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December 13, 2018

Interview Xaon

Good day dear Xaon! How are you guys doing these days? First of all, please introduce your band and band members to our readers.

Rob :
Hey and thanks for having me! We are Xaon from Switzerland and play what I guess would be called symphonic death metal. The band is composed of three members, Vinc’ on guitars, Flo on the bass and I’m the vocalist. Live, we have session members that play with us according to their respective schedules, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play with great people on different shows that really helped us bring our vision to the stage. So far on drums we’ve had Sylvain Chambard from the french technical death metal band Recueil Morbide and Jordan Kiefer from the french fusion band First Rage and on guitars we’ve had our friend Guillaume who plays with about 12 other bands (imagine the scheduling shitstorm…) and my good buddy Klin who plays with me in the french melodic death metal band Bloodstorm. So yeah we’ve got quite a few people involved on the project!

I’d like to know about the formation of the band. How did you guys meet and all. Also, is there any special story behind the band title?

Rob :
Vinc’ and Flo used to play in a band called Ever Since that started out in the late 90s, that band died a few years ago and they decided to start fresh. They contacted me through a mutual friend mid 2015 and asked me if I was interested and here we are all now!
About the band title, the idea was to bring an entity behind the name, something modest that however lingers in the corners of your mind. It symbolizes all your darkest thoughts and desires and throws them in a bottomless pit of fickleness. What does Xaon mean exactly? Well you tell me what it means to you.

I expect a long reply for this one. Can you please tell us about the concept and lyrical themes of all your previous releases?

Rob :
Flo writes most of the lyrics so I’ll get him to respond to that one.

Flo :
For the “Face of Balaam” EP, there are three words that are ringing in a corner of my head when I’m thinking about the lyrical universe that it have to bring to Life. These three words were: Forlorn, Sacred and Rabid. I really don’t know where they came. They simply appeared in my head during a moment of spiritual needs.
When I had the will to write the “Face of Balaam” lyrics, I wanted to talk about the human powerlessness to change his faith, the world toward the doom, the angst to live surrounding by people, to talk with a lot of very interesting minds and to feel inevitably alone, to live into this desert named Paris like a great maestro named Giuseppe Verdi has said (but when I actually read again my creations, I can discern some plot lines that I never want to write down. It’s a very disturbing fact).
A lot of people ask and want some virtuous things like freedom, free speech rights, a life devoid of any kind of psychic or sadistic, perverse manipulation but without to think about the terrible weight of a life filled with responsibilities and anguish.
On the same way, I want to ponder about the fact to live a life your own way. It’s a very common subject, I know, but we, the people, constantly, are led so far and so wrong that we would deserve to be. It requires some courage, some resilience to accept to “not to be at the right place with the main stream of people” and continue to ask ourselves: Am I following my own way? or Why I Am since a long time without questioning about to search an another path? Maybe, by laziness or fear or blindness, I wander by a path which isn’t mine. But to gain your own way, your own freedom is rewarded by the weight of responsibilities. I don’t have any solution in face of this dilemma but I try to meditate a lot about it when I write these songs too.
When I’m hearing the pieces of music composed by Vinc’, pieces of music that will become the songs of “The Drift” album, I was embedded in a procession of endless travels. Music was every time by my side and it was a powerful shield against everything.
I was hearing some bands like Moondog, Current 93, Fire+Ice, Forseti, Death in June (I like to listen these five bands on the vast, plain landscapes near the huge German highways), Suffocation, Thergothon (when you’re alone and your bus’s riding through the profound night. You colleagues are sleeping and you’re finishing your drink alone.. Like every time in your own life: alone.. By the windscreen of the bus, you see the night’s profound texture and this band fits well for this special and enthralling moment), Dissection, Burzum, Totenburg (Have you ever drive through Ukrainian winter with these three bands? If never, don’t miss out on this occasion!), Horna, Crisis, Acherontas, Funerus, Darkthrone, Bauhaus, The Cure, Pentagram, Rozz Williams and Christian Death, Trouble, Premature Ejaculation, Genocide Organ, Merzbow, Joy Division, Lamp of Thoth and some high skilled and more “classical music” composers as Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, Claudio Monteverdi, Olivier Messiaen, John Dowland, Henry Purcell and some jazzmen: Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, Avishai Cohen and Charlie Mingus.
Very promptly, under my fingers some lyrics for the coming album were born. As the lyricist and the bassist, I dream to a more heavy, depressing, darker lyrical universe conducted by some heart-piercing voice lines but –and it’s very important- without falling on the “gothic” or the “symphonic” way of music. We wish to stay heavy, mean, groovy and brutal as a metal band but with less catchy part and more darker, complex and suffocating parts.
The lyrical direction was under the guidance of some questions related to the topic of the metaphysics of the human against the possible physical nature of the divine. Of course, there are the questions of the human nature’s transformation and about a meditation related to the ontological nature of the problematic of the drift.
A song like: The Wounded Gods tries to speak about the human profound vanity, the loss, the fleeing time, the mourning and there’s this eternal question that comes once again in life between the lines drawn by my pen: how to righteously/virtuously (more on a moral point of view than a religious one) die?

Rob :
You wanted a long reply? Well you asked for it!!

Yes that’s what I wanted =)! Is there any special reason for choosing your music conception?

Rob :
I’m gonna assume you’re talking about the style of music we play. Well our first EP ‘Face Of Balaam’ was originally a full album written to be the next Ever Since before its disbandment, so the sound kinda follows that band’s musical style, although a bit darker in my opinion, it was also written before I joined the band. For the album, although the core of the music didn’t really change much, Vinc’ let me work on all the orchestral arrangements because of my previous work on these kinds of big epic symphonic scores I loved to do, I brought my world into his and I guess that made our sound.

How do you guys manage to create music at all? What challenges do you face while writing and recording an album?

Rob :
I think the biggest challenge is trying to keep things fresh and exciting, the good thing is that we’re a new band so our slate together is fairly clean and we’ve got many directions to go to. We don’t really live close to each other either so we mostly work from our own homes and send each other demos through the internet, that makes it challenging sometimes because it can be a bit hard to communicate what you were trying to do on a specific part, if you can’t figure out a riff or something like that.

Your latest album, “The Drift”, was released on May 15. How was the experience working on the studio? Any funny or even sad happenings during the studio work?

Rob :
It was a real challenge working on this record, we had our friend Jordan Kiefer lay the drums because of the great groove he has and wanted it to have an organic sound, for that he did a wonderful job. We tracked the drums at Studio Du Lac in the french alps where I work and did the rest in my home studio. I was in charge of the recording and mixing and we had it mastered by my friend and well respected engineer Brett Caldas-Lima from Tower Studio in the south of France. This was my biggest production to date and it was very challenging to work with that many tracks and not having the orchestra take over the guitar work, it was a bit of a mindfuck but we’re all very happy with the end product!
We ran into some issues with the guitars that we ended up having to throw away and almost completely retrack and then got an offer from a label that gave us a very tight deadline (and grey hairs..), so although it was fun to work on it was very stressful and a period where I did not get to sleep very much….

You guys are still underground/underrated, although your music has been appreciated by the critics worldwide. What, according to you, is the reason behind it?

Rob :
Well I’ve got a bit of a biased opinion because I’m so close to the album but I guess the quality of the production and the intricacies in the composition result in a good album. Now let’s just hope the public will read what the critics say and give us a try!

Can you throw some light on your past as musicians?

Rob :
Well as I mentioned, Vinc’ and Flo were both members of Ever Since. Flo’s also been involved with a bunch of other bands in the past and present as a bass player and also as a vocalist, he’s got a low growl that will make an orc piss himself from fear! Right now he does vocals for his long standing death metal band Calcined and with a new black death metal band called Serpens Luminis where he plays with Guillaume, one of our session guitarist.
I’ve been involved with a bunch of musical projects in the past 10 years, ranging from black metal to grunge, either as a guitarist, bassist, vocalist and even keyboardist. Believe it or not when I was in College I used to make a living playing drinking songs on the ukulele in the streets dressed like a pirate! Right now the only other band I’m involved with is Bloodstorm with my buddy Klin who also plays session guitars with us and whom I’ve been performing with for the last 8 years or something. We’re actually going on tour in southeastern Europe starting late July to promote a new EP so if you’re in the area come check us out and have a beer with us!

Tell us about your favorite bands, from whom you gain inspiration. Are you having any favorite artist/band that has emerged from metal/rock soil?

Rob :
Favorite band, that’s hard to say, it really depends on my mood. I listen to a lot of music genres and working as a sound engineer, I kinda have too…. I really don’t know how to respond, some days I’ll be in the mood for some Soilwork kinda stuff, other days I’ll blast some obscure black metal bands, I love stuff like Deathspell Omega or Nightbringer! If you’re looking for a treat, I’d recommend looking up Deathcode Society, they’re good friends of mine with whom I work every now and then as their live engineer and they just played Hellfest this year and have some of the most intricate composition symphonic black metal has to offer! Love listening to good old oldies blues when I’m on the road, sounds cliché but it puts a smile on my face. One dude that just keeps blowing my mind though is Devin Townsend, everything he does just transports me into another dimension!

How is the metal scene going in your country?

Rob :
Well I’m from France so I don’t know enough about the swiss metal scene but it’s definitely there, maybe not as strong as other countries like Germany or all of Scandinavia but there’s a quality scene with great musicians even though you don’t about a ton of swiss bands.

Tell us, if you have played abroad.

Rob :
Yeah we’ve played all over Europe! We did a big tour around Europe opening for Sirenia and Tyr last year and it was great!! Great crowds, great venues, great bands, great food (first tour I’ve done with actual catering fit for human consumption you have no idea how good that feels!!) and just overall great atmosphere! We actually mostly play abroad, I think we’ve only done something like 4 gigs in Switzerland.. And we’re gonna expand even more in the coming years, we’ve got very big things coming up and we could not be more excited!!!

Are you working on any music videos, might it be videoclip or lyric video?

Rob :
Actually we are! I’ve been sitting on a script for one of our songs for a while and I’m hoping I can finish it soon enough so that we can release it this fall, and then maybe another one next year, who knows..

Rapid fire section. Just for fun. So just chill, and just type the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear:
* Drift – The
* Sabbath – How is Ozzy still alive????
* Switzerland – Say cheese one more time motherfucker!!
* Drugs – You a cop?
* Chuck Billy – SLAYER!!!!!! Wait that’s not it…

Thanks a lot for your time! It’s really nice to know more about you. Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers?

Rob :
Thanks again for having me and listening to my bullshit… Hope you guys enjoy the album, tell your friends about us, come see us live, if you see us live come hang out at the merch stand I’m usually there after the show (and bring me a beer, there’s a strong chance I’m not drunk enough), we’re gonna have big news coming up soon so brace yourselves and see you on the road!