– Hello Ben, thanks for answering to our questions. What are you currently up to?
Ben: as we speak, I am now starting with the promotion of our new album God is an Automaton. We have been much busy last months and I guess it isn’t going to stop any soon, which is a pretty good thing.
– First of all, could you please make some history of SYBREED?
Ben: Drop and I formed the band in 2003 and we released our first album Slave Design in 2004, followed by Antares in 2007, which featured Dirk Verbeuren from Soilwork on the drums, and The Pulse of Awakening in 2009. As you can see we aren’t exactly new comers in the scene. Regarding the current line-up, we have founding member Drop playing the guitars, synths and producing the music, Kevin on the Drums, Alessandro on the bass, and myself of course, taking care of vocals and symphonic arrangements when they are needed.
– And how did you com up with the band’s name? Both its origin and meaning.
Ben: when we started the band, we were looking for a name that would really stand out, both simple and eye-catching. I found this word while reading a scientific article where they were speaking of hybrid cells, or as they said “Cybrid”. I found this word sounding pretty good and I liked the meaning as well, as it would fit our idea of mixing different elements in our music. However I didn’t like the writing itself, and since I had already this song called “Synthetic Breed” I decided to concatenate the phonemes of this song title to match the pronunciation of the word I choose previously, which is how we ended up being called “Sy-breed”
– You have a new album coming out in a couple of months entitled “God is an Automaton”. What are your expectations?
Ben: We will just release an album hoping the fans we like it, that we will gain new ones, and that we can tour a lot. We try to not focus too much on business and fame and money if I may say. If we become more known with this album, it’s cool, if not we will keep on doing as we ever done, so as to say working on making good music. However, I feel like this album might be a big step in our carrier, even if well those things aren’t in our hands.
– This has been your first full-length with bass player Ales. What has he brought to SYBREED? And how is everything going with him so far?
Ben: To start with, he’s friendly, hard-working, and as batshit crazy as the rest of the band, so his integration was pretty fast. Moreover it’s the first time we have a bass player which extensive technical skills: he never played anything but the bass so he really knows his instrument. Last, but not least, since he has more “traditional metal” influences, he brought a nice old-school feel in our music. All I can say is that we are finally done with that bass player’s curse we had in the past and found the right guy this time.
– After giving the album some spins I’d dare say it reminded me a lot to your second “Antares”. Was this something you were looking for? And now that have been 3 years since your previous “The Pulse of Awakening” was released, how do you regard at it?
Ben: I am not the right person to ask about The Pulse of Awakening for I am not really happy with my vocal performance on this album. We knew it would be a difficult one to produce even before entering the studio and we unfortunately were unlucky enough to be plagued with technical issues during the recording. So in my opinion it is still a good album, but it is as if we released a record which was only a part of what it should have been. Now, with the new album we didn’t want to change radically again, but to propose a mix of what we have done in the past: this is somewhat of a synthesis of our previous albums, with indeed maybe a little emphasis on the “Antares” era. It was a necessary step for us since “God is an Automaton” will almost mark the ten years of the Sybreed’s existence.
– It’s quite similar as it has shorter songs than on your previous opus, plus they are more straight-forward and are more focused on groove. Do you think this can also be attractive to your listeners? As I think people can relate and pay more attention to shorter songs, as everyone has now easy access to a lot of music.
Ben: we didn’t really plan it that way. Our main focus was actually composing song we would enjoy playing on stage, something more “rock’n’roll” if I may say, so we agreed on the fact that we would have to somewhat concentrate on the essence of our music and reduce its complexity to a solid core. It is true that the material of our new album can appear quite “simple” compared to what we have done before, but it was more a question of musical efficiency than a focus on making the music more accessible. Let’s say we have cut some of the things we judged being redundant or needlessly convoluted: it might look like a bold move nowadays, but that’s the way we felt composing this album.
– Anyway your music has always been really dynamic, with certain elements from different genres and nuances from styles that aren’t too obvious at first (as certain “classic” guitar riffs) so, what could you say are the main musical influences for the band?
Ben: we are pretty versatile as musicians, so to define our main influences is quite difficult. However I’d say that we took this kind of groovy/extreme metal basis you can find in bands like Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory or even Carcass or At the Gates, and added several layer of other elements from other genres of music, from industrial to 80’s synth-pop, which gives Sybreed its composite sound. Then, we really enjoy trying some a new “feel” with each album, and for example theirs a lot of elements on “God is an Automaton” which are actually almost old-school, musically and vocally wise: somehow, this album is quite an ode to 90’s metal.
– On the other hand, it also has a certain futuristic feeling similar to the vibe “The Pulse of Awakening” has. Does this vibe also fit with the lyrics covered on this CD?
Ben: definitely, the lyrics still retain this futuristic feel, especially with songs like Posthuman Manifesto and High Tech Versus Low Life. However, I’d like to precise that the lyrics speak of the current “Zeitgeist”, just like many works that are labelled as “futuristic”, and not of possible societies and events in a century or more. For example, I take a great amount of inspiration from a writer like William Gibson, which shifted from science fiction to social fiction since technologies just reached the point he somewhat predicted back in the 80’s. In short, as the slogan says: “the future is now”.
– This being said; what do some of the lyrics on this record deal with?
Ben: first, it isn’t a concept album per se this time, I went really far with The Pulse of Awakening in the genre “lyrical mindscrew” so I decided to go with something more basic as well on the new album, just a collection of songs about topics that interest me. So you have different themes all along the album: the possible effect of consumerism on human enhancement, the feeling of helplessness and apathy wilfully spread by mass media or communication technologies, and by extension our obsession for material belongings over spirituality, as well as a couple of songs based on the nietzschean admonition “become what you are”. There are also songs with odd subjects for a metal band, such as No Wisdom Brings Solace which speaks about the pursuit of knowledge and its limits or Red Nova Ignition which is a purely gnostic song.
– And how does the cover artwork represent the album? It has been crafted by seasoned and well-known Seth Siro Anton, which has a really unique style. Are you satisfied with the work done by him?
Ben: Well, regarding the meaning of the cover you would have to ask to Seth. You don’t need to give any indication with such a talented artist: so when we asked for the album artwork, we just gave him songs and lyrics and he sent us this cover based on his own inspiration and interpretation a couple of month later, cover we approved right after seeing it. In any case it totally fits the album’s themes, and I can say he definitely understood the atmosphere of God is an Automaton. So yes we are totally satisfied working with him and I think we are going to keep on collaborating with him for a while.
– All this about “God is an Automaton” being said; how could you describe it in 3 words?
Ben: compact, straight-forward, futuristic.
– I’ve read you will be shooting a video for “The Line of Least Resistance” so, have you already started filming it? How will the clip look like? And do you plan doing any other video clips off this release?
Ben: we indeed already shot the video for “The Line of Least Resistance” a couple of days ago. So far I can’t say how it will precisely look like. However, when speaking with the director Benjamin Cappelletti, we agreed on having a cold aesthetic and take influence from movies like Minority Report for example, as well as trying to not make a video which would be too “metal”. Regarding shooting another video, we might try to make a live clip, but it is still being discussed for now.
– You are hailing from Switzerland, a country with great extreme Metal bands and also a bunch of legendary bands into other Metal styles but, how is currently the Swiss scene? How do you see it as an insider? And are there many bands playing a more modern style like yours?
Ben: as you might know, Switzerland is an odd country for there are three official languages: the result is that you have a German orientated scene, a scene in the French speaking part and one in the Italian speaking part. So it’s pretty hard to say what happen for the whole country. There are indeed a couple of bands where we live who started playing modern metal, but they are more affiliated to the “Djent metal” bandwagon. For the rest, I feel like Switzerland favours more traditional forms of metal such as heavy metal, old-school death metal or pagan metal which is quite a successful genre here. I suppose people like it a bit “rural” here ahah.
– And finally, what are the band’s near-future plans?
Ben: to release the album and tour the most we can: that’s already a good plan that should keep us quite busy. Things are being set up so I can’t say more about it so far. We also discussed about not waiting too much to start composing a new album, but it’s always a bit of “wait and see”. We will see what happen with God is an Automaton first and how much touring opportunity we have after its release.
– That has been everything from my side, thank you once more. If you want to add some final words; last lines are all yours.
Ben: first of all thank you for this interview. And then, I’d say I hope that the people who read this interview enjoyed, or will enjoy, our new album.