Interview with Surtr
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing French doom band Surtr.
MM-Please introduce the members of your band.
JeFF: SURTR has been founded by Régis (drums) & myself (guitar, vocal) early 2009, then Julien joined us on bass around August 2010.
MM-Tell us a little about your band’s history.
Régis: When we started the band we tried a few local musicians but we’ve never found a true feeling with them. In 2010 we decided to finally record our work, in order to close a chapter of Surtr's history. We asked Julien to play bass on the record as a session musician. Contrary of all expectations, he digs the atmosphere of the band and its music and became a real member of SURTR.
MM-Who are your musical influences?
Régis: Metallica was also the first drum part I played. I like heavy stuff like Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Down or Saint Vitus, but I also listen to a lot of Black Metal, Thrash or 70's bands as well. Each band I listen to can brings me some ideas.
Julien: I’m a huge metal & hard rock freak. All styles are welcome! Of course, I’m into classic bands like Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin. Metallica had a large influence on me and I’m also into progressive stuff and bands which mixes different styles like Opeth for instance. Lately, Jeff and Regis introduced me to many great doom bands, and I’ve to admit that I’m getting more and more into this type of music. Let’s say that at the moment, Candlemass, Grand Magus, Nevermore and Ihsahn are on heavy rotation. Concerning the bass playing influences, it’s far more open to other styles like jazz and funk. I learned a lot listening to Jaco Pastorius, and other bass greats. My favourite bass players are John Paul Jones, Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, Jason Newsted, John Myung, ...
JeFF: For sure we’re all listenning to a lot of different styles in metal. Either Black Sabbath or Bathory can influence our music. Personally I also dig some HxC-punk / post-rock / post-HxC bands and a lot of 70’s psyche and prog rock. SURTR is a mix of everything that’s why Julien’s bass bring a new breath to the band.
MM-How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
Régis: it is a mix between slow punk and old school doom metal.
JeFF: Slow down Black Flag tunes and you’ll get a Saint Vitus-ish song. Our doom is definitly slow down punk! But you’ll also found classic doom metal pioneer marks. This is slow and dark.
MM-Tell us some about your new album?
Régis: it has something gloomy and oppressive. Like it or not, it will not leave you indifferent.
JeFF: We’ve tried to paint a picture of a dark and oppressive world which gonna fall soon but we’ve introcuded a bit of hope here and there in order to say “hey, ok, that sucks but maybe we might try one last thing”. I guess next album will talk more about this “last effort” in the world of doom. But for today, for this album, it’s all about despair.
MM-What are some of your favorite tracks and why do you like them?
Julien: My favourite tracks on WoD are Part III because of those strange and depressive melodic lines that Jeff and I are playing together and because of the massive heavy riffing. And Part IV. It’s slow, dark and gloomy. I like that stuff.
Régis: Like Julien, I would say Part III because it is very heavy and dark. And Part IV for it slow black metal feeling.
JeFF: Part III is my fave too, but for me it’s hard to choose a part as the feeling builds itself on the complete concept.
MM-What has been the response to your album so far?
Régis: globally, it has been rather positive. Some people can see the work and involvement that we’ve put into that band. Some other just will smash that album away. But I don't care, I don't read their "webzine" either.
JeFF: Yeah that’s strange. We had really good reviews and marks such as 15/20 by Metal-integral or 16/20 by Magic Fire Music and we’ve been even declared High hopes discovery of April by radiometal.com. We usually don’t give a shit about that and we just read reviews by curiosity and it won’t make us stop playing music.
MM-What is the music scene like in your area?
Julien: It’s not the most exciting! However there are some really good bands down here. Good heavy metal with Deafening Silence, we have the impressive Symakya also. If you like technical but melodic stuff check my other band Taste of Hell. In fact I’m convinced that some of the best musicians of the country are living and working in our area.
Régis: There are some really good bands and good musicians in our area, but a lot of them will never come out, because they think a producer will come to their living room and would say something like "I want you on my label, you will be a star". Of course, that will never happend. Indeed, producer would never come in our area. Like Julien says, check out the next Deafening Silence.
JeFF: The worst point here is that there’s not so much place to organize gigs. That really sucks.
MM-What bands have you shared the stage with so far?
Régis: so far, we don't have played a lot as we’ve recorded the album. We shared stage with No Hope, The Last Supper, Godslave, Wheel and Gravety.
MM-Who would you love to share a stage with?
Régis: I have no real preferences. But sharing stage with Saint Vitus would be great.
JeFF: Any band while they’re cool.
MM-What do you think about the metal scene in general these days?
Julien: I’d not be as negative as many. I think there are still some really exciting bands nowadays, bands that are pushing the limits of heavy music in terms of creativity, technique, lyrics and concepts. And that’s pretty exciting and promising.
Régis: hopefully there still are good bands, I just don't like the commercial way the scene has been taken the last years. I take refuge in old stuff in all metal styles.
JeFF: I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff as there are more and more bands with the same modern sound. Too many things are identical, as Régis I listen more to bands who’ve been playing for a long time. Moreover, today, there are more and more Electric Wizard clone. It seems doom is becoming a fashion actually. After the “thrash metal revival” and all the newcomers who are just clone of pioneers without identity.
MM-Why should someone buy your new album?
Julien: Because it’s a good record. I just really like the atmosphere, spirit, and oppressive feeling that are gradually building through the record.
MM-What are some of your favorite albums of 2011 so far?
Julien: it’s too early to say; so far I spent more time with older records these days.
JeFF: I even don’t know what’s been released in 2011...but since the end of 2010 I’m still listenning to the same killer records as GRAND MAGUS “Hammer of the North”, GHOST “opus eponymous”. And SODOM “In war and pieces”
Régis: for now is 2011 too early, I can only speak about the "new" bands I follow, like Down or Grand Magus. And of course I am very exited by a new Saint Vitus record in the next months. The new song they play at their shows, called Blessed Night, is very promising.
MM-Choose the band you prefer from each of the following pairs and tell why you picked them.
Bang or Buffalo
Trouble or Witchfinder
General Candlemass or Saint Vitus
Black Sabbath or Pentagram
Julien: I’d choose Trouble, Candlemass and Black Sabbath. In my opinion, they show better musicianship and more intensity. They are just speaking to me a lot more
Régis: I don't know Bang neither Buffalo. I would choose Trouble, Saint Vitus and Black sabbath, but that was a very hard question. I dig Witchfinder, Candlemass and Pentagram too.
JeFF: me neither, never heard about those two bands. Hard to choose between the others but that’s the game so...I’ll pick up Witchfinder for sure, then arrrgghhh seriously I cannot choose between Candlemass & Vitus, they’re both in my favorite bands. Then Sabbath even if I really like Pentagram too. Sabbath is the law.
MM-Is there anything else you want to say about your band, your music or anything else?
Julien: our music isn’t what you would call “easy listening” but, take a deep breath, relax, put the light out and try to get into it. Let us take you somewhere else during 45 minutes.
Régis: but don't expect to be in a good place during 45 min, the end is near.
JeFF: It’s all about feeling and emotions, nothing to deal with catchiness. Check out samples & videos :