(Here’s Comrade Aleks‘ interview with drummer Dennis Lefebvre of the Belgian band Marche Funèbre, whose new album Einderlicht was jointly released on September 25th by Hypnotic Dirge Records, Solitude Productions, and The Vinyl Division.)
We did an interview here with Belgian Marche Funèbre about a year ago. Back then they had new EP, Death Wish Woman (released on October 14th), a tour, and a lot of fun… Now the band has a new full-length album Einderlicht and no gigs at all.
I think it was a matter of luck that Marche Funèbre got finished in time and managed to record the album with Markus Stock at his Klagschmiede Studio in February 2020 before actual shit started to hit the fan. But well, we’ve completed quite a good interview with the band’s drummer Dennis Lefebvre, and I welcome you to read it. Another portion of good and fair doom death doesn’t hurt anyone.
Hail Dennis! How are you? What’s going on in your lair?
Well we are busy doing interviews for the promotion of our new album and are playing a handful of Belgian release shows to get the album all the promo it deserves. Unfortunately, international shows, or shows how we knew them, are only happening in our dreams at the moment.
Which questions are most annoying from your point of view? What do people tend to ask more often?
I don’t really see questions as annoying. The fact that people ask questions means they are interested in us as a band, and that is something we should value. Sure, sometimes you don’t feel like answering questions, but that has more to do with the state of mind at that moment then with the actual question.
I’ve checked… well, we actually did an interview just a year ago, and that was a merry time if we make a comparison with the current period. You had a new EP, you did a good big tour. and even played in the USA and here in Russia. And what do we have now? Mamma mia! How do you see this quarantine situation from Belgium?
It is utter crap, especially when you want to get out with a new album we all worked so hard on. What we as individuals think of this situation is not going to change anything, it is the same for all bands. I can only hope things will turn normal soon, but I am not too optimistic when it comes to that unfortunately… I hope I will be proven wrong of course.
Agreed, I wonder if everything will be the same. What’s the most common opinion in Belgium considering the quarantine? Do people think that it’s just a coincidence? Or do some folks think that governments just caught the wave and have done their best to tighten the noose around our neck?
Both opinions can be found, the same as everywhere I guess since when it comes to this the world is a small place and all countries (or most of them) are in the same shitty position. We all have our opinion on what is going on and on how governments are handling things and how they should be handling things…
Well, at least you have a bunch of good breweries there in Belgium, does it help you to endure?
Hahaha, we sure do!! But a beer to celebrate always tastes better than one to ease the pain or make you forget the grim reality. A good beer always tastes best with good friends and in a happy atmosphere (not that doom is happy but I was told to answer honestly to the questions 😉 ).
Marche Funèbre’s fourth album Einderlicht was co-released by Hypnotic Dirge from Canada and a sub-label of Russian Solitude Productions – BadMoodMan Music. Both labels are well-known among underground doom bands with their fair and dedicated approach, so it’s a good choice. But I wonder if some bigger commercially-oriented label made an offer to you… Did you get in such a situation?
No, we didn’t get into that situation, we didn’t go on the lookout either. The thing is that Nick (HDR) approached us when he heard we were working on a new album. He immediately said he wanted to release it. We worked with him before (a split with Eye Of Solitude and the US re-release of Into The Arms Of Darkness) and had a good understanding with each other. We had some really good talks and for us it was clear he was the man to release this album. It also was an honour that a renowned label put its trust in us without having heard one note of the new music. That was something new for us.
He came up with the idea of getting Solitude in again, since distribution-wise it would be more interesting to have stock to deliver on both sides of the Atlantic. We also worked with them before and know they deliver quality and honour the deals they make.
As for the vinyl we went with David from The Vinyl Division (Spain). Arne had met him at a gig, they talked for a bit, and he turned out to be a good guy, so when we wanted a label to release the vinyl we first checked if he would be interested. He immediately was, and when we saw what he delivered we were very happy we have him on board. The coloured version was sold out in no time but plenty of black ones are available to order for those interested!
How does the Einderlicht promotion go? Well, may I use this description for this period of Marche Funèbre at all? Has the interest of the media changed toward the underground scene from your point of view?
I don’t know if it changed, I don’t really follow it like that. I mean, I read articles but I am not really investigating if the perception of the media towards underground bands has changed. What we do notice is that the metal magazines are really suffering from the corona shit. They have less content, especially when it comes to gig-reviews and especially the festival-reviews. This causes sponsors to lower their budgets or just withdraw, which makes it harder for zines to give chances to underground bands (unless they are willing to pay for it). It is no one’s fault really. It is the way it is right now…
On the other hand, we get quite a lot of requests for interviews, and reviews are rolling in, so we are not complaining…
Yes, actually I expected the situation would be worse, but some paper magazines hold on, and as you see, some excellent resources like No Clean Singing keep on spreading the Word. Are you interested in metal-scene news yourself? Do you read interviews with bands you like or read reviews besides those which are about Marche Funèbre’s albums?
Hahaha, of course man, I am a metalhead so I still read reviews and interviews. I don’t consider them as important as I used to do back in the days. But I still like to read what some of my favourite artists have to tell or what a reviewer thinks about a certain album. I mean, I am interested in music and enjoy reading about it.
Once again you recorded the album with Markus Stock of Empyrium, The Vision Bleak, and a handful of other bands. Did you get in, in time, before the quarantine with a recording session in his den?
Yes we did fortunately. We booked the studio for early February so that was before lockdown. We had no idea about the shitstorm that was about to hit us hard. So all recordings went as planned. I guess we’ll be one of the only records that were recorded there in 2020 apart from his own bands. But it is not a good thing, because I wish Markus only the best and this situation is far from it for a professional musician/producer.
What was the most difficult part for you during this recording session? How do you see your growth as a drummer?
Maybe an atypical answer but there was not really a difficult part for me in the recording. When I enter the studio, I make sure I am super prepared, so I am sure I can play my parts easily, and that way I don’t have to stress out when a suggestion is made to change something here or there. I think exactly that is my growth as a drummer. With the first 2 albums I entered the studio with some parts that I was stressed out to record, because I knew I would need quite a few takes to get them right. Now I don’t have that anymore. Partly because we invest a lot of time in getting a good pre-production (so we already went through the whole recording of the parts before actually going to the studio to record the album) and partly because I like to believe I am a better drummer now than I was some years ago.
Are there some tracks left from the Einderlicht session? May we expect some smaller release soon?
We actually wrote 8 tracks, recorded 7, and released the album with 6 tracks plus 1 (new) bonus track. However, there are no tracks left that we want to use. But we already planned to start writing again in November. Since not a lot of shows can be played and we love making music, starting on new songs seems to be the logical thing to do. There are already some ideas and visions that need our attention in the coming rehearsals. So, when you ask me will there be another release soon, I have to say ‘no’. On the other hand, this band never backs away from a cool opportunity, so who knows… But nothing is planned. We want to give Einderlicht all the attention it deserves.
The press release points out that “thematically you focused on the strange ability of mankind to deliberately decide to end one’s life” this time. What drew your attention to this theme? Metal music often approaches this theme, and it seems that no one cares most of the time.
It still is one of the number 1 causes of death, so they should care imho. Why this theme was chosen is something you should ask Arne (singer), who really likes to think out these things. I personally don’t interfere with the lyrics that much; I’ll speak out if I don’t like something but most of the times the lyrics become clear to me when we are recording them in the studio. We have some other people in the band who are more into these things. For me the singing lines are far more important than the actual words that are sung. But that is a very personal way I look at it. I also know Arne and Peter are good writers, so I trust them blindly when it comes to lyrics they want to use.
There are five men in Marche Funèbre and four of you are fathers. We are living through quite a dark period and you raise dark topics in your songs. How are you optimistic toward the future we’re going to leave for our children?
Again, I can only answer from my point of view. The thing I want to teach my children is that we live in a fucked-up world but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a great time while being alive. (That is, in very short, my view on life).
But it is no secret that the future doesn’t look that good. Humanity is too stupid to make a change for the good, so I am not too optimistic about the future. But I don’t think things looked a lot better for my parents or their parents who grew up during World War II, seeing a really ugly side of mankind.
You’ve shot a video for the song ‘Maelstrom Mute’, which offers a good look at Einderlicht‘s content. But, hah, again money… Do you see a reason to spend a bigger budget on Marche Funèbre videos? Is it worth spending money on the visual side of your music?
A good question we recently discussed in the band as well. We are not a rich band, so we need to see how we spend our money. Of course, most of the budget goes to the recordings, making it the album we wanted it to be, sounding the exact way we wanted it too sound.
We thought we needed a video indeed in order to get something visual and to use as a promo tool — of course this isn’t the ’90s any more so there is no Headbangers Ball that could air it, so we have to remain realists and wisely invest money in a thing like this.
Truth be told, the clip that came out was plan C. We had originally planned a totally different clip for the song. We had a film crew, we had a storyboard, and we were thinking about what actors we could ask, … And then Corona came, and we had the lockdown. It became clear our plan was not going to work as the deadline when we needed to have it came closer. Another plan was made with the same video-crew, and a new concept was created, but it did not work out because of constantly changing Covid-regulations. We were fortunate enough to be part of a cool streaming festival called Festiviral where we headlined the Metal-day. It was really professionally done and so we had our show recorded with 9 pro cameras, so we decided to use this footage to make the clip. The guy that did the lyric video edited the footage and there you have the story of how this video came to be J
You have brand new t-shirts for the Einderlicht release but with a different design. Who’s the author of this withered sunflower man? Why did you choose this image to represent this album?
The dude who did the design is Alex Norman. We worked with him for our 10-year anniversary EP called Death Wish Woman. We really liked the communication we had going when working together on that and so when it came to create new artwork for the new album, we contacted him. The cool thing about him is that you give him some ideas and he creates something with what he has been given. He works fast and doesn’t mind getting comments — on the contrary, he goes back to the drawing table with them and then simply blows you away.
Something tells me we’ll be working together some more in the future.
Thanks for your answers Dennis! I hope we’ll have a chance to talk next year and we’ll have more positive news to talk about. However, the Einderlicht release is good news in itself, so accept my congratulations! Bye!