– Hello and first, of all, thank you for ansewring to our questions. How is everything going right now with CHEVALIER?
Hello, we are already focusing on the new material now that our debut album is finally about to be released, as well as preparing for the festival appearances this year.
– First off I’d like you to tell us a little bit about the band’s name and the idea behind it, it takes me back to those French Heavy Metal bands from the 80’s but also mixed with your usual medieval style.
The French scene has been a big influence on all aspects of Chevalier and taking the French name was one of the ways to show it. Many of the bands singing in French also had this unique historical/medieval/fantasy aura which made me connect the language to the mentioned themes and as you said, the name Chevalier also fits the band on this aspect.
– After having released two successful EPs and a split album, how do you feel about having released your debut full-length? What does this step mean to you?
It was important for us to let the whole thing shape up with the smaller releases, shows and writing more material to pick from before doing the first full-length. A lot of work was put into making the album a complete and well thought-out package rather than rushing to a studio at once when there were enough songs to do an album without any clear vision of how it should be. So now that it is finished, one important step is behind us and it’s time to focus on the next one.
– Your debut EP «A Call to Arms» managed to create some buzz around it into the underground, as well as it’s follow up, «Chapitre II». Did they open new doors for CHEVALIER?
As our first releases (including the split with Legionnaire) they of course opened all of the doors for us, getting to play at several fantastic festivals abroad without even having a full-length out felt almost unreal, but maybe it stands as a testimony to the strength of those EPs and to the importance of having an identity of our own.
– And how could you say has the band evolved and grown in musical terms since you were formed?
More varying influences have been brought in and the vision has naturally grown a bit, while the main focus has remained the same. And of course the most important thing for a band to grow and evolve is to stick to it and play together – With the current trend of all kinds of weekend projects to try out different sub-genres and fresh new bands disbanding after the first hyped release to get «reborn from the ashes» into some new project it’s no wonder they never truly evolve into something original.
– As I said before, your medieval influences are obvious again on your new ‘Destiny Calls’. We can ooze it in everything on the album except the lyrics I would say. What are the main inspirations for your lyrics?
Even though the lyrics are written in a way to fit to the aesthetics and medieval aura of the band, they are heavily rooted in our everyday lives here and now. After all, history repeats itself all the time and you can draw a lot of things from no matter how distant past to today and find parallels in them. We in the metal world have certainly witnessed during the past couple of years that witch hunts and trials are all but over, right? «The haunting past is always alive, the wheel just keeps on turning».
– What do some of them deal with?
Generally views on life and death, our often forgotten fragility as an existing lifeform, choosing and fulfilling one’s destiny…
– The cover artwork also fits into the style, and the drawing looks almost «magical». How did you work on it and who’s the artist behind this piece?
Loosely based on a few old illustrations I put together a rough sketch with strong ties to the lyrical content of the album, and to have the idea realized in the ideal style we had the very talented Karmazid do the final version.
– You play an epic old school Heavy/Speed Metal with the darkness and complexity of MERCYFUL FATE and some NWOBHM elements but, what bands have been an (conscious or not) influence for CHEVALIER?
Mercyful Fate indeed has played a big role in how I write the songs, as well as the NWOBHM band Hell who had a very similar way to come up with long and epic compositions that are more than just songs! Most of the other influences come from US epic/power metal like Brocas Helm, Omen and Manilla Road as well as from the French heavy/speed metal scene already mentioned earlier. I have a longer background with black metal than I have with traditional heavy metal though, so that brings a lot of the darker elements to the table too.
– In «Destiny Calls» we can find a rerecording of «The Curse of the Dead Star», which was already featured on your latest EP. I’ve always thought the instrumental introduction has a strong CANDLEMASS flavour, am I wrong? And why did you decide to include this song on the album too? What changes have you done to it?
Candlemass and especially the song Demon’s Gate might have influenced the intro guitar there, which I think brings great balance to the rest of the song, setting up the doomy and dark atmosphere before the song really kicks in is an important part of the song and it’s lyrics. We recorded it again with some minor changes, mainly in the slightly slower tempo to have it sound more powerful and let the riffs breathe more than on Chapitre II, while also extending the intro.
– In fact everything was recorded analogically. What would you say has this brought to the album? I personally think you managed to get the most fitting sound for your music, sounds natural, thick and it enhances that darkness and old school feeling you deliver.
That’s the thing with analogue recording, it sounds more natural and real, but has it’s downsides too mostly in the recording part. In the end, our EP’s we recorded digitally by ourselves and they pretty much deliver the same feeling, especially thanks to the mixing by Gentry Lord, so you can make both ways work if you know what you want.
– To be honest all of us who listen to traditional Metal, classic, that sounds like if it had been done decades ago, deal with a feeling related with nostalgia sometimes. What do you think Metal had back then that lacks in nowadays music?
Experimenting in the then unknown areas and breaking the current boundaries while doing so gave the bands all the possibilities to come up with something new and unique, and building up your own identity to stand out from the pack was way more often the goal for them than it is for all the retro bands now. Of course there’s also an endless amount of 80’s bands who didn’t aim for any of this and just tried to follow the footsteps of the trendy bands at the time, but the fact that it was a quickly growing and evolving thing back then gave all the more visionary bands more room to explore different sounds and styles while today it’s way more difficult to do something that hasn’t already been done before.
– In fact on «In the Grip of Night» you had the collaboration of Kenny Powell as a guest guitar player. How did the whole thing arise? Considering your style and his appearance I’m not surprised you’re OMEN fans.
I’ve been in contact with Kenny for a few years and since Omen was one of the most important influences to start Chevalier, as well as one of my ultimate favourite bands, I asked if he’d do a guest solo on our first album. So it’s a very meaningful collaboration. There’s also a second short but powerful guest spot of another US metal legend on «Destiny Calls», to be revealed later!
– Anyway within the most pure tradition you manage to break with all kind of conventionalism. Was this something you were striving for or is it of any importance to you?
It surely is something we strive for, like I’ve mentioned probably more than once already, having your own identity as a band is one the most important things to me and the greatest influence from all of my favourite bands is the inspiration to do something original as they did in their own ways.
– Usually tradition is detrimential to conventionalism and vice versa so how easy is to get a good equilibrium? Is it something that just comes out natural when writing?
I think for me some unusual choices or style in the songwriting comes naturally from the fact that I can’t really even play guitar, never had any lessons and started with it quite late, always focusing on writing something of my own rather than just practicing. In hindsight I’m glad I never learned to play by the rules because they seem to often limit people’s imagination. I mean look at all these people on Youtube who have spent an endless amount of time to master certain techniques to be able to play 1:1 along to something played by others before them – To me it seems more like parrots learning to repeat words and phrases used by humans without having any idea what they actually mean and with no ability to creatively use them. (No offense to the amazingly skilled parrots, I enjoy the videos of you screaming obscene words infinitely more than the ones of poor humans in their bedrooms showing off guitar sweeping!)
– With all this I mean that by doing something traditional you manage to sound just like CHEVALIER so, how do you feel when you are tagged as a revival or retro band? Or with often being mentioned as an «80’s tribute». Isn’t it a bit like a double-edged sword?
It is indeed, the fact that we all mostly love the music made in the 80’s (not excluding some of 70’s, 90’s, or even 2019 for that matter) of course reflects to our sound being heavily rooted on it, but I think we work from a very different standpoint than the bands who only aim to revive a sound and style of the past. Getting tagged to this movement of tribute/worship/old school/whatever bands because of these similar roots is a bit unfortunate but I guess also unavoidable in our case. However, with the strong intention of doing something original and having your own vision I think it’s possible to stand out from such movements in the ears and eyes of people who understand these things.
– In your music atmosphere also seems to be an important element. Is there anything you want to convey the listener through it?
A mystical, medieval and dark feeling, and more like a narrative in the form of music.
– Does your geography play a role in your atmosphere or music in general? Dark atmosphere vs a country with lots of hours of darkness in winter, an important nature, isolation…
I guess it does, if not intentionally, at least subconsciously. A lot of the Finnish bands throughout the decades of modern music have often stood out with a specific feeling and weirdness to them and it’s still an ongoing tradition to some extent, even if the globalization and internet have of course wrought havoc on this phenomenon originally caused by isolation of Finland and its culture.
– All this about «Destiny Calls» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Sword Edged Metal
– Usually bands with female vocalists are often tagged by journalists as «female-fronted» How do you feel about it? Are you OK with it or rather think it’s non-accurate description solely based on the gender of one of your members?
I think it’s a very irrelevant and unnecessary tag when describing bands, the sex of the vocalist doesn’t really hold any importance in how the band sounds in the end. It’s a bit absurd to me how bands get lumped into this «genre» most often by the ones who claim to advocate for equality, as it seems to work towards the exact opposite. My own favourite female metal vocals are in Lordian Guard and Ripper (on the songs sung by Sadie Paine) – Two bands that style and vocal delivery wise are like night and day, and to categorize them to the same pigeonhole just because of the female vocals would be ridiculous. What’s being sung and how is what should draw the focus, not who.
– You are hailing from Finland. What’s happening there lately? After some kind of «wave» there was more or less a decade ago with bands such as SPEEDTRAP or RANGER now there are a lot of interesting bands into trad. Heavy Metal releasing interesting stuff, like IRON GRIFFIN, LORD FIRST or LEGIONNAIRE. Is the Finnish scene in such a good shape as it seems from the outside?
I don’t really think about the Finnish scene as one whole, possibly because I’m from here and have lived in several parts of the country, and can’t really offer any opinion on this…
– And before we wrap this interview up, what’s next for CHEVALIER? What are your near-future plans?
Work on the new material since I have a 2nd album pretty much written, there will probably be a smaller release before that though.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thanks for the interview, we praise the blood that metal brings!