Unexpect's Syriak and ChaotH Interviewed
On September 9th, 2007 I went to the Highline Ballroom in New York City to see the band Unexpect open for Epica. Before the show I took guitarist Syriak and bassist ChaotH aside to interview them. We ended up doing the interview outside, as many other places around were very noisy. At the time I didn't realize how much wind there would be. This made certain parts of the interview very hard to understand. However, the interview was very entertaining to do as theses guys have a good sense of humor. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Zack: So how's the tour going?
ChaotH: We're not really on tour right now, we are going on an extensive tour by January, though right now it's just one show.
Syriak: Til the end of the year, there's a couple of opening spots for After Forever, Enslaved, Epica tonight and cool bands like that. After that in January, we're pretty much on tour.
Zack: Awesome, must have been a long trek to get down here.
Syriak: Yeah, we like it that way.
Zack: Any stories from the road you'd like to share?
Syriak: No, we haven't been on tour for months, so I can't really remember any details for the moment. I can't remember anything from that tour, it was something like last April.
ChaotH: Last time we were on tour was last March and April. Uh, besides driving, not sleeping and eating bad, nothing super glamorous happened, but I don't know.
Syriak: Except when you killed that dwarf.
Syriak: Yeah I loved that time.
ChaotH: Yeah dwarf, careful they're everywhere in Canada. But yeah we're gonna get back on tour in January and we're gonna try and have more stories, that's kinda a boring answer.
Zack: But it's something. What is your favorite city to play in?
Syriak: One city we really like to play, I don't know if you've ever heard of it, [in audible], but it's in Quebec, it's far. There are many bands that are around there, so we can make sure there are bands showing up there with people who go totally crazy and we really, really like doing that. If not the big city centers like New York where we played and the States we really like.
Zack: Are you getting a good response from the crowd?
Syriak: Yeah, definitely.
Zack: Great, you deserve it. Well you've been coming back here a lot, so do you really like the New York City crowds, or are you trying to get more exposure from this area? It's such a long trek to do a one off show, why do you do it? Before I know it I see that you are playing here again.
ChaotH: Well we keep trying to play here. We were supposed to play more, but I think us and New York are cursed because we've tried to do shows twice in a year and they've been canceled for some reason. Customs and such and I don't remember the other one, the show was canceled for some reason. I am really glad we are here now and can play New York and play at a nice venue and I'm sure it is gonna be awesome.
Syriak. Yeah we did the whole Canada tour [last] time, so now it's time to discover the States.
Zack: How was the Canadian tour?
Syriak: Really, really good
Zack: When you tour, do you find that a lot of fans buy the CDs and merch or do you feel it is more promotional in other ways?
Syriak: Actually we have good support.
ChaotH: Well as we haven't toured much in the States yet, but especially in Canada people buy a lot of stuff, but we don't know about the States yet.
Syriak: Because we haven't done it yet. We haven't really toured the States a lot, for a moment we did a couple of dates with The Gathering in 2006 and a couple of dates with Tub Ring, but there weren't a lot of shows, so we don't know exactly where it's gonna go. We've been on the east coast for a couple of dates, but we've only scratched the surface. Until the end of the year we'll play some locations to claim territory.
Zack: It takes a while. Where else do you plan on touring in the future?
Syriak: We are touring the States with Trail of Tears, Echos of Eternity and whats the other band?
Syriak: There's supposed to be another big tour coming up, but we don't know exactly [even if we're] working, so it would be in April or May.
ChaotH: If it does, it's gonna be awesome.
Syriak: If it happens it'll be awesome. [inaudible]
Zack: So is there going to be a tour in Europe coming up?
Syriak: Yeah finally.
ChaotH: Our kind of music would do great in Europe. It's a totally other world that we don't really know so that would be interesting to play there and with attendance there, maybe reoccur. There and Japan would be amazing to play in, but I guess that's rather complicated getting eight people in another continent.
Syriak: We could fit in a container or something.
ChaotH: That would be more comfortable than our van.
Zack: With a very avant-garde sound, do you hope to break it into the mainstream metal market by playing with the bands you do or are you trying to see who likes it?
Syriak: We don't really have a plan or design or anything, it's just do what we do at the moment how we feel it. You never know how people are going to react, but I guess people are becoming more and more open minded about the music we do. It's really hard work though.
Zack: Well you just drove like eight hours.
Syriak: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. We're going to keep on doing what we want to do. In the end we just want to play the music, we want to create.
Zack: That's a good attitude. What are your opinions about the free downloading of music through peer-to-peer file sharing?
Syriak: Actually, I support it because I think it is a great way for us and more underground bands to get known, it's no harm. If someone really likes a band, they'll goto a show or buy a t-shirt.
ChaotH: The problem today is that you can't really make money from selling CDs anymore so downloading could be a very good promotional tool, but it's kind of harder to make money, so we'll have to think outside the box and find ways to make money without selling CDs cause that doesn't do well right now. I think that in a way this could evolve the industry and move forward.
Syriak: That and it's not about making a lot of money, but just trying to survive and not have day jobs.
Zack: Well what if you didn't have day jobs, would your opinion change?
Syriak: When we get to that point I will just be extremely happy. I won't complain about people downloading music. I have always been supportive of that. I know that it is kind of bad for the industry, but at the same time it helps me discover so many bands.
Zack: Yeah, that's how I found Unexpect. With Myspace.
Syriak: I find so many bands though [Myspace], so yeah that's it. I can't be totally against it because I meet so many nice [inaudible] out of it.
Zack: How do you feel about labels putting more effort into online distribution like itunes? Do you think this is good or do you think they should be doing it other ways?
Syriak: I don't really know, I don't have enough opinion about that. They are doing what is better for the artists than...
Zack: Or for themselves?
Syriak: Yeah for themselves more. [laughs]
Zack: So what do you think the future of the music industry is going to be like?
Syriak: it's really hard to fathom. I don't really know how it is going to be in a few years, the changes are all happening so fast. It's a big step. I just don't know exactly. I can't pin point where it will be in some years, but do you have an idea? [Asking ChaotH]
ChaotH: I think it is like our actual society. It is gonna collapse really soon, which will be good because we can reverse our pop culture. That would be great. There are more and more people listening to more and more music because the more media access you have to music, like internet for example. The more you listen to different music and discover a wide range of music. The word is that the industry is going to collapse in a couple of years, 2012.
Zack: So where will you be when it collapses?
ChaotH: I don't know. I have no idea.
Zack: On a more positive note, how's The End Records working out for the band?
Syriak: They're great! That's one of the reasons we keep coming to New York, since they moved out here. We have a lot of contacts with them and we really feel finally that we are a big something. They are very supportive of everything.
Zack: What do they do best for Unexpect? Promotion? Distribution? Touring? Shows?
Syriak: Yeah they help us out by finding the right contacts and then help us entertain the relations between everybody because it is all about contacts.
ChaotH: They are really good at internet propaganda and internet publicity. That and they can post any publicity in the mags.
Syriak: I don't know the written press here in the States so I don't really know how they are doing on the printing side, but from what I can see from the internet it's really good.
Zack: That's good because it's what people read now anyway. Aside from the musical connection, how did you create the name Unexpect?
Syriak: Well about the name, the founding member of the band, Artica, he was the only one still in the band at the time he created Unexpect and the name of the band, so everybody just joined up after a while. Even when I joined the band there was already a name.
ChaotH: The funny thing is that the name kind of explains itself with the more we do at the moment. Whatever we do now it'll always be, 'alright, that's the name of the band Unexpect.'
Syirak: Oh it's real unexpected, but it was never meant to be that way. We didn't think, 'We're called that so we're gonna do strange and interesting music'. No, it's not like that, it was really pure coincidence that it worked out like that.
Zack: How would you define talent?
ChaotH: Too much spare time. [laughs] That's what it was for me.
Syriak: Without going too much into the technical side, there are different kinds of talent. Some people can be extremely creative and have a flow of good ideas without being a virtuoso. I guess there isn't any true definition of talent, but there's only main [categories], I guess that's pretty much it.
Zack: That's what I think. Some people think that unless you play thirty thousand notes a second you have no talent.
Syriak: [laughs] I can't do that and I don't want to. My favorite pleasure in life is to compose or arrange and that is more my form of talent than being a virtuoso.
Zack: What is your songwriting process like?
Syriak: It's really chaotic. It springs from one person to another.
Zack: What goes through your mind when you write that, that's what I wanna know.
Syriak: I don't know exactly, I think we're just not trying too hard to think and everybody just has to go out of yourself.
Zack: Every part is so different so how do you get it all to connect?
Syriak: There's a lot of microcomposition. After a main idea is injected we'll stop at every guy in the band and [say] 'ok, you'll do that,' so then we really think about it, but the base comes from people will write with a main structure everybody just joins in the fun. Everybody has their own words to say so that's why it always sounds so different.
Zack: I know a lot of bands that do crazy music and they plan it all before hand and then give it to the band and have them play it, but you do it without that, it must be pretty hard.
Syriak: [laughs] Yeah it is, always. There's always a lot of compromising to do. You know we're seven human beings so we're not always on the same exact metal phase. So it's always, you let it be and then you just wait and you finally come to a moment where you are say 'that was good.'
Zack: What about the lyrics?
Syriak: They are mainly written by myself. On the last album there was one song written by ChaotH and another one by artica, but I usually take care of that part.
Zack: What are your influences for writing the lyrics?
Syriak: There is a huge influence from the Surrealitan movement I really like to just let it flow, just like in the music, just let it go. Start with a main theme or subject and just go away and blast it out of images, collecting them together and then reworking it.
Zack: Why did you write some of them in a different language?
Syriak: Yeah, sometimes it's in inversed French, and on the last album there was just a little section Hungarian because, Leïlindel, our female singer is half Hungarian. We just felt that it would be a nice touch to add a little bit of Hungarian in a style where you don't hear it so often.
Zack: It's really interesting because I start to sing along and it's hard then I look at the words and then I realize it isn't English. Do you prefer recording or playing live? Which do you find harder to play with your complex music?
ChaotH: Well harder would be to play live, but they're both as fun. The pure rush of energy when you play live, but the studio is so different, it isn't even the same world, but I enjoy both equally.
Syriak: The studio part is more stressing than the show. When you are alone with yourself and everything you record is you.
Syriak: Yeah, it has to be perfect. When you are in a show, for myself, I don't care about perfection, I care more about the live feel, and it doesn't have to be perfect.
Zack: Who are your influences in metal?
Syriak: There were different waves of influences for myself. I started to listen to metal through old school bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth. Then came another wave of music when I started to grow a little more technical on metal like Death, Cynic, and even Deicide then came the European stuff with Dissection and Dark Tranquility. Then, after a while, I started discovering a lot more black metal bands like Emperor. I never tried to recreate something I heard, but it just all adds up in my subconscious. Even electronic music [inaudible]. There really is a lot of music that captures my mind. A lot.
Zack: What about you?
ChaotH: I wasn't really into metal music, but I was into hardcore and their subgenres like The Dillinger Escape Plan and family and that kind of stuff. When I joined the band I brought maybe new influences and I discovered all these musically rich people and all the new music they had to show me. That's the thing, we're seven human beings with seven different backgrounds and from that point it gives such a weird musical mix.
Zack: Anything outside of metal, since you have classical and circus music in your music?
Syriak: Yeah, I was in classical school. Me and my keyboardist started in classical school at seven years old playing piano. After a while he started playing drums and I starting playing guitar. We did a bit of jazz at college too. I am open to pretty much anything around other than country and hip-hop I'm not really fond of, but that's a personal thing.
Zack: Is there a 'scene' in Montreal?
Syriak: Montreal? Yeah there's a huge metal scene. The mass media isn't really interested in the bands there, but there are a lot of bands and it's really thriving. There's a lot of people and the bands that come out of Montreal are kind of strange and innovative in a way. You should really look into it.
Zack: Name some bands.
Syriak: Ion Dissonance, Augury, I'm not sure if you know them, Martyr. No?
Zack: I've heard of them, but I got to check them out.
Syriak: Yeah. They're three of my favorite bands at the moment. There's Negativa, an upcoming band, they were ex members of Gorguts previously and they started another band completely different. They are a couple really nice interesting projects.
ChaotH: Despised Icon too.
Syiak: Yeah dude.
ChaotH: Despised Icon are really making an imprint for themselves now, even outside of metal.
Zack: A local band here I know is about to open for them soon.
ChaotH: Yeah they're always on tour.
Zack: So what can the fans expect of you in the future besides the tour in January?
Syriak: A new album
ChaotH: We're working on it right now, it shouldn't be out in three weeks, but we're working on it. After a little bit of touring we're going back into the studio eventually and write a new album and start over. I'm really excited about writing new music that's really what I want to do now. I think it's going to be great, it's just gonna be better in my mind.
Syriak: It's going to be a more collective effort than previously because now everybody in the band has integrated themselves to the main core and the chemistry is at a perfect moment for everyone.
Zack: Yeah, you can really hear the different with each album and I can tell from the last album that the chemistry is really solid.
Syriak: Well I'm really looking forward to seeing what you think of.
ChaotH: The next album is going to be really different. We don't know exactly where it's going to go. We don't know, it might be pop. [laughs]
Zack: You'll be a Britney spears cover band.
ChaotH: [laughs] [crushes soda can] It might sound like that.
Zack: Thank you very much for this interview.
Syriak: It's been a pleasure
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