ZOMBIE KING a few weeks ago, here's now a new interview with (in my opinion) the most promising french stoner band : WHEELFALL...
Their excellent ep "from the blazing sky at dusk" allowed them to get some decent exposure and feedback, but now the quartet has just freshly recorded a full length album called "interzone" and believe me this one should definitely reveal them to a wider audience, thanx to their amazing blend of stoner with delightful doomy hints and some original conceptual science-fi lyrics...
Deeply impatient to know more about this debut album, I coudln't wait any longer and asked vocalist Wayne Furter a few questions about the band's history, this new recording and future expectations :
- You formed the band in 2009 and have quickly released "blazing from the sky at dusk," what is your look on this ep now? Do you consider it as a nice "visit card" that allowed to make you a name?
Hi dude ! In fact, since we formed in late May 2009, everything went fairly quickly. We did our first gigs after only 1 month, little by little some people believed in us and helped us playing quite regularly. After our gigs, we often had to face the fatidical question "do you have a cd or something where we can listen to your music?", To which it was often a little embarrassed that we had to answer "no."
It has been the trigger, we had yet composed 7 or 8 songs by December 2009, so we thought it was about time to record. We did that in conditions that could be called "outrageous" (to paraphrase Kris from Huata) by anybody used to work in the sound environment, haha ! We recorded everything in about thirty hours in our garages. Quentin (our previous drummer) had to record his tracks with his headphones listening to our compositions in midi (and the song "NASA" is improvised while shooting)! This is also the only instrument on the EP that has benefited from more than one microphone and a mixing desk to register. The rest was a microphone, an old computer and let's go ! Then finally I took care of the mix and mastering, without any experience and proper equipment. It was a real little adventure, but it was out of question to offer people something unfinished, we made everything to propose something decent !
Considering the age of the band, it's clear that now, with time and experience, we consider this EP like a big mixture of all our influences at the time. We wanted to show we were there, that people had to count on us and finally in some way that we knew our classics. So yeah, we consider it as a small visit card that induced the expected effects, because even if we were still looking our own identity, "from the blazing sky..." contained already several major aspects of our personality, could they be thematic or musical.
"From the blazing Sky at Dusk" is for Wheelfall what "Within the Woods" is to Sam Raimi: a DIY basis enabling us about a year after to give birth to our first album "Interzone", which we consider more personal , richer and based entirely on a single story that we have created !
- I like your nicknames/pseudonyms, especially the pair Niko El Moche and Niko Elbow ... I do not know if it's realistic but at least it's pretty explicit ! but what about for yourself ("Wayne Furter) and Daniel ("cactus"), where does it come from ?
Ha no, these are not pseudonyms ... I really don't know what made you understood things like that but ... hahaha!
- You have received some great reviews from lots of popular sites such as The Soda Shop, Sludge Swamp or more recently The Sludgelord ... Did it bring you real good contacts from abroad ? Are you doing all the promo by yourselves ?
It has been indeed a damn fuckin proud to have had so much positive feedback with this first EP. In fact our very first review was published on stonerrock.com (rip), and it was particularly positive ! Globally it has completely exceeded our expectations . Imagine, we've had reviews from Poland, Italy, Spain, the United States, England, etc... and in addition all have been very encouraging . It was completely unexpected for us, young little band from la Lorraine with less than one year of existence.
I must say that we have always done things with our guts, without really worrying about what was happening elsewhere and I believe that somewhere, it is this authenticity that attracted. In addition to the fact that yes, we have provided all the promotion ourselves. I mean, we still move our asses, even now more than ever.
It's been a kind of mixture of positive factors that proved to be a big winner after all. One got to remember that in 2009 there was a great revival in stoner, sludge musics and related genres, it has certainly helped. Add to that a passion and an overwhelming athenticity, unfailing motivation, good choices and a bit of luck ... When I speak of "choice" of course I want to mention that our first EP was available physically and by mp3 too for free. It turned out to be obvious: Now, everything is done via the Internet. If you are not present cleverly on internet, if you do not have a com 'adapted, your band does not exist. It is unfortunately the actual truth...before it was differrent, but nowadays, it is necessary to enable the auditor to see you among the millions of groups on facebook or myspace. There are artists who manage to take advantage of this, I immediately think about Trent Reznor (who is one of our biggest influences, even though it's not obvious musically speaking), which succeeds to considerably increase his sales, while giving the possibility to legally download his works.
We wanted to follow this exemple ... And it worked out really well. On one hand the EP has sold like hot cakes thanks to concerts, artworks (which are an integral part of our concept), but also thanx to all these reviews on the web, that offered an opportunity for interested people to order a physical copy etc ... Internet and music can be very well together, our experience is an example even if it's not current yet, knowing that the stoner rock has a fairly reactionary side, and most fans love to have a physical copy (including us too : vinyl, such an happiness! there's nothing better to enjoy THE sound?)
- You recorded your first album this summer, can you tell us more about the recording conditions and talso about the musical evolution of its content ?
First, we can say that it was definitely good to be able to rely on a professional, haha! The advantage we had with recording the EP before is that this time we already knew the processes of recording, it sometimes helped to understand more quickly some aspects of the producer's job.
We had not really planed to record this summer actually. At one of our gigs, we played with a group whose drummer was none other than Gorgor, who currently plays with Addicted, Slapback, but also played with Phazm and Agressor (and many others). We quickly became good friends and he told us that if one day we wanted to record an album, he had a studio and it would be a pleasure to work with us. It has made "tilt" in our heads, and then we began to "work" to record at the Far Beyond Studio during two weeks.
Real nice holidays for music lovers like us ! From 8 am until exhaustion, each day, we gave our best to get the best result
We honestly had a few hard times for some riffs as "simple" as they seemed ! In addition, like us, Gorgor is a very demanding guy, which was really helpful. He also handled the mixing and mastering, with our help of course, but it's noteworthy. The fact that he has a very long experience in extreme metal was a real luck for us and I'm not sure a guy who used to work only a more conventionnal rock environement could have identified our songs as well as he did. There is an heaviness and an approach to the songs that is definitely more metal than rock ... Even if in my opinion the overall sounds more rock than metal haha!
"Interzone" is our personnal accomplishment. We know that we have given the best of ourselves for it and it's all that matters. We are extremely proud of the songs we recorded, and we have really left a great part of our personalities. We have puted in this album all that we felt important from our heart, artistically speaking.
First, musically, we're more mature, our songs are much more homogeneous and full of our personality. We have worked hard to assimilate our influences and at our gigs I'm not ever surprised to hear that our music evokes to listeners, goodies like Black Sabbath, Cactus, Free, Kyuss, Goatsnake or certain periods of the Melvins or Weedeater BUT these references, although very flattering come after "ho, but that's Wheelfall !" indicative of a very obvious identity.
This identity exist also through a music that is certainly more influenced by Doom Metal than before, while maintaining a high artistic freedom.
Beyond music, "Interzone" implies several arts. As I said, graphics are very important to our concept. That's why in this album, there will be illustrations for each song, "Interzone" tells a story, and in the order of the album, the listener can follow it , through the music and those illustrations under his eyes. The story is not only told by the album's lyrics. This is a full brand. This story has also influenced the composition of the songs, so each arrangement is thought through the story. It gives a very special ambiance!
- Your lyrics deal with topics related to science fiction and especially the extra-terrestrial life, what's the source of inspiration : books, movies , true stories ... ? Have you had the opportunity to watch the serie "The Event" ?
Indeed, it is something recurring with us! All stories written by Wheelfall have a core element : the tripod. This tripod is in our stories an abstract representation of the unknown, of a higher power, inaccessible, a forbidden knowledge. Like many humans, those things obsess us, we always want to know more about that at our own risks. It allows us to address topics that are very important to us: fear of the unknown, mental fragility, the metamorphosis of the individual, the manipulation of reality ...
Of course, all these themes have been inspired by various works we've been interested in for ages, be it literary, cinematic or even real facts.
The tripod is an obvious wink to HG Wells and his "War of the Worlds" and histories have been shaped by the films of David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Ken Russell, but also the books of William S. Burrough H. P. Lovecraft or. All these elements have helped to build a mythology around the stories we speak about in Wheelfall.
But no, I do not know anything about this serie you mentioned. I've just had a look on the synospsis and it looks interesting indeed !
- In which way does the title "interzone" approach your usual lyrical themes and how can it be justified to give this name to the album?
In the album's story, "Interzone" is a place where the character must evolve to get answers to his questions. This place is actually a kind of maze in which we see reality blending with the unreal, an hallucinatory maze. Which falls in fact in this issue of reality's manipulation. What is real, what is not ... Centuries ago, imagine being able to speak to someone at the other end of the earth or just fly was completely inconceivable, unreal. Yet this is real now, and it is other things that are no more real. Finally, what is real is relative to our body and what you can accomplish with it. This table is real, I see it, I touch it, you too. It is even red, you notice that you, too. Yet some people because of their body and mind will tell you something else, see something else you do not see yourself. For you it's just bullshit, and for the other person it's just reality. It's pretty fun. The reality, ultimately, it is something that each one has for himself, and it's especially something that evolves.
In that state of mind there's then so many questions to ask yourself ... If you change physically, is the reality changing ? If we exclude our perception of reality, is there still something real?
This zone of the history, which we define as a place where real and unreal are mixed, we have called it "Interzone" by simple wink to the novel "The Naked Lunch" by Burroughs. There is also an Interzone in here, but defined differently in a different place. But the principle remains the same, and like I said, the reality is unique to each, so the Interzone too.
- So what about the marketing of the album, do you have some contacts with labels ?
As for now, the album is finished, we're just waiting for the artworks to be finalized, then we can provide labels that we're going to contact a total immersion in our universe ! We want to offer the exclusivity of the album to label(s) who want to work with us ... I hope it will happen quickly because I really want to present it to our fans as soon as possible.
- You are a stoner band before all, but I feel there's a little penchant for doom gaining you with time, which is rather an originality here because both scenes do not mix very easily in France, unlike in the United States for example, waht's your opinion about that ?
As I said it before, we have indeed developed a doomy edge since our EP, which is much more palpable now. Our passion for heavy sound vibrations and heady riffs prevailed ! haha
It's true that in France there are just a few bands playing stoner-doom, and even less doom metal bands. I think it's a problem of culture. What I see is that in France there was a boom with many bands influenced by Kyuss and QOTSA side of pop, by all the (northern to eastern) wave of heavy rock à la Dozer or psyche bands like Colour Haze. A lot of bands influenced by the NOLA scene also ... But not much for Doom metal.
Strangely, the United Kingdom is so close and the basis come from there, namely Black Sabbath. Yet the pillars of doom come mostly from the States: Saint Vitus, Trouble, The Obsessed ... Athough two among the biggest , Candlemass and Cathedral, are European (and there are plenty of others), we may be less bathed in doom in Europe than in the United States, considering that Europe's stoner stops before the Channel haha! In any case, we feel a serious lack in the music of our country! (I would better say that it's rather France than Europe in general that has a little "problem" with Doom)
- You give regularly concerts in eastern France and recently in Paris, but not yet in other parts of France or abroad ... Do you projects in this direction with the next release of the album? Does the gig as opener for Karma To Burn represent your best live moments so far ?
We just have about two years and a half of existence, so it was necessary to be first known in our area, before playing in other parts of France ! We've now given about 25 gigs which isn't bad at all but it's obvious that it's now time to visit new places, we're working on that and it's gonna come for sure.
To open for Karma To Burn was just pure pleasure and fun, even if it's not been our best set (never self-satisfied..., this has been a memorable meeting ! The guys of KTB were really nice with us, despite our average english, we had great time speaking together and it was cool to see just normal attitudes from such a cult stoner band and they killed everything on stage !
- Thank you, all the best to WHEELFALL for "Interzone", something to add?
Thanx to you especially, it's been a pleasure to answer your questions. Thanx to the readers who have come down to this sentence, I've been pretty talkative !
If you wanna have a beer and discuss with us, we'll play soon in Dijon (Nov. 04) with Human Jail and The True Dukes of Burgundy, then in Nancy (Nov.26) at the Metalride with Moonspell, Kronos, Punish Yourself and many more... A bientôt !