The butterflies and shaking hands of Gorguts
At Maryland Death Fest, I had the chance to have a talk with Luc Lemay from Gorguts. Here are some of the things I asked him and his responses. Also new member, Kevin Hufnagel spoke about learning the old catalog of songs and playing with the band.
When writing new material, do you find it hard to continually push the envelope of technicality or speed?
If you listen to the latest albums, like Obscura and From Wisdom to Hate, it is not a matter of technical fast playing or fast moving finger riffing, its about texture. For the new record, I'm aiming more for something like, the song starts, we'll see each other again in 7 minutes. Lets have a short trip together. It is about ambience. I like the music to be dark, and music that can take you somewhere. There needs to be some riffs, but more moods. It has to be fun to play and “guitaristic” but since “Erosion” I never though about just writing technical music. I write what I can play, and when I play it is to write, not practice, though I do have to practice the old shit. I want to tell stories through my music. Fast paces are great, but it is just an ingredient. Bands that focus on just playing as fast as possible are missing part of the picture. The song will be evil even if its slower paced.
When assembling the new band, did you pick these guys by hand, how did you choose these guys?
I was very impressed by them and their work. I knew “Behold the Arctopus” and I knew I wanted Colin in the band. Big Steve had told me about Dysrhythmia and after “Negativa” rehearsal, I saw Kevin play. I saw what he was doing, and I think our style works very well together. As for John, we were in touch via emails every now and then. Big Steve played some Dim Mak and it blew my mind. I wrote to John right away and said, “Dude, if I do another Gorguts album, I want you to play.” Big Steve brought the idea to me saying, “It's gonna be 20 years of the band, it'd be cool if you do another record.” I said “Fuck yeah!” So I wrote these guys a message on myspace and a couple days later everyone was in.
Do you write the songs and the lyrics?
Yes I write all the music. I record with a click and write on charts with the tabs and notes. I can make a PDF and MP3 with the structure, and email it to the guys. A month later, I get replies with all the parts. When we got together, we might have changed one or two notes. For what the other guys do, they just get it, they know the bands aesthetics and they just nail it.
Asking Kevin Hufnagel about learning the old songs, he had the following to say.
He told us what songs we were going to play. Most of the songs were tabbed out, like 80% or so. So for me, I just read the tabs, but they were hard to play. The stuff off of Erosion of Sanity is not part of my normal style. It is different playing other people's songs. I am used to playing my own music. At first I wasn't exactly comfortable, but it became better. Traditional death metal for me is harder to play.
So what is in store after the new album?
Luc- I really want to tour, I am hooked again now. For the new record, I want to try something new. I had just discovered this band, “Porcupine Tree” and what they do is just play the record. What I want to do is play the new record. I have never done that before. Instead of three or four new songs then go to “Stiff and Cold” I want to play the entire thing. Making a record is a lot of work, its a work of art like a painting and it would be great to play the new record then have a break for like 30 minutes, then play some older songs.
How do you find inspiration for your music?
I don't know, I just do it. I sit down and try and write songs I want to hear. I do the best I can with what I know and what I have. Some songs go bam, and they are done, some songs you get stuck in the middle. It is very mystical sometimes, but you have to use the tool you know to make it.
Have you ever had trouble with language in your travels? Your songs are in English, but do you speak French to the crowds at home?
My main language is French and I talk French to the crowd all the time.
Why don't you write the songs in French?
French is great to me, but its not musical for metal. It doesn't sound right, also English is pretty universal.
What country has the best looking women?
I haven't toured very much, but there are very nice girls in Denmark. There was this one girl there who was tall and had a nice neck.
What are your favorite places to tour?
The States are amazing, and even though I've only done Europe once, I am always happy to play there.
Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
YES. Very very nervous. Yesterday and at the New York City show, I had fucking butterflies, and shaking hands. I was telling myself, relax, we've done this before, but that is one of the cool things that makes this exciting.
What are your thoughts on Maryland Death Fest.
The friendship and camaraderie is great. The past few gigs, the people are amazing, they are so welcoming and friendly. It is great to play music, to reach people and touch people. A festival like this allows smaller bands to get out and promote their art.
What do you do in your spare time when you're not playing?
I am a wood worker. I carve signs and make modern furniture all by hand. I have a huge workshop, maybe like 1.000 square feet, and I do lots of carving and designing. I am as passionate about that as the music. I stopped music for a while to focus on woodworking. I need to have balance, and I need to work with my hands. It is a busy time for the band right now, but when it is more mellow, I am always in the workshop. I get up at maybe 5am, and get to the shop at maybe 7:30, and put in some classical music and work away. I live in a small town in the country and not many people know I play in a metal band.
Any final words to the fans worldwide?
I am very thankful for everybody. From day one about the new record, I kept receiving emails with people just wanting to say, “Hi” and “thanks for coming back” and I couldn't be more thankful.