2013, Features, Interviews — November 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm

JF Dagenais of Kataklysm


“We’re all really excited to play these new songs for the first time as Australia is actually the first stop on our tour, so we cannot wait to stop and see how this album will reflect live and I know we’ve already been practising and it sounds awesome, and I cannot wait to come to Australia and kick your ass and shake your hand and meet all you crazy people again.”

From Release: After more than two decades as one of the spearheads of the extreme metal scene and Canada’s leading export concerning all things blasting and brutal, Montreal-based Masters KATAKLYSM are far from slowing down.  With their overwhelmingly positive reputation of being truly fan-friendly, keen, relentless, blastbeat-ish and so forth, they are entitled as the Northern Kings of Hyperblast, deservedly. To top it all, fall of 2013 has seen the release of KATAKLYSM’s twelfths studio album called ‘Waiting For The End To Come’, released via Nuclear Blast.

We gave JF of Kataklysm a call to discuss the band’s new album and its creation, as well as their forthcoming tour of Australia…

The new album is called ‘Waiting For The End to Come’ can you give us the story behind the name?
We wanted to, when we started putting ideas down for the album we had the idea of this old man that’s about to die and reflecting on his past life with the things he did right and the things that he wished he could change. It’s about life in general, we wanted to look at the coma state people are in today and it’s about this man who’s about to die and thinking that I’m not going to bring my belongings to the other side and I’m not going to bring my house. So it just puts a big perspective on life and we wanted to talk about that a lot on this new album, it’s something that we talk about between ourselves and we thought it was an important subject to deal with. We also have the subject of other things we talk about on this record, for instance on a song called ‘Kill The Elite’, that one is more about control and whether it’s from government or a new world order type of scenario, or whether it’s in your own life, your boss or people that just want to control you, this is your song about it, we wanted to talk about that. We also have a song called ‘Like Animals’ talking more about basically that we’re of course more diligent than animals, but we share a lot of the same basic instinct and we have a lot of things in common that make us not so different in ways, and we wanted to talk about with that song. Basically the whole concept of this new album is it’s about life in general and making it in a philosophical way.

Did you set out to do anything differently on this record that you may not have tackled before?
I mean musically I think we went a little out of our comfort zone, we wanted to try a few different elements and bring it to another level but at the same time, keep our roots, so we wanted to make sure that all the elements that make us who are we are still in our music just pushing it that step further. We worked very hard on the song writing and the arrangements and everything on this record, the production as well, we wanted to modernise a song, by keeping it raw and real but at the same time be in your face and modern and that is the whole idea behind this record. In pushing ourselves to the limit, but at the same time to keep our roots to make sure we still sound like Kataklysm. I’m really happy with what we achieved, I think everybody performed really well, I always give props to our singer, I think that the vocal sound is outstanding, and I’m really happy about that, the playing on this record so I’m happy.

You of course produced the album but you enlisted Zeuss to work on the album, what did he bring to it that may have not been present before?
If you’re not part of the band and the whole process, like when I start I start writing the songs I demo the songs with the guys, I go over and produce everything and we make sure it sounds good, but months and months into the process its really nice to have a fresh ear come in and get a look at the big picture and guide us in a different way and that we don’t fall off track and that we get what we want in the end musically as well and the layout and mixing part, so every instrument gets balanced right, he also will pick up different things that we might not have seen in the whole production process. So that’s one of the things where he did a fantastic job and we’re all really happy with how it came out at the end, and we would work with him again for sure.

You’re headed back to Australia in December for only the second time, what can fans expect on your return?
Definitely a great, energetic show. We’re all really excited to play these new songs for the first time as Australia is actually the first stop on our tour, so we cannot wait to stop and see how this album will reflect live and I know we’ve already been practising and it sounds awesome, and I cannot wait to come to Australia and kick your ass and shake your hand and meet all you crazy people again. Last time we’d been in Australia was 2007 so it’s already like five years ago, so I cannot wait to come back.

Do you have a memory of your first tour you can share with us?
Man it was really crazy, I remember that we met a lot of great people, the shows were not that packed, we had a good turnout, I remember Melbourne and Sydney were really awesome shows, but I remember the passion of the fans, everyone was happy to see us, and I remember the barbeques and all the other stuff we did outside the shows that were great. To be in your country was really special. For us it’s the other side of the world, it’s always neat to go to a new place, and Australian people are really warm and welcoming and it was a good experience.

How do the Australian fans compare to those around the world?
I think metal fans in general wherever you go in the world is the same person. They’re into the music and they’re very passionate about it, I just think some places in the world like say if you go to some places in Europe are just more fans for the genre of music, but generally speaking, there are so many great people around the world, and basically the same person, like they are really passionate about the music and that’s what binds us together I think. I don’t know what makes people get into metal, whatever they do, but generally speaking I think metal fans are the nicest people I’ve ever met.

 I saw that you’re heading to Japan for the first time. Are there any other territories you’re hitting up that you haven’t been to before?
Just so far Japan is the one we’ve been, and there are talks about South America later in the year where we’ve never been either before. Everywhere else we’ve been already, with this run so far I think we have something like two hundred and fifty shows planned for the year, so a busy schedule but exciting at the same time.

With Oli on drums now, what has he brought to the Kataklysm sound?
I think he brought fresh energy and he brought ideas to the song writing as he has a different style, but at the same time he really fits perfectly in the band and I really think he was an excellent choice for us in the band as far as drums. We’re happy with the record but looking forward to see how he turns out on the road with it, but I can already tell he’s fitting in amongst us nicely and as a person as well. New fresh ideas and at the same time I think he came to us and gave us a kick in the ass as he’s a really tight, professional drummer and that makes you work harder and play better and that’s a positive thing.

In the now over twenty years as a part of Kataklysm, has there been a defining moment that stands out for you?
For me I think the things I love the most about the band and what I’ve experienced in the last twenty years is the travelling and the places I’ve been and I’ve seen around the world and the people I’ve met, and being able to have a chance to travel the world is priceless and to me those are the memories I’m going to take to my grave when I’m gone and being able to do this as a living is incredible, I think that’s what I am going to remember the most when it’s all said and done.

Looking back to ‘Sorcery’ what do you see as the biggest change that has taken place musically over the eighteen years since its release?
I think we’ve just took whatever we always did and pushed it to another level, I think we stayed true to our roots but at the same time we stepped outside of our comfort zone and the aggressiveness of the band and made it a louder version of what we always did, and pushing ourselves musically and song writing wise. It’s always been about pushing ourselves to the limit, anything is possible in a certain timeframe and that’s us saying today in 2013 we sound and I think it’s the point to stay relevant in this business.

You’ve also been a part of the Nuclear Blast family for twenty years now, what is it about Nuclear Blast that works for Kataklysm?
I mean they were the first ones to give us a shot when we started and we remained great friends over the years and I see them more as a second family more than a label and they do a great job and always super nice and always treated us well and hopefully we keep that relationship going for a lot longer, but unfortunately I think it’s getting harder and harder for record labels in this day and age to sell music in the digital age but I think they’re still relevant. The amount of music fans out there that are really collectors of music so they still buy stuff and that’s why were able to move so many units when we put out records, we have fans that have always been there supporting us and they are really collectors of music, we do the vinyl and the cassette, we put it out on cassette as for us it is like a return to when we grew up, it was how we listened to music, but at the same time I think it’s a neat collector item to have.

What is it about being in this band that you still enjoy?
I’d say playing in a band as a musician the most precious thing I think is the freedom, as I feel free to do what I do like to do in life and free to write music, free to like I said before to travel and to experience many different things and that’s what I enjoy the most about being a musician, getting to live your life the way you want to, it’s not always easy, people think it’s like a nice and easy lifestyle, it’s hard, there’s a lot of hours travelling and jetlag, spent rehearsing, and spent getting yourself on a stage somewhere, but in the end I still feel free and I think that’s the best thing about this lifestyle.

With the new record only just out, you mentioned a tonne of shows coming up but does 2014 have anything else in store for the band?
Yes it’s basically tour, tour, tour, and were going to go everywhere in the world, probably twice, once we’re done we’re going to do a second run later in the year, so that’s what the year is looking like, so far and we already have lots of offers for 2015, so I don’t think it will stop anytime soon as the album seems to be picking up quite fast, so we’re going to be touring a lot. We don’t have a schedule for the future but I’d like to do another record quite soon as I feel I still have more to say and more riffs to come up with *laughs* and songs to write, so I’m really looking forward to the next album already because I feel from the last writing sessions I still have more and have more ideas for songs and I already have ideas for more songs and hopefully it’s not going to be another four years for another record, I’d like it to be a little before that.

And hopefully not another six years before you make it to Australia…
No, I’d love to make it a regular stop, we love to come so much, it’s just that it’s so far away and the costs are big for everybody to bring us over there and if it’s feasible and if it works out with the schedule, so hopefully we can make it a regular stop and come back every other year because we love coming to Australia.

Essential information

From: Montreal, QC – Canada / Chicago, IL – United States

Band members:  Maurizio Iacono (Vocals), Jean-Francois Dagenais (Guitar), Stephane Barbe (Bass), Oli Beaudoin (Drums)

Latest Release: Waiting For The End To Come (Nuclear Blast) Out Now!

Website:  http://www.facebook.com/kataklysm



Catch Kataklysm live in Australia at the following dates:


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