An Interview With Augury Front Man Patrick Loisel
Canadian death metallers Augury released their sophomore album “Fragmentary Evidence” through Nuclear Blast on August 11th. The songs "Aetheral" and "Faith Puppeteers" off the album can be heard at the band's MySpace page. The album features seven guest vocalists from a wide range of other metal bands from Unexpect to Aborted. Augury’s front man Patrick spoke with me about how the band got signed to Nuclear Blast and their upcoming tour plans. Unsurprisingly for a band that includes so many diverse elements in their music, the conversation had a tendency to go off topic into such interesting territories as Indian pop music and Quebec’s separatist movement.
xFiruath: How did Augury originate and what other projects have you been involved with before?
Patrick: The band is from Montreal, which is the biggest town in Quebec. We all moved here, I came here in ’95. The others arrived in ’97 and we met up. Only in the year 2002 did we actually jam together. We started playing, and that was the year that I came back to Montreal because I was teaching. I was away most of the time. I came to Montreal the following summer and we had a drummer then but he left, so we found Etienne in 2003. Etienne is the drummer you hear on most of the recordings. Now it’s the same line-up except Etienne has left and our drummer is Antoinne Baril and he is the one you can see on the album but you’re hearing Etienne. So you’ve got the face of one and the sound of the other.
xFiruath: When did you guys get signed to Nuclear Blast?
Patrick: It’s funny, we were in the recording of “Fragmentary Evidence” and they guys in Kataklysm know the guys from Nuclear Blast. They went on the Internet and listened to our new stuff and decided to sign us. It’s but unbelievable. It was kind of a leap of faith because we are internationally a new band. Vocally we’re old farts. I’m going to turn 40 next year. I was sure they would say “OK toss the old guy away,” but no, not at all. They took the band the way we are. We didn’t have to shorten our songs and we didn’t have to change anything. It’s kind of a miracle because they are flooded with albums, so sometimes they have to be helped a bit.
xFiruath: Tell me about the new album “Fragmentary Evidence.” What’s the sound like and how does it differ from anything else you have recorded?
Patrick: Well the anything else is “Concealed” in 2004. We down tuned so that the six string is an A, but the rest of the guitar is a low B tuning. It’s a perfect fit. We went a lot more into some of the techniques that were only decorations on “Concealed.” More solos and even bass solos. I kind of diversified my voice too. Also we had more guests on this album. The acoustic parts are even weirder. The acoustic guitar is mostly Matt’s department, the other guitar player. It was really like “how did you do it? You only have 10 fingers!”
xFiruath: I did see that you have quite an impressive list of guest vocalists on the album. Who all did you get and how did that come to happen?
Patrick: Well in the middle you have a part from Sven de Caluwé from Aborted. He also did the cover of the album, by the way. At the end you also have Eric Fiset from a local band called Obscene Crisis. He’s a pure blood aboriginal guy. On “Orphans of Living” we have Sébastien Croteau, he sings the first verse. He was my vocal teacher years ago. On two songs you have Syriak and Leilindel from Unexpect. They do melody vocals on one song and death vocals on another. We have Youri Raymond the new guitarist from Cryptopsy. He is one of the best vocalists in Canada and he guests as well. We’ve also got Filip Ivanovic (Agony) and then I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody.
xFiruath: Tell me about the name of the band. Does it have a direct connection to the lyrics?
Patrick: Of course augury is a way to see the future from signs in nature. The wind, the storms, the sight of a bird, whatever. The main meaning most recently comes to use from a book I read on the Salem witch trial. What I read is that anybody who did something unusual could land in jail. The name of the charge was the “felony of augury.” Meaning forbidden knowledge, which is kind of the central meaning behind the lyrics. Back at that time if somebody knew about medicinal plants it was like “Oh she’s a witch, kill her.”
xFiruath: What’s happening with Augury as far as live dates? Is there a record release party planned?
Patrick: We have a record release party on August 16th in Montreal. We had a small one yesterday. We’ll crisscross the continent and go to Nevada and Vancouver. Take a map of North America and just draw a bunch of X’s across it and that’s our tours.
xFiruath: Outside of Augury what bands are you getting into lately?
Patrick: Myself I don’t listen to a lot of music. I’m the kind of guy who likes to do a lot of precise work so I like silence a lot. When I listen to music I’m really into bands like Akercocke. Emperor, Strapping Young Lad, a lot of Norwegian black metal. A lot of Arabic and Indian pop music too, the kind of stuff you hear in Indian restaurants. If I could I’d eat Indian food like 21 meals a week.
xFiruath: I’m not sure whether it’s Indian or not but have you heard that “Tunak Tunak Tun” song?
Patrick: I love that song. I sing along with that one. I learned the lyrics and I love to sing along. I even translated the lyrics. He’s only two years older than me, that guy. I’m a big fan of Daler Mehndi. The background music is really ugly but the basic melody of the vocals is great. “Tunak” is far from being his best song, but it’s the only song where he harmonized four lines of vocals. He did it live and recorded that tune in like half an hour. Try to sing his vocal lines, he’s one of the best vocalists on Earth. Type in Daler Mehndi on Youtube. He’s like the Indian Gwen Stefani. There’s another guy he’s like a Yngwie Malmsteen with a turban. I’ve met a lot of third world metal musicians. One of my dreams is to play all of the places described in the movie “Global Metal.” Except maybe Iraq, I don’t want to get gunned down.
xFiruath: Since you are from Quebec I’ve always wondered about this. What’s the deal with Quebec being a part of Canada but not wanting to be a part of Canada?
Patrick: You know you have the best person to explain it to you because first I’m a history and science teacher and second I’ve been involved politically. When I was young I was a total separatist. I’ve never been a federalist but now I don’t care about politics. What happened is that Canada was founded by French people. English is a second language to me. The French colonized everything almost to Vancouver. The English were in the United States and they tried to colonize the north. They finally attacked Quebec because of their expansionism so we were defeated and invaded. The government was English but they were only like one sixth of the population. So French people were under an English system. We are all now functionally bi-lingual, but many laws that suit us don’t suit the rest of Canada. Many laws that suit them don’t suit us. Also the federal government sometimes puts its paws into our private areas like our language and our culture. Some people since the ‘60s think that Quebec should secede and make a country. It would be feasible. Some other people say “yeah but we have the security with the federal government, our pension plan, and all that.” So the old people are against it and the young people are mostly for it. There is no consensus.
An extremely big country is very hard to rule. The best thing for Canada would be like Europe. You have Quebec, which is a nation itself. Ontario is totally different from the western Canada. You have the B.C. which has its own culture. You have the Maritimes, they are the same culture in four territories that would merge together. So instead of ten Provinces and three Territories you have like five independent bodies have in common what would be stupid to afford alone. For example I couldn’t see an army of Labrador. I would put the army in common but everything else would be like today’s Europe. They have the same money, they are building a global defense, but each country is sovereign for its own stuff.
xFiruath: Well hey thanks for that explanation. That’s where my questions come to an end, is there anything else you wanted to bring up?
Patrick: I can’t wait to come play at your place man. Thank you very much.
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