Interview with Eric Masicotte of Thesyre 2005
By Bradley Smith
I see you finally have had your second album, Duality, released. How do you feel about it as a final product?
It’s good to finally see it released after countless delays. The packaging is minimalist and suits us well. I am satisfied with the production and overall I am quite pleased with the music and lyrics. With some perspective I guess this is a good album, a perfect follow-up to our 2003 self-titled album.
What is the meaning of the Eagle in the Wheel? I know you have it as your cover emblem on Duality as well as it being a song.
This is our logo, mainly. We prefer it to the text logo as it has strong graphic qualities and also a deeper meaning to it. The text added to it is to help identify the band. The eagle trapped in a wheel is the representation of freedom linked to hard work and dedication; They both are strong symbols separately but joined together I think they are even stronger. This symbol suits Thesyre perfectly. This symbol was also on the cover of our previous album. It might be on the next one too.
Even though I do not have a lyric sheet I feel I have discerned that there is a deep philosophical slant to your lyrics? Can you tell me a little bit about your philosophy and how it applies to your work?
My ‘philosophy’, although being built on long reflections, questionings and analysis, is simply common sense with no consideration for political correctness. The lyrical message of Thesyre is direct; there’s no poetry or long stories to embellish or hide the message. The lyrics of all our releases were recently added to our website.
You also are quite an accomplished artist within the scene. I know you did the cover art for Darkthrone’s Hate Them. What other covers have you done? Also Nocturno Culto said you are doing the cover art for their new single. What is the concept for that one?
I also did Deinonychus’s ‘Insomnia’ more recently and worked on some Akitsa sleeves. I am doing all the artwork for Thesyre. You can see my small online portfolio there: http://radicartdesign.cjb.net
The artwork I did for Darkthrone’s upcoming album is devoid of any details or subtleties. It’s a simple and direct, hard contrast image. Nocturno Culto gave me some song titles and ideas and I went with it to get this piece done. I like it a lot because it’s so brutal and raw. Some conservative people thought that the artwork for ‘Hate Them’ was too different for Darkthrone (probably would have enjoyed a black and white picture of them in the woods?). They might think so of my artwork again, tough it’s a bit more ‘explicit’ I would say.
I personally thought your cover for Hate Them was genius. That rusty Saw Blade said a lot. Also I think that was the cathedral in Barcelona incorporated into that image, am I correct? What do you think about people that feel your art is not traditional enough to suit a band like Darkthrone?
You saw it right. I thought that it was interesting to mix in the cathedrals tops, in a cross shape, with the circular shape of the blade; making in some kind of a target. Too me it’s like aiming to the catholic church and making it the enemy, the one to hate. Darkthrone liked the image enough to use it on the cover of their album so I shouldn’t even care about anyone else’s opinion. It’s good to keep some traditions alive but I think that where Darkthrone is these days, they need something a little different than the usual BM cover.
Also as an artist I know you designed your own packaging only to have the record label rearrange it themselves. How did that make you feel? What did they cut out? How do you feel about Selbstmord?
I’ll pass over the first part of the question because this is not the place to set those things. Labels have their ways to do things and bands have theirs; It’s obvious that some issues will appear here and there when the two have to collaborate. So far we’re waiting for Selbstmord to prove to us that they were the right choice to go with them. Time will tell. The album’s has just been released so I’ll be able to comment in a few months.
Which part of your creative life do you think is stronger within you, the artist or the musician?
Both used to be equal but I think that the musician in me is more productive these days. I’d like to be able to dedicate more time to my visual art but it’s hard to do so considering everything around me which requires some more priority right now.
I used the term Black N’ Roll to describe your music because I feel it fits. There are other bands that have been termed black N’ Roll too like some of the stuff from Carpathian Forest, Khold, and Darkthrone. When you hear this term what do you think? And do you think it is accurate when describing your music?
The term “black n’ roll” more or less appeared sometime ago when Black metal bands realized it was obvious (mandatory?) to bring in some punk elements in their music. Most of the Black Metal albums released in the last decade relied a lot on complex arrangements and instrumentations. In a way the term “black n’roll” is a form of reaction to all those female vocalists, violins, folk instruments and keyboards linking Black Metal to some form of really progressive music. The same term was applied to bands like Entombed who went away from the Death Metal tendency to be over-technical. You cannot ignore the impact of this good old rock n’ roll groove, especially when it’s applied to the basic viciousness and aggression of Black Metal. The combination for me is killer when it’s done properly. In terms of Black Metal “attitude”, I would prefer Discharge to Wagner as an influence. This term suits Thesyre, as well as Thrash metal, Punk, Hardcore and Black Metal suits us fine too.
That’s possibly the best explanation I have heard of regarding Black N’ Roll. It seems there is a growing voice among some of the traditional bands regarding the influence that punk has/had on their music. How do you view this? Do you think there will be a backlash by the ultra bands elitist bands denying the influence of punk? Also I think Motorhead’s influence on this style had a lot to do with Black N’ Roll as well.
If you consider it with some perspective, Punk played an integral part of Metal’s beginnings. Listen to Venom and you’ll hear a huge punk influence. Listen to G.B.H. and you’ll realize how much they influenced Quorthon’s Bathory. It’s good that some established bands revert back to some punkier roots. There’s been a lot of classical, progressive and folk elements incorporated in Black Metal in the last years and now some people feel like its good to return to the very core of what inspired in parts this form of music. In the end does it really matter to be punk or thrash or whatever? For as long as the feeling is there I guess Black Metal can bring in anything.
Your taste in music isn’t black metal only. I know you have an industrial project called Unlife. Can you tell me a little more about that and the concept behind it?
I like different forms of music. I like hard and heavy music in general but I am touchy on the bands I like within the genre. Unlife started as a studio experiment and I managed to collect enough recordings to make an ‘offical’ demo. The demo combines elements of Industrial, Doom Metal and Ambient/Drone music. I want to create hard, cold and repetitive/hypnotic and sometimes trance-like music with Unlife. Some labels showed interest in the demo so maybe you’ll be able to hear more of it someday. See http://unlife.cjb.net
You chose to cover Sodom’s Outbreak of Evil. Why that song? Do you have a special place in your heart for dirty thrash? What are some of your sources of inspiration musically?
We wanted to have some bonus material on the new album. The CD version has Sodom’s ‘Outbreak of evil’ and the LP has ‘Motorhead’s ‘(Don’t need) Religion’. Sodom is one of my all time favourite bands. The version we did of their songs is fitting well on the album. Some people thought it was one of our songs, which might show the importance of this band on Thesyre’s sound in general. Musically I often get inspired by my lyrics and vice-versa. Everything around me inspires me to write, there too much going on in this world to remain unnoticed. I write about a daily reality, its problems and eventual solutions. I get influenced by bands such a Motorhead, Sodom, Darkthrone, Voivod, Satyricon but also by bands such as Laibach, Kraftwerk or solo artists such as Klaus Schulze.
A long time ago I used to be a member of the Darkthrone message board you started. I remember Lord Dying of Ibex Throne was a constant pest there. Whatever happened with board? And why did you start a board about Darkthrone? Do they have a special place in your heart?
This era was great. I was also linked to the people operating the Burzum website at the time. It was just a way to link all of us and discuss about the bands but also about the whole philosophy and ideology of the genres they were evolving into. Both websites and message-boards crumbled and disappeared – there was too much people messing around and ruining this ‘small community’ we tried to develop in the first place. Darkthrone and Burzum both hold a special place. They also are in the list of my all time favourites. They are some of the most important and influential bands of the last 2 decades.
Since we are on the topic of Darkthrone, you also were involved in the Next Thousand Years are Ours tribute album. How did you get involved with that? Why was your coversong version not a traditional metal cover like your normal music?
This tribute was organized by the people involved in the Darkthrone mailinglist of old. The idea was to all contribute with our bands/projects and compile our versions of their songs. Back then I was alone doing Thesyre, using sequenced drums. My version has a low-fi industrial feel to it. I was still developing ‘my sound’ so to speak. I’ll probably bring in some of those industrial elements in our next albums.
Being from Canada do you think your scene has developed in a different way from the rest of the world? It seems that a lot of influential metal bands have come from Canada such as Blasphemy and Voivod. What do you think of Canada’s extreme metal scene?
The only bands I really liked from Canada have always been Voivod, D.B.C. and Sacrifice. I’ve never been into Blasphemy. I rediscovered Slaughter a few years ago thanks to Darkthrone. Canada is such a big country that I often feel all its provinces are different countries linked together. I used to be in touch with some bands but I lost interest. I am not much of a scene person. I do my own thing and if people are interested in it, then its all for the best. Things developed a lot slower than anywhere else in the world. There is a growing interest in Canadian bands these days. I am not really sure if there is a lot of interest for Thesyre but this country is getting on the map for sure. I am glad that Québec has spawned some of the best names in Thrash Metal in the 80s.
It seems in Thesyre’s lyrics that you are pretty outspoken about the situation of the world? Do you pay a lot of attention to what is going on? What in particular strikes a nerve with you?
I pay a lot of attention to the world around me because I am a part of it. I am not particularly watching the news or reading the newspapers everyday but I keep contact with the outside world as much as I can. If you want to question the ways of the world, you must know a bit about it. There is too much people complaining about everything, yet basically knowing nothing about it in the first place. I am always impressed by the stupidity of mankind, by its capacity of surpassing itself in mediocrity. After all the evolution we went through, it’s often sickening to see where we’re at as a species. I react a lot to the enforcement of this political correctness everyone conforms to these days. Humanitarian and egalitarian activism strikes a nerve with me, obviously. The live8 and all the media circus around it really hit hard on me recently. It seems to me that common sense, identity and pride got lost and is alarmingly replaced by an infectious herd mentality of guilt and pity. Mankind has a lot to be proud of but sadly a lot more to be ashamed of too, and Thesyre is a good way to express my resent in general. I’ll try to voice my appreciation a bit more someday.
You mention the mentality of guilt. It seems that there is a lot of this sentiment that is infecting the world. Like in America there is the association with Slavery, in Germany there is the association of the Nazi’s and the Jewish holocaust, etc. Are there any other examples that really burn you up?
It’s everywhere. The system we live in strives on this guilt-ridden mentality. People are more or less forced by the way they were educated to feel pity for everything all the time. This is typical Christian guilt. Should I really feel responsible for all the evils in the world? Are we all responsible of some people’s lack of will, knowledge or responsibility? Are we always responsible for the wars and conflicts happening abroad? I think that this guilt-ridden mentality keeps people from realizing that this world is not fair and that we were not all born equal. Whatever the amounts of money you’ll send, whatever the humanitarian help you’ll deploy, there will always be poverty, famine, disease and whatever. This is how the world is, always been and will ever be. While we empty our pockets trying to save the world, we forget about our own poverty problems, our debts and economical failures. We forget about our own people in favour of people we never met, might never know and who, all in all, might screw up anything we do to help them out. Haïti is a good example of humanitarian aid failure. Wait for the feedback from the Tsunamis, when the real numbers will get out (if they ever will). We’re getting closer to the lowest common dominator instead of raising the bar for ourselves.
As always you get the final word!
Thanks for the interview!