Congratulations on the new album 'Yen Sonn Gardis': in our interview from 2009 (with colleague Roel F.) you said that an early 2010 release was to be expected, but it turned out to become October 15th: what caused the delay?
It was just a forecast, but as often I needed more time than planned to finish the mix and then it was necessary to wait for a new crenel for the label. So don't worry about it, this kind of delay is frequent.
The album title is Breton for “cold hard severe”. So I was like expecting a very extreme Belenos-album. The new album is typically Belenos, but like all Belenos-albums different than the others. This is a rather well balanced album with a high technical level: was that your intention at forehand or did this happen during the process of creation?
Indeed this album is not the most violent nor the blackest one, but it is a good summary of how was the style of Belenos since about ten years: certain songs can remind the warlike 'Chants De Bataille', the others would have been able to appear on 'Chemins De Souffrance', finally the general atmosphere of the album can remind the one which haunts 'Spicilège'. I agree to say that the album benefits from a higher technical level.
Like you said in the earlier mentioned interview: each Belenos album has a central key theme: what is the key of 'Yenn Son Gardis'
This time it is different, just as the music is a summary of the four previous albums, the texts are the same there: I have revisited the themes already approached such as battles, winter but with a different point of view, more Celtic I would say. The big novelty is the change of the language, I have abandoned French which I consider not enough exotic that's why I chose the local Celtic language: Breton.
Belenos is you, simple as that. I think that Belenos is one of the few bands that has understood what Quorthon and Bathory were about, and that you heeded the call on your own terms. I always believed that Belenos did never get the credits it deserved. Any idea why Belenos is still a rather underground name, despite releasing several great albums through the years. Was it you, the labels, a matter of bad luck or something else?
Yes I am obliged to agree with your report. Then why? I think that there are several reasons. To be well known in France it is rather easy, just be a little better and realize more than two albums. But to give way in Europe for example with the label 'made in France' on your back, you look not credible and even if you are, nobody is really interested in you. For a long time I worked with French labels and that did not help Belenos to be known abroad and now with a German label, that begins apparently to work a little in Germany but nothing extraordinary. From my side I would have to do much more stage abroad, festivals but I have almost no serious proposition and gathering a live line-up is the hell difficult here. Thus here I have the impression to walk round and round for fifteen years in a spiral which at best makes me stay at the same place, not to higher places.
You play all the instruments yourself on the albums. The thing that to me stands out with Belenos has always been the drumming. Just a question from a fan: what is your preferred instrument and why?
Rare are the one-man-band able to perform drums, nevertheless at first I used a drum machine on demos, then I began to learn drums and I really dashed in 2007. I think that it is the instrument which I prefer because I have to learn again a lot and by example I play it every evening to be able to progress. I rarely play the guitar because I reached for a long time a level which suits me.
What are your own favorite musical aspects of the new album and why?
Probably the use of a violin for the very first time, it adds something more melodic and strengthens the Celtic aspect. And also the vocal lines with the new language: new tones to be exploited.
In the review I write that 'Yen Sonn Gardis' is what 'Between Two Worlds' by I should have been as a perfect mix of epic dark pagan and black metal: flattering to you or words without meaning to you as a musician?
Good choice! I love this album a lot and I agree with this comparison. I really feel (alone) between the classical evil and religious black metal scene and the new pagan folk metal rush. Maybe that one day the style which I have been practicing for fifteen years will be fashionable!
Another thing that was discussed in the earlier interview was a live line-up: at that time you were without a live line-up yet working on auditions for a live line-up. When seeing the MySpace of Belenos it looks like you have the right people: Yohann Mahe on bass, Marc Le Gall on drums and Camille Lepalec as second guitarist. This looks like a French line-up, even if you have been living in Brittany for quite some time now. Why did you decide for – from the looks of it – French musicians nevertheless?
In fact it is a purely Breton line-up, last year still, everybody lived to 25km around. There are few metalheads here and musicians even less, but they ruled in spite of their young age. But for this year in spring, for studies or work, everybody lives very far thus we can't do anything. I should have lived in Paris for a moment but that would not have arranged the problem, even if there is more people, good musicians already play in fifty groups at once. Oay, I am going to move in Norway that will get better!
Speaking of the live line-up: how did you manage to find these guys and what is their background?
I saw them playing with their previous local bands and I felt almost convinced, then I asked them to play with me and they said okay. Anyway we have rehearsed a lot before going on stage early 2010.
Like you said, there will be only a few live gigs. What is the main reason for you to do so?
On the one hand I knew that we were not going to join a tour, thus there only remained isolated concerts still remaining to sort out because we preferred quality rather than quantity. And on the other hand I felt that the other members were supposed to move far consequently, I announced very few concerts in 2010, that was the case.
And as a matter of fact I see no live shows on the website: are you working on some gigs or is it a simple matter of “we'll see what happens in the future”?
It's more “we'll see what happens in the future”. My live members live now very far from my home and it's impossible to rehearse, so no gigs can be planned. And nobody else to replace them.
What are you currently working on with Belenos, and any idea as when we can experience the result of that?
In a first time, I will work on the reissues of the sold out albums 'Chants De Bataille' and 'Spicilège' which both need a strong new mastering, I'm currently gathering old stuff like unreleased demo versions, fresh live recordings, and probably cover songs. This stuff will be released in the second half of 2011 I think. It will let me more time finish the sixth album which is already written to 66,6%. I hope it can be finished and be released in 2012, sometimes I wonder if it won't be the last one. I can already say that the musical evolution will be important this time.