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Even though I've been into metal for over 20 years, grunting vocals have always kept me from exploring the more extreme corner in metal. I have no clue why, but lately I've been getting into those kind of vocals and of course a whole new world is opening up for me;) One of the bands that amaze me the most so far is CRYPTOPSY. Those Franco-Canadians are extremely technical and brutal at the same time, a deadly mix. I was excited to do an interview with them, even when it took three appointments to finally get the very symphatetic singer Martin Lacroix on the phone. Although he joined the band in August 2001, the recently released live CD "None So Live" is his debut on CD, so finally the whole world can hear what he's capable of. We chatted about the live CD, the new studio album, old singers, grooves, smokes, beer and peanutbutter;)
You just released your first live cd and I heard the reactions are very good, am I right?
Yeah, I think we didn't have any bad comments on it.
I didn't expect that because it really sounds very good, it's very pure and very clear. Did you guys have to change or add anything to the original recordings?
No, we didn't make any guitar overdubs or touch-ups, what you hear now is what was played that night.
So it was only mixing?
Yep, and I think normally, for any live album from other bands, they record like 3 or 4 shows and they choose songs from each show you know, and "None So Live" is from one night, one show, one take, that's it, that's all.
Was there a special reason that you recorded only one show or did you think of recording more?
In the beginning Cryptopsy didn't want to make a live album because of the sound and everything. It's already hard to mix Cryptopsy live because it's real fast so it's hard to hear every guitar riff and everything. Though we knew if we recorded in Montreal we can have a good sound with Pierre Rémillard, our main producer, and here in Montreal we can have a good crew and some good equipment to grab a good sound on the album. So that's why we chose to record it in Montreal.
But can't you get a good crew all over the world?
Not on tour. On tour it is really fast, you know, you just have the time to set up the guitar and everything and wow, then it's time to open the doors and you just make a show. We didn't want to make that like a rush, here in Montreal we got something like weeks of preparation for that, we just called the guys some months before the show to be sure we can have all the equipment for that night, you know.
Did it also have to do with the fact that it's your hometown, because of fans? Because you're playing for your own fans at home?
Yeah, and it's been four years since we played in Montreal.
That's a long time.
Yeah and the fans were really in a hurry to see us. The crowd was crazy and there were 2000 people.
That's great. The recording is about a year old by now, why wasn't it released earlier?
We had some problem with the mastering. It was supposed to be released before Christmas but with all the mastering problems and everything we couldn't have it before Christmas and we just released it in May.
Hm, I see.
That's not our fault! Hehehe..
I think things can go wrong a lot of times...
How are the reactions of fans to the choice of songs you picked for the set? I noticed that the tracklist is a bit different from the video on the bandeapart.fm website.
Ah, ok, two songs we had to scrap from "And Then You'll Beg", there was a technical problem in the recording so we couldn't pick up those songs. You know, when you have like 11 songs that sound pretty cool you don't want to put two songs on that sound quite shitty. So that's why we decided to scrap those songs and we chose that setlist because we just put ourselves in the fans' minds, if you were a fan, which songs would you like to hear. So that's why we chose these songs.
I think from the fans' point of view - I have some friends that are long time fans, and they say that "None So Vile" is the classic Cryptopsy album. Can I conclude from the name of your live album "None So Live" and the number of "None So Vile" songs on it that you guys agree on that?
Yeah, but we don't want to shit on any album. But the "None So Live" title came from Eric, because we had a meeting and Flo was asking us, "does anyone have an idea for the title of the live album". So Eric just started to laugh and we were looking at him "what the fuck?" and he said he "I have an idea but it sounds a bit stupid but it's cool" and he just said "None So Live", so it's just like a word turned around, so we just started to laugh at each other and we said "ok, that's cool".
I think it's a really cool title.
We know some fans or some people say, like you said before, that we agree that "None So Vile" is the best Cryptopsy album but that's not a fact.
From the selection of all albums, there are still more songs from "None So Vile" than from the other albums. Or is that just because they are more popular?
If the two songs from "And Then You'll Beg" had no problems with the recording and we could've put them on the album, then we would have more songs from "And Then You'll Beg". It's not because we chose to play more from "None So Vile", we don't want to make a comeback to the "None So Vile" style. If you want to hear some "None So Vile" kind of songs just buy "None So Vile" and listen to it.
Exactly. That's very wise advice:)
I think on the Cryptopsy albums there is a good evolution on each album after each album.
I think so too, from what I've heard. I don't have the older albums but some songfiles. Same problem I guess also with the singers, Lord Worm still seems to be the most popular singer, how do you feel about that? Can't be nice to hear that over and over again.
Yeah, hehe.. I remember, my first tour people in the crowd were thinking I was Lord Worm because of my long hair and everything and I'm skinny like him, haha. They were like "hey, it's Lord Worm!" and I said, "no, Lord Worm is dead, man! Come on", hehehe...
He's not really dead, is he?;)
No, no, he's not into that anymore you know.
How did they find you as the new singer?
At the beginning a friend of mine told me Cryptopsy were looking for a new singer, so I applied myself and went to an audition, I had 3 songs to learn and to jam with them, that went pretty good as well. After that they said, "ok we're gonna take you on the European tour with Vader and Dying Fetus and we're gonna go to Japan after that, and then when we get back we're gonna decide if we're gonna keep you or not". That was a good thing, maybe a guy can have a good voice but he can be like a really shitty person and during a tour it can be hard to live with him, during a tour we almost sleep together you know if we're all compact in the bus;)) So it's the best way to get to know someone. It could also be me, saying "those guys are too fucked up for me" hehe..
Hahaha, yeah that could've happened too of course.
It's just that the guys in Cryptopsy could be like Metallica too and some could be shitty persons and all hehehe...
But luckily they're nice guys?
Oh yeah, they're pretty good:) We've got a good relationship together.
And was there something specific about your voice that they liked?
They liked the fact that I was a little bit between Mike and Lord Worm, it's not because I want to be but my voice just is like that. And because I have a good range, I can do low growls and sing very high-pitched too. Some kind of pattern I can make with my voice, they liked that. On the "None So Live" I prefer to do the songs from "None So Vile" more like Lord Worm and the songs from "And Then You'll Beg" and "Whisper Supremacy" more like Mike a little bit, because I wanted to do them as they are. So I'm really in a hurry to record our next one and really do what I want!
How do you keep your voice in shape? It must be hard to keep such a brutal voice in good condition, esp. on a long tour. Do you do special things for it?
No, I just don't smoke too much...
Hehe, I'm always surprised to see really good singers smoke, also singers with more clean vocals, I don't understand that.
Maybe that's where we take our inspiration, haha! And maybe it's the stress;) At the beginning I didn't know if my throat was gonna be well, before Cryptopsy I didn't go on a tour with a band, so I didn't know. Sometimes it was hard, after 3 weeks you begin to get tired a bit more, but I just kept it going and it grew stronger, you know.
Did the band consider asking Lord Worm again after Mike left? Why did they both leave in case you know, what are they up to these days?
No, Lord Worm left because of musical differences, he was more into "Blasphemy Made Flesh" and "None So Vile" kind of songs and the band wanted to make some evolution and be more technical and Lord Worm didn't like that too much. Mike left because I think he doesn't like to tour anymore and he just wants to keep on going with a normal life with his wife and little family and everything, maybe he wants to have children and didn't want to tour anymore, so that's why he left.
And Lord Worm, is he in another band these days?
No, no, he's an English teacher now and I think he's making his life as well.
So he also turned to a more normal lifestyle?
Yeah, kind of, hehe!
I guess touring life is pretty hard, I can imagine it, I don't think I'd be right for it.
I know, at the beginning of Cryptopsy they had some pretty hard touring conditions, esp. with Lord Worm, they ate peanutbutter for a month...
Yeah it's true!
It's just so recognizable because that's like the standard thing here too, if you don't have any money you just eat sandwiches with peanutbutter all day long.
And they told me, in the beginning when they toured for "Blasphemy Made Flesh", after 3 weeks they had one week left at the end of the tour, and they had no peanutbutter left, haha! "What the fuck, we're fucking hungry" hehe! None of them ate for 2 days, they had some really hard times and I remember they told me they had to sell shirts to buy some gas to go to the next venue.
Oh wow, that is really desperate, hehe!
That's the underground music;)
It gives a new meaning to the phrase "support the underground", "let's get the band to the next show!". Poor guys...
Oh yeah... "Please buy us a sandwich or something..."
"Please buy something, if you don't want to buy a shirt, please buy us some peanutbutter!"
You guys have been touring a lot and seen a lot of places, like Asia even and you're gonna go to Australia in August. What are your favorite countries to play and what's your best market?
I know they sold a lot of "Whisper Supremacy", about 10.000. I can't tell you which country is the best for us, because it's very underground. In the guestbook on the website, we got some response from all countries you know, Holland, Israel, Istanbul, from everywhere.
But you must notice a difference when you're on tour, that you have bigger audiences on some shows than on others. Or in other countries.
Maybe sometimes we get a smaller audience because the place is too small, sometimes you get like 200 persons but if you come back everybody's going crazy you know, my monitor in front of me going in the crowd, "hey bring me back my monitor, please! I wanna hear my voice". That happened in Switzerland, hehehe!
Hahaha! I'm really sorry I didn't see Cryptopsy live yet, but the next time I will be there. I was at Dynamo and Wacken, so I could've seen the band...
We played in a lot of places in Holland, like Rotterdam, each time it was pretty cool!
Death metal is very popular in Holland.
I think Sinister are from Holland, right?
Yep, that's right, very good band. They have a female singer these days, did you know?
I haven't heard it yet, is she good?
She is very good! She's fairly small and thin and then to see what she does on stage, her voice, woah, incredible...
Oh ok hehehe...
Why did you guys decide on a LIVE album for you to debut as the new vocalist instead of a new studio album?
What a pleasure I had! Century Media was rushing us a bit, because "And Then You'll Beg" was a long time ago, you know. So the record company really wanted an album but when they picked me up, we decided to tour a little bit more to make me more familiar with the band, the members and everything, and with the songs and the kind of songs we want to do. On the next album we're working on, we don't want to rush it, we want to do something that we really like. We don't want to do some songs to fill the album you know, so we want to make like a good 8 or 9 songs that we each like very much, that's why we take our time to make something very good.
How many songs are ready?
We're working on the 7th. The album is a little bit more than half made, we've got some good ideas, we've got a lot of riffs, so it's just a question of melting all that together and put it on the album.
The release is supposed to be early next year?
Yeah, early 2004. We expect to go into the studio in October, still with Pierre Rémillard, our main producer. He just bought a new studio in the north of Québec, in the mountains. You got a lot of snow and it's really far away from the town. So that's gonna be a good feeling to record at that place and that guy's got a lot of experience. He knows the direction we want to go and I think it's the best guy to work with.
He knows you very well.
Is there already a working title for the album?
Hmmm, aaah, I can't tell you;) Hehehe...
Because we got some ideas, but we're not very very sure about the title, so we don't want to say anything about it.
Ok... What kind of lyrics do you write? Do you have favorite subjects you write about?
I want to keep it violent and aggressive but I don't want to fall into monster-stuff and everything. I like that when you read some lyrics, you don't catch everything right away. I like people to read it and go "Oh that's weird" and then read it another time and another time and then "oh, now I get it!" - I like those kind of lyrics. And the same thing for the music too. Sure you can't listen to "And Then You'll Beg" and catch it right away, that's impossible. You gotta listen and listen to it again and again. And maybe 2 or 3 months later you catch the sense of the album you know.
That's true. I love that about it, because it keeps it interesting and fascinating.
What we are trying to do for the next one is we want to make a little come-back to the melodies, but that's just a logic step after "And Then You'll Beg". It's gonna stay extreme and fast but we've got some pretty cool groove, that we're gonna stay and sit on it you know. Songs from "Whisper Supremacy" are really compact and fast, they have a good groove but after 3 seconds it's "oops I just missed it", hehehe. They were too fast. Now we're gonna want some groove and sit on it and make the people thrash a little bit on it.
Sounds good:) Are you also involved in the writing of the music?
We're all composing together, maybe Flo or Alex or Jon is bringing some ideas and we'll all work on it, sometimes Jon will bring a riff and he already has a drumbeat in his head so he just explains it to Flo and we can say "I like that", but at the same time I can say to Flo "it sucks, just change it, make something", you know. And the other way, they can tell me that too "hey that vocal part sucks, do something else", it's a good way to compose. In that way we know we're making some songs that each bandmember likes you know.
What do you think of the Canadian metal scene? I've got quite a few Canadian bands among my very favorites, most of all Into Eternity from Regina, they're my very favorite band, and Annihilator, Eidolon, Heaven's Cry, they're from Montreal too.
I think the scene here in Montreal is pretty healthy. Since the beginning of Voivod like 20 years ago the metal scene in Montreal is very good. All bands, you can hear they enjoy it, because the fans are really there for them, you know! Bands like In Flames or Hypocrisy, when they came for the first time it was a kickass show. there were like 800 or 900 persons just for them and they were screaming for Hypocrisy. It's like that for every band, like Dying Fetus or In Flames, Immortal, Dark Funeral... just getting nuts you know.
What do you like about other Canadian bands? Do you like certain bands?
Maybe Strapping Young Lad, Gene Hoglan is a really good guy. Maybe more in the old thrash, like Sacrifice, Razor...
Sacrifice used to be a favorite of mine, back in the 80's, I'm an old thrasher:)
Like "Soldiers Of Misfortune", hehe.. it was good.
Oh yeah, I love it!
I've heard people say that not Cryptopsy, but Kataklysm started this technical extreme style before you, but you ended up being more popular with it. How do you feel about that? Seems to me that their style is a little different though.
Yeah, I don't think that Kataklysm has the same style as us. I don't know... I think Cryptopsy just go their own way. I just speak like that because I wasn't in the band before.
I'm not familiar with the older albums, would you say Cryptopsy's music has changed over the years besides the production getting clearer?
Yeah in the songwriting too, I remember in the beginning it was more typical death metal and now we just try to push the boundaries always further, I mean we want to step out of the typical death metal or typical grindcore. We bring other influences, not from other death metal bands. I think Jon's influences are more like Queensryche to Dream Theater, Flo is listening to everything, hehe. Alex is more into black metal kind of shit, and I like to take my influences from bands like Deftones or Tool, because those kind of bands have other kind of ideas. If you always listen to death metal you're gonna stay in death metal.
I know, to get some fresh ideas you have to listen to other things as well.
Bands like Deftones and Tool, maybe they are commercial but they didn't make commercial music. They just did their style, if they're commercial now it's because of the fans, they like them and they buy it. It's not like "ah maybe we should make that part more commercial and we're gonna sell more". You can hear those bands are doing what they like.
When it comes to singing Cryptopsy songs, do you have a preference for a certain era?
I really like songs from "And Then You'll Beg"and "Whisper Supremacy" too, I mean "Cold Hate, Warm Blood" that's a pretty cool song. And I really like "We Bleed". I mean the groove and the feeling of those songs are pretty cool.
So in general the newer songs more?
Century Media discovered Cryptopsy at the Milwaukee fest in 1997, is that right? Do you know how the band feels about that festival? I've heard that most bands have to pay thousands to end up paying for a few headliners. Sounds pretty shitty to me...
I know;) But I think when they came at the Milwaukee fest they had a really really good response from the public and everything and I think they really really enjoyed it. From that time on, that show, Cryptopsy was in contact with many labels and they chose to go with Century Media, because it was the best deal they had at that time.
And are they still happy with them?
Yeah, yeah:) Oh we can always bitch on something. Maybe the promotion, we don't think we get enough promotion. Like in magazines we had to push "hey we want some pictures, some exposure, you know, or maybe a poster, something".
We already had the peanutbutter stories, but they were before your time. Do you have more funny tourstories for us from your own experiences?
I remember on our tour with Haemorrage, Spawn and Profanity they had like a beercompany support the tour, the bus was so packed full of beer, that there was not enough space for us, hahaha!
Haha, so you had to drink a lot then!
We had to drink the beer, because someone had to sleep where the beer was, hahaha!!
Hahaha, some bands would complain about the lack of beer...
Yeah, at that time we had too much beer, hehehe...
I'm sure you knew how to solve that;) Cool... do you have any last words for our readers?
What can I say... "None So Live" is the little breakfast for the fans, they're hungry and they wanna eat something - and just wait a couple of months and you're gonna have a big meal to enjoy:)
Sounds good! Martin, thank you very very much for the interview! It was fun talking to you!
No problem, thanks!
submitted by Marlies 05.09.2003