DIRGE – Fulfilled our initial goals
Tidligere i år tok det lille franske metalselskapet EQUILIBRE MUSIC kontakt med oss her i Eternal Terror og ønsket å sende oss et par smakebiter på ett av sine band. Begge disse skivene var med et fransk band kalt DIRGE og ganske umiddelbart etter å ha mottatt promoene, ble et intervju planlagt og avtalt. Litt tid har gått siden den gang, men nå kan du lese om dette franske bandet som altså kaller seg DIRGE. Det er Stéfane L, den ene av bandets to gitarister som har stått for svarene.
Hello, how are you doing down there in the land of cheese, wine, snails and frogs?
As fine as you, in the country of Edvard Munch, Telemark, black metal and Rosenborg BK 😉
To start with, I was hoping that you could tell our readers a bit about the band. How would you, in your own words, best describe the band and its history and your music for those who've never heard you before?
The band has been created around Paris back in 1994 by Marc T. (guitars/machines) and Laurent P. (vocals/machines). During the first years, Dirge released 3 demos in the Godflesh-industrial-metal style. Then Laurent P. left the band in the middle of the 90's. The first official release was the CD « Down, Last Level » in 1998. Back in those days, the core of Dirge was made of three persons, bass player David K. and guitar player Franck T. having joined Marc. If the music was then still strongly industrial-oriented, it grew darker, colder and slower. The second album « Blight and Vision below a Faded Sun » was more focused on guitars. The arrival of synth/sampler Christophe [zomb] D. and the drummer Alain B. brought Dirge's music toward different atmospheres, more human and organic, since this album remains strongly claustrophobic. Considering our musical evolution, I'd say there haven't been any 90° curves, no great revolutions within our sound at a given moment in our history. As a band, everything flows slowly and naturally and so brought us to where we stand today. However, i would say that the substitution of the drum machine by a real drummer in 1999 changed deeply our way to create and to consider our music. We then started to experiment, we began to extend, to stretch some parts of our songs far beyond standard structures, and we worked on repetitiveness of riffs… This led to the recording of "And Shall the Sky Descend" (released in 2004), an album which allowed us to find our own personal sound. And today we have this brand new album, "Wings Of Lead Over Dormant Seas". Since 2001 the line-up didn't change a lot and the band belongs today to Marc T. (guitars/vocals), Alain B. (drums), Christophe [zomb] D. (synths/sampler), Christian M. (bass) and I, Stéphane L. (guitars).
Why the name "Dirge"? What is the meaning behind it?
When he created the band in those days, Marc though this name would perfectly fit with the musical orientation he wanted to give to this project. And it's still more than ever the case today.
Congratulations with your new album;"Wings of Lead over Dormant Seas"! I take it that you're quite satisfied with it?
Thank you. Yes we're very happy with « WOLODS ». Of course every band says the same for each new album, but I feel with this one that we fulfilled our initial goals; which was a big challenge at the beginning of the writing process. Obviously, there are still little things we'd like to modify, certain new ideas that may have been experienced if we had time enough…, but no great regrets at the end.
Is the album a concept album or do the songs have some sort of connection, or does the album contain individual songs with a wide variety of topics?
We do not have any concepts, it doesn't interest us. Songs are independent of each other.
But indeed, there are some recurrent ideas entangled in the lyrics such as emptiness, void, abandon, wide open spaces. As well, words try to paint as precise as they can, the inhuman dimension of nature, its force, its capability to destroy, to create. In a hand Dirge is those gigantic waves, volcanoes, earthquakes, avalanches, tidal waves… And in another hands Dirge is a desert, a polar stretch, an aurora borealis, a dormant ocean, an icy tree. Aspects, movement/inertia, power/contemplation, scream/silence are an indivisible duality within the lyrics of the band.
What does the title refer to?
The title "Wings of Lead over Dormant Seas" is quoted from the lyrics of the eponymous song. To me, this sentence has only one meaning and must be considered in relation to the whole text. But for other people, there may be 1000 different meanings, and each of them will be right. I want to let listeners doing, thinking, and creating what they want with those six words.
How does the album differ from your previous albums?
It's a hard question… Each of our album differs from the previous one. Our music always followed a slow and homogeneous curve. This new one is maybe a bit lighted than "And Shall the Sky Descend", also maybe less claustrophobic, less stifling, even though I think "WOLODS" is the logical blossomed sequel of "ASTSD". I also think this one is best produced and best mixed. But this is my own point of view; I can totally understand that some other people may think different.
Now, I haven't heard your one hour-long title track yet (because of the promo), but do you have any views on that one? How do you even make a track that lasts over one hour?
First of all, I think it is really a pity you didn't get the whole album, 'cause I think without the 2nd CD, you can't totally understand the whole dimension of this record. But anyway 🙂 To answer your question concerning the eponymous song "Wings Of Lead…", I'd say that the absence of real temporal boundaries allowed us to satisfy a lot of sonorous phantasms and gave us a quite endless creative liberty, which was very exciting. Of course this long piece was a very good "laboratory" for experiments, but it was not the principle purpose to record such a long song. The modus operandi for the creation of this song was quite different from a "normal" Dirge's one. While composing the album (the songs featured on CD1), Marc T. was working on some scattered pieces made of riffs, loops or samples textures. Then little-by-little, those pieces evolved, overlapped each others until it began a very long track of 30 min. The result was that interesting; we decided to put the piece on the album. And as we didn't want to draw back some other new songs, the idea of a double CD-set quickly grew on to us. As we knew the second CD would be entirely dedicated to "Wings of Lead over Dormant Seas", we were then able to extend the song again and again, free to experiment what we felt.
How has the feedback from the press and fans been so far?
I don't like the word "fans", I find it very pretentious as we are not Iron Maiden. But we received very good feedback, both from people and from medias.
Cool artwork by the way!
Thank you, I'll tell him! Since our second record "Blight and Vision below a Faded Sun" (2000), our artwork is made by a close friend of us, Axël Kriloff (guitarist of avant-garde/metal band Proton Burst). We do love his work based on rust and corrosion, his way to play with darkness and brightness, that kind of "black-and-white colours", apocalyptic clear-obscure if you see what I mean. This fits perfectly with our music. And as Axel totally understand our artistic approach; we let him free to do what he feels from our music. And like for the lyrics, i think anyone can have its own point of view concerning the artwork.
In my review I compared you to such bands as Isis and Neurosis (and I've seen others do so as well), do you feel that this is correct? Do you feel that you share a lot of the same ideas in your music?
Today, with that strange "buzz" around the so-called "post-rock-core" scene, Dirge seems to be suddenly lighted by the interest of the people for that kind of music. In a way, it is a good thing of course, even though we never changed our way to create music in order to fit with this "trend". We just feel less isolated today… 🙂 But we are not that pleased to be classified as Neurosis-like, because it is really simplistic to put a band in a drawer. If the shadow of Neurosis was haunting our album "Blight & Vision below a Faded Sun", I think that since this record we've freed ourselves from those influences. We have now our own sound, we walk on our own path and we don't pay any attention to what's going on around and within this "scene".
Which band(s) and/or musical style would you say influence you the most?
I'd say a lot of bands may have a conscious or unconscious influence on us. Everyone in the band listen to different kind of music, so our personal influences may sometimes spurt within our sound. I could mention Black Sabbath, Joy Division, Einstürzende Neubauten, Pink Floyd, Sonic Youth, Godflesh, Fields of The Nephilim…
Who does what in the band? Who composes the music, the lyrics etc? Do you do it together, or is it done by each individual band member?
If music is a common process between Marc, Alain and I, the basic structures of the songs are originally written by Marc in his own home studio. There, we shape the body of songs, and then only afterwards we play the songs in our rehearsal studio with the rest of the band. There, the loudness of the volume reveals, betrays or confirms, certain things, makes evolve the musical pieces, sometimes quite far away from their original forms. And in those live conditions, we begin to extend tracks, to experiment, to let flow inspiration, feelings.
You all seem like skilled musicians, so I was wondering if any of you play in other bands as well.
Marc dropped his electronica side-project Dither after 6 excellent studio albums. Alain was playing with Kanaan but the project is today in abeyance. And I personally stopped last year my old death/core band Prototype to focus entirely on Dirge. Dirge is a musical project rich and powerful enough to fulfil all our musical and artistic desires.
What about live shows? Do you tour or play much outside of France? Any festivals you've played or are going to play?
Until now, we didn't play that much outside of France, except in Switzerland. But we badly would like to play in Germany, Scandinavia, England, Eastern Europe, Russia… For the moment, we're trying to gather some dates for the beginning of 2008. We'd like to tour France and Europe. For the moment we have some gigs scheduled in Belgium and Switzerland between March and April 2008, but I hope some others will follow. Concerning festivals, we've tried once in France but I think it is not the best conditions to see us live.
That's about it! Any famous last words?
Thank you for you support.