Kataklysm: Outside The Lines

I think that the passion that we have for the music and the energy we put into it is what drives us....

A stuffy nosed Jean-François Dagenais of French Canadian death masters; Kataklysm is now in the country (hopefully getting over his ailment with a cold brewskie) but before they boarded the jumbo bound for their Japan & Australian tours, Metal As Fuck caught up with Jean to discuss the latest of 11 albums for the band, Max Duhamel and crazy Australians… Crazy is a good way.

“Promo for the new record is keeping us pretty busy, it’s nonstop actually. It’s also awesome though because everyone is focused on it all”.  Considering that the band is entering its second decade in the industry and although you make it look so easy [jokes], it really is no easy feat, what are some of the moments in your career that stand out for you personally? “Oh man there is so many things that have happened in the last twenty years, wow, I mean for me – the best thing we ever did in our career was to get to travel the world and see crazy places like touring from Siberia to Russia and seeing Indonesia and Japan oh and Australia! The travelling stands out the most you know because you get to see and experience so many different cultures, I am very thankful for that”.

The latest album Waiting For The End To Come has been circulating for about a month now – how has it been received by fans so far? “The response is unbelievable! It’s been a while since we’ve had a response like this, like people going out of their way to get in touch with us – letting us know how much they like it and it’s a great feeling because we worked so hard on this record, we spent the last year and a half on this record and it’s finally out! It’s nice to see the reactions, we feel really blessed that we have such amazing fans out there. We can’t wait to start touring the new record and see how these songs are live. It’s always nice to see how a band grows over time”.

Well it was a previous statement from the band that with this album in particular, it was time to make a change and challenge yourselves with different sounds, I mean 11 albums down, where do you begin? [Laughs] “We always try to be our best with whatever circumstances are, I think that the passion that we have for the music and the energy we put into it, it’s what drives us 10 years later. We really love what we do and I think it’s a big factor. It’s good to think a little outside the box but at the same time we want to stay true to our roots and who we are as artists, we try to land on both sides of the spectrum. 11 records later it’s always a challenge but it’s part of the fun”. [Laughs]

So how has the band managed to highlight the fundamental elements of Kataklysm yet bring this fresh approach that has reviewers salivating? “We try to keep ourselves on our toes, I always try to research a lot for the latest technologies, drum sounds, guitar sounds and such, I think that the album is very modern but the core of the music is very much the same we just went a little outside the lines, that’s how we feel about it”. Do you feel any pressures as a musician at this stage in your career upon the release of a new album? “I wouldn’t call it pressure anymore, I call it hype now, I was really excited for this record because I knew what it was, I was excited about the songs and how it all turned out; the overall process. I was anxious to get it out there and I just knew that the fans would like it. Doing this for so long you sort of know what works and what doesn’t, I knew that we had something good in our hands. The only thing I really get nervous about now and feel some pressure is like just before a tour, making sure that everything is planned out and everything works, otherwise I’m not nervous about anything else”.

The album title, definitely feels as if there was a lot of significant meaning behind it….. “Yeah waiting for the end to come; what we wanted to explain and explore with this album was more about life. We had this idea about this old man and he is on the verge of death and he is reflecting on his life; what he has done wrong, what he has done right, what he would change and when you’re about to die you realise none of that stuff matters, its more about trying to wake us up from this coma state we are all living in. This aspect is the main philosophy behind the record. That aspect and touching on the human characteristic of control; the government and other agencies, religions etc. There were a lot of different themes behind each song, together as a whole it’s a lot about human nature and reflection”.

Kataklysm has always been very enthusiastic about experimenting with their style, a touch of thrash here, a splash of melodic death there. How important is this versatility for the band? “It’s important for us because we all listen to many different styles and genres of music; we try to incorporate everything we like into our music. I grew up listening to thrash metal and the classics like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest; it’s all there in my own music. These styles and songs all become part of your musical identity and I think it’s evident in our music that we are versatile with our influences and styles. When we play together it does sound like Kataklysm just by the way we play our instruments”. Versatility is important, not just for the music but for the band – and Kataklysm have a new drummer [Oli Beaudoin] how is he settling in? “Yeah he’s been doing really good, learning fast and he is a really great drummer, he gave us a lot of options for this record, he was the perfect guy for this record. We look forward to touring with him, so far the plan is that Oli is with us for this record tour and we’ll see what happens next year as we still don’t know where Max [Duhamel] is right now in terms of treatment, he is still part of the family you know, we wanted to help him and we want to see him fight his demons, he needed some time for himself – hopefully he comes back later on down the line and is a lot stronger but for now Oli is going to stay with us as a full time member, and he is already one of us. We can’t wait to showcase his talents on this tour because he is such a really great drummer”. The music of Kataklysm is very physically demanding and I feel for Oli, so we wish him the best of luck with that….

A full headline set whilst touring through both Japan and Australia - what are your expectations? “We know what we’re in for; [Laughs] we met some great and crazy people on our last tour to Australia, we had some great shows, I mean the chance to come back is truly amazing. Japan is our first time so I don’t know what to expect…. We’ve talked about it with other bands and so far we know it’s a very strange land [Laughs] we are very curious about it, I can’t wait!”.