Congrats with the release of your debut album called ‘I’. How was the reception of that album and what were reactions that stood out the most?
Morgan: Hello and thank you, Remie! Well, you see, since it took us a while to start recording this album due to certain circumstances, many people (including us) felt quite happy and relieved in some sort of way. Of course, the album was officially released two weeks ago, and perhaps it's still too early to draw a conclusion, but for any action taking place there's a both positive and negative response, so no, we won't say everyone has been cheering us and congratulating us, but the overall reaction of the close and not-so close ones sure was quite good. Some people have told us to give them more already hahaha (and, in fact, we might have something up the sleeve).
I would like to know something about the history of the band since you are around for quite a while. How did the past years look like and how did the band work to this album?
Alf: Distance started out as a new project in 2007 formed by Lucho (drums) and I. We had played together for some years in a previous band called Divina Tragedia (Spanish, translates to Divine Tragedy) playing some sort of progressive power metal (yeah, I bet you didn't expect that...). However, although we liked many bands in the style, it just wasn't what we liked playing and what really motivated us. At the time we were listening to a lot of more modern stuff like Textures, Nevermore, Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend, Killswitch Engage, Soilwork and many, many more bands that had the same common denominator: heavy sound and riffs, good technical skills and plenty of melodies. We decided to change our whole sound and song writing process altogether to create our own combination of stuff we loved to play from all styles of metal and searching for our own unique voice, as hard as that is. We just didn't care about fitting into one specific genre as we liked all types of metal and are influenced by many bands that are completely different from one another. We wanted to make stuff that moved us and that wasn't easily stuck in the same sound/style, and therefore could result in a more interesting, less boring project for us as musicians and hopefully for open minded listeners. The band had pretty good technical potential at the time, which was cool, but frequent line up changes made it really difficult to find decent replacements not just technically but also musically open to try new stuff. Line up changes have been one of our major problems over the years and always frustrated and slowed us down a whole lot. However, we are actually very lucky because every new member always had a big impact on the sound and/or direction of the band so although we struggled to make little steps forward, those steps were always important. Jomer (bass) and Ernes (synths and keys) have been in the band the longest since Lucho and I founded it. Later on, Mak (guitars) helped to fill in the space we had when our last guitarist left and Morgan is the last but essential new member of the band to make his mark. Money used to be (and for certain things still is) a problem. Normally at least half of the band was unemployed, so money, or the lack of it, also slowed us down as recording albums, touring, buying merch, etc. was expensive, specially some years ago. Right now we're in a better place money wise as some of us have finally found jobs which seemed impossible during the really long economic crisis Spain is suffering. So we have to make the best out of this situation and move our asses!
What would you change next time if you look back on the process of the creation of ‘I’?
Morgan: That's a good question. We had many issues like time, money, space... and ironically even distance itself was playing against us! (laughs) So we happened to be recording vocals like a week before deadline. You can be sure that I, speaking for myself, couldn't record my parts the way I wanted to, in terms of time. As a matter of fact, all the growls were recorded the same night, and regardless of all the previous months I spent rehearsing in my bandroom in Algeciras, I woke up the next day as hoarse as the f*****ng godfather... and all the melodic vocals were yet to be recorded! So, as you might have guessed, I'd record all the melodic vocals over again.
Alf: Yeah, things didn't turn out the way we planned, but the band desperately needed to record this album in order to survive. Seven years struggling with lineup changes, money, etc. were already too much, we had to do something to keep us from falling apart and motivated. The band deserved a shot and it was time. We had a really good, stable lineup, enough good songs, enough money to get things going at a basic level quality wise... so remembering the band's history, we had to take this chance and do it fast before anything fucked us over once more. Next time we'll make sure to get stuffed planned way ahead recording deadlines, so every problem can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. Also, we'll take a lot more time in song arrangements and pay a lot more attention to detail. This is our first album, it's pretty much “homemade” (although we did have a lot of luck and got to work with Samu Oittinen on mixing and mastering) and obviously it isn't perfect, but we are still very proud of the music.
What is your favorite track on the album and why?
Morgan: Probably 'Seeker Of Truth' would be the one. I love the meaning of that song along with the melody of the rhythm guitars and the vocal composition. I'd say it highlights and remarks the 90's feeling, a decade all of us are quite bounded to. I'd also like to mention the ending passage in 'Process Of Self Destruction', because I like it so much I get quite emotional when singing it live.
Alf: As Morgan said, 'Seeker Of Truth' is probably the one we like the most, along with the last track 'Outreach' which is really epic and very entertaining live! It is also probably our hardest song to play: it has many parts, arrangements... it's just plain fun and sums up our sound quite nicely.
Mentioned in the biography is that the band has a wide range of influences. Can you explain how the sounds from those different influences came together?
Morgan: Well, I can't (laughs). But I guess it happens because we are tolerant with each others tastes in music and the way we portray that in our compositions and arrangements. Almost everything that any member suggested for this or that instrument on this or that part, we thought it was cool. Except that time I told the guys to use some porn samplers for Conception. That didn't seem quite right for them.
Alf: Actually, we love porn very much, so I don't know what Morgan is talking about. I would remember that! Going back to the influence question, we always have a solid principle we follow: if it sounds good to us, let's use it! We just don't care what we are writing it reminds us of as long as the song gives us goosebumps when we play it together. That's how we know we're on the right path. We love the diversity, it keeps things interesting and exciting. If, for example, we come up with a song that starts out with a groovy death metal riff, continues with a cool opeth-like chorus, followed by a “Mastodonish” bridge and a FaithNoMore-esque outro, that would probably be a great song for us. In fact, we might just try that! We must admit, however, that the combination of all of these influences might not be the best move commercially. It may take listeners a couple of listens to really get what we are saying and to hopefully enjoy it. It may sound as a contradiction, but we also try to keep it simple. We won't force stuff on the listener, everything has to flow naturally or else it won't work.
What is happening in and around the band at the moment? Any touring plans perhaps?
Morgan: We are shaping and finishing our short-term goals and getting some merch ready to see the light, and not only that: We are working hard on our new music video! Well, not me actually, but Alf's company Firefront Pictures. I just posed as they told me to and tried to look interesting and handsome. This last thing being awfully difficult.
Alf: Yeah, you bet it was difficult. Morgan is like if Chewbacca had summer vacation in Chernobyl. Just kidding. Morgan looks great in the video and he'll probably get a lot of pussy... from his girlfriend.
Morgan: Regarding the touring: We are yet to close some dates, but before heavy touring happens, we're arranging a proper concert to present our debut album the way it deserves.
Alf: We love playing live and we love to travel, so if you have an interesting proposal for us, we'll love to hear it! We're really cheap! (As in not expensive...). We are starting to book dates in Spain and hopefully we might get to close some interesting dates abroad!
Spain is not really known for having a lot of metal bands. Is it difficult for a metal band in Spain to get noticed? And how does the metal scene in Spain look like anyway?
Morgan: I think that given the state of globalization, internet, and how easily you can record anything with a decent sound from your own house, the barriers of being noticed are getting stranger and stranger, and this does not mean “easier” nor “harder” to beat. Not only for Spain, but also for many other countries. I've listened to many bands that have no more than 300 views on their respective YouTube channels while being totally oblivious to huge bands emerging from the big labels in the industry. Of course, it's true that our country hasn't been known for being metal for many years. But I think that's changing due to the factors I've mentioned before. Being noticed in our country is hard if your wallet isn't full: If you have money to tour the country / other countries, you make good moves on the net and pay for advertising, you can get signed to a big label with good contacts, you know how to deal with people and make contacts on your own, and if you're not a truly disastrous musician when it comes to composition and live performance... you can be noticed positively in many many places. This is kind of sad, I might add, but that's an opinion I don't want to get into right now, unless you want me to fill all your e-zine pages with my bullshit (laughs)
Alf: I agree with a lot of what Morgan said. The metal scene in Spain, although not completely amazing, is better than ever. Not too long ago it was pretty lame: Few bands, doing the same old thing and very few sounded good. Now, thanks to the internet, musicians here are listening to new stuff from all over the world and starting to create their own music and/or follow creative tendencies from other more developed scenes, so at least there is plenty of variety. Also, musicianship has increased tremendously. Some years ago, if your drummer left the band and you were a technical band, you were screwed! It would be almost impossible to find a good replacement, even in big cities like Madrid. This is not an issue anymore, there are lots of talented musicians in the Spanish metal scene, springing out from everywhere. Commercially speaking, the Spanish metal scene relies on the support of the underground-loving community and mainly from fans in other countries that buy albums/merch. Although there is a market for metal in Spain, and is stronger than ever (just check out the awesome summer festivals that are organized here like Resurrection Fest up north) it is not enough to support the great amount of bands there are. People here tend to listen to and support bands from outside the country. Who can blame them, there are so many great bands everywhere, it's jut too hard to support everything and obviously, the big well-known bands get the main pieces of the metal cake. Also, a band from abroad gets more “prestige” than a local band as at first glance, seem more attractive to Spanish listeners than a band that was formed two blocks away and plays constantly in the area. It's as if the past of the Spanish metal scene weighs too heavily on the present and people think that if it is made in Spain, it's probably worse than a band from another country with a healthier metal scene. I don't know if that happens in other countries as well but I believe it will change. Sooner or later. Hopefully.
What are the bands biggest ambitions for the future and how are you planning to achieve those ambitions?
Morgan: If I'm not wrong, we don't have specific ambitions. We just want to enjoy what we do for as long as we can, and if time treats us well, we make the most of it within our possibilities and we get to make a living of what we like most in life, I'm pretty sure it will be more than enough. I mean, I don't plan on having a penthouse or being known all over the globe or buy expensive cars nor having some shitty wine brand with my name on it... but of course, releasing one or two more albums would be great, and I guess that after one or two more albums, statistics and fans would give us a clearer sight about our careers as musician (apart from our very feelings about the situation at that point, of course).
Alf: We are realistic. Playing metal in Spain and specially prog oriented metal with many influences is not going to make us rich. In fact, just making a living off metal (and music in general) is really hard, even for very popular bands. Saturation of the worldwide metal scene is also an important factor. There are just so many bands, from so many places... it's really hard to compete for a tiny piece of the already small metal cake but we don't really care about money. We would love to live of our music, who wouldn't, but we accept that it is really really hard to get there and a lot of hard work, money and luck is needed. So mainly our ambitions are first of all, to keep working our asses off to make more and better music, following our style in order to become something interesting that can standout and survive in this flood of metal we're seeing everywhere. Our other big ambition is to tour as much as we possibly can. Right now, live shows are one of the best promo tools there are and selling merch is basically the only income the band realistically will have. We love playing, seeing new places and meeting new people, that really motivates us too, but we know it also carries a lot of complications. When things really suck, we usually find a way. Not too long ago the band was practically dead and look at us now, answering questions for a cool Dutch e-zine! Wow! It just comes to say that you never know what can happen and always be grateful for and make the most out of the chances you are given.
Thank you very much for the interview and goodluck in the future.
Morgan: Thank you for your wishes and your interest, Remie! Rock on! \\m//
Alf: It's been a pleasure! We really appreciate this opportunity to talk to you guys. Hope you like the album! If you are reading this right now and haven't heard us, head on to our bandcamp page and check our stuff out! If you enjoy it, help us spread the word! :D Thanks again Remie and the staff at Lords of Metal!