(Comrade Aleks has brought us another interview, and this time he amicably interrogates two members of the French death-doom band Lying Figures, whose debut album arrived in 2017 and who are now working on a successor to that one.)
Lying Figures from the French city of Nancy isn’t the most active band in the world. They started to forge their death doom metal slowly in 2008, and their EPs From Nowhere To Nothing and A World Of My Own appeared in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Their full-length work The Abstract Escape saw the light of day three years after, and this Katatonia-inspired material drew the attention of Brave Murder Day fans easily.
Well, Lying Figures didn’t turn int0 a cult band the very day this album was born, but they’re interesting enough to approach them and learn more about the band’s current status. Matthieu Burgaud (guitars) and Frédéric Simon (bass) eagerly helped me with that.
Hail Lying Figures! What’s new in Nancy? Does winter bring its melancholy densely enough to inspire you for the writing of new songs?
Fred: Hi! Things are going pretty fine. 2019 was a complicated year for all of us, as well on a personal and also an artistic plan. Today we feel more serene. and inspiration seems to come back at last! Maybe due to the melancholic atmosphere of winter in our region. Indeed, we started writing new songs during the last months (some of them are close to finished), but we still have a lot of work to do.
It’s said that the band is named after monsters from the Silent Hill game. I remember that all those monsters roughly personify some aspects of mental traumas or sins. I guess we can find similar figures on the artworks of Novembers Doom and October Tide… How much of Silent Hill is in your music? What meaning did you put in the band’s name?
Matt: Yes indeed, Lying Figures comes from Silent Hill’s lore. Mehdi and I are huge fans of Silent Hill 2. The gloomy, sad, and sick atmosphere inside this game has always been a source of inspiration. The Lying Figure itself is this monster with no arms, stuck in a straitjacket, the first monster you meet in SH2, when you have nothing but a wood plank to kill it. You have a lot of interpretations, but for us it represents the madness within, the weight of guilt everyone tries to keep inside, the kind of guilt which leads to insanity. That’s what we try to express in our music. The things you can fight in your life, things we all get through. And sometimes you don’t have the weapons to correctly deal with it.
We have several tracks with direct references to Silent Hill in our first album, The Abstract Escape. The town of Silent Hill is a kind of abstract escape, though. But our inspirations don’t come only from Silent Hill. We like to take things from literature and cinema, and of course from other bands or musicians that we love.
SH II is a thriller thing! And side story Born From A Wish is a killer addition as well. I’m surprised that you have drawn inspiration from this game. Do you follow other parts of the series as well? I remember SH IV has an interesting scenario but very shitty game play.
Matt: I played SH3 and SH4. Both have amazing atmosphere and soundtracks but are not as good as SH2. And yeah, the second half of SH4 is pretty boring to play.
So your debut release was the From Nowhere To Nothing EP; it saw the light in 2013, five years after the band’s birth. Did you use this time shaping the band’s sound and image?
Matt: In fact, the band was called Insanity Prelude at the beginning in 2008. The early years were just writing songs when we had time. We were two in the band at that moment. But in 2012 we became Lying Figures, when we finally had all the line-up. But at that time our music had already evolved. The new songs we had started to write didn’t fit with the old ones. So we decided to put our first songs in this first EP. A kind of ”Ok let’s move on”. But we still play some of these songs on stage with a great pleasure.
There are only five tracks, including an Akira Yamaoka cover. I wonder if it was enough to play live. When did you start to perform gigs? Do you remember the first one?
Matt: I remember our first shows lasted like 25/30 minutes and we had barely enough songs. But we also had new ones that were going to appear on A World Of My Own and we played them as well. Our first show was in November 2012 at Chez Paulette, which is a great stage. We were very young and I remember being very stressed.
Did you play covers back then?
Fred: We did a cover of ‘Deadhouse’ from KATATONIA and played it live maybe 1 or 2 time but we stopped very quickly. We prefer to stay focused on our own songs. We almost did a cover from Cathedral for the album Doomed or be Doomed: a French tribute to CATHEDRAL, out through Sleeping Church Records, but we weren’t totally satisfied with the result, and due to a bad schedule, we finally renounced to participate in this project. Anyway, I recommend it! It’s a great tribute album by French Doom Metal bands.
A World Of My Own EP was self-released just one year after From Nowhere To Nothing. And as I understand, it’s your first physical release. Did you search for a label? Was it a manifest of Lying Figures’ vitality?
Fred: With A World Of My Own we wanted to get a real product to show to promoters. We didn’t think about a label at first, but just making more concerts, touching more people. That’s why we chose to make a physical release. It was also a complete home studio recording, not like From Nowhere To Nothing, which was recorded with a programmed drum for example.
Lying Figures – The Mirror
Did you think to re-record it in a real studio?
Fred: I don’t think so. We never talked about it between us, this demo and this EP were made like that, that’s all… Of course, we could change a lot of things on these records, but our sound has evolved. Maybe for a 10th anniversary, why not, never say never … but today that is absolutely irrelevant.
Matt: No we never thought of re-recording it. As Fred says, there are many things we would like to change on it, but in a way it represents our evolution. There is always room for improvement, and we worked harder for the album. It doesn’t mean we didn’t work for the EP but we had less preparation. That’s fine for me.
The debut album The Abstract Escape demonstrates dominating, potent sound and dynamic delivery. How did you manage to get such results in the studio?
Fred: We wanted to take a new step. With The Abstract Escape we entered a professional studio. But before that our songs were more accomplished. We put more work into our composition process. We had a precise idea of what we wanted — the production, the color, the atmosphere, and so on. I have to say, Pierre ‘Gorgor’ Schaffner helped us a lot with the production, the sound dynamics. He also gave us very good advice for the arrangements.
How did you decide which songs were ready? Weren’t you seduced by an urge to polish material over and over again?
Fred: We just kept the songs which were complete with full lyrics, the songs that matched the best for this album. It’s not a concept album, but every part has a coherent mood with the songs, the lyrics, the artwork… We knew when to stop the process. It’s not always easy but ‘the much is the enemy of good’ (haha), so we found a good limit to say, “Ok let’s do it like that!”
Matt : In Lying Figures there is always someone who has an idea of a song. We record it at home and send it to the others to have some feedbacks. And then we see each other to talk about it. If the song would fit in an album, then we decide to improve it. We had to make choices for The Abstract Escape because many songs didn’t fit the global atmosphere we wanted to have on it. So we kept the ones we preferred. The songs are ready when everyone is happy with the result.
You paid for the studio, and then you also shot the video for “The Mirror” song. That seems to be quite expensive. Were you ready from the start for such spending of money?
Fred: Of course, recording in a studio has a certain cost. But we had started to spare some money with our gigs and the sales of the previous EP. We added a little amount from our own money as well to complete it. Concerning ‘The Mirror’ video, it was Matthieu who did It by himself. At the beginning it was supposed to be a kind of “making of” of the production process, but we ended up with just this video. Matthieu planned all the recording sessions and made the montage himself. So it cost us only time.
Did you fulfill all the ideas you wanted to try on The Abstract Escape? Were you proud or satisfied with the album?
Fred: We’re all satisfied with the result, even two years after. The album sounds exactly like we wanted. Of course we can always find something to say about one riff or a moment but it would lose its nature. I think that what people like in this album, is that it is a bit imperfect, tortured but powerful. We’re very proud of the result and to see how people talk about it.
Lying Figures – Remove The Black
How important is it for you to play live? What are your highlights considering gigs?
Fred: Playing live is very important for us. This is where we can spend all our energy, empty our feelings, about sadness, anger… everything goes out, it’s like a therapy. Our highlight gigs? Well, I suppose it’s the last one, at the Dutch Doom Days in Rotterdam, with a great headline, cool venue, great sound and audience. But every gig we’ve done has had a certain atmosphere, that’s why we love playing in different venue and cities.
Lying Figures slowly started to work on new material. Can you tell us in which direction the band will move this time?
Matt: We started writing new songs. and what we can say for now is that the new ones are a bit more dark and heavy. I think the new album will be our darkest work for now, with less compromise. We stay true to what we love to do, with melodies, and talking about the subjects we like, but the riffs are (so far) more brutal and darker.
Fred: It’s too early to answer, but we do try to stay true to ourselves. We don’t want to stay static, and we respect the influences of all members. I think the new album will be in the same evolution as our previous records, maybe darker, we’ll see.
You have a new member in the band. It’s second guitarist Claude Colmars of Forsaken World. Does he take part in the composing or do you write the new songs as before?
Fred: Two years ago, Mehdi, who created Lying Figures with Matt, decided to quit Lying Figures to stay focus on his other band. Then, Hugo Prete joined us to replace him, it was easy because he had already been a session guitarist in 2017 during the Abstract Tour, replacing Matt during several months. Unfortunately, he also left the band to take care of his family, and we respected his decision… Then, we finally found Claude Colmars, ex-Forsaken World as you mentioned. He also plays in Dusk of Delusion.
After Mehdi left, we had to learn a new way of working. There is a certain osmosis between Matt and Thibault when they compose some new stuff, and Claude doesn’t take part in the composition. It’s not to break the process, but it’s his own choice and we are ok with that. He is a good guitarist and learned the old songs really quickly, so maybe later if he feels more immersed by our universe, why not. We are open to any proposal from all members.
Matt : Yes I’m pleased by the arrival of Claude, we have a lot of cultural influences in common and he likes our atmosphere and songs. I asked him how he felt about the composition process and he is ok with the way we already do. But I have no problem about him proposing songs or riffs if he has any ideas of course.
Okay, thank you gents for the interview. I hope to hear more news from the Lying Figures camp soon. Would you like to add a few more words in the end?
Fred: Thank you so much for this cool interview! We are excited by the new songs. We need to work again and again, but I think it’s going in a good way, and fans can be surprised by some of them. But once again, it’s too early to talk about a studio recording or an album release. By the way, we would like to play more often on stage in France and Europe, gigs are important for us. Hope to see you guys on the roads!!
Mat : Thank you for the interview. Stay tuned to Lying Figures if you like what we do because there is new stuff coming. I love the way things are going, and how gloomy the new songs are.