Vocalist Chaos Heidi – Asylum Pyre
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing me with promo pictures.
Additional promo pictures from the bands facebook page taken by: Aurélie R.
Chaos Heidi the vocalist from Asylum Pyre a melodic metal band from France and I had a sit down a while ago. We got to talk about their second album FIFTY YEARS LATER that was released late last year. The interview includes the story behind the album, the future plans of the band and how’s the metal scene in France is doing. Enjoy!
Hi how are you today? Are you ready to begin the interview?
I’m fine thanks! And I’m ready to begin
Could you tell us how long time it took to write and record your brand new album FIFTY YEARS LATER?
I’m not sure I could tell you how long it took to write it as Johann our guitarist and main composer has always many songs already written that he keeps for future albums or other projects! When I joined the band the album was already completely written and I had to record it 4 months after my recruitment and the recording of the album had already started at this time.
Who writes the material and what are the lyrics about?
The main part of the material is written by guitarist and composer Johann Cadot but some stuff has been brought by other musicians, and the whole thing is arranged by all band members. Until now most of the lyrics were about ecology, relation between humans and nature.It has been a very central theme in “Natural Instinct?” and in “Fifty Years Later”.
You released an online song teaser on Facebook and Myspace what did the fans think of it?
We actually released 2 things. A first video teaser on YouTube in June 2012 with 4 or 5 extracts of our new songs and then Massacre Records released our song “These trees” in October on their YouTube channel. The second one got a great amount of views, especially out of France where we wasn’t very well-known the reactions were very positive and I’m sure it made many people wait for the album.
Where does the title FIFTY YEARS LATER come from and does the title have any special meaning to you and the band?
Yes, it has a special meaning. “Fifty Years Later” echoes the 1st album theme. If you look at the artwork you can notice it’s the same place, the same trees, the same woman. But on the 1st album, things were green, colored, the woman used to make one with the tree and on our 2nd album, trees are dead, the woman seems to be torn apart, the sky is full of smoke or fog, you can see the ruins of a past world. “Fifty Years Later” is a projection of what our world could be in 50 years if we go on living this way. Ecological themes have been a very important part of the lyrics of “Natural Instinct?” and “Fifty Years Later” so we can say these 2 albums are linked.
Do you think that the band have gone through any musical development since the release of the debut album NATURAL INSTINCT from 2009?
Oh yes, of course. And we still are moving on. The evolution of the line-up and the musicians and also the fact we worked at the MII Recording Studio with Didier Chesneau (Headline) for this 2nd album has led us to a musical development.
Is it correct that you released FIFTY YEARS LATER without any back up from a record label?
Yes it is!
Why did it take so long to follow up the debut album?
Because the life of a band is often not very peaceful! And in that specific case the band had to face line-up issues. The previous drummer and singer left the band a few time before the recording of “Fifty Years Later” and that’s the reason why I met and joined the band, in June 2011. In the meantime, the band decided to work with a session drummer Vincent Kreyder (Fairyland, Horresco Referens), in order to be able to record the album fast. Recruiting someone can take sometimes too much time and we didn’t want to postpone more the recording of the album. The funny thing is Vincent joined the band as our official drummer now so things got better very naturally.
Is it safe to call the band a DIY band?
Ain’t almost all the bands nowadays DIY bands? Well, everybody knows how hard it is to produce, record, release, promote an album. How hard it is to tour. How expensive it is and bands are paying more and more as back up from other structures is becoming harder and harder. You can see it at the numerous bands who use crowd funding to release their album to go on tour. We’re facing very hard times.
I think it’s kind of hard to define your genre of music, how would you like to describe the music of Asylum Pyre?
Yes, it’s a tough question because we really think we stand at the crossroads between several genres. We have definitely heavy metal roots but there’s also symphonic, progressive, or speed metal stuff in our songs and that makes our music hard to define I guess.
You have an amazing voice. Are you happy with your efforts on the album?
Thank you very much! Concerning my vocals. I’m sure many musicians would have the same answer, I used to be happy with my effort and the more I listen to the album, the more I think I could make something better! I guess it’s natural I want to increase my vocals. And as I’m already working on the demos of our 3rd album be sure I will!!
How is it to sing towards guitarist Cadot?
It’s nice, because Johann brings his own thing to the vocal parts.
Studio & production
Didier Chesneau produced the album how come you chose to work with him? What’s his strongest feature as producer?
We already knew Didier before working with him. The band got in touch with him before I joined them and discussed about how they could work together, they decided he was the best choice to lead us to a good album to help us develop the band musically and it’s what he did. Didier played a very important part in the production of “Fifty Years Later” advising us and getting the best of us.
Where was the album recorded? Were all of the members there together to record each part?
The album was recorded at the MII Recording Studio in Normandy not so far from Paris. We scheduled the recording on several months because all the band members couldn’t be there at the same time as we almost all have jobs beside music. So we began with the drums in may and finished the last vocals takes in late November.
I’ve read that the album was recorded and finished in 2011 but wasn’t mastered until 2012, is that true? If so what took so long?
Yes, the album was recorded and finished late 2011 but the mix and the mastering were done in early 2012. What took the most of the time was to find a record label to ink a deal and then to put our album in their release schedule. That’s why the album has been released only in December 2012.
Could you tell us a bit about the background of the band like when the band was born and who’s the founder?
Johann and Julien (Bass), who’s just left the band, have created the band a few years ago around 2005. They started it just for fun with Cedrik Djelassi the first guitarist of the band and then it became more serious. But it was something new for them. For instance, Asylum Pyre is the first and only band of Johann.
Was it hard to find members to the band?
It used to be a bit hard. Because on one hand, Asylum Pyre began as a small non-professional band and as it’s developing it is more and more demanding to get involved in the project especially for non-professional musicians. But on the other hand the band wasn’t “big” enough to reach the attention of more professional musicians available and ready to commit themselves in the project.
Two new members joined the band in 2007 and 2009 – who were they and why did the previous members leave the band?
I’m not sure about the complete story but what I know is that the band has kept good relationship with almost all the past members.
You did your first major tour in 2009 called Metal Instinct Tour where did the tour take you?
Actually it was the very first tour of the band (in which I didn’t take part as the singer at this time was Carole Alcantara). It was a series of gigs in France in order to promote the album which was an auto-production.
Where does the band name come from?
A looooong search as I’ve been told! They tried some other names but it did really fit to the band universe or were already taken. Then one day this word association came in the conversation and Johann immediately thought about the theme of the song The Asylum Pyre on the first album. So it took senses and they choose it even if it’s not an easy name to remember!
The band come from France, how’s the metal scene doing in France?
Bad! Really Bad. First of all there are lots of good musicians but many of them are not really prepared for the music business. Then the audience in France is more pop or rap oriented. Metal is kind of a swear word here. So that’s hard to put your head out of the water. But work pays!
How did you end up in Asylum Pyre and when did you join the band?
I joined the band in June 2011. Their former singer Carole Alcantara had left the band in March and the band was looking for a new singer to replace her and record the new album. It appeared I was available at this time and especially looking for a serious project with a recording, tour and so on. When I got in touch with the band members I made an audition, we felt we could work together and I’ve finally been chosen among the singers who applied for the job!
The band had two previous singers before you, are you continuing in their tradition or do you add your own style to the band?
Oh I think I’ve definitely brought my own style as the former singer had mostly an operatic style and I’m more into Rock style. But it also was a wish of the band to make the vocals evolve to something less lyrical and more varied. And it’s what I like to do, so!
You’re also involved in an Iron Maiden cover act, is Maiden one of your favorite acts?
Yes! Iron Maiden has always been one of my favorite bands. They are one of the 1st bands I discovered when I was a teenager and began to listen to heavy metal! It’s a real pleasure to sing their songs.
Besides that, you are also a vocal teacher at your own school. Where do you find the time to do all these things?
Simple. I’ve learned not to sleep at all. Ha ha! Well, that’s true sometimes it’s hard to have several things to make work at the same time but I’m giving singing lessons for a living
Was it hard to land a deal with Massacre Records and where there many labels that showed interest in you?
It was not that hard. We sent them our songs and they liked it. That’s it. Some others labels showed interest in us but we choose Massacre because we thought it was the better choice for us.
Are you happy with the work that MR have put into the band and the album so far?
Yes. It seems that promotion has been good. Your interview is a token of it!
Do you think it’s important to be active on the various social forums on the internet? I notice the band has got a really nice website.
Thanks. Yes it’s important to present. Above all social network like facebook, youtube or tweeter. Everything works with it nowadays. But you also had to present in paper press!
Has the band done any touring since the release of the new album?
Yes we have. Mostly in France, for the moment. Our biggest venue was on December 2012 when we opened for DORO in Paris, at Le Divan du Monde. It was huge!
Are there any plans on touring Europe?
Not at the moment, sadly. Even if we would like to. Maybe we’ll have some gigs but that’s all. It’s too expensive for us right now.
What do the fans think of FIFTY YEARS LATER?
Oh I would not talk in their name here. We have gathered many people around our music with this album. So I think they liked it!
Are there any interest in North America or in Asia for the band?
Totally. These are two areas of the world we really want to tour in the years to come. Good Metal scene and audience and nice places !
During the summer joined new members forces with the band, could you tell us little about the new members and how they ended up in Asylum Pyre?
As the band is becoming a bit bigger it is more and more demanding to get involved in the project. That’s the reason why some former members like Julien Peuch or Tony Decaillon decided to leave the band and give priority to their personal life. To replace Julien as a bassist we asked Olivier Louis-Servais who is an old friend of Johann and he accepted immediately. When Tony left, we were already in touch with Armendar, founder and singer of MYLIDIAN because he recorded some backing vocals on “Fifty Years Later”. He’s also a great keyboardist and he immediately felt interested in joining us to replace Tony.
When was the decision made to make Kreyder a solid member of the band?
It came very naturally. After recording the album we asked Vincent to play some gigs with us, as we still didn’t have an official drummer, which he accepted, and after a while we learned to know each other better. We weren’t sure he could stay with us because he was already playing with several other bands and he finally left his other projects to stay with us and we were very happy about that. He’s now working on his drums parts for the next album, as all the other members are doing!
Are you friends with Peuch and Decaillon today? What are they doing?
Yes we are! They simply went back to “normal” life…ha ha. Taking care about their family, jobs. We respect their choice and we are very happy to meet them at some of our gigs sometimes.
According to your website, the band is currently working on a new album how is it going?
Very well! We feel happy about the new songs and we are working hard to make it sound as great as possible. We’ve learned from our experiences too and we’re trying to make it even better and efficient.
What do you have to say to the ones who haven’t discovered Asylum Pyre yet?
I would say that they should pay a little attention and try it out. It’s hard to get noticed is the great amount of bands nowadays. We sometimes are “filed” as female fronted metal and people immediately associate us to Nightwish or Within Temptation because I guess it’s easier to give labels to the bands. I can understand that but I feel we’re a bit more or different than that and it serves us badly. We really try to bring something fresh and our influences are so vast than I think we can’t be compared to one single band or even one genre. So, I would tell people to be open-minded and not expect anything in particular, just let our music lead you and find out where it brings you
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy FIFTY YEARS LATER?
Get To know A (good?) French metal band. Want to take pleasure while singing along our melodies with us. These melodies came from the deepest of our hearts. If you share it with us I’m sure you’ll have wonderful times And finally, if you like bands with a universe and which gives lyrics a real place!
Well that was all for me and metal-rules.com for this time. Thanks for taking the time and I wish you and the band all the best in the future. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the readers?
Thank you very much for this interview we hope to meet many of your readers (or maybe you!) on gigs someday. We’re eager to continue our adventure and we can’t wait to record our 3rd album and release it! See you all very soon! And metal rules!!!
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