(Our intrepid correspondent Andy Synn caught up with French metal wizards Gorod at their May 17 show in Leicester, England, and files this interview with vocalist Julien “Nutz” Deyres, bassist Benoit Claus, and drummer Samuel Santiago. Gorod is currently distributing a brand new EP — Transcendence — to those fortunate souls in attendance at their current tour, and the rest of us poor bastards will have access to it in June. Get stoked.)
At the recent Leicester stop of The Faceless’ UK/Euro headline tour, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview members of French Jazz/Tech metallers Gorod.
Read on to see what the band thinks about their current touring situation, their upcoming EP and future album plans, who’s to blame for their big 80’s metal hooks, and even some (potentially) exclusive information regarding the lyrical and conceptual direction for the band’s next full-length album!
Hey guys, nice to meet you. Thanks for agreeing to speak to me. So, first thing’s first, how’s the tour going so far? This is the 4th or 5th date right?
Benoit (bass): 5th date. 5th date so far. No problems so far, everything is really good. It’s sort of a more professional tour with a driver, a good manager, things seem to be working all the time. The atmosphere is good. Nothing special, just good times. (continued after the jump . . .)
Well that’s good news at least. You played London, last night was it?
Julien (vocals): Yeah it was in London last night. Underworld.
Oh, that’s a great venue. Was that a good show?
Julien: Yeah, that was really good actually. The crowd were really good ‘cos, you know, we are opening the show so we are on around 7, 7:30, something like that, so on some shows people miss us, but there were really people enough in there, and it’s been worse you know? People there for us, as well as the rest of the bands, started getting a bit crazy at the end. So that’s good, you know.
Benoit: Even if we start really early, several times there have been a lot of people already.
That’s good, as you guys have been getting a lot of press recently and you have a new EP coming out, so it’s good to see that a lot of people have been coming down specifically to see you guys early.
Julien: Yeah sure. And we really appreciate that.
So how’s the current line-up working out? Julien’s new, you have a new guitarist…
Benoit: Yes, Julien is our new singer, since… last summer. We got a new guitarist, Nicholas, over there (Nicholas waves) in November.
Benoit: Yes, Samuel (drums) has been here for two years now, since the last record “Process Of A New Decline”. Then there’s myself and Mathieu still.
I saw you guys at Hellfest last year. Great show, but wayyyyy too early in the morning.
Benoit: (Laughing) Oh yes, I remember…
[At this point Samuel wanders over to join in the interview]
That was one of your last shows/tours with Guillaume, but the split seemed quite pleasant from all I’ve read. How are things there? I mean he’s dueting with Julien on the new EP, right?
Julien: Yeah, yeah.
How did that end up happening?
Benoit: Yeah, we have known each other for a long time and Guillaume was still with us when we were recording the EP. Some of the track is a bit different than what we usually do and he [Guillaume] couldn’t find a good voice, and we knew that Julien was coming in to take over and we thought having him come in to do something fit perfectly. So that’s why he’s also on the record.
Julien: Yeah, ‘cos actually the EP was recorded with the previous singer, before I joined, but they thought there were one or two parts where a different voice could fit better. Yeah, so it was just…
Benoit: Extra-work? (laughing)
Ha! Well it’s quite rare when a band changes line-up for things to go so smoothly, one guy moving out and the other guy moving in so seamlessly.
Benoit: There’s been no problem. Guillaume is still my best friend, he had to stop really only for personal, familial reasons. So things are still really cool. For example, on the last tour we did, one month ago, with Benighted and Kronos, when we played in our town Bordeaux, he came up and did one song with Julien onstage.
Julien: Yeah, that was really good. ‘Cos the only problem was that he didn’t have time enough to keep on working with the band – and by then I was already replacing him because of his work. So that was really logical since we’ve known each other for a couple of years now. Maybe something like 10.
So you’ve known these guys for a good long time now?
Julien: Yeah, actually me and Samuel were in another band, Zubrowska, who recorded our album at their studio, it was in 2003 or something like that. So that was it!
Benoit: February 2003.
Julien: Yeah, that was it. Long time!
Ok, back to the new EP. I’ve read it finishes off the concept from the last 3 records?
Benoit: Sure, yeah.
So with that finished off, where are you looking to go next?
Benoit: Well I’ll leave that to Julien, he’s the new singer, he’s been writing the lyrics!
Julien: So, you want to know about the lyrics, about the new concept? Well the EP is the last of the more science-fiction concepts and now we’ll be based… building our concepts more around history and also the birth of the Russian peoples. So it will be interested in the 10th century, particularly around the time that the Scandinavians invaded Russia. Because Gorod is a Russian word for city, it just seemed logical for us to talk about it, plus the history, the mythology, of Russia is not really clear, and there’s so many books and sources about it, so you can really create a lot of different stories out of all that information. You can create something that’s really…
Julien: Oh yeah, haha, really cruel ‘cos you know it’s the Middle Ages.
Benoit: Brutal music for a brutal history!
Julien: So yeah, you can be the one to give away the surprise to everyone!
Thanks! So I’d like to ask a little more about the EP [Transcendence]. First off, why decide to re-record “Earth Pus” [from their debut album Neurotripsicks]?
Benoit: Just because when we first started to tour with Sam, after the recording of “Process Of A New Decline”, we wanted to do some old songs, and from the first album this was the song that was chosen first.
Samuel: So it was my fault! [Laughing]
Ok, so a bit more, maybe some background on “Textures”, the Cynic cover you did? Why that one on particular? Was it just your favourite?
Benoit: No, not really. In fact we didn’t have much choice because it was for a, erm…
Samuel: A cover album.
Benoit: Yes, which we were asked to do, but the only song that was left was “Textures”. But we do really like that song, it’s a great song.
The art was done by Matthieu [guitarist and artist for the band] again right?
Benoit: Yes, he does all our art.
It’s a bit more colourful, a bit more striking, and the logo seems to have changed a bit too?
Benoit: Oh yes, it’s definitely more flashy this time and the logo has stayed kind of the same, except the cogs behind it have been added. The cogs, the clock parts, are part of the global design of the EP. He [Matthieu] took some of those parts and added them behind the logo because he was finding it hard to fit the logo on the artwork. It didn’t fit so well, but with the cogs it fits just right. But I do think that for the next album we’ll probably change the logo totally.
Musically you guys state there’s a lot of jazz influences, lots of tech parts and death metal, but I’m sure I can hear some big 80’s metal hooks in your music, big catchy bits, plus I’ve seen you wearing a variety of Motley Crue, Guns N Roses t-shirts before…
…Is it fair to say you guys have a bit of an 80’s fetish?
Samuel: That’s almost all my fault!
Benoit: [Laughing] Yes it is! But Mathieu is the one who composes almost all the music, and to his point of view, musicality and catchiness are really, really important, definitely for playing it live, too, so he’s got part of his mind always focussed on that.
Julien: Yeah, it remains rock and roll in the end, even if it’s really technical; plenty of stuff can sound like the hottest tech-death metal but there must be a chorus, there must be something you can bang your head to…
Benoit: Always something catchy…
Samuel: It’s good though, always composing what we want, it just happens to be very technical.
Benoit: Yes, you always, always have to keep in mind the musicality of the song.
What about the rest of the year then? I know for example you’ve had trouble with getting a label.
Benoit: Well nothing is set in stone, nothing is signed yet, but we have had several labels in touch. The problem has been that we did the EP and because of the acoustic song, the long song which is very weird, very experimental…
Samuel: To make a deal with our label, or any new label, every label wants a new album, a brand new album, not an EP.
Benoit: So we’re releasing the EP ourselves, we’ve pressed the cd, all that stuff, then we’ll sign with a label for the next album.
When’s it out?
Benoit: Next week, 23rd of May.
Samuel: After the show in Paris.
Benoit: And this EP will only be available from shows, or maybe, from a webpage that we will make. But that’s not done yet, so if people come see us at shows make sure they come and get it direct from us, as that’s the only way they’ll be able to get hold of it
Last question then, this one’s for Julien – why is your nickname “Nutz”?
Julien: Oh god…
Julien: I’ve been called that since high-school, because I was a bit of a ball-breaker… so nuts-breaker… “nutz”…
Samuel: Oh, I thought it was because you’re always sleeping holding your nuts?
Julien: Ok, so maybe those two reasons!
There you have it. Thanks to the guys from Gorod — Benoit, Julien and Samuel — for a thoroughly entertaining, informative interview!
Keep an eye out for their new, self-released EP Transcendence and buy a copy as soon as you can!
Gorod is in the midst of their European Invasion Tour alongside The Faceless, Born Of Osiris, and Veil Of Maya. Their self-released EP, Transcendence, will only be available at the band’s shows and on the forthcoming Gorod online shop in June. Later in the year, it will become available on iTunes. Here’s the track list:
Track# 1: Earth Pus – (originally appeared on Neurotripsicks in 2004, and re-recorded, spring 2010.)
Track# 2: Blackout: Renewed Souls – (Acoustic version of the song, originally appearing on Leading Vision (2006); re-written for classical guitars and percussions.)
Track# 3: Textures – (Cynic cover, recorded in 2008 with Tiko Jenx on drums).
Track# 4: Earth Pus: Salvation – (Acoustic version of the song that originally appeared on Neurotripsicks; re-shaped with orchestral elements.)
Track# 5: Transcendence – (Brand new 15-minute song with Ross Dolan (Immolation) joining Guillaume and Julien on vocals.)
We don’t have any complete tracks from the EP to share with you (goddamit!) but we do have this trailer of excerpts from each song. It will have to do until June: