Kataklysm's Jean-François Discusses New Album "Waiting For The End To Come"
Band Photo: Kataklysm (?)
Three year's after the blistering "Heaven's Venom," Canadian outfit Kataklysm is now releasing latest full-length album "Waiting For The End To Come."
This release sees changes in how Kataklsym operates, as the band chose not to stream the album in full ahead of its release and went with two different versions for the cover artwork.
I recently got in touch with guitarist Jean-François Dagenais to hear what he had to say about these changes and how the album came together.
Read on to find out about J-F's love for old school physical media (“there’s something spiritual about putting that vinyl on and having a drink while hearing an album”), the difficulties in switching gears from Kataklysm to Ex Deo, and how the band approached a Sacred Reich cover for the album.
xFiruath: I saw that you decided not to stream the new album in full online, which is something many bands usually do now. What prompted that decision?
Jean-François: Even the last album we did it because that was suggested to us by the record label. We didn’t want to give away the whole surprise right away though. Yes, people can find out if the album is good and make up their minds if they want to buy it or not, but we prefer the old school way like the way we grew up. I never heard any of the albums before I would buy them when I was a kid. I was really anxious whenever my favorite band would put out a record. I’d take the bus to the music store, buy the tape or vinyl and bring it back home to play it for the first time. I was like “Holy shit this is amazing!” Sometimes I’d be disappointed, but most of the time I’d be happy with it, and that’s what we wanted to do with this album, to leave the surprise so you can hear it for the first time. So that was the idea behind that.
xFiruath: You guys are also releasing this album on cassette, which isn’t nearly as prevalent anymore. Is that sort of the same reasoning behind the release of the cassette version?
Jean-François: Yes, that was one of the ideas. We were realizing that in this day and age most people listen to music digitally, and if you are going to buy something and support a band we wanted to offer a collector’s item type version. Not a whole lot of people still have tape players, but we thought it would be fun and different to release it that way. I listen to a lot of music here in the car or whatever and it’s on my iPod, but I also buy a lot of vinyl because there’s something spiritual about putting that vinyl on and having a drink while hearing an album. It’s something I like to do, it’s like going back to my roots. No matter how you listen to your music, it’s important to support the artist and the art content. If you want your favorite artist to keep playing and putting out records they need the financial backing to do, and the way to do that is CD sales, merch of course, and coming to support us at the shows. It’s all important, but please if you love an album or an artist, buy the album, no matter what format you want it in.
xFiruath: Let’s talk about the recording of this album. Didn’t you actually do the producing?
Jean-François: Yes, I did. I’m the one that has the mental knowledge about the equipment, but it’s basically all four of us together producing the album. We throw our ideas on the table, and if someone doesn’t like something we change it. It’s really a team effort. I’m more the logical, technical guy, but all of us work together. I own my own studio so it makes things easier. We feel more comfortable together, because we know what sounds good and what doesn’t. We’ll look at each other and laugh sometimes when we try certain things because we’ve known each other so long. It would be weird to have somebody else come in and tell us what to do or not do. We got help on the mixing parts, where Zeuss came in and gave the final punch to the sound, and we’re really happy with his job mixing it.
xFiruath: There’s two different versions of the artwork. How did those come together and how do they connect to the album?
Jean-François: We had the two options and we couldn’t make up our mind on which one we preferred. They both represent the album really well, so we told the label we should release both of them, and they liked the idea. One for the vinyl and one for the CD. The fans will have the option to buy the artwork they like the best.
xFiruath: You cover Sacred Reich on this album, and I haven’t actually had a chance to hear that track yet. Did you guys try to stay close to the original or did you spice it up and go a different direction?
Jean-François: We wanted to stay as close to the original as we could. This cover song is a thing from Maurizio and I, we grew up listening to old school metal and “The American Way” was one of the songs we would play when we first started playing music. We said one day if we ever do a cover song, that’s the song we would want to do. The time has finally come. We were putting together the track list and we said it was time, let’s do it. The one really cool thing about this track, and it was an honor because we got an email from Phil of Sacred Reich saying he loved it and thought it was a perfect cover. We’re very happy about that. We picked that track because the lyrics also fit the content.
xFiruath: Where is Kataklysm headed on tour in the near future?
Jean-François: For most of this year we have everything nailed down. We start in the U.S. in November. We’re good friends with the Sepultura guys so that will be cool. After that in December we’re going to Japan and Australia and that’s exciting, we’ve never been to Japan before. The Tokyo promoter says the date is already sold out so he wants to add another date. January and February will be in Europe for a long run with support coming from Krisiun and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Right after, we’re coming back home for a few days and then we go to South America in March. We’ll probably take a couple months off to recuperate our energy and then get ready for all the summer openers.
xFiruath: After you are done touring for the Kataklysm album do you guys essentially just switch over to Ex Deo?
Jean-François: We haven’t thought that far yet, but eventually we want to do another record for Ex Deo. Whenever we tour with it, we really enjoy playing Ex Deo, that’s fun for us. For sure we’ll put out a new album and tour in support for it.
xFiruath: Do you guys ever surprise the audience and do an Ex Deo song while you are Kataklysm or vice versa?
Jean-François: We did once in the Czech Republic. They gave us a super long set and we didn’t have enough songs to play that long, so we decided after the encore to go in the back and take off the costumes. It made sense because we had a new album coming so it was like a premiere of new songs. It’s hard to switch from one to the other just like that though, because it’s a different state of mind. It’s hard to forget what you were just doing and switch straight to something else. I prefer to do it on separate shows. On the last Kataklysm run we played Ex Deo shows on the same day sometimes and that was hard to do double duty.
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