Hugues, or should I say Hugo, you recently released your debut album, 'The Ereyn Chronicles-Part 1', and I must say it is an overwhelming piece of neo-classical progressive rock. Although you are very talented, your name is quite unknown in the rock scene. Perhaps you can introduce yourself and Anthropia to the readers of Lords Of Metal…
Yes of course, and thank you very much for your comments about the album. So, my name is Hugues Lefebvre, 24 years old and I live near Nice on the French Riviera. I started musical things when I was six at the Antibes music academy. I stayed there for more than ten years, learning classical guitar, and music theory. I went to in high school when I discovered heavy metal like Iron Maiden and Helloween, and after that the prog metal scene, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Angra, etcetera. Anthropia was born about three years ago. I was in a cover band, and was tired of playing other people's song, plus I had a lot of ideas which I recorded on my computer. So I decided to create a new project that I had done all by myself except for the drums. At that time I met Quentin Borderie who was writing a fantasy story. He told me this story and I found it great, even if I was not at all into fantasy. I just thought that I had to show to the world this adventure in my own way: musically.
On the album, you are responsible for the guitars, vocals, keyboards and a lot of other stuff. Which instrument has your first priority?
Like you said, on this album I do everything except drums. The main instrument is surely the guitar, I use it when I compose, and as far as I can remember, there was always a guitar nearby. That's why I'm certainly very at ease composing with it. My second love is the vocals. I am not a huge fan of my voice, but I just adore singing. The feeling is very different from the guitar, but equally great. I think I would be very depressed if I couldn't sing or play the guitar anymore.
The album was released by Magna Carta records. How did you get into contact with that label?
Well, my manager and I met directly Peter Morticelli, Magna Carta director. There is in Cannes the MIDEM, a huge meeting where all music labels from the entire world meet. And this, at five minutes from my home! We had a lot of appointments there, but Magna Carta was the first one. And you know the old “adage”: The first one is the good one! Peter liked the album very much, and after two weeks he proposed us a deal for Anthropia.
Do you know any of your label mates?
Well I have to say that I am really happy to be in the Magna Carta team. I admired the guys from Dream Theater for years, the Liquid tension experiment cd's, Tony Levin projects, Shadow Gallery... It is really a dream come true for me. I really hope to meet these guys soon.
Anthropia is a mixture of Dream Theater, Pain Of Salvation, Angra and Yngwie Malmsteen. What bands or musician are your main influences?
When I was young I was a huge fan of Sting (I still am today), specially the old albums 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles' or 'The soul cages', for example. I also love the old prog rock bands Yes and Genesis (Peter Gabriel era). When you listen to their albums, you are really entering a new dimension.
And also, a lot of metal : Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Angra, Dream T, Symphony X, but only melodic stuff, I really don't like brutal metal. Nowadays, my main influences are Ayreon and Pain Of Salvation. Daniel Gildenlow and Arjen Lucassen are two of my greatest idols.
As a French band, Adagio is, internationally spoken, quite a well-known progressive metal band. What is your opinion about the French metal scene, and what are your ambitions when it comes to Anthropia?
It is really great to see bands like Adagio, Gojira or Manigance finding an international audience. It proves that French metal is on the good way. It is hard here because the French media are still afraid of metal and really boycott it. That's why most of the kids here only know about R'n'B', and don't know that there is “another world”, you know. Quite sad, but true. My ambitions for Anthropia? To bring this project as high as I can. I worked and I work very hard to establish that, so no reason to fail!
You did the Anthropia album almost completely by yourself. Is Anthropia a band or a project, or are you such an annoying asshole to work with?
Hahaha, good one. The ones who know me will tell you that I am very “easy to live with”, and that I always act so that everything is fine for everybody. I don't know maybe I met the wrong persons? But for sure nowadays I am an adept of “You want something well done? Do it yourself!”. I really appreciate to do all the work by myself in studio, it is a 24 hours day job, but I'm satisfied at the end. Well, I'm a poor lonesome cowboy…
Are you planning to perform live shows in the near future? If so, you need some other musicians to go on tour…
Absolutely, no dates have been announced yet, but I will do it. The touring band will be for sure: me at the vocals/guitars, Damien Rainaud (who recorded the drums on the album), Yann Mouhad (guitars), Nathalie Olmi (female vocals) from the French band In Vitraux. We really can't wait for this tour as you can imagine, to make the world of Ereyn come true live will be really something.
Of course I'm very happy with this team, we are all great friends, and you know, that is the best way to play your music live, with the right guys.
Bands/projects like Avantasia, Ayreon, Aina and the Genius project are known for their (famous) guest musicians. Explain why you did not invite any famous musicians to perform on your album!
Maybe I'll do it for my next albums, I already have several names in mind. You have to know that when I recorded this first album, I had no label. I didn't even know if the album would be released one day… So I'm not sure very famous people would have say “yes” to an unsigned and not famous band. In a way this was a good thing. I asked to unknown people and friends of mine (Marie Eve Orengo, Thomas Letscher, Damien Rainaud), they really did a great job, and if the album has great reviews, it will be because it is a good album not because of some very famous guy who sings on it. Anyway, like I said, for the next album, I'll ask some famous people of which work I like, and if they say yes, it will be a great honour!
About the album. 'The Ereyn Chronicles' sounds like a musical journey through dark woods and deep oceans. Can you tell in short what the concept is about?
Yes, in two words, because the story is quite complex: The scene takes place in a fantasy surrounding. The hero, Amryl, has to leave his own country in order to find a legendary oracle which will solve all the problems of his realm Ereyn.It sounds very fantasy I know, but like I said I was not really into fantasy, and I just think it is a great story. The events are very surprising and you really escape reality and travel with it. I think this is the most important thing in “art”: make travel, dream the audience so that they can experience strong feelings. Well, if you don't like concept albums, just listen to the music anyway, hahaha.
The album's production is excellent! How much time did you spend in the studio to record the album?
Thank you, I'm very happy of the sound too. Before entering the studio I made a complete demo with the ten songs, because I like to be very well prepared, when I record for real. The journey in the studio in Monaco took 1 month, and it went really smoothly. Sometimes it was mentally hard, because working ten hours a day during 30 days is really exhausting. But I like this step very much; you see your album, your “baby”, really growing to the end.
What inspired you to do a conceptual album like this? Perhaps Rhapsody's 'Enchanted Lands'-story or the 'Lord Of The Ring' trilogy?
Well I like Rhapsody, but as much as die hard fans would adore it. I only listened to 'Echanted Lands Part One', this is extremely well done and played, but I'm more into prog stuff. 'Lord Of The Ring' is the only fantasy book I read, and it is true that I like it very much too. But I really think that this is only Quentin Borderie's story that inspired me. This guy is quite an actor too, so when he tells you his story, you really enter his world. It is also very helpful to have a story behind when you compose, because you can directly analyze the hero's feeling or position, and music and text really come to your mind easily.
How are the reactions so far on the album?
They are very good, near excellent! I am very happy, and quite surprised, because it is my first album and for myself, there will always be some “youth mistakes” on it. Anyway, I really think that this is a very strong album, and that you can listen the 70 minutes easily without being bored. I'm quite sick of those long albums with two good songs and eight filler songs. Anthropia albums will always be concept albums with quality (to my eyes), even if it takes time to write it.
I have read that 'The Eryen Chronicles Part 1' is the first part of a trilogy. Are you already working on part two and three, and when can we expect these albums?
Absolutely, there will be three parts of 'The Ereyn Chronicles'. And I decided to take my time to finish the story. I mean, the next Anthropia album is on the way (six songs nearly finished) but it won't be the 'Ereyn Chronicles Part Two'. It will be a new concept (in one album this time) in a contemporary world. I do this to surprise the fans. I don't want people to believe that Anthropia is just another 'fantasy' band. I have a lot of ideas, and I'll always try to do new things for my fans!
Any other future plans? Perhaps making a movie based on the story of 'The Ereyn Chronicles'?
Oh, that would be so great! But it would have to be a super production like Peter Jackson did for the 'Lord of the Rings', hahaha. Or maybe a 3D animation movie. Well, I have a lot of ideas for that too. We'll see when Part three will be released. For now I take care of the Anthropia movie clip (coming soon in November), the tour, and the next album.
Thank you for answering my questions and I wish you all the luck with Anthropia!
Thanks to you, we hope to give several shows for you in Netherlands soon!