ASYLUM PYRE – Instinctual Spirits Unite
The definition of progressive metal is open to wide interpretation these days. One listen to French act Asylum Pyre and you’ll quickly tell that musically this band prefers to be dynamic and diverse in their approach: drawing from speed, ambient, dark, and gothic influences – they are still progressive in terms of their abilities and songwriting versatility. Their third and latest album "Spirited Away" touches upon everything from Pain of Salvation to Within Temptation, and even cyber/dance oriented maneuvers without sacrificing the metal foundation and driving nature to their sound.
Sending off a few questions to guitarist/male vocalist Johann Cadot, you’ll learn more about how he writes the material, the balance between making music and making a living, as well as what he thinks of the French scene in general – plus more about Asylum Pyre as well.
Tell us about your personal development when it comes to music- early memories surrounding your first discoveries, what were some of your early purchases and how did you make the progression from being a fan to becoming a musician?
"The very first CD I’ve bought was "The Best of Europe 82′-92’". But the CD that has changed my life was Helloween’s "Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 & 2". I discovered that music could make you have such incredible emotions."
Asylum Pyre began in 2003 with guitarist Johann Cadot – who remains the only original member left at this point. How did Heidi come into the picture in 2011 as the new vocalist?
"Heidi was picked up amongst 30 vocalists that wanted to be part of Asylum Pyre. The process was very simple with some auditions and recording."
"Spirited Away" is the new album – and quite dynamic in its melodic power/progressive metal approach. How long did the songwriting and recording sessions take – any special surprises or challenges crop up as well?
"As the main composer, I am always gathering new ideas so it is difficult to say how long it has taken to compose the album but we have arranged it together for 2 months and then we took some months to record it with some weeks between the recording of each instrument."
How much discussion takes place between members about the particular direction Asylum Pyre have evolved from through the years? There seems to be careful attention to synth tones and instrumental diversity to give the band a distinctive sound for instance…
"Everything is quite natural according to the taste of everyone in the band. I often come up with more songs as needed and then they choose among the songs so it naturally fits with everyone’s tastes! We all like songs with different atmospheres, different moods and tempo. Otherwise we would get bored I think. So every single song has its own personality and color. Which can please the listener or not."
How would you assess each of the albums in the Asylum Pyre catalog? And at this point in your career are there particular favorites to play at every show?
"To me "Natural Instinct?" was a more classical oriented album with operatic vocals and a Therion-like, Blind Guardian-like feeling. Good songs but with a very naïve approach. "Fifty Years Later" was a bit less symphonic but still with that German-Finnish approach of melodic heavy metal. "Spirited Away" is a lot more modern, we have kept the melodic approach and meaningful lyrics but again with a lot of different atmospheres and the use of electro elements and bigger guitars to be somewhat American-like. Sometimes people think we are too varied. But it is who we are!"
What would your definition of success be at this point?
"See people enjoying our shows and sing along the choruses."
The French metal scene seems very healthy these days – as a band such as Gojira is making an international impact, while other bands are establishing a wider presence through touring and record deals. How do you feel things are looking in terms of local and international support?
"Well, it is very hard and the French medias are not really supportive. You are always considered as ‘a French band’ and not only ‘a band’. But we don’t really care. We follow our own way. Our own wishes. Whatever it takes."
How does Asylum Pyre handle the balance between business activities, social media, and the music side of things? Are you at a point where you are able to seek out outside management / partners to elevate activities to the next level?
"Yes, sure. As Iron Maiden said we are balancing on the edge! We’re at a point where we need people to help us but it’s hard to have everyone paid. So you have to make a lot of sacrifices. Playing music at a high level is a matter of sacrifices. You have some pleasure when you play your music in front of people who like it but, to do so, you have to work, work and work again!"
You will be touring with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody and Iron Mask during mid to late January of next year – how much are you looking forward to this diverse billing, and have you followed either band’s career? Can you also describe what the band is like live compared to the studio?
"We are eager to start it! We’ve just finished a mini tour with Stream of Passion and it was awesome. So we expect a lot from this tour. Rhapsody was one of the band that I really loved and gave me the love of music back in the nineties. So I’m a bit proud to play with them. Iron Mask is also a great band and Dushan Petrossi has worked with Didier Chesneau, our studio sound engineer, in the past for Magic Kingdom."
How do you feel about the world that we live in today? What concerns or issues do you think the leaders need to work on for the benefit of the current and future generations?
"Well, I can talk about these things for hours… I’m not very optimistic for the future generations. Our 2 previous albums were about ecology and mankind errors… and I think that I’ll go back to some of these topics on upcoming albums… Save the planet. And do whatever it needs to do so!"
What types of hobbies or activities do you like to participate in when you have the free time to clear your head away from music?
"Eating, cinema, sports, … anything that can be done with friends!"
Have you started the idea and songwriting process for the next album? If so, do you think it will be another development from "Spirited Away" or are you satisfied with the direction Asylum Pyre is going in?
"Yeah, some things are already on my mind. I think we’ll go in the same directions but we’ll sharpen some things. We still want to offer powerful songs made to be played live and to explore other musical fields."
Any final thoughts to pass on to the Eternal Terror webzine readers in Norway and beyond?
"See you on tour! Enjoy our music, read our lyrics, come and talk about it with us. Best wishes!!"