CONVICTION (EN)

– Hello, thanks for taking your time. How are you holding up? Musically, what are you focused/working on?

Olivier Verron (vocals, guitars) : Hi Tania, hi readers ! Well I guess it’s the same for many people, these times are weird. As a person with risks for Covid, I’m staying and working from home, which, in fact, doesn’t bother me too much. I know some people who would end up with depression in those circumstances but I think I’m doing alright. I’ve been focused on many things this year but nothing really musical per se. I wanted to compose and write things but it seems it’s not working the way it should, inspiration is a tricky beast you know… But I’ve been doing other things, focusing on my normal human everyday life and also succumbing to a passion that’s common to many musicians, which is collecting music gear, particularly guitar effect pedals. I’m trying to build my little youtube channel, I work slowly and don’t have much equipment for filming so it’s kinda artisanal for the moment but it’s fun doing. Guitar players can check it out here : https://www.youtube.com/c/AmdusciasBaal Also of course, working on CONVICTION, answering interviews, discussing some merch designs with our graphic designer Kax https://www.facebook.com/kaxarts I don’t have time to get bored actually, though I’m sure I could do more stuff If I stayed more focused and didn’t waste so much time on the internet. That’s one fight I should start against myself, actually. Getting off that damn screen.

-When and from what needs or desires was CONVICTION born? It has a very traditional Doom Metal sound. Did you have a clear vision on how you wanted this band to sound like?
Oh yes indeed. Back in the nineties already. Back then, I discovered Doom Metal and Doom Death, first with Cathedral and the “Peaceville Three”, MY DYING BRIDE, PARADISE LOST, ANATHEMA… That led me to Traditional Doom, by picking up band names in the booklet of Cathedral’s Forest Of Equilibrium… The discovery of SAINT VITUS and PENTAGRAM was a big revelation. Then I saw CATHEDRAL live, and it was clear in my head I’d end up putting up a Doom Metal band together. I tried to find musicians for it, between 1996 and 1998, but at this time no one wanted to play Traditional Doom in my surroundings, so I thought I’d wait for us all to grow older haha! I focused on TEMPLE OF BAAL, but still had this project in my head. Then, life went on, bad times and sad experiences accumulated and formed a pyre under which a sparkle started the fire in 2013. One day of November, I woke up really early, plugged in my guitar, started playing and recording riffs, put some programmed drums, recorded bass, started having melodic ideas in my head, wrote down words, recorded the vocals, and there I was at the end of the day, with CONVICTION’s first demo. Totally composed, written and recorded in one day. A strong, intense, liberating experience. And it sounded the way I had intended all those years: Doom Metal, the ancient way, with influences from bands I worshipped, mainly SAINT VITUS and CATHEDRAL, actually. Some say it sounds old fashioned, and it certainly does cause it doesn’t sound like nowadays Stoner Doom bands, or Stoner Rock. It’s pure Doom, and yes, it sounds sad and desperate but that’s the way Doom should sound to me.

-CONVICTION was formed in 2013 and you released your first demo on that same year. In that moment the band consisted on you only. How did it evolve into a full band? Was it easy to find the rest of the members?
Back then the project was a one-man band, mainly because I was focused on TEMPLE OF BAAL and didn’t have time for a full time second band. But as time went by, I found out I didn’t have inspiration for Black Metal anymore. It felt I had said and done everything I had to say and do for that matter… So slowly but surely, I started to focus more on CONVICTION. The point is, after all these years, I had met the good guys and we even had discussed this project, they had heard the demo and liked it a lot, and they had told me that they would be there when I would decide to build a line up, so there we were, in just a few days. The sparkle was the tribute to CATHEDRAL released by Sleeping Church Records, to which we participated, and originally I just wanted real drums on it. Teepee instantly told me he was very much into it, and the ideas flowing, I started imagining the demo with real drums, and then a full band playing those songs live… I knew exactly who I would call, and Fred and Vincent answered positively right away.

-In fact your self-titled debut album contains all the songs in that demo. How was it like to work on them with a full line-up? Would you say these songs got new life?
I was so proud of those songs, born in just a few hours that they had to be on the album. Some could say I had been lazy but if you take a look at all the classic bands in history, that was the case. All the songs from METALLICA’s demos ended up on Kill’Em All, for example! So yeah they were given new life somehow, with a real organic sound, real amps and real drums change everything… I also worked more on the vocals, trying to make them sound even better: I even re-did all of them, after having recorded them once! We also had new ideas for arrangements, we worked on choirs, Fred got lots of additional guitar parts popping out of his mind… The songs were there, but there was a little bit of band effort added to them and the result is here.

-On both covers there’s the same figure depicted. Is it a conscious way to build a bridge between the two releases?
Somehow yes. I’m also thinking of a way to have it on other future releases. This statue is of high importance to me. It could turn out into our own Eddie or Vic Rattlehead, we’ll see…

-This being said; what’s that statue?
It’s the statue of a dead man, that’s located in the church of Gisors, the town I live near to. This statue dates back to 1526 and when I saw it for the first time, it struck me deadly. It seemed to talk to me, telling me the time was right for this Doom Metal band. Moreover, in the superior part of the monument, is written this sentence: “Fay maintenant ce que vouldras avoir fait quand tu te mourras”, which translates to “Do right now what you will have wished to have done when you die.” Of course, in the context of this statue the meaning is religious, like to have asked forgiveness to God I guess, but for me, it had another meaning, I had to put up this band I had it mind since the nineties and this statue had been waiting to tell it to me all these years. I often go to visit it, even today, since this majestic church is just a few minutes from home, and it’s highly, highly inspiring.

-There were several years from the demo to the full-length. What have you been doing during this time?
TEMPLE OF BAAL was still a priority so I was pretty much focused on it. But I also composed for CONVICTION. And I also focused on managing some parts of my personal life, like getting a higher grade at work etc.

-Considering these years and that a big part of the songs on the album were from the demo, is any material already written?
Sure. I have around two hours of instrumental pre-demos! I have to sort them out, only keep the best tracks, write lyrics, and off we go for the second and third albums!

-How does it feel like to write in CONVICTION with other people? What would you say this brings to end result?
Most of the basics of the songs are still written by me. But we’re also working on a song written by Fred for the next album, and it brings a little bit of variations maybe, also it’s still very Doom, considering Fred’s background with ATARAXIE. The team effort of being a whole band also makes my own songs sound a little different, for example now the four of us sing, and we’re working on having four voices choirs, the vocal aspect is gonna develop for sure. Also the fact of being two guitar players gives more musical richness of course. And Fred being the gear maniac he is, he has a lot of amplifiers, preamps, etc. I also have my own collection of those, and it’s like having more and more colors and nuances of them for a painter. The more gear we have, the more nuances we get. That’s why we use this or that pedal, Two Notes Audio Engineering, Orange Amplifiers, Riki le Plectrier picks, Blue Cat Audio and Musical Entropy plugins or Pro Orca drumsticks: they give us the sounds we have in our minds. That’s a really important point for musicians! Also Fred is starting his own guitar brand, DF Guitars (for Doom Fred Guitars), you can check what he does here: https://www.facebook.com/doomfredguitars We’re definitely music and gear nerds, but it’s not an “object collector” thing, it’s really all about the sounds… And those sounds are really inspiring.

-Having played (and still playing) all of you in other bands, what are you bringing from this background to CONVICTION? In what way does this experience help?
Not much really. From my side, composing for Conviction is really different from composing for Temple of Baal, Bran Barr, or Unnamed Season. Also, I guess for the other guys being in Conviction helps them focus on different things than their own bands. Singing, for example, is a big challenge. Performing vocal harmonies is something we have never done in our previous bands, and it’s a big challenge, very interesting. Also something we all bring from our past and other bands is experience. We know how to be efficient, how to set up our instruments and get a killer sound quite instantly without wasting time when we play live, etc…

-It seems what moves CONVICTION (lyric-wise at least) are emotions. Maybe the darkest and saddest ones. What do your lyrics deal with and what were some specific events that inspired some of them?
Yes CONVICTION is deeply human. It’s all about reflecting on yourself, examining your existence, admit points where you fucked up… I won’t get too personal about it because I want people to live their own things and reflect their own experience. We all have done things we regret in life, even if we don’t admit it. There’s always this point when you reflect on a part of your past and you’re like “oh, I really behaved like a fucking asshole there, I wish I could go back, think twice, and take a different road”. We all have our shames. That’s one big point of inspiration. We also all miss people, some people we will never see again, either because they’re dead or because they have just left and we’ve lost contact. And maybe there are things we’d have liked to tell them, that we’ll never be able to tell them. Maybe we all also lose time of our life in front of computers, don’t we? Time we could use for constructive things, with our loved ones. Of course we do, most of us do, and what will we think on our dying bed? “Oh shit, I should have spent more time with her, with my kids, etc, instead of arguing with strangers on social networks on stupid things”, and it will be too late. It also has to do with getting old. The song Outworn for example deals with this. One day, you look in the mirror, and the face you see is not what you would have wished to see. “Really? Do I really look this old? I thought I was 25 inside but I definitely don’t look 25 outside…” Doesn’t it hurt? Where has time gone? What have you done with that time? What do you plan to do with the little time you have left? All of those have been sources of inspiration for that album and they still ring heavily in my mind, and they’re so universal, they can speak to anyone.

-And aside from music, where do you take inspiration from? Art, books, cinema, nature…
Eeeeeh well I’m quite monomaniac about music hahahaha! But Art can be a big source of inspiration indeed. Religious art of course, as you might have guessed with this statue on our album. Also experiences from my childhood, times in the desert, staring at the deep blue when scubadiving, you know, this feel of immensity, of nothingness… Books can also be inspirational, historic books, or just fiction, the books of Boris Vian depicting the absurdity of life and its sadness like «Foam of the Days»…

-You recorded the album yourselves. What are the pros and cons of this? Isn’t having time and control a bit like a double-edged sword?
Oh yes indeed. Because we had all the time we wanted and so we wasted a lot of it. There are things we’ve re-recorded so many times, that maybe an external sound engineer would have left on the record but we were not satisfied with… Also, after the recording, the mix was another problem. Having some sound ideas in mind and reworking the sound over and over and over again… We’ve mixed the album several times, starting again from zero… But also, it was the first time we did that, and especially Fred who handled all the sound aspect, reamping, mixing, processing, etc, so of course you do mistakes, but you also learn, this way. We’ve taken notes now and we’ll do some things in different ways for the next album, so chances are we will waste less time! But it’s a very rewarding and interesting experience doing everything yourself, definitely.

-There are only clean vocals here. Did you practice or trained in any way? What vocalists have influenced you for the vocal style that you’re using in CONVICTION?
I’m fed up with growling and screaming. These days, I mostly listen to music with melodic vocals, except my old Black and Death Metal records of course which I still cherish, but I have a hard time listening to a new band with those kind of vocals, it’s strange. And it’s even more true for Doom and Stoner Metal, I just CAN’T listen to a screamer or a growler over this kind of music. I didn’t really practice or train for this album, but as a student I had taken part in my university’s choir, the Sorbonne in Paris, and studying music there I had a few singing lessons in my twenties, and I tried to bring back memories from this part of my life. Singers that influence me for CONVICTION would certainly be Wino and Bobby Liebling, mostly. They are not technicians, but the feeling is so deep and so strong. You know that feeling when Bobby Liebling screams “RIGHT !” after a long moaning and tortured vocal line talks to me so much more than highly technical, perfect Heavy Metal singers, for Doom at least.

-As I said earlier, you have a very pure traditional Doom Metal sound. In fact I think we all already know Metal tends to be a quite nostalgic “community”. When Simon Reynolds researched on the cult of retro on “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past” he wondered if: “Is nostalgia stopping our culture’s ability to surge forward, or are we nostalgic precisely because our culture has stopped moving forward and so we inevitably look back to more momentous and dynamic times?”. Applied to the Metal world, what’s your opinion? Do we use to look back because we feel there’s something missing on most of today’s music?
That’s a pretty interesting statement. The thing is many of us Metal people have entered our forties, so we’re not really teenagers anymore no matter how young our minds can still be. There are new bands, but many of those new bands don’t really speak to us, so we kind of hold on to what we know, of course we may try to do it our own way, the point is not to rip off BLACK SABBATH endlessly I guess. But there are different options in music and art in general: some, like us, who propose our view on forms of art we know, and some who will make art advance and go forward, proposing new things by experimenting. Both are to be respected in my opinion, some new things can impress me, I’m not living in the past as much as our music could make you think, but there are new things I like, and new things that don’t talk to me. I don’t think something’s “missing” in today’s music, it’s just that our ear is formatted to what we’ve listened to since our teenage days, but what is released today appeals to today’s teenagers, that’s how it goes! The really awful thing for me is the use of vocoder and autotune in popular music  that tends to generalize even in some parts of Metal scenes. It is an absolute horror to my ears, holy shit, why don’t you train to sing properly? Why do you have to have a robot voice? But it speaks to some teenagers, so… Hey, what did our parents, or the generation of Metalheads before us, think when Death Metal first came out? They hated it! My parents were like “why do you have to sing this way?” when they heard TEMPLE OF BAAL for example haha! CONVICTION is a relief for them hahaha! But it’s all so subjective in the end…

-All this about your album being said, how would you describe it in just 3 words?
Sad, Heavy, Riffy.

-And finally, what are now your near-future plans in these uncertain times? 
We have a show that should happen on the 3rd of November in Montbéliard with Dread Sovereign and The Flight Of Sleipnir, but only time will tell if it will really happen. Other than that, nothing is really clear. We’d love to play live of course, I hope we can get booked on Doom Metal shows when this nightmare is over. And if it doesn’t stop, we’ll have to find a way to record our next album anyway!

– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.
Thank you so much for your support since all these years, all the best to you, Queens Of Steel, and to your readers. See you some time on stage I hope…
Here are our sites and networks, join us there and let’s spread the words of Doom!
Doom is the Law – Doom or be Doomed!  
http://www.convictiondoom.com
http://convictiondoom.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/convictiondoom
http://www.instagram.com/convictiondoom
http://www.twitter.com/convictiondoom
https://www.youtube.com/c/ConvictionDoom

Tania Giménez

tania@queensofsteel.com

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