First of all, great job on the new album 'The Engine Cries', I really enjoyed listening to it! The album was released in May already, are you happy with the reception so far?
Thank you very much! Indeed, our album was released nationally on May 5th 2017 under the label Send The Wood Music, and we have been wonderfully supported by Replica Promotion, the reviews are really great. The album was then promoted less widely at the European level but the reviews and other repercussions are overcoming our hope. By now, ‘The Engine Cries’ is picked up by plenty of media all around the world. We are absolutely thrilled to see how our album is received. We knew that we had taken the time to offer a high quality disc, even though it was sometimes despite common sense, so it is good to see that many people notice it and appreciate all the work we provided.
Compared to your previous album, ‘Some Strange Heavy Sound’, I feel that the songs are a bit more mature. What do you think was the main difference between your older work and ‘The Engine Cries’?
We think as you do. ‘Some Strange Heavy Sound’ was just the beginning! Phil Vermont (guitarist, arranger and main composer) and I were just starting this project by ourselves without thinking about the future. I had asked him to come and fill in at the last moment for another band in which I was the leader called Darjeeling. One thing led to another, he started to write pieces and I improvised on them, Superscream was born! It was a fascinating stage (If things get complicated with Phil for some reason today, I always try to remember this absolutely creative time) because it is quite easy to forget the motivation you had when you first started the project when you have to face adversity as a progressive metal band.
‘Some Strange Heavy Sound’ was a good album by its craziness, its lightness and its experimental side. I believe it still makes sense but some things are not quite completed, for instance regarding the production, the music itself was a bit patchy, which can be good and less good. We were trying to find ourselves more than for ‘The Engine Cries’. In the second album, Phil knew a lot more what he aimed for and we had learned from the first album as you can imagine. For ‘The Engine Cries’, we wanted to put on a first-rate album. The line-up being more settled, we managed to find our characteristic and personal sound. We also wanted to focus a bit more on the melodies, to compose ‘real’ songs without neglecting our progressive side. Our musical intention has become more direct. If you analyze it, in the end the music is still as rich and complex when it comes to the arrangements and the influences but everything seems more homogeneous and understandable for the listener.
Keyboard player Romain Greffe left and was replaced by guitarist Daniel Sminiac, why was he not replaced by another keyboard player?
Phil and I agreed that we needed two guitarists as our aspirations were going this way. We like to call ourselves an uninhibited progressive metal band, or even a progressive hard rock band and we are fans of big loud guitars. In short we want a big sound! In the end, maybe a virtuoso such as Romain could not find his place in the evolution of Superscream, and God knows how much I appreciate him, he was somehow under-used. As a result, Phil started to program, we enlisted the services of two keyboards to record ‘The Engine Cries’ and we hired Daniel as second guitarist. During the concerts, we play sequences of sounds and percussions as needed.
How did you go about recruiting for a guitarist?
It was very simple: Daniel was a student of Phil’s who had been showing what he could do for a while in various bands (Iron Maiden tribute etc.). Phil asked him if he would be a part of the adventure and he said yes! There is absolutely no ego problems between the two of them which is very appreciated and not so common amongst guitarists…
I read in an interview that you’d potentially have enough material already for another release, can we expect another album soon? And how do you ensure that the quality of those songs are as good as on ‘The Engine Cries’?
Oh dear! Soon, not really. We have about six tracks, most of them quite progressive (about thirty minutes) that have been recorded, but there is so much to do before going back to this! I personally think that one of these tracks is going way further than all our other songs as for the ‘world metal’ side, full of inventiveness and extravagance. The others are also very good, I’m not worried about the quality of this new album, even if apparently it’s going to be a little different from ‘The Engine Cries’. It is hard to say if it will be better or not. I think that we are following the pattern of bands like Led Zeppelin, Young Gods or Pain of Salvation: every new album is a new journey. Are the Maldives better than Iceland? It’s hard to tell!
Generally speaking, progressive music isn’t known for being accessible to everyone, but I feel that everyone who loves metal can listen to your album due to it not being too complex. Was this a conscious decision during the writing process?
Yes it was quite intentional, not in a commercial goal as we know that we would need to change way too many things to become Christina Aguilera (lol), but it is too easy to compose complicated music for virtuoso musicians who only play progressive music. We don’t want to look like these prog bands who pose, arms crossed, with such a serious face that they often look ridiculous, even if we practice our instruments very hard, it is not the question, we’re too old for this shit. To make a rich music intelligible for non-musicians is hard and this is what we wanted to work on. If you listen to ‘The Engine Cries’ several times, you will soon hear how complex the arrangements are and how every detail counts, but the chorus are easy to remember and we have tried to be efficient before anything else, sometimes without regards for our ego. Else, why would you sell a disc ? You’d better play at home. Our first album often seems more complex when you listen to it but when it comes to playing it, it’s not so obvious anymore!
Could you tell us what the lyrics on the album are about? There are a few interesting titles in there, like ‘Your Necklace Of Bites’ or ‘Velvet Cigarette’?
I really like what you’re saying because these are my texts for most of them (laughs). I’ve always written but mostly in French. I started to write in English because of Superscream. In this album I have taken a lot of time to really go through my texts and I am very proud of them. My girlfriend, Audrey Escots, has studied Voice Performance in the United States and Linguistics in France, she helped me finalize some of the texts because I set the bar quite high! Unfortunately, very few people care about the lyrics, it’s a pity. In ‘The Engine Cries’, the texts led for instance to all the staging of our current show. ‘Velvet Cigarette’ is a mad song. It is sort of the story of the ‘very bad trip’ of a guy who smokes a very strange cigarette, everyone will have its own interpretation.
‘Necklace Of Bites’ is our next single, it wasn’t supposed to be on the album at first, I’m the one who yelled to put it on there. This text is based upon the feelings I get from my ex-relationship, this is a ballad but it is emotionally very violent (the text brings out a real suffering, it is not kind). It’s a bit like Superscream’s ‘Still Loving You’ but in a more negative and harsh version. Actually it’s funny that you mention this track because the text is one of the reasons it is on the album in the end. Apart from that, the topics are very diverse : humorous frenzy, ode to Metal music, initiatory trip, invitation to travel, etc. Basically, we have a finger in every pie! Stéphane, our bass player wrote two texts as well, one of them being a homage paid to his late mother. The point is, we can touch very sad/serious subjects just as totally superficial ones. No rules, no limitations!
Usually bands wait for at least a few album releases before they pursue a live DVD, but I understand that you are already working on this! Was there a specific reason that you wanted to do this already?
We had an opportunity and we couldn’t back off! It was a challenge involving much stress but we did it even if it was soon. Frankly, the result is going to be great and the shooting has been a wonderful adventure. We knew that it was ambitious and for about two months before the concert we’ve had to deal with loads of problems, almost daily. The DVD has been shot at the Arcade (Notre-Dame de Gravenchon) in September 2015 and it should be released in 2018.
You’ve recorded a few video clips to support your songs and I noticed that you’ve put a lot of effort in them, it’s almost like a small movie. How important are the videos for you?
It’s important mostly for me! I love laughing and I am a movie lover. We have more and more means to shoot short videos without it being too expensive or complicated. I love writing scripts, playing and directing, I enjoy myself very much and I really think that it brings something to Superscream’s original spirit.
What are your upcoming plans? Will we be able to see you perform in the Netherlands anytime soon?
We plan to release one, maybe two, music videos in the coming year, plus one or two special videos. We are waiting for the answers of several summer festivals to perform in good conditions and we are working on the release of our live DVD that is going to be absolutely awesome. Meanwhile, we benefit from the spinoffs of The Engine Cries. Two prestigious labels are interested in our work and following our evolution, this could change a lot of things in the future. For many reasons, it is complicated for us to perform regularly but the Netherlands are really one of the countries where we would like to perform. It is a country that I know in particular for its dynamism in metal music. Webzines and radios welcome us with open arms there. We hope to come soon.
Thank you so much for answering my questions, any last words to our readers?
Thank YOU sincerely Leon, long live Lords Of Metal! It is thanks to passionate people like you that things can get somewhere. I can never say it enough. For the readers : you can love us or hate us but take 7 minutes of your time to check our music out and we will dig you forever! Let there be rock.