in 2002, when they were all in their mid-teens. They also had a different name at the time, that I will keep secret (for my own sake). Early on, they were mostly influenced by hardcore and early NWOAHM bands like Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage, Unearth. Vincent (Bourgouin, bass) came in 2005 and I (Alexandre Tremblay, vocals) joined in 2006. That’s what consituted the more stable part of the band from ’06 to now. In between, we’ve had some problems in keeping a steady lead guitar guy, but we actually found one that fits the picture perfectly this year ! His name is Dave Langlais and he clearly is the best guy we’ve ever had for the job. A wonderful shredder and an all-around nice guy, great to have around. He didn’t record the album, but he’s already an important part of the whole promotion process. We’re really glad he came on board.
From then on, we’ve tried to mix everything we like into something "palatable", if you will, since we have so many influences, every song could turn into a six-headed monster real quick, so we kinda have our own little niches; Vincent is a huge classic power metal fanatic and usually writes songs in that vein. Keven and I write the more metalcore/Swedish death metal parts. Alex F. likes his metal slow and heavy and brings all kinds of acoustic/clean interludes in the mix, stuff inspired by bands like Opeth, Katatonia, Insomnium. JP is the prog guy. Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Yes, 70’s stuff. Anyone who listened to enough Dream Theater will get where he comes from whenever he throws some piano in there. As for Dave, he already contributes to the writing and he comes from a classic rock/metal background so he brings all those chord-based riffs, but, of course, he’s working hard on the shredding parts. We write all this together, usually one of us will come with a "skeleton" song and others will add some meat around it. It’s a great collaborative effort.
Where did you record your album to and how long did it take?
We recorded the album at various locations around Quebec City and Levis, on the south shore of the Saint-Lawrence River. The guitars, bass and drums were recorded in a small studio our producer Antoine Baril (Augury) had rented for the summer in Saint-Romuald, a surburb of Levis. I think it actually was a small storage unit that was converted into a jamming studio and the sound was perfect for recording drums. In between takes, we would record rhythm guitar parts. Vincent nailed his bass parts there in one day. Acoustics, solos and vocals were recorded at the studio where Antoine works, Studio 50, in Levis. JP would record his keyboard parts at his home studio and send them over. We took 10 months to do all this, from June ’10 to March ’11, but we weren’t pressed by time constraints, we really were in the studio for about two months. We then shipped the final mix to Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry) for mastering.
From what I can tell, you’ve only played live in Quebec? Do you hope to play elsewhere in Canada, USA, or Europe or do you consider yourself more of a recording band?
Actually, it’s mostly because we’ve never had the opportunity. We’ve been working on our own on this project forever, never had any outside help, so we are the ones looking for shows and we’re booking them on our own. We often ended up being the promoter, organizing the show from start to finish, contacting bands, unloading vans… We’ve had to work this around our own schedules; school, work, family. I wouldn’t say we’re strictly a recording band, but we’re not seasoned road veterans either.
What has been your best and most memorable gig?
Playing in front of a packed house at the Imperial Theatre, one of Quebec’s concert halls. A wonderful stage, all these classic, Broadway-inspired designs on the walls, enormous paintings…. and about 500 rock-hungry fans. That was one of our best shows, I think, because we had this tendency to over-think and to get really introverted, that was the first time we said "you know what, fuck it, let’s get out there and get crazy." It worked wonders. We’ve applied this philosophy ever since.
Have you opened for any international bands when they toured through your area?
We actually just started getting offers to open for bigger bands. We opened for Blind Witness in Trois-Rivières last week and we will be supporting The Agonist in Quebec in June. Any other offer will sure be appreciated ! We’ll take everything we can!
Who would you like to tour with?
Soilwork, Between The Buried And Me, Killswitch Engage, Mercenary, Dream Theater, In Flames, August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying, Dark Tranquillity, Scar Symmetry…
Are you guys all in a position in your lives where you can just up and leave the "real" world behind and go on the road if the opportunity arose?
Not really, but we’ve considered scenarios. We’re not planning that far in a future we’re not sure will happen. We’re really the kind of guys who take it day-to-day. If ever the opportunity presents itself, there would be a lot of consideration given to the offer. Can’t really tell you if we would. Although we all certainly want to live this at least once.
Is the band actively looking for a record label or a distribution deal or is the DIY tactic the way to go for you?
We are, actually. Some record labels are really getting the hang of how to work in the music business in its current state and those are the kind of labels that we would like to work with. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing everything by ourselves, we just don’t have the expertise of a veteran A&R rep or booking agent.
You have physical CD’s available, and you’ve also signed up for iTunes and Amazon MP3. What medium are you getting the most success from?
It’s surprisingly well-balanced. We’ve sold a good bunch of physical CD’s though, because we haven’t reached the stage where you can just sell a USB flash drive loaded with your album in shows yet. But if you count out what we’ve been selling in shows, it’s a mix of both.
Your website is very professional looking – so who in the band is the huge web-nerd? hehe
Hahaha, well you got us. JP is a website and CG designer. He has his own business. He’s been handling all our graphics and websites forever.
To what do you attribute the abundance of great metal bands from Quebec as opposed to other parts of Canada? Not to say that there are no metal scenes elsewhere in Canada, but Quebec has spawned more great bands over the years than most other regions!
I actually wish I had a good answer to that question. Not to fall into overused clichés, but Quebeckers are a language-isolated community. To draw a parallel with Finland, I guess we’ve turned to music as a way to escape being unable to communicate with people around us. Not only in metal, but in many other artistic fields, Quebec has always been a very fertile ground for creation. We have a very lively artistic scene, considering the size of our population versus the US or the rest of Canada, for instance. "Harder" music has always been in vogue in Quebec, too. French colonists were peasants, people who liked drinking and having fun while dancing on rhythmic, lively songs. Irish immigrants also played a huge part in building the province, so I guess integrating their festive, hard-partying culture into ours was only natural. In the end, we’re kinda hardcore right down to our genes. We party hard. We drink a lot. We’re prone to fighting for everything and nothing. Sounds like a natural breeding ground for metalheads.
Worth Dying For has been together for nearly a decade! What drives you to do what you do and have motivations changes from when the band started to today?
I guess we started taking it more seriously as we grew older. We acquired more maturity and it shows through our records. We started this when most of us were teenagers. Instead of doing this solely for the fun of it, like we did back then, now that we’re all into our twenties, we have a new outlook on how to do things. We’re still young and we’re still in it to have fun, but with a bit more focus. As we started other projects in our lives, we eventually had to grow up. It had to translate to the music somehow, so we keep things fresh, we always look for new ways to reinvent ourselves. That keeps us going. We’re not all about partying all night and making the same thing all over again. That would kill us in the long run.
While you list a few bands in your bio who have been influences, one band which is missing to my ears is Canada’s Into Eternity. Are they an influence, or do you not listen to them and perhaps the similarities are due to sharing the same influences?
True, we fall into the same category. To call them an "influence" would be a bit much, but we’re certainly fans. Personally, I’ve been a fan for quite some time, ever since "Buried In Oblivion". "The Scattering of Ashes" is one of my favourite albums.
I assume you’ve heard of the band of Jeebus freaks also named Worth Dying For? While there won’t be any confusion with the sound/music, are you at all concerned over rights to the name?
Yes, we are aware of them and there has been much confusion about which band is which. We’ve received so many messages about professing our love of Christ and while we have nothing against it, we’re not about preaching religion. We think it should be a personal matter. We actually decided to complete the promotion cycle for this album under the name Worth Dying For, as all our promo material was completed when WDF U.S. started gaining in popularity. They are getting pretty big and we sure can’t handle a legal battle over the name. We’re seriously considering releasing our next album under a new moniker, whilst still including the two first albums in our discography.
Where did you get the band name from? With a name like that you must of thought about what is actually Worth Dying For. What is worth it?
First of all, we’re a huge bunch of geeks. We actually got the name when our first singer saw a trailer for The Matrix Reloaded. It sounded good and it stuck.
And to answer your other question, let’s just say that you’d get six very different answers according to each band member. Our stance on life is as diverse as our musical influences. While Alex T., Vincent and JP would put individual liberties and freedom as being essential, Keven and Alex F. would rather put unity and sense of community first. Dave has yet to take a side in our crazy debates…
01. Haunted (5:24)
02. The Drawing of the Three (4:26)
03. The Killing Sound (3:57)
04. They Speak in Wavelengths… (5:52)
05. Of Glorious Remains pt. I – The Poisoned (5:34)
06. Scorched Earth Policy (3:55)
07. Drowning in Whispers (5:07)
08. Virgin Black (4:14)
09. Bloodwork (3:45)
10. …And We Answer in Shockwaves (3:37)
11. Chameleon (4:00)
12. Of Glorious Remains pt. II – Fading Lights (6:12)
Released: December 14th 2011
Produced by: Antoine Baril & Worth Dying For
Mixed by: Antoine Baril (Augury)
Mastered by: Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry)
Artwork and Website: Véronique Lagacé & Jean-Philippe Bessette