I first learned about Emeth just by randomly downloading mp3s from different people on a peer-to-peer network. I had never heard of the band and was in one of those moods where any kind of new music is welcome, so I thought I would give their material a listen and see what I could find. What I did hear was simply some of the most destructive, precise, amazingly intense technical death/grind to ever grace these weary, infected ears, and I was immediately moved to contact this Belgian band and learn more about them. This is an interview with Matty Dupont, the group's skilled guitarist.
I naturally read your biography the first time I went to your website. It says there that you started in 1997, but didn't actually form a cohesive band/musical identity until 2001 or so. What was happening during those four years? Were you just rehearsing, jamming, etc? Were you actually writing songs? How many people came into and then left the band? Did you start out thinking of playing a completely different kind of music? It also says that your current drummer was the one who really set the direction for the band - was this just because of his skill level, his ability to play the sort of music you are interested in now?
Well the first four years of the bands existence it was more metal - death core orientated music. We released some demo stuff and a 7" which were all sold out in no time. We started out as a project of some friends playing in different bands, but not being satisfied in these bands. At the time it was Tom K - vox, Kristof - drums, Jochen - gtr, Matty - gtr, wouter - bass. After some rehearsals we had some songs and we thought hell let's make this our main band. So we did. It was a great time and we did a lot of gigs here in Belgium.
After a few years some people in the band wanted to evolve in to a more technical and faster metal band. Due to these musical differences the band parted with most of its original members, leaving matty & tom K with the task of finding new bandmembers. Both had a good idea of where they wanted to take the music and kept working on new ideas. After a non active period of nearly 2 years they met Tom A. who formerly played drums in a local band called 'necrodocion'. He was looking for a band and we started jamming and his drumming capabilities matched perfectly with what emeth was looking for: fast and technical.
So his joining matty & tom K really met a new start for the band. His kind of playing does have a major impact on the bands direction cause the band was now able to play a musical style that was always intended but could never be played due band members who didn't have the technical skills. At that moment the line-up was Tom K - vox, Matty- Gtr, Tom A - drums. We tried some guitar and bassplayers, but nothing worked out. All main members in emeth being perfectionists they don't want to settle with what's only second best for the band.
Now after 3 years of being a 3 piece band we've added Vincent on bass to the line-up, because his style of playing works perfectly with the music emeth is playing at the moment.
Were you having trouble getting labels interested in your material? If so, I don't really understand this as there are many other bands that don't have half the talent/skill or ferocity that you have and they are signed to large labels, etc. Oh well. You eventually ended up recording your first album yourselves...this is your debut release "Insidious". Can you tell us a little about this album? What were your goals going into the recording process, what kind of sound did you want, what kind of initial presentation? Are you satisfied with the results? Have you had any luck now with labels after this CD was recorded? Your website says that it's going to officially come out in May - are you just putting it out yourselves?
Well being an unknown band from little Belgium isn't the best position to get yourself a deal. At some point when we were talking about the bands future plans we decided to record a half hour of music in a pro-studio and then try to get some deal with those recordings. So we did. We start writing the music, started looking for a studio, a lay-out designer, and all the other things needed in our opinion.
Our main goal has always been trying to create some intense music. Music that we like to play and like to listen ourselves. We wanted to get a heavy but yet defined sound, that would have enough balls and drive without sacrificing the bands intricate detailed music. Hell yeah we are really satisfied with the results.
After the recordings we put 2 songs on our website and mailed out some promocd's to labels. And now we've got a great deal with BRUTAL BANDS (www.brutalbands.net), Scott - the guy behind this label - really believes in emeth's music and supports the band 100%. Check out his site for more information on the album release.
The style of music that you play is very interesting to me. The completely anti-pop, anti-traditional structures, the concentration on technically complex, labyrinthine frames, the way the guitars are reined in so tight and controlled with so much precision...how long does it take you to write songs? For example, how long did it take to put together all the songs on "Insidious"? Do you diagram or tab out your songs or do you actually try to keep their structures in your heads? How often do you rehearse? The guitar-drum interaction on this material is admirable, it is very rigidly defined, very specific and exacting...is it mainly the guitarist and drummer that writes the music? Why write music that is so claustrophobic, so tightly enclosed and proscribed?
Thanks for your positive words on our music man. We wrote the INSIDIOUS cd in nearly one year and half. After Tom A joined us we tried a lot of ways to write songs until we found the way that works for us. This process hasn't been an easy one, as none in the band wanted to play music that doesn't arouse the feelings we want to have playing music. Yeah all music is written by Matty (gtr) & Tom A (drums). There's a lot of trial and error involved in our writing-process. There are many ways to approach a new musical idea we start with. We just try do try as many variations on it until we have that "YES" moment and we'll go with that. But often there will pass several rehearsals until we get it like that.
Why we play the music we do? For two reasons; first, we like to listen to this kind of extreme music as persons. Secondly as musicians it gives us the opportunity to develop ourselves and combine all our influences. Our playing and musical approach is heavily influenced by jazz & fusion. If you would hear it with a different drums- and guitarsound you would be able to hear a lot of these jazz/fusion licks. We know this jazzy/fusion feeling gets lost at this speed. So we can understand that most people will experience our music as just a bunch of riffs & rhythms thrown together.
If someone were to ask you how to describe your music and what it is exactly trying to express, what would you say? What does Emeth offer the worldwide death metal scene that other bands don't? Why should people listen to your album and not some other CD they may have lying next to it? What kind of mental space/place does Emeth take the listener to? What kind of worlds/gates does "Insidious" seek to open?
I would answer: Extreme music. To be honest we don't care about that, let other people put a tag on us. We just want to play music and not be wrapped up in 'image and acting'… I guess you should talk to people who listen to our music to find out why they listen to us. Only then you'll get some objective answer to this question!!
Of course we hope that Emeth sounds (a bit) different from other extreme (death) metal acts. Maybe because of a wider horizon of musical influences or maybe because we don't use the usual 'death/gore' or 'let's hate everything' kinda lyrics. If one does take the time to read the lyrics the readers own interpretation of the written subject; will define the mental space or worlds he/she [is] enlightened to.
Is there one overriding, controlling, main concentration or theme to Emeth's material? What does Emeth itself reflect - I mean...what does this band mean to you and why do you continue to write this type of music? What part does Emeth fill in your lives? How does it satisfy you? Are you proud of what you have accomplished with the band so far? How far do you want to take Emeth - what do you want to accomplish with the band?
The main concentration or theme to Emeth's material is creating an extreme form of music that reflects our personal preferences. Therefore this band means a lot to us. All members are investing a lot of time and energy into this band. This band gives us the chance to express ourselves to the fullest on our instruments, develop ourselves as musicians and as persons.
Sure, we are proud of what we have accomplished at the moment. After several years of line-up shit and also because of all the hard work we invested in the band the last year and half we now finally get the chance to spread our music again. It's only a few weeks now until the official release of the "Insidious" Cd, we can't wait to see what the album will do, cause until now all reactions have been very positive. We start the promotional gigs for this Cd in July in Europe and late July we'll be doing a tour in the US. After that we'll do some more mini-tours throughout Europe.
We, as a band have defined what our ambitions are and what we want to accomplish with the band and we try to live up to them. So Emeth will be around for awhile…
Can you tell us a little about the Belgian scene? I confess that I don't know of many bands from your country - what is the scene like there and what bands do you admire from your native land? Are there negative things about the scene in Belgium that you would like to change? Where does Emeth stand in your local scene? Do you have a following? It is possible to play live around your hometown or in other local areas?
There isn't much to tell about the Belgian scene actually, cause it's not such a big scene. There are only a few bands in Belgium that really stand apart from the mediocre: Aborted, Leng 'tche, In-quest… and maybe some more but that's about it. Most other bands are in my opinion just copycatting their examples… So I can imagine you don't know many bands from Belgium. An other example that there isn't a real scene over here are the appearances on gigs. From time to time gigs take place and mostly there are more musicians (from the bands that play) than visitors who come to see the bands.
We have a few gigs in the summer months in our country, but we don't expect much from that. Of course we would like to have a massive crowd coming to every show, but what can you do?? People are just to lazy to get out of their chairs…
Because of this lack of interest in extreme music in our own country, we are always more focused on finding gigs in other countrys like Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Switzerland... ,… It's is always fun to play in these countries, people really go crazy. There's always some pit going on, headbanging,… Hell they enjoy this extreme form of music to the fullest.
One positive thing in Belgium is a new portal-site about death metal in Belgium, called: www.deathmetal.be. Here you can find a lot of information about bands, gigs, all (death) metal related topics mainly focused on Belgian bands.
How do you view the worldwide metal scene at this point? What positive and negative qualities can you detect? Do you think the metal scene, on the whole, has changed in its "quality" or its essential nature over the past few years? Do you see the increasing commercialization, manipulation, and exploitation that I see now...have you experienced these characteristics yourselves? Do you think the styles of death and black metal have been "accepted" now, to some extent, by mainstream populists and that metal has lost some of its force and emotional relevance because it has been accepted? Do you think metal has to be rebellious and/or "extreme" in some way in order to be meaningful to you?
The past few years nothing dramatic changed in the metal scene on the whole, but important to mention is the appearances of metal bands on big festivals. It indicates that metal music is more and more accepted by the big audience.
As we speak for Belgium, there are some big commercial festivals over here and you'll see bands like slipknot, rammstein, metallica,… on it. For a festival that normally put bands like REM, the black eyed peas and some dance -acts on the bill, it's exceptional compared with years ago. So, there is a commercialization for metal music and definitely for nu -metal acts. I think black metal made this evolution also some years ago with bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir,… getting the chance to play some big festivals. But there is still a big difference to accept death/black -metalbands instead of the (nu-metal) bands like I mentioned before.
We in emeth think there's nothing wrong to make metal music and to be commercial in a way, as far as it can be commercial. We have always invested a lot of ourselves in this band and it would be a big achievement for us if we could tour and release cd's on a regular basis. I think it's a dream for a lot of musicians. We all have jobs, rent and bills to pay, families to feed,... so we know it's hard to combine all these things.
There is this mentality in the metal scene that metal bands can't be commercially minded. I guess it depends on how you define 'commercial'. We know our music never will be very commercial but this is the music we want to play… But that doesn't mean we want to play our local pub every month. We approach that whole commercial discussion with a logical reasoning; it's a give and take situation. Let me explain. If we can go on tour throughout Europe or the US we'll take the opportunity because it means people want to see Emeth doing live shows in their area. But for a band touring is very expensive so people will have to pay their tickets to get in at the show. And we will provide merchandise at those concerts which people can buy. But it's still their own choice to come to see the show, to buy merchandise. We are happy if we can sell some and get paid at the show so we can cover our outgoing expenses. But if people would like to believe we get rich from it and call us commercial well that's their problem.
What effect, if any, do you think the rise and fall of the entire black metal movement had on death metal bands? Do you think the newest wave of death metal bands have anything to learn from the history of black metal's fall? Are the two sorts of styles/philosophies or movements completely incompatible? Do you think the "competition" of black metal bands for death metal's audience has now enlivened, encouraged and inspired the death metal bands to try to win their old fans back? Do you think the entire period of black metal's dominance had a positive or negative effect on death metal?
We're not much into black metal and we don't know a lot about that scene, it's never been our cup of tea. So I can be short on this subject. Probably the black metal movement in a way had the same effect on some death metal bands as the death metal movement had on some black metal band; trying to mix both things up.
Why is death metal still relevant? What does the style have to offer us today? What can it still say to us? Are there still unexplored areas within the genre? Do you ever feel that you are limited or held back by the style of music that you play? Where would you like to see it go in the future? More experimentation?
It's relevance can only be obtained by the meaning people give to it. There are a whole of ways to approach death metal so it is very individual for everybody.
For us it's just the music we want to play. This kind of music feel natural to us, it moves at the pace we move and think. Due to the fact that there are so many (death metal) bands it looks like there isn't much area to explore anymore. But there is. It just depends on your own creativity, your ability to look past the secure foundations of music. We as musicians in Emeth develop ourselves by the next saying: "If you are influenced by just one player/music-style you're copycating, if you are influences by a lot of players/music-styles you are doing research and developing your own style". We are influenced by a whole lot of musical styles, it's not that we just listen to death metal only. As a matter of fact, while writing music, we are more influenced by a whole bunch of Fusion/Jazz/Latin players. So every time we start writing we try to make some original music and hope that the songs will evolve to a new level of intensity due to a more sophisticated approach of composition and structure merging technicality with utter brutality.
Please give us your final words here...tell our readers how to contact you, what you can offer, how much your merchandise costs, etc. Thanks for answering this interview, I appreciate your support.Thanks to U & Erebus for your interest in our band, and giving us the opportunity to spread our words/music. As some people know we going to tour the US this summer. We like to see you on one of our shows near your area.