“Destroying Anxiety” - Lead Lyzanxia guitarist David Potvin shares philosophical thoughts regarding third album Unsu
By Anthony Morgan
Winter 2006 heralded a glut of new Metal albums, all cut with varying degrees of success. Unsu, the third official studio album from French Thrash Metallers Lyzanxia came in September 2006, quietly bubbling under the surface, comfortably garnering a steady fanbase. A deal inked with Listenable Records in May of that year aided the smooth transgression, introducing the group to audiences unfamiliar with their output. Nowadays it isn't new to hear of French groups making headways into the Metal contingent, more known acts being Gojira and Scarve. For the past several years Studio Fredman has become host to Lyzanxia recordings, with 2001's Eden, 2003's Mindcrimes and now 2006's Unsu being cut there. With celebrated producer Fredrik Nordström aiding their efforts, little can go wrong.
British shores gained an inaugural taste of the group in concert via their supporting slot to Swedish legends Soilwork that September, respectably aided by Reading upstarts Exit Ten. Native audiences meanwhile caught the fledgling group the following month, sharing the stage with Deathstars and Stoneman.
A short February 2007 European tour would have seen the band paired with Crumbsuckers and The Accused, though financial reasons prompted booking agency Metallysee Agency to cancel the tour prior to the publication of this interview. Lead guitarist David Potvin graciously discussed the life and times of Lyzanxia, from inception way back in 1997 all the way until the release of third album Unsu.
- Could you talk me through how you eventually opted to use 'Lyzanxia' as a band name, and why it appealed to the group over other possible band names?
- Back in 1997 we were playing around with names for the band, but it was a friend of ours who actually came up with the perfect name. He had written down a list of medicines, and the sound of the name Lyzanxia was perfect. Literally it's derived from Greek, meaning ‘destroying anxiety’. “Lysanxia” with an “s” is an anxiolytic drug, a cure for nervous breakdown and dementia crisis due to alcohol; its scientific name is 9-chloro-2-(cyclopropylmethyl)-6-phenyl-2,5-diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undeca-5,8,10,12-tetraen-3-one and its chemical formula is C19H17ClN2O. I actually know a couple of people who are on that medicine! I don’t remember the other names on the list, but Lyzanxia was the one that sounded the best, so we simply personalized its spelling. To me it means that listening to Lyzanxia makes you feel better!
- Would you describe Lyzanxia as a duo project between yourself and Franck? On the other hand, what aspects of Lyzanxia would you contrast as being an actual band effort? Do other members of the group feel excluded sometimes due to you and Franck being family?
- I guess that Lyzanxia is often perceived as a duo project of “the Potvin brothers” as people usually refer to Franck and I, but truly we have always tried our best to find musicians involved at the same level as us. It’s just that they are hard to find! Franck and I created the band in 1997 and since that time we have played with good musicians and good friends, but all of them have realized at one point or another that they were not motivated as much as us or that they didn’t really want to pursue a musical career or be on the road all the time. The new guys, Clement and Vince aka Perdi, are younger and motivated, so this time I think we have the right team. On the other hand, Franck and I are both working on Lyzanxia 100% of our time, so it’s hard for the other guys to be involved at the same level as us. We find it primordial to use their input and fresh ideas as much as possible and make them feel they are our extended family. Franck and I being brothers is an incredible asset for Lyzanxia but yeah it can be tough for the other members because we do have an implicit quality of communication that is unique and natural, and I know they can feel excluded sometimes, even though we don’t mean to lay down the law on every aspect of Lyzanxia.
I know that I can be a bit overbearing or bossy sometimes, even with my brother, and I think it comes down to me being a perfectionist in general, including in the creative process since I write most of the music and the lyrics, as well as having the highest expectations from everyone in the band in the running of Lyzanxia. People might see me a the leader of the band because I compose nearly everything but really I see my brother Franck as the implicit leader in the sense that he is a fucking awesome frontman with the most charisma of us all and when we play live, the fans can’t get enough of his contagious energy, his attention, and his cool as hell antics.
- How would you assess the other members (other than you and Franck) contributions to the band? Why do you feel they don't really contribute to the songwriting process?
- Clement and Perdi live in northern France, rehearsing together without us to get the maximum of rhythm impact. They also often come to rehearse, staying with us in the city of Angers and even living with us for weeks or months at a time when we prepare for tours, etc. They’re musically involved and dedicate a lot of time to the band. Clement, who joined the band after Unsu was fully written but many months before we went to Sweden to record it, was able to contribute a lot to the drum arrangements of the album, which is very good because he’s got other influences, not even metal. It’s very refreshing for the songs and it motivates us to keep things interesting. Perdi hasn’t had the chance yet to make a significant songwriting contribution since he came onboard after Unsu was recorded. For the next album, we’ll have the awesome luxury to truly have everybody’s input and I look forward to that. As far as playing live, Clement and Perdi contribute a lot of ideas and exciting arrangements. We listen to everybody’s ideas and are very open-minded, which I guess is what makes Lyzanxia’s music richer. All of us work with computers and music software, so we can easily bring some very concrete ideas to the music. That’s what I like; nothing is set in stone and everybody can bring ideas.
- Could you talk me through why so many different drummers have occupied the drumkit in Lyzanxia? What do you expect from a drummer?
- Our very first drummer was Jerome Aubry. He got married and had many kids, so he decided to dedicate his time to his family, which we totally understood. Then Gweltaz Kerjan joined the band and we recorded Eden with him. During the Mindcrimes recording session he broke his foot, so we had to ask our friend Dirk Verbeuren to come and record the drums because we couldn’t delay the studio time. After this unfortunate event for Gweltaz, we decided to get an official drummer and in the meantime we had drummer Gael Ferret playing drums in all our live shows for Mindcrimes, including the 2004 US Tour. Gael was playing in another band far from our town as well so in January 2005 we decided to intensify our search for our official drummer, and auditioned a good number of drummers. That’s how we found Clement! He absolutely stood out as an exceptional drummer and awesome guy with a great attitude. What we expect from a drummer is, first of all, to play well, and to be available and motivated. You want to play with good friends because it’s very important to have fun together. You can feel it in the music. When we auditioned drummers, we asked them to play our songs “Time Dealer”, “Mindsplit”, “Gametime”, “D.M.” and “Silence Code”, and we also paid attention to how good a feeling we got with them. That’s why Clement nailed his audition, he played amazingly and after 10 minutes talking with him, we felt like we had known him for many years! Hahaha!
- If you had to supply an adequate definition of Unsu, how would you do so? Also, could you talk us through what spawned this release, the recording process and how it came to be eventually born?
- I don’t know if I can give you an unbiased definition of Unsu because I consider it as the ultimate reflection of what Lyzanxia is at this point in time, offering a fine balance of highly aggressive music and vocals, alongside multi-layered structures pushed yet controlled into their vastly extreme reaches. In a nutshell, to me Unsu is controlled violence. Franck and I write new riffs and songs all the time, so by the time we had finished recording Mindcrimes in 2002, we already had lots of riffs and ideas shaping up for the follow-up; by the time the year ended, we had already made a demo with 5 potential songs. So basically we wrote Unsu over the course of 3 years and finally got to record it at the Fredman in January 2006! The wait was excruciating for us because we were dying to record all our new material, release it and play it live but couldn't because Mindcrimes was released in different countries over the course of 3 years (Japan 2002, parts of Europe 2003, USA 2004). As a result of this, we didn’t get the chance to get back in the studio and record Unsu, due to the fact we were supposed to keep promoting Mindcrimes and go on tour; which we did towards the end of 2004 (our first US tour). So in 2005, we decided we had to do something drastic, switch labels (we left US label Reality Entertainment for European label Listenable Records) and record Unsu before we went insane with frustration. All this may explain some of the much more furious nature of Unsu musically and vocally, hahaha! The fans will dig Unsu because it’s pure unrestrained Lyzanxia energy from beginning to end, with more of every component that has shaped the Lyzanxia sound and style: more riffs, more dual vocal interplay, more aggressivity at all levels, more more more. We know that the fans have come to expect a relentless kick in the ass from our albums, trusting us to keep stepping it up several notches with an open-mind for experimentation & interesting structures and arrangements, and this is exactly what they’re getting but ten fold beyond their wildest imagination! Unsu is Lyzanxia at the top of our game creatively right now…and until our next album, hahaha!
- Which track is the most personal to you on Unsu and why?
- I think that the most personal track for me is the title track "Unsu" because to me it represents Lyzanxia in every way. It’s also a great representation of what we wanted to express musically with a specific structure and polished melodies. I wrote that track in relation to the ‘unsu’ karate kata, actually basing it on its specific rhythmics. We added a Japanese touch by using a Japanese instrument called a Shamisen during the rhythmically heaviest part of the song and interlacing the 2 guitar solos. The Shamisen and the guitar riffs go insanely well together, resulting in the most exciting, ear pounding combination ever with a very unique Oriental touch. Then we tried to make the chorus the most powerful possible by using mainly thrash vocals. "Unsu" deals with internal struggles and self-control, vividly depicting the experience of an athlete preparing himself mentally for a fight. We recorded that track around the middle of the studio session so we were ready for it and not tired of recording either. Another personal touch for us is that the spoken parts of "Unsu" were done over the phone thousands of miles away in Texas by some of our closest friends acting as the athlete, the journalist and the sports commentator of our story!
- Can you disclose why the name Unsu was chosen?
- Unsu, the title of the album, comes from the Japanese language and literally means “hand of a cloud”. It’s actually the most amazing and advanced kata (a virtual fight against several enemies) in Karate. Everyone will get a chance to see what that kata is like very soon when our new video for the title track "Unsu" comes out because we had the honor to have karate world champion Myriam Szkudlarek performing the Unsu kata in it. Karate has always been a major passion for Franck and I - we have practised it since childhood and competed in it for many years. After we got our black belts, we also looked into other martial arts like Taido, which we’ve been doing for the past few years. So in the martial arts like in music, we like experimenting within a field and enjoy as many experiences as possible with an open mind. The discipline within a sport and the discipline of playing an instrument are unique learning experiences, life-shaping ways of life and extremely rewarding achievements. Actually, the reason we have combined our passions for martial arts and for extreme music is that we have always found similarities in them and they even complement each other very well; they both involve a fascinating balance of controlled violence like I mentioned earlier as well as precision in very different ways. Combining the two was therefore a long time dream of ours, which is what makes it very personal to us.
As far as specifically choosing the Japanese term Unsu for the title of the album, my brother and I had decided very early on that we would use a martial art term. We played around with several Japanese words until Unsu came to us all of a sudden as the obvious choice. At the time we were also looking to name our side-project (Phaze I) and everything we kept coming up with were also Japanese terms like “katana”, so we ended up focusing our karate name ideas entirely on the Lyzanxia album, not the side-project. As a result, we ended up having no name for the side-project until the last possible minute, but that’s another story hahaha…!
- How does Unsu compare and contrast to past Lyzanxia recordings, especially in terms of lyrical preocuppations, musical intentions and vocal strengths?
- Even though Unsu is the most accomplished album that we have recorded so far, I am proud of all our recordings because each of them has been a stepping stone and an incredible achievement for us as we’ve been evolving as a band and as musicians, and we’re always eager to make room for improvement, learn from our mistakes and outdo ourselves continually. As I said before, Unsu is more aggressive and in-your-face than its predecessors so it allowed us to explore or deepen many aspects of our music and to develop and stretch our vocal abilities further to accommodate this surge of powerfulness. And we were completely ready vocally because prior to recording Unsu, we had recorded our side-project Phaze I, which had challenged us immensely vocally and had showed us we were capable of much more than we thought possible. I had also been working for a while on different vocal approaches because I like certain types of vocals like those Devin Townsend does better than anybody else and I wanted to satisfy my curiosity.
As for our lyrical preoccupations, they are a logical continuation of the subjects we’ve always enjoyed addressing since we have a particular interest in psychiatry, the human mind and all its intricacies, the unusual human behaviours, etc. I’m also a big fan of science fiction so I enjoy writing my own sci-fi stories to pull the listeners into our virtual world, where they can develop their own interpretation of my twisted stuff. Franck has his own style too when he contributes lyrics, for example he can be extremely introspective and craft fascinating stories of inner strength. I am not sure how we respectively feel about our abilities as lyricists. Even though having to write lyrics for our own music can be a difficult and at times cathartic experience, we often feel more like storytellers than lyricists and just enjoy telling our stories without claiming to be particularly gifted with words. What matters to us is how we present our stories through our music. We always write the music first and the lyrics last so it’s truly our compositions that call for this or that type of lyrics or story.
- What has Unsu's critical reception been thus far?
- The media feedback we have been getting on Unsu is mainly great, people seem to love it or hate it, in both cases a great visceral reaction, hahaha! And we can see new critical trends emerging now that this album is getting properly distributed all around the world. At the time of Mindcrimes, Lyzanxia wasn’t exactly a household name so when the media got their copies, they all hailed the album as pure genius, just like an independent film being embraced as the next big thing that everybody should know about but doesn’t have access to or even any idea it exists. Now comes Unsu on a much wider scale and all sorts of absurd comparisons start flying, like with Scandinavian bands, where really the only thing in common would be the type of excellent equipment we all use! There are tons of positive comments that have made me smile and think “man, that guy really listened to Unsu and understood what we’re about!”…for example the interview we did for Legacy in Germany, in which the journalist completely blew me away by phrasing his questions in such a way that I couldn’t give him an answer half as good as his questions because he was describing Unsu with such depth and intelligence that I told him I wish I could write down what he was saying for all my future interviews, hahaha! The support for Unsu has been awesome so far and all of us in the band really feel grateful to all the cool people in the media who have taken the time to spin Unsu, listen to it thoroughly and support it so strongly with kickass reviews, interviews, and spins on radio shows. Same thing for all the fans, of course, who have been nothing short of absolutely fantastic and supportive!!!
As far as negative comments, we got some that got me first puzzled then laughing out loud like a madman… like a review from I can’t remember what webzine that complained vehemently that the album Unsu was so completely perfect in all possible aspects that there was no way it was human and that there was no way the band could ever play the songs live…so I laughed my head off because when I read that silly review I was actually in the middle of our UK Tour with Soilwork, where we had a total blast playing lots of Unsu songs of course, hahaha!
- Could you talk me through the involvement of the band I Killed The Prom Queen on the track “Path Blade” and how it came to fruition?
- We met the musicians from the Australian band I Killed The Prom Queen at the Fredman Studio in Sweden while recording Unsu. They had come to Sweden to record their new album with Fredrik Nordström as well, so we simply got to meet and know each other better. We enjoyed their music in the studio and vice versa, so it was a fun & relaxed atmosphere out there. Since we got on well and needed some group vocals on “Path Blade”, we thought it would be fun to have them do it. It was never planned, just spur of the moment and that’s precisely what’s really cool about it!
- What benefits has signing to Listenable Records brought to the band? Where would you like to take the band's relationship with Listenable Records in the future?
- Like I explained earlier, in 2005 we decided to switch from Reality Entertainment to another label so that we could move forward and record Unsu, talking to several labels about the opportunity. Our plan was also to make sure that we would work with a label which had a strong distribution network worldwide, not just focused on a limited number of countries because it was time for our music to be easily available everywhere. At the end of the day, we felt strongly that Listenable was the right label to work with because we had known Laurent for years, his impeccable work ethics and unwavering support to his bands. He showed excitement and motivation similar to ours and wanted to make Lyzanxia an established name once and for all on the international scene, and get us on the road as much as possible in support of Unsu. Since we’ve recorded and released Unsu on Listenable, we have played more shows and tours than ever before, been to many new countries, and had the chance to support really cool established bands. The album is available everywhere so it feels really nice to enjoy decent distribution in all the countries where the Lyzanxia albums used to be hard or impossible to find, except as imports. So all in all it is clear to me that Listenable is opening a lot of new doors to us, and we are grateful and happy with this current relationship. As for what the future holds, I can’t predict it. I want to take Lyzanxia as far as possible and we will have to keep making the right choices to make this happen. Right now I am enjoying the present!
- If in the future larger Metal labels expressed genuine interest in the band, what reception would their offers receive?
- Sure, if in the future larger labels express genuine interest in Lyzanxia, we will definitely take a serious look at their offers, figuring what is in our best interest, and what would be the most fruitful and smooth partnership. We want to be able to live from our music and have a rewarding career so at some point we might have to spread our wings and choose something that enables us to increase our opportunities and our resources to record, play and promote our music.
Right now we’re very happy to be with Listenable, because even though it is a small label and may not have the budgets and opportunities of bigger labels, it is an excellent, established and hardworking label that does everything possible to support its bands. With larger labels, there could be a risk of being just another band in a long list of bands in their roster and not get any decent attention and promotion. So basically, you can’t have it all unless you’re a mega band! Hahaha!
- How has reception been thus far to Lyzanxia's live shows from Metal fans and critics?
- We love playing live, as it’s a total blast for us and for the fans. If you come and see us play, a massive sound will rip your face off and you’ll have a fucking good time hahaha! Franck, Clement, Perdi and I are full of energy, spreading it like a disease! Performing live is what the four of us live for, and you have to realize that the sheer energy on our studio albums is the hidden face of the iceberg because it is at its most palpable when we’re on stage. We love having a good time and giving a fucking good time to all the people who take the trouble to come and see us. Playing for the fans, seeing and making them react to our music, as well as meeting many new interesting people is the most rewarding part of being in a band. Performing becomes a vital part of our lives. When we don’t play live for a while, I always miss it; it’s like an itch, I have to get back on the stage. Playing live is an experience that I can’t describe with words in any way because it’s one of the most exciting and fullfilling thing I have ever felt. I know the fans love our shows because of the energy and the quality we deliver as well as all the fun. It has happened many times that the end of our shows have become one huge party on stage hahaha! Lately what we have realized also is that all the songs from Unsu take an incredible dimension live and lend themselves perfectly to that setting. This is the strongest and most insanely effective set we’ve ever had live - we fully expect you to lose buckets of sweat and a couple of kilos when you come see us because of extensive thrashing, haha! One of our most memorable live experiences was in Glasgow when my brother blew up his amp during the show and had to finish the set with only the mike in hand and completely butt naked on stage, hahahaha!
- Could you describe to me the effects of touring on family and personal relationships?
- I may not be the best person to ask about the effects of touring on family and personal relationships because at this point I am very happy with my current situation! Being on the road is what I live for - I am blessed with a very supportive family who encourages me to travel, knowing I am happiest when playing on stage everywhere possible. Same for Franck obviously. I think we’ll have to have been on the road 300 days a year before we can draw any meaningful conclusion about the effects of touring on family and loved ones. I want to concentrate on music and touring so right now I’m happily, selfishly enjoying life and can’t wait to get back on the road in a couple of weeks for our European tour with crossover legends Crumbsuckers and The Accused.
- Could you give me a glimpse of your perspective regarding the French Metal scene?
- I am so proud of the French Metal scene! It’s kicking everybody’s ass at long last and I feel it is currently the most exciting, creative scene around. It has been excellent and active for a while of course, but the labels and the media were not paying attention until recently. The French scene is exploding, fighting its way out of the underground and it makes us all feel like saying “see, I told you so” to all the people who didn’t have the balls to trust in the marketability of French bands and sign them. The French scene is perfectly on par with all the established Metal scenes which have reigned supreme until now, and like I said it’s flourishing so much that it is becoming a permanent fixture of the international scene. We feel very happy and proud to stand with bands like Gojira, Dagoba, Phazm, Hacride, Scarve and many many more excellent French bands!
- Could you talk me through the formation of Phaze I, and give me some background on the band?
- I created Phaze I over six years ago in my home studio. My idea was to create a rather apocalyptic musical atmosphere where I would not set any limits at all. So I started to write a sci-fi story about a new human species wrecking ultimate chaos on Earth and I began composing music with a violence matching the devastation I was imagining in my story. I kept my little project secret and developed it little by little throughout the years in between my activities with Lyzanxia. I didn’t know if I would ever get the chance to record it one day until I decided to set things in motion during a quiet time for Lyzanxia. I really wanted Phaze I to be innovative, violent and precise, so that’s why I chose the perfect dreamteam for it by asking my brother Franck to do the vocals and our friend Dirk Verbeuren to play the drums. I was going to play all the other instruments myself as well as the programming. We then found time in our schedules in March 2005 to record it in my studio in between Soilwork tours for Dirk. We had a blast! Phaze I is very different from what we do in Lyzanxia, and a way for me to experiment with completely different ideas and concepts that have nothing to do with Lyzanxia. Phaze I is actually a 40-minute long song, with no traditional structure, no choruses, and divided in 8 sub-chapters for easy access. It’s got blast beats, frantic melodies, utter wrath and violence in an eerie apocalyptic atmosphere.
- If you had to supply an adequate definition of Phaze I's debut album, how would you do so?
- An adequate definition would be apocalyptic devastation!
- Which track is the most personal to you on the Phaze I debut and why?
- There’s no particular track but rather specific parts which are the most personal to me, like the end of “Screams of Dying Dogs” and the beginning of “New Archetypes”.
These parts are extremely powerful to my ears and they make me plunge immediately into the atmosphere of Phaze I. As I mentioned earlier, we recorded everything in my home studio and friends of mine lent me a lot of additional equipment for this specific recording. We took 3 days for the drums so that Dirk could be completely confortable and so that we could polish up the drums arrangements together. Guitars and bass took me 2 days. As for the vocals, we nearly recorded all of them in one long night with my brother, except for the clear vocals that we recorded later. Then we mixed the album with Franck Renault, our Lyzanxia sound engineer. His ear is very “rock” and he took us to ambiances we didn’t expect. At the end of the day, the album sounds 70% like the original demos I made. Only the drums and the mixing are different. All the electronic programming remained the same. Anyway to sum it all up, for me Phaze I represents the violence of painful childbirth mixed with the obsession of a forthcoming apocalypse.
- Could you talk me through how meeting Dirk Verbeuren came about?
- I met Dirk many years ago, and back in the days when we were going to record the first Lyzanxia album Eden with Nordström, we were looking for a drummer - we knew he knew lots of them so he recommended some. After that we met him on several occasions when Lyzanxia and Scarve shared the stage. My very first impression of him back then was “that Belgian guy is fucking exceptional” hahah!
Dirk is a very cool and talented guy. For those who don’t know him, I’d say that he’s an extremely nice and caring person. And he’s also lots of fun and has a fucking strong Flemish accent, hahaha! We became close friends as we got to see each other a lot. He stepped in and recorded the drums on our Lyzanxia album Mindcrimes when our drummer had broken his foot in the recording studio. And besides Phaze I, we currently have another project with him, my brother, Guillaume from Mnemic and Loic from Scarve! Dirk is an incredible musician, he brought a lot to Phaze I with incredible breaks and patterns. I would describe his style as “unlimited”!! He gives the impression of being able to do anything at all, at least in Metal. He impressed me immensely during the recording of Phaze I because the patterns I had written were nearly impossible and yet Dirk did them without breaking a sweat!!! Dirk is clearly one of the best Metal drummers in the world.
- Could you tell us anything you know / don't know regarding the next possible album after Phaze I's debut?
- I am sorry but I can’t tell you anything about the next Phaze I album because I am currently in the phase which consists in imagining how I would like to hear it, and for me it’s the most enjoyable part of it… Having the vision of what you want is delectable and I will do everything I can to achieve this vision.
- As Lyzanxia starts taking off, will Phaze I be on the backburner? Will Phaze I always stick to the line up it currently has, or could this possibly change?
- We’re not concentrating on Lyzanxia to the detriment of Phaze I because Lyzanxia is an active touring band whereas Phaze I is not. Phaze I is meant to be solely a studio project for now so there are no conflicts at all between our two bands. Eventually we would like to bring Phaze I to the stage but only if the conditions are right. I mean Phaze I’s first installment is a forty-minute long song so I would expect to play the whole set without interruption, maybe even the second installment as well, and make it a very unique show, with a badass set, pyrotechnics, etc., the whole nine yards, something completely different from Lyzanxia; a totally different live concept.
As for the Phaze I line-up, it’s likely to stay the same on the next installments because there are only 3 of us; Franck, Dirk and me, and Dirk has already expressed that he’d love to record another Phaze I album. On the other hand, for a potential live performance, it would have to be a different line-up - we would need additional musicians since I played all the instruments, except the drums, on Phaze I.
- Could you tell us a little about the band's relationship with Fredrik Nordström?
- Fredrik is a very cool guy with an awesome attitude both professionally and personally - we love working with him. He’s a regular guy who loves music and who doesn’t give a shit about what people think. He loves having a good laugh and so do we, so we get on great hahaha! We met him seven years ago for our debut album Eden. At the time we had contacted him because we liked the albums he had produced like At The Gates, In Flames, etc. We were hoping he would accept to work with us on Eden, though when we sent him the first demos, he replied to us that he would work with us on condition that we learnt how to sing hahaha! So we worked our asses off vocally, having improved dramatically by the time we hit the studio with him in 2000. It was a fantastic first experience back then, and we are happy to have kept working with him on all our albums.
- Could you tell us a little about Studio Fredman, and share some of your memories of the time you've spent there?
- The Fredman Studio was moved to Hyssna, a few kilometers away from Göteborg, last year. And it’s now inside a former bank, the control room being in the old safe! The Fredman used to be in the city of Göteborg whereas now it’s in the heart of the Swedish countryside, which is really cool! It’s breathtakingly beautiful in winter!
The first time I entered the (former) Fredman Studio when we mixed Eden in 2000, I thought "fuck, look at all that badass equipment"! I felt like a kid in a candy store ! And I also felt right away that the atmosphere was very warm and friendly. I thought that it must be easy to record here. And it’s the same thing in the new Fredman Studio, the atmosphere is just as warm and the control room is very spacious. I have been to several excellent studios but the Fredman is by far my favourite, because there’s a really special atmosphere that enables you to focus.
We have lots of great memories with Fredrik during the recording sessions and evening drinking sessions of our three albums respectively. In the old studio, it was fun listening to music, drinking beers and playing pingpong . In the new studio, we experienced more of the snowy outdoors as Fredrik dragged us behind his snowbike on a sleigh, it was hilarious, crazy and thinking about it quite dangerous, hahaha! One of the weirdest story at the studio though is that on the first day that we were at the new Fredman to record Unsu, Franck had to have an emergency tooth extraction ! So Fredrik took him to the dentist right away and filmed him getting his tooth extracted. It’s was a relief that Franck recovered just in time to record the vocals a few weeks later!
- How would you critically assess initial demos like Rip My Skin? How would you say the recorded versions that appear on the Rip My Skin differ to the versions that eventually appeared on Lullaby?
- The Rip My Skin versions were recorded a long time ago, it was our first studio experience. The songs on Lullaby were rerecorded but it was in our first drummer’s studio, so the equipment was not very good and he didn’t have an extensive studio experience. But actually I prefer the Rip My Skin versions! The versions on Lullaby are not played as well as the ones on Rip My Skin, even though the structures and the arrangements were the same. That shows that first takes are often the best, hahaha!
- Could you tell us anything you know / don't know regarding the next possible album after Unsu?
- I can’t tell you anything about the next Lyzanxia album because I haven’t finished composing any new songs yet, only some riffs. But one thing is getting clear already: the next album will be very powerful!
- Could you tell us about the self-funded label Trepan Records?
- Trepan Records is the label that my brother and I created to negotiate with various partners. It’s the band’s official representation and it also protects us legally. The name Trepan came from the first track of our first full-length demo Lullaby (1998). Trepan is not a label we created in order to specifically self-release material but to negotiate contracts, sub-licenses, etc., with business partners. It puts us in a position of an equal in business instead of a position of a band that could be taken advantage of like so many others bands.
- Could you tell me about your time in the group Overload? Why do you feel Lyzanxia has soldiered on and is alive and well, while Overload has folded?
- Actually, I only stepped in to replace their guitar player who had left the band. I only played a handful of gigs with Overload, that’s all! And then the band splitted up because nobody had enough motivation to carry on, but at least it enabled me to gain my very first live experience. It was a good experience and the guys were really cool. Actually I still hang out or have a drink with some of them from time to time. Lyzanxia was born right after Overload broke up…is that a coincidence?
- Which issues do you choose to touch upon during the lyrical process, and why? Does today's social climate, such as the nature of society, global issues and so on, provide inspiration in any way?
- Like I said earlier, the subjects I enjoy addressing in my lyrics often deal with sci-fi or the field of psychiatry, the human mind and behaviours, as well as situations inspired by what happens around us in every day life. I often write lyrics about what happens in my brain and I try to analyze that the best I can to extract some interesting and twisted stories. Basically, I am simply using my imagination to craft stories. As you know we often deal with mental health and medicine in general, even though none of us have studied medicine at all hahaha. Here and there we use some of our personal stories that we modify or deviate so we can include them in the lyrics. On the other hand, we never write about any political or religious subjects, it’s not what we’re here for. Some bands enjoy dealing with these subjects and do it quite well, but honestly politics bore me to death and I have no interest in religion. And I have no intention of discussing today’s social climate in my lyrics. On the contrary, I let my thoughts wander and I write down ideas as they come to me, without trying to find something specific. Our music is a door to a virtual world where imagination is the main currency, and it has no other aim than to entertain us and the fans in the most ass-kicking way and with the heaviest riffs around.
- Could you give me some insight into you and your brother's relationship?
- Franck and I have been very close since we were born, like lots of other brothers or siblings. We had a very ordinary childhood, got on great, and we have grown up developing and sharing some of the same interests like playing the guitar and martial arts, and now we party together! Actually we share a house together so I let you imagine the parties we organize here all the time! Hahaha! Franck and I are the best of friends and we know that we can rely on each other because we have our brotherly bond. But of course we have very different personalities and sometimes they clash. As you can see we have a very normal life and family relationship.
- How would you define your role of being the older brother? Do you feel the need to look out for Franck since he's the younger brother, and be protective in some respects?
- I’m not the protective older brother who’s responsible for his little bro! We’re only 2 years apart and we both do whatever we want. You might think that we are joined at the hip like conjoined twins because all you know about us is that we play music together, share a house and home studio and are close, but we do have our own lives like everybody else. Sometimes, when I don’t agree on certain things, I simply tell him and we discuss it like two adults.
- Can you pinpoint the exact moment you thought “I want to be a musician”?
- Wow! I really don't know.. I guess that I wanted to become a musician when I was a child. We used to go to the recording studios with our father, who was a musician in the seventies, so we got exposed to music and the music world early on. He also used to take us to gigs. I guess that's what gave me the taste of music...
- How did family and friends close to you react when you informed them? Were they initially supportive, or did they think it was a phase?
- My family has always been supportive of both of us pursuing a musical career, and never questioned any of our choices. They are usually attentive to everything that happens with the band, and then sometimes they don’t really give a shit, they have their own lives too hahaha!! They are our pillars and we’re very grateful for their unconditional.
- As an aspiring singer / guitarist, which vocalists and guitarists did you particularly idolise, and why?
- Marty Friedman. He's one of the best guitarists in the world. I like his approach of the music. I learnt each and every Megadeth songs when I began playing the guitar, and I used to learn his solos. I guess he’s is one of my main influences.
- What is the favourite album you've ever recorded, and why?
- My favourite album I have recorded so far is Unsu for all the many reasons I have given throughout this interview. It represents Lyzanxia at its very best right now and until the next album!
- What do you view as the weakest album you've ever recorded, and why?
- Weakest? I don’t look at our albums that way at all because each one of them is a necessary step in the Lyzanxia adventure and our music grows as we grow as people and as musicians. We’re always getting wiser and more experienced so throughout the years we have been learning from our youthful mistakes and improving on all and any weaknesses we may have had. We keep getting stronger and stronger so ask me the same question in about 30 years when I have my whole musical career behind me and at least 28 albums under my belt, hahaha!
- Where would you like to take your career in the coming years?
- I want to take Lyzanxia as far as possible, tour the whole world over and over; and also bring to fruition the many projects I have and will have down the road.