Chapter I: Distoriam
Canada’s Distoriam have released their début album entitled “Chapter 1: Vinlanders” which mixes numerous genres together into one epic masterpiece. We sent over some questions regarding the album and the Distoriam way of putting it altogether and got some extremely in depth responses…check it out…
Congratulations on your amazing debut album “Chapter I: Vinlanders” How has the response been so far?
“Thank you! The response has been great, nothing short to what we expected. The album launch was a blast but the gigs aren’t over yet! We’ve been pretty amazed by the fact that people in foreign countries were ordering the album; we were not expecting it at all!”
While the album title and cover seem to scream “Viking”, I found your style to be very diverse and not strictly “Viking” per se. What style/genre fits the Distoriam sound the best?
“We take inspiration from varied sources. On this album, we sing about Vikings, but we don’t play what could be considered “Viking music”. I know there are Viking metal bands that have a distinct sound, but since we are not Viking metal, we didn’t try to sound like that. Also, with people like Sophie and Frak who are into archaeology and history seriously, we can also say that we don’t really know what actual Viking music sounded like. In conclusion, the genre “Historical Folk Metal” describes us well, because we use folk instruments in our music and we sing about various periods of the past. In fact; our influences will change from album to album in the future, because each album will be starring a different time era, hence the ‘’Chapter I’’ title, which implies that there will be a ‘’Chapter II’’ in the future.”
There are many influences in your music…how do they all come together that it still has Distoriam’s stamp on the sound?
“This topic has been one of debate amongst the band I must admit, and one of importance at that. Thúnn Kivavit Ankris, which is one of the fan’s favourites, was thought at first as a very different and non-Distoriam song. But what is the Distoriam sound then? It’s hard to describe, but I think it’s about composing the melodies with Québec and Irish folklore tunes in mind so they are really catchy and easy-to-sing. In the meantime, the accompaniment is heavy – like dark matter heavy. Mix that with a touch of grandiloquence, so it sounds epic and you got Distoriam. The fact that our influences and styles are eclectic is also part of our sound. The playing of the interprets, the modal harmonic substitutions and the importance of vocal harmony would also be important elements of the Distoriam stamp.”
How does the song-writing process work with Distoriam? Is it “Democratic” or does one member or members bring parts and/or finished songs for everyone to work on?
“Most of the songs have had the core elements ( main melodies and rhythms) written by Frak, then arranged by Jean-Christophe who’s studied music writing, so his work is very appreciated. Since we were all six creative people working on the album and the songs, everyone has had an influence on them in a way. A couple of songs have been almost entirely written by Frak, and others by Jean-Christophe, while Venturing Forth was the work of Frak’s brother; Antoine Beaudet. As for the production side; Tommy hired external musicians so we could have real strings and flutes on the recording instead of focusing only on samples, which made a real difference in the sound of the final product.”
Is there a “hierarchy” of sorts when it comes to the overall direction the band takes with regards to songs and all other band related items?
“The only hierarchy I could see is that Jean-Christophe and Frak come up with the songs, but if people don’t like the riffs or the arrangements, we work democratically to decide what should be removed, changed or added. From then Yann (Stormblood) will write a bass line and Tommy will write his baritone rhythm parts on top of it to make sure we get the heaviest sound that we can; the two instruments are mostly following each other. We have a pattern where the rhythm guitar and the bouzouki will follow each other’s as well on the same chords which will define a lot of our sound as well. In addition to recording the drum parts, Pierre-Antoine took a lot of liberty and went forward with recording additional layers of mandolin that are following the main melodies of the songs. He also added, with Yann, a lot of dubbed growling parts on top of what Frak was already growling. The band management related items are mostly Tommy’s business.”
The album features 12 songs…. 4 of which were released previously on your demo and EP. Were there more songs written for this album or are all the tracks we hear the only ones?
“Oh yeah there were more songs, some have been forgotten, some have never been expanded and only were a couple of riffs, melodies or ideas. We chose the more complete songs out of them. We will see if the rest could fit the second album.”
What bands influence the Distoriam sound the most? Any genre/style of bands/artists please!!
“Frak’s main influences in writing the music have changed since I started in 2007, but they’re obviously mostly Folk metal. I can list them: Ensiferum, Alestorm, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Arcturus, Gentle Giant, Finntroll, Black Messiah, Les Bâtards du Nord and Einherjer are some I can think of at the moment. As for Jean-Christophe, he is into folklore music like Väsen and La Bottine Souriante. Romantic and modern composers like Dvorjak, Shostakovich and Ravel are part of his life too of course, but regarding metal, bands like Rhapsody of Fire, Tool, Meshuggah and Behemoth are models, which is very welcome in the songs to balance my Folk/Black approach to music. Sunset over Golden Age by Alestorm has also been a positive influence – especially since Thúnn Kivavit Ankris is a pastiche of Wooden Leg, and the pacing of the album is perfect. Tommy is a huge Nu-metal fan and that is very refreshing as the heavy mildly dissonant chords add a lot of personality to the traditional melodies.”
Quebec is a land of many great folk metal acts….Trollwar, Valfreya, Nordheim, Trobar, etc…..the scene there must be absolutely killer!! Are all of the bands on friendly terms with each other and get to play together?
“We are in very good terms with Trollwar and Trobar and we have some gigs planned out with them! We shared the stage with Valfreya very often but we have done only one or two shows with Nordheim; it would be our honor to kick asses at their side more often.”
Canada is an extremely large country from a touring point of view. How easy or difficult is it to tour there? Is the distance between shows a huge factor when considering a decent size tour?
“We haven’t properly toured yet, but we only have shows planned for Quebec or Ontario. I think the Eastern U.S. could be more doable than Western Canada. The distance is certainly a huge factor, even for the huge nation that Quebec is. We couldn’t possibly for example, plan a gig in Gaspé and then have another one in Rouyn-Noranda the other day! There are some pretty isolated but awesome places here.”
How important is touring for Distoriam in relation to just releasing music as many bands do nowadays?
“Since we have released the album, I think now is the perfect time to tour. We want to find the middle ground between releasing music and touring though, since we don’t appreciate one aspect more than the other.”
Is making a living with Distoriam realistic or no? Do you all have other jobs and get together to play the occasional show/tour as the money is not there? How do the lives outside the band make things works or not?”
Distoriam is really not enough to make a living, we all have other sources of incomes. The merch is selling pretty well, but the money we’re making is more like paying our album back than actually making money. We’re just starting out though. Jean-Christophe will give music lessons on the side while Pierre-Antoine and Sophie are backpacking on times off. Tommy is also working with other bands on production and recording. Yann and Frak are also still students at University, so it can be hard for us to fit time for Distoriam in our schedule.”
Has the internet made things easier to get the music out there for you? Does it matter if people get the music without paying for it?
“Definitely! We released a couple of songs on YouTube before the album was, and it made an impression on people and probably convinced a good lot to buy the album. We can’t do much about our music being downloaded for free, it was bound to happen, but I see it as a way for our music to be listened by people who don’t have the money to order it, or who just want to give it a quick listen. If they like our music they should buy the album anyway.”
Have you considered what the future holds for Distoriam? Any near future plans as far as tour, new music, direction etc?
“For sure, we already know what the theme of the next album will be, and we started brainstorming on ideas for a song or two. I can’t say much about it right now, I don’t think it’s important anyway since right now is the time for Chapter I: Vinlanders!”
Favourite music from 2015 so far??
“The new Arcturus is magnificent, even if the production gets some time to get used to. The songs are beautifully written and how can I not talk about Vortex vocals? One of the best vocal recordings he has ever done. Tommy and Yann both like the new Amaranthe album but it was released in 2014 so it’s not even relevant to this question. In fact; as we are writing this, Yann wants to mention the fact that he’s really enjoying the new Carach Angren album and Tommy says that he like the new Tremonti CD as well as the track #4 of the Furious 7 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Unleash the Archers has also released Time Stands Still with Nuclear Blast. That appears to coincide with the unlocking of the singer’s high pitched belt voice and her growls and that makes sense. that is an excellent power-heavy metal album with a female vocalist that doesn’t make it cheesy instantly when the chorus starts.
“We loved doing this interview! Thank you for sending this to us. We would like to thank the people who have been supporting us since the beginning; if it was not for them, we wouldn’t be a band anymore. Also. Steve. If you are somewhere out there reading this interview… Please. Bring the Bruce Lee movies back. We won’t call the police. We just want them back.
Touche poulet. ALL HAIL THE SERPENT KING!”