Necronomicon have been the busy being's, that they are since last speaking to them, on their previous album "Rise of the Elder Ones" (2013). Since then, the band has gone on to play shows, tour here and there, as well as spent some time writing and recording for their newest album to date, "Advent of the Human God". Frontman vocalist/guitarist Rob "The Witch" Tremblay speaks with me again, this time discussing this new album, acoustic chances, and unicorns!
1. Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
Rob: Okay. For that we have to go back a long way back in time. I mean the end of the 80s, it's not a joke, it's the truth, of course it sounds cliché because we hear that a lot, but I am the only original member. Luckily I am the only original and founder of the band also. I started the band in 1988, we started to be really active a few years after. At the time it was a bit complicated to find, where I come from, region in the North, and people were just listening to like kind of Metallica stuff. So it was already to the underground, dark types of acts like Battery, Celtic Frost, stuff like that.
So I had difficulty to find the proper musicians, to do what I wanted to do. So the time to find some people, I literally had to go to other towns, to give you an idea, I had to go and see the musicians and what they played like, and to see if they wanted to play dark stuff, to give you an idea. So we started to be more active going on the road to other cities, outside our region, in the Provence, for those who do not know, Provence is like a state. More around 91-98 everything just started, like the first demo tape, everything was around that time. As the band leader, really created the band in 1988. So with time, changing members, when we left the regions in the North to Montreal, Canada, we had to readapt to everything.
We lost a lot of time there and lost all of my musicians, within 1 year because these people, where we come from, we are not use to that big city, we are talking about living in a town with about 50,000 people, where your moving to a place where there's 4 million people. For someone who was raised in a small community, to the big community it's freaking scary. So I lost all of the musicians there, I had to audition people and restart from scratch, I was still doing the business, selling the demo tapes, doing some shows, but it took a little while for us to get back into it. But starting in the years 2000-2001 I should say, we started up again and my drummer Rick, still current member, we have since then been more active than ever before.
So then we started to do real tours, touring, and shows, not just hitting for 1 week and coming back, or doing weekend shows and stuff like that, we started to leave for like entire months and stuff. The rest is like the typical stuff, you're doing albums, trying to get as big as you can or well known as us, I can say. We're in 2016, still around, still strong, that's pretty much it.
2. Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
Rob: That's a bit of a creepy story if I can say so because I don't have the typical ya know fuck, teenager we are having a blast, hearing a band, we are going to do it like this, that part came for when I was trying to figure out, how the band was going to be. But from my personal point of view, the first time I said I wanted to do music was when I was 5 years old. I don't remember what it was exactly but my mom told me the story, that I was 4 or 5 years old, there was some music I think it was Elvis or something like that. I told my mom I wanted to be in a band, and play ya know rock n' roll. Simple as that and since then, as a kid I was 5, 6, 7, years old, just thinking about music, music, music, I got into Kiss, I didn't understand the lyrics at the time. Maybe I wouldn't have liked the band if I had haha, it was so cheesy ya know?
I liked the show ya know? At that time, it was the first live album to come out, it was a Live 1, that truly blew my mind. Then after that release came Live 2, that was it, I was already saying to myself, I am going to concentrate my entire life on becoming a musician. But I didn't know how to play and all that stuff. Later on with time, I got guitars, blah, blah, blah, of course I started to like know that since I had my first electric guitar, I wanted to have my own band, my own music. So where everyone wanted to play cover songs, I didn't want that, I wanted to compose my own music and do it right away. Of course finding a musician was really hard, but when I decided I really wanted to have a band, I had to think so my biggest influence was Celtic Frost. In 1985 when their album "To Mega Therion" came out, the album's cover, had Christ as a sling shot by Satan, I was totally freaking out! Like wow that is so creepy and so dark, you turn around and see the band all Vampire like, corpse paint and stuff, female vocals, orchestration and stuff, from that point I said okay, my band is going to be something like that. That was the point.
After that I tried to develop the band. Like I said earlier, problems finding the right musicians, but that was the vocal point, where I said the band is going to be dark, going to be a trio, and this and that is going to be done or happen. That was the whole point of creating this band, was when I heard and saw that album by Celtic Frost.
3. How do you describe your sound to people who ask you what your band sounds like?
Rob: We play love songs, about to be one with the cosmos, the planets, it's like a love song in a certain way. I consider ourselves doing extreme metal. I have a little difficulty to say black metal, because it's not the typical black metal mentality. It's really about believing in yourselves. But then some people are like well black metal talks about, this stuff but we have it to another how can I say?
Another version of it. It's more of a Paganist way but not the Pagans that kill goats and stuff like that. It's more closer to like a Buddhism, or like an ancient native vision, like you need to respect the Earth, with the four elements. We are all part of a great whole and everything. I have that difficulty to say black metal, of course, our looks is more tended to be black metal, even if you pay attention to our lyrics, it's not totally the same. Its more refined, maybe a more modern black metal. It's not rough like with nails, blood, and inverted cross, it's not in that sense.
Although we did do that in our past, that was a long time ago. That's why I have difficulty with that and also difficulty with death metal. Death metal is not what it was before. Death metal was like acts like Death, bands like that, if they came after those, it was extreme death metal, you got more technical death metal, these days when people say or think of death metal, they say acts like Suffocation, death metal itself started the ball and got it rolling. It's better if I say extreme metal or dark metal because our stuff, it's a little bit in that way that I see it actually.
4. Let's talk a little about your newest album, what are the listeners in store for with this release?
Rob: Well first, for those that already know us, they are going to feel the continual of the previous albums, like we are talking about "The Return of the Witch" from 2010, and "Rise of the Elder Ones" was in 2013, so that's part of where we came back to our roots. We have a really dark, not in an occult type of sense. Like a dark phase of the band, at the end of the 90s and beginnings of the 2000s, there were some previous members, that had a lot of influence on, what was happening in the band. That didn't help too much at the time. Like I said earlier about us changing members at the beginning of the 2000s, at that point I had decided to really give back to the band, like a novelty letter as you say, to get back to the roots. The origin of the band was to be a dark band, we had lost our identity for a while. So at that point, we had a certain step we had to do to not go all the back to create not much of a big change. But in 2000 we did the change, and said okay that's enough, we have to go out, just taking small steps, it was our time to return back to the origins. So we are continuing on that wave and sense, in the 2000s.
It's really like what we wanted to do. Having a lot of ambience, certain moments, a lot of parts that are really bashing. Like not like a lot of people are doing these days. I noticed that there was a tendency for extreme bands, to slow down and bit a more commercial. Not naming anyone, but trying to reach an understanding of the market, and point of view, of reaching more people.
We try to stay true to what we were at the beginning with a more modern touch. That's pretty much what we are going with, when going there. People that liked "Rise of the Elder Ones" from 2013, are really going to appreciate that album. It's really in the same thing except more modern and different too.
5. Since you guys cover the dark aspects with your music, look, and feel, do you think we may ever hear you play material on a lighter sense, talking about rainbows and unicorns?
Rob: I am going to say something, that you are going to be the first one to know. I am not kidding. I am really seriously going to say. One thing I need to mention or correct if I may. On the perception people have on our band, Necronomicon it's that we don't talk about evil things. At all. If you read our lyrics in the text, everything in life, brings you to certain points. How you need to understand some stuff first about yourself, or in other case about who you are, and where you come from.
Its way more spiritual, like when I am saying dark, I am not saying dark as in how other people think dark. It's on the way you say dark, it's like when you're in darkness, you aren't always seeing where you are walking. Your always not knowing what's around you. You have to generate your own light, to have to light your own path. It's strong enough and to believe in yourself, to be able to make your own path. So that is one of the artistic things we have in Necronomicon. If you see the symbols that we are wearing on our clothing, like our costumes and stuff, there is no inverted pentagram or cross, because you will never see that. Even our own pentagram made for us, is ours, means the realization of energy, from the cosmos and from the body that creates, its own body.
So like I said, it's really not negative, the message is not negative either. For example some people were saying that one of our latest videos, had some naked women in it, but when you look closely at the women, they are not being overpowered. They are like the energy of what's happening. That was something that was very important to us in the video. On that point it's why I think we are extremely different than most bands.
We don't do the blood, or dripping corpse paint, we consider ourselves like warriors. It's kind of why we wear the armor and stuff, because it's our war paint, or a war painting. For a funny sake, I have a sticker of a unicorn behind the head of my main guitar. It's a head of a unicorn, on the head of my main guitar that I use on stage. I am not joking, I am serious.
6. Will we ever hear or see you guys playing your music, acoustically but keeping the screaming vocals in check?
Rob: That would be extremely funny. But I really don't think it's going to happen, because the purpose of what Necronomicon is to manage our music, certain power that is needed to help create the message, that is pushed within our songs. It needs to be extremely loud, growling and powerful. So for that reason, I know for 100% sure that it will never happen. But it would be funny.
7. Did you get the album you wanted? Is everything on there or were there some things that were just impossible to pull off?
Rob: On this one, like the previous one, it was pretty much what we wanted to do. There is always a little something, that we probably would have done a little differently. But it all depends on the circumstances. But we pretty did it the way we wanted it. I can say 90-95%, but like I said, there is always a little something, and anyone and everything who does recording professionally will always tell you, there was something they could have done differently. But sometimes you are running out on money or whatever it is. Or there is always something or this or that to prevent you, from doing something, that you just have to deal with it. But what's there is pretty much there.
8. What's your take on "Advent of the Human God" as a whole?
Rob: I think it's pretty powerful as a album. There is one thing that makes me sad sometimes, that it's so much work to do an album. Especially for us, we are not recording the album, the way people do these days, with the computer in their apartment, doing tracks and this and that, and that's it, it's done. We still do it, the old way, going into the studio, so it is extremely demanding, it's demanding money-wise, and even physically because you aren't home. You go into the studio and are pretty much living at the studio. Then can come back home but it all depends on where the studio may be located. You come back home when you can and stuff like that.
On that aspect, I think it's really sad, when you see people who treat certain albums, like the bunch of albums, they don't see, how much work comes into it, and how its comparing. Like I said, some people sitting there doing an album from home. The other thing that I think needs to be not changed but it's just that sometimes people, like extreme music not everyone but those that do like extreme music, don't pay attention at the notes in songs, for example that are on new albums or old albums actually. There are always outros, intros, interludes, creating the atmosphere that we have been doing. I remember for example, when we released our debut album "Pharaoh of Gods", in 1999, the entire album was over an hour, and it was filled with intros, interludes, outros, you completed the whole album in like one trance. But when I was seeing the critics people were talking about the sounds, like the guitar and drums, no one was paying attention to the album itself. You feel like you do that for nothing. Doing an album costs a lot of money and a lot of time. It's like doing an extra on something, so that's the only thing. Sometimes these days, it's not as bad as it was in the 90s. But I still realize that some people say that this is a waste of time on the album, and we just want to hear blast beats, blah, blah blah. Other people still think that they don't understand why bands, that join so fast, go extreme, take the time to do shit like that. Comments that literally hurt. So yeah I have a background, that comes from mostly metal, but I listen to other kinds of music, listening to a lot of classical, movie soundtracks, that kind of stuff.
So for me, it comes natural, to do that. Like I said I have been doing this for all of my albums. So it's many, many, many, years of doing that. So it's like when you see that, that you realize at one point, that you are different from the other bands. Some people are just listening to the typical blasting's and try to compare you to other bands., when in reality you are something totally different.
That's how I see it as a whole. The album has an entity by itself, a lot of people don't take it, the right way. They don't see it the way it needs to be seen. They try to compare it right away with something else or another band or whatever. This is how I see it.
9. What’s coming up for tours?
Rob: Yeah of course. We are actually talking with my agent, during a meeting we had about booking and how we are going to do it. It's there, no dates yet, but it is in process. We are for sure going to the U.S. as always, for Europe, things are changing a bit, so we will probably look for a new agent, so besides that there will be touring. Just focus on touring, as soon as the album is out and everything. By then we should have our first tour dates.
10. Anything else you’d like to say or promote?
Rob: Well, I hope everyone will enjoy the album, and I am proud of it. We keep true to what we are doing. It is produced the traditional way, of doing the tracks, some people may say it wasn't done a certain way, or sounding clean or minor glitches stuff like that, we are playing for real, we have the microphones there in front of us and are playing for real. We play for real as a band, everything is the real sound, I hope they enjoy it. Not everyone is doing that these days. I am hoping they stay in touch because there's a new video coming out soon. It's pretty raw and different, hope to see everyone on tour, we love touring the U.S. That's pretty much it.