Bass player Elodie – Cellar Twins
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Roberto at Rockshots Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Rockshots Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Cellar Twins are a Heavy Rock/Metal band formed in 2014 in Namur, Belgium. The band took the unique approach of running a pledge campaign to fund the release of their DUALITY album. DUALITY was originally released a while back and now the band is re-releasing it with a new record label backing them up. I had the pleasure to interview bass player Elodie and we spoke about the recordings of DUALITY and the re-release, the band’s past, present, what they are planning for the future, as well as how the pandemic has affected the band.
Hi Elodie, thanks for taking the time doing this interview with me and Metal-Rules.com today. How are you doing?
Hi, I’m good thank you! Thanks a lot for interviewing us!
Let’s go back to when it all began, 2014, when the band was formed. Who is the founder?
The band was founded by lead guitarist Jeff Sternon and former drummer Francesco Damanti.
In 2016 the band’s line-up was complete. Who was the last one to join the band?
Well, the line up was completed by Carl, our lead singer, but that was before we had to change drummer… So now, the line-up is hopefully complete 🙂
Where does the name Cellar Twins come from? Who came up with the name?
Jeff and Francesco came up with the name. On the one hand it had an enigmatic feel to it that they really liked, and on the other hand it seemed like a good fit for what started as a head banging duo rehearsing in a basement.
What did media think of the 2017 EP the band released?
To be honest, we didn’t get a lot of attention at the time mainly because we didn’t have any PR or label back then. One criticism we got several times was that, though being good, the songs were quite different in style and that it was hard to find a common trait. Still, we managed to get it aired on national radio a few times!
On the band’s Facebook site it can be read “Cellar Twins is a modern rock band with enigmatic sound identity”. What does that mean?
It means that we like to mix things up and come up with blends that are not very common or expected regarding either soft or aggressive parts in songs arrangements, melody choices, etc. Another main aspect of this is that we have rock/metal instrumentals with clean vocals. We don’t really care about fitting into a given genre, we just do things that we think sound good.
Which bands/artists have influenced your music?
We draw inspiration from a lot of different bands and a lot of different styles of music. However, one could say that our main influences are probably Alter Bridge, Avenged Sevenfold, Bring Me the Horizon, Killswitch Engage, etc.
Is it correct that three of the members are from Belgium and one from France? Which one is from France?
Absolutely correct. Our current drummer David lives in northern France.
Back in 2018 you shot videos to three songs, amongst those the song “My Shell”. Tell us about the video shoot, was it fun and where did it take place?
We did that in the middle of the night somewhere near Charleroi, Belgium. It was freezing cold and we were running around in the woods. We were actually worried about getting the cops called on us because there were houses nearby and we were walking around with flashlights and hoods on our faces (see the actual video clip to see what it’s all about). But eventually, everything worked out great.
“My Shell” (Video)
The same year the band also entered two contests. Tell us about that, how did it go?
That’s when we started getting a little more attention. Though we technically never won the first prize for these contests, we always won other prizes like discounts at local music stores, or free studio time; good stuff! Plus we always got good feedback and we were able to conquer news fans here and there which is great.
I know the band has done a lot of touring in Belgium, are you guys big in Belgium now?
We gathered enough momentum so that we sold out the venue where we decided to house the release party for the independent release of our first album DUALITY. This was a great milestone for us. Another fun fact was that when we were looking for a new drummer, Carl went to a local music school and some people who didn’t recognize him were actually talking really positively about our music right next to him. Another great feeling!
The band entered Wacken Metal Festival Battle. How far did you make it?
It was a good show and we did well, however the fact that we do not have screaming vocals turned some people down in the jury and we thus only played the first round of selection. Still, we got some good feedback there as well.
How much money did your crowdfunding campaign bring in in order to release your debut album back in 2019?
We managed to get 4,000 euros in the form of pre-orders of albums and merch which definitely allowed us to make the album come true.
Were there mainly fans from Belgium that participated or was it fans worldwide?
Mainly fans from Belgium but also people from France and from the Netherlands!
Was it only participants in the crowdfunding campaign that was entitled to buy the debut album DUALITY?
No, anyone could get it. For the crowdfunding, people could give different amounts based on what they wanted to get and how they wanted to help.
Last year the band released the video to “Molotov Parade”, which has about 20,000 hits on YouTube. What can you tell us about that video?
The video was shot during our independent release party (so before working with Rockshots). This was a crazy night with a lot of people and a lot of fun as can be seen on the video. A few minutes before playing that particular song, we told people about the lyrics and that they were about to be part of our next video clip, and here they were, singing everything back at us. It was wild!
Molotov Parade (Video)
Have you read any reviews of the album in media? Do you care about what critics and media have to say about your work?
Yes, we read pretty much all of them and we always try to analyze what people think and why they think this way (as long as it is constructive criticism, of course). We always want to improve.
Why did the old drummer leave and how did David Annenhoff end up in the band?
It had become complicated for Francesco to balance his daily job and family life with the band and this started to slow the band down. We discussed it several times and finally, from a common agreement, it was decided that Francesco was leaving the band. Fortunately, we are still on good terms with him. Then we started looking around for a new drummer and we stumbled upon this French dude on YouTube who was ruling the drums. A couple talks later, he was part of the band
Were there many labels that showed interest in signing the band and how come you chose to ink a deal with Rockshots Records?
A handful of labels were interested to re-release our album, but we had good feedback from RR and our PR at the time recommended them as a good choice.
Debut album DUALITY
RR chose to re-release DUALITY but are there any bonus material or anything extra with the new version?
The versions of the songs “Millenium” and “Selfear” are slightly differently mixed for the music videos than on the album, but other than that, it’s all stock content.
Have you added any new art-work or new songs or something like that to the new version?
No, all the artwork and songs were already present in the first independent release of Duality.
When did you start to work on the material for DUALITY?
As soon as the EP was finished in 2017. We wrote probably 15 songs from there and we chose the best ones to put on the album!
“Millenium” (Official Music Video)
Were all of the songs newly written for the album or did you use any of the songs from the EP?
All songs on the album are brand new and there’s no “salvaging” of previous songs from the EP.
Who in the band writes the music and the lyrics? And what are the lyrics about?
Lyrics are usually written either by Carl or Jeff (or both). Regarding the meaning, while songs have personal meanings to us we purposely choose to remain vague and implicit so that people with different experiences can relate in their own ways.
How many were there that took part of the crowdfunding campaign back in 2019?
Around 100 people participated in the campaign.
Who came up with the title DUALITY and does the title have any special meaning to the band?
The band came up with the idea as a whole. We were trying to find a way to explain that we like to blend opposites (soft and aggressive parts, deeper and lighter moods, anger and serenity, …) and the name “Duality” came to us as an obvious choice.
Who did the art-work and are you happy with the final result?
The artwork was done by Chromatorium Music and we really enjoyed the result.
Was Chromatorium Music free to create what they thought suited the music or did you come with any suggestion on how you wanted the final result to be?
We gave them the idea of the octopus and the butterfly as well as the colours we wanted. From there it was “do your magic”.
How would you like to describe Cellar Twins’s music?
Our sound is a blend of modern instrumentals with powerful yet clear vocals. We mix a lot of different atmospheres in order to take our listeners into a unique universe. Something that’s not just a 50-minute song with no change. We want or music to be like a depiction of life itself, with all its uplifting and crushing moments, expressed with anger, fear, joy and doubts.
In the info-sheet it say that that DUALITY is a one-of-a-kind record that has the potential to be enjoyed by all from laidback rockers to full-on metalheads, is that a correct statement?
We believe it is! It all depends on which song is put forward. For example, fans of the heavier side should enjoy “Millenium”, “Molotov Parade” and “Antithesis” while softer people will enjoy the quieter side of “Tales of Autumn”, “Cloud Walker” and “Wovoka”.
It also says, “Can rock music be renewed? Cellar Twins makes it a clear yes thanks to their new album DUALITY.” Those are big words, do you think the band has renewed rock music?
To us, it seems like modern rock music has become somewhat lost somewhere between soft indie pop and super violent metal. We believe that all the interest of music lies in nuancing these emotions. For this reason, we tried to bridge the gap between these two extremes and bring the best of both worlds together.
Do you consider Cellar Twins to be a DIY band with thought of your crowd funding campaign and that you took matter in to your own hands and released an album that way?
Absolutely, we try to do all we can by ourselves in order to have the most freedom we can. Plus we didn’t have any contact to push us at first, we built everything from the ground up.
DUALITY clocks in around 50-minutes and includes 10 tracks. Was it your intention to make a long album?
Not really, we just wanted to make music that sounded good and interesting to our ears. Apparently it turns out that this meant making 5-minute songs on average for us.
What are the shortest songs on the album “Solace” (4.28) and “Molotov Parade” (4.08) about?
“Solace” is a reflection on materialism, questioning the fact of needing versus wanting. “Molotov Parade” is about riots and street protests and the inner battle of choosing between peaceful protests and violent outbursts of anger.
Why did you put the ballad “Tales of Autumn” so far back on the album?
We wanted to strike hard from the beginning and then have a blend of styles. To us it made sense to have a soft starting song with a nice build-up towards the end of the album.
I read that the members all produced the album but was it anyone that was in charge of the production?
Everybody took part in that process, but Jeff was probably the one keeping track of everything the most.
Why didn’t you hire a producer?
We trusted ourselves as critics of our own work (as we are very demanding of ourselves) and songs were already completely written when we decided to record them.
DUALITY is mixed by Jeff Sternon who’s also your lead guitarist. Has he worked with any known bands before? In which studio did he do the mixing?
Jeff’s solely mixed for Cellar Twins so far, in his home studio.
In which studio was the album recorded?
All the guitars, bass, and vocals were done in Jeff’s home studio and the drums were recorded at the Noise Factory in Namur.
Are you happy with the outcome of DUALITY now that you look back on the album?
Some things can always be improved here and there, but overall it turned out good.
Label and management
Are you happy with the work RR have put into the band and the album so far?
Yes, we believe they are a great team and we enjoy working with them!
Does it feel nice to re-release DUALITY?
Yes! It actually shows that people care and that they believe in your work. It’s a great feeling and it’s quite humbling.
Were there many labels that showed interest in signing the band?
We got a couple of propositions, but we had received good feedback from RR and our PR at the time recommended them as a good choice.
Is DUALITY going to be released on vinyl?
Is the band fans of the vinyl format?
Yes, Carl really likes it and owns a huge collection.
This year you teamed up with the international booking agency Death By Metal MMB, how does that feel? Which parts of the world do they cover?
This feels great, another milestone! It’s a great team as well and they put a lot of effort in pushing us forward. They mainly cover Europe and North America, but it’s not restrictive.
Past present and future
The band’s website looks really good but it doesn’t include that much info about the band and the members as well as photos. Why is that?
It’s currently in the process of being updated. New content will be available very shortly – stay tuned!
Besides Facebook and YouTube, is the band active on any other social forums?
Besides those, we’re also active on Instagram.
Your Facebook site has about 3,000 likes so far, do you think the re-release of DUALITY is going to increase that amount?
Actually it has already increased nicely compared to before the album was released by RR. However we hope to see it keep on climbing.
“Selfear” (Official Music Video)
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question they ask you?
We get a decent amount of messages. People usually send supportive and heart warming messages, or ask when we’ll come and play near them. Sometimes we also get asked who is single in the band.
What’s the status regarding Covid-19 in Belgium at the moment?
Vaccination is ongoing and the plan is to start re-organizing bigger social events during this summer. But unfortunately nothing is for certain, it’s all wait and see…
How has the pandemic affected the band?
It postponed all of our gigs, which is a pain. However, it gave us a lot of free time to work on our upcoming album!
Here in Sweden, you’re only allowed to gather max 8 people at the same time. How is it in Belgium, do you have any similar restrictions?
Yes, only 4 people are allowed indoors without social distancing etc., and the number of people goes up to 10 with social distancing outside.
Is the band currently working on material to the next album?
Yes, our second album is well on the way writing-wise. 4 songs are pretty much finished and 6 other are 50 % done.
Do you think you’re going to do any touring on DUALITY or are you planning on do that on the next album?
It will mostly depend on the time it will take us to record the new songs and the time before touring is allowed again. Either way, we’ll be there.
Has the band held any streamed live sessions or so for the fans to see?
We actually did that with national television during the first lockdown. However, even though it was professionally handled and we had a great team around us, this whole live session experience felt quite artificial to us and we now prefer to wait for live playing to be allowed again.
What is the band’s main focus with DUALITY at the moment? To make it big in Europe or continue to build a solid fanbase in Belgium?
As soon as touring is allowed, we’ll be on the road to conquer new grounds both inside and outside of Belgium!
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Cellar Twins yet?
Do you want to take a trip and discover powerful and catchy tunes as well as deep soul trips? If so, you now know what to do!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy DUALITY?
You should grab Duality if:
1) You wish you could find music with great melodies that you can also head bang to.
2) You want to really listen to music and not just put on some background noise
3) You like albums that offer you different atmospheres and not just a single 50-minutes song.
Well, that was all for me and Metal-Rules.com this time around, again thanks for taking the time making the interview. Stay safe and healthy, do you have any final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Always keep pushing, especially when things get hard, stay safe, and see you soon on stage.