The Rock Pit recently conducted an interview with guitarist Jean-François Dagenais of Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based death metallers KATAKLYSM. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Rock Pit: The new album, “Waiting For The End To Come”, sounds fantastic, lots of groove and heaviness and melody. Can you tell us a bit about how the album came together?
Jean-François Dagenais: We wrote this album seperately. Basically we all live in different cities now. I’m based in Dallas, Texas and Maurizio [Iacono, vocals] is in Chicago and the other guys are in Canada, and for us the writing process was… It’s easier now with technology and the Internet and stuff. So I started writing riffs on my computer and then I would send that to Stephane [Barbe, bass] over in Canada. He would add to it and write more and send it back to me and I would take that and send it to the other guys, to the drummer [Oli Beaudoin] and Maurizio. We wrote all the album pretty much like that, or at least 80% of it, and the last 20% we got together in Canada in the same room and pieced the last part of the puzzle together. It worked pretty spontaneously. We went into the studio and worked for another month and a half and a couple of weeks to mix and before we knew it we had the album finished and ready to go. I’m pretty happy with the results, I feel the stars were aligned on this one. We were looking back at things and I like the way it sounds and I like the way the songs are structured and pieced together and the performance of everything. I gotta say everyone gave their 200% so I’m very happy about that. The drums are flawless, the bass and guitar tracks I’m happy with and Maurizio‘s vocals are outstanding. I’m really happy with it.
The Rock Pit: Looking back on your back catalogue, there’s a bit of progression from your earlier albums going to the later albums. Is it a conscious decision to go forward and try different things for each album or has it happened naturally over the years?
Jean-François Dagenais: I think it’s the journey of an artist that you try to do your best with what you have and the way that you paint at a certain point in time. As a musician, I like to think that we have gotten better over the years and you improve your skills on your instrument and also improve your skills as a musician, like the way you see songs and structures. Basically, we try to do our best on every record. For me, I got to do every album like it’s one of my kids. You try your best and you want to do your best with it and it comes out the way it comes out for different reasons. I think you can see the musical journey and progression from a young artist in the early ’90s trying to learn or master his art and then you get better at it and you go from there. I feel like the new album is our best work of art musically and also songwriting-wise and also on our instruments. I think it’s the best performance everyone gave in the studio,so I’m very proud of this album.
The Rock Pit: The lyrics on this album have a bit of a statement on how the world is right now. As a guitar player, what inspired you for this album?
Jean-François Dagenais: I get inspired by many things. Like sometimes I’ll just go and take a walk in the forrest and I’ll get inspired by the way the scenery looks. Or I’ll watch a movie, or, for instance, the song “Fire” I got inspired by the old TV series “Twin Peaks” with my girlfriend, and by the end I came out with riffs for “Fire”. So I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes I’ll play music and that will give me an idea to write a part and from there you build songs and that’s the way I work. I try not to copy or listen to too much, like, say extreme metal because I want to keep whatever I write unique. I try not to listen to too much new things out there because I don’t want to copy things subconsciously. I want to create very unique songs and parts.
The Rock Pit: The other thing on this album is the song “Elevate”, which you did a video for. I heard it’s linked directly to the album cover. Can you tell us what the connection is between the two?
Jean-François Dagenais: Yes, when we wrote that song, we were thinking about concepts for the new album and “Waiting For The End To Come” is about this old man that is on his death bed and he’s waiting for death to come because he’s about to die and he’s reflecting on his life, like what he did right, what he did wrong, what he had wished he had done and the things that matter and the things that don’t matter in the end when you are ready to die. You’re not going to take your belongings or your house to the other side and all that stuff and he’s rejecting his past life. So that’s the concept of the album and that song “Elevate”. That’s what we try to explain and the video we added the zombies to it because we want to have fun and we needed it. We tried to explain the concept with that but that’s more us goofing off in the studio, We wanted to explain the concept of the album as much as we could but in a fun way.
Read the entire interview from The Rock Pit.