Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Mateo. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Can you tell us about how the band formed and what it was that drew you together to form and start writing as a band?
Mateo: Thank you for this interview. The band started in 2006 but we had quite a lot of line-up changes in the early years, until the release of Helter Skelter (2011) , we went from 5 to 4 musicians, we haven’t changed for the past two years, so we can work easily now, we are accustomed to each other. The band started to have fun and share with other people by creating something personal; it’s still the same.
Jason: Who would you say are the band’s main influences? And how much of an impact have they had on Dwail?
Mateo: Today I would say that the biggest influence is the hardcore and rock’n’roll scene represented by Every Time I Die, Cancer Bats, even Dillinger Escape Plan. We really love those bands and we try to make something personal with it, melting our different influences in the band to make our own sound. We’ve played together for a few years now, especially Julian and I, and as we write most of the music, we are writing more mature songs, more coherent.
Jason: How have Dwail evolved since the band’s inception?
Mateo: As I said, we had a lot of changes in the band over the years. Before this line-up, we had one drummer, three guitarists and one singer. So influences change, the way to write music changes, so you make something a bit different every time a new member comes in. Now that we are more stable, the evolution is more precise, our music gets more logical
Jason: Your first release, Monstro, was released in 2006 and your first full-length, Helter Skelter, was released in 2011. What took so long between releases?
Mateo: Between 2007 and 2010, our drummer went to a sound engineer school in Rennes, 700 KM away from Toulouse, so it has been very complicated to compose music and to deal with our different instruments. We had to change our way to write, we used computers to records demos to send to him… We only had a few weeks per year to rehearse and to play shows so everything takes more time and you change your plans…
Jason: The EP is very impressive, to say the least. What was it that you wanted to achieve with the EP? (Ed: Jason’s review is here)
Mateo: Well thank you! As we evolved between Helter Skelter and The Human Concern Part 1, we wanted to make something more hardcore, with simpler structures, something more direct. We wanted to boost the machine as far as we could. We tried to keep some sort of raging metal with heavy riffs, and to include a significant part of rock’n’roll into it, this is what seemed natural to us.
Jason: Why did you chose to release an EP as a follow-up to Helter Skelter rather than another album?
Mateo: After Helter Skelter, we realized it was quite hard for a band like us to stay on promotion and to maintain some activity outside a release, so we decided to separate the new album in two pieces, so we can work on promotion for a longer time. And it was perfect with the construction of this album.
Jason: Is there a concept behind the EP? If so, how has it manifest itself in the music?
Mateo: Yes, there is a concept; we wrote about an alien invasion, but we wanted to make it different, so we wrote the first part of the album relating the story from the human side. The second part will be the opposite, the alien invasion from an alien point of view. I can’t say that this concept is manifested by the music itself; we focused on the lyrics. We just tried to make an interlude with voices samples from the first travel to the moon, to illustrate our concept.
Jason: It’s called The Human Concern Part 1. What’s the significance of the title?
Mateo: We based our story on the fact that the human race, in the last decades, polluted the lands, seas and even space, drought most of our resources, and exterminate so many species that the planet itself asked for help. We represented this alert by crop circles, some kind of scars that would call other civilisations to clean the planet from the main problem: the human kind
Jason: Will there be a part 2?
Mateo: Yes we are writing the second part of this album, which will relate the alien point of view of the same story. In the first EP we wrote a song about the earth itself, and the relation between human kind and the planet, it’s called ‘Gang Rape’, I think the title is relevant! We are thinking about writing something like that in the second part too.
Jason: Who writes the lyrics? And where do they find inspiration?
Mateo: Yannock (Sans), our singer, writes all the lyrics, we try to share and discuss about some themes before we start to compose a new album and he then writes almost alone. He finds inspiration in everything he can: books, movies, documentaries. The Human Concern Part 1 is also an introspection of our own kind: who we are? What we’ve done? And what could be our reaction to this kind of event?
Jason: Is the EP all new material? Or is there stuff on the EP left over from Helter Skelter or even before that?
Mateo: No everything on THC Part1 is new. We had some other material but we chose to start from zero, to keep this coherence between our songs, and we are doing the same thing with the second part.
Jason: How have the tracks evolved since you started work on them?
Mateo: Well, the main goal was to create something very fluid and energetic. At the very beginning of the news songs we had too much riffs and too complicated structures. We wanted really to compose songs with three good riffs. Not something like our first album which has more “progressive” structures. We wanted something that renders the story of our concept, something urgent, abrasive.
Jason: How does the band write? Is there a main writer or do you all bring ideas to the band and then jam them out?
Mateo: Julian (Gretz, guitar) writes most of the music, and I write a little bit. We kept our way since the beginning to write and record demos on a computer and then we work on them together, sometimes we need to jam to create something missing but I would say 70% of the material exists before we start to rehearse it. It allows us to save some time to work on details and arrangements
Jason: How do you work to balance your creativity with your technical ability?
Mateo: We try not to set limits to our creativity, we just write and work enough to make it sounds good. We worked on being more coherent between the two albums. I think we kept a part of technical stuff in our music, but we include a part of feeling, more rock, it’s the same direction for the second EP. We are more and more sensitive to write music for live shows, and not only for a record, so it changes our vision of writing an album.
Jason: The artwork for the EP is very intriguing. Can you tell us about the artwork for the album? How does it relate to the music?
Mateo: It’s a human face. We liked this graphic direction as we had it also on Helter Skelter. We try to differ a bit from the standard we see in album artworks; our first album was pink and white, this one’s yellow and black, with simple lines. Helter Skelter was more exotic because the story takes place in India. For THC Part 1 we wanted something organic with warm colours. It fits well with our lyrics and our concept.
Jason: Who’s the artist? Why did you choose to work with him/her? And how much direction did you give him/her in its creation?
Mateo: The artist is a friend of ours, Pierre Escafit. We chose to work with him because we love what he does, you can check his work on his website Bläckbeärd here. He’s really good! We just gave him global descriptions of our project and our ideas about the themes of songs and the ambiance around this double EP, and we gave him a white card. When he came back with ideas we were stoked. We started working on both EPs and we loved it. He also worked on two tee designs for us, you can see them on our bigcartel shop here.
Jason: The French scene has been given a lot more attention in recent years and Klonosphere are working hard to bring a lot of bands to the world stage. How did Dwail come to work with Klonosphere? And why did you choose to work with them?
Mateo: We started to work with Klonosphere for the release of our first album Helter Skelter in 2011. We meat Guillaume during the Hellfest 2010 and told him we were looking for a label and some promotion. He wanted to hear the record and we gave him a copy of the album. We chose to work with him because we know he’s been involved in the French metal scene for a very long time and he knows what the bands need.
Jason: Bands are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, particularly in an age where sales are down because of illegal downloading and bands are releasing limited digipacks, vinyl editions and packages in an effort to counter this. How does a band survive in such an era?
Mateo: Of course we don’t focus on selling albums because we know what the situation is. We just try to make a good looking product for those who like our music enough to buy it. But it’s the same problem when you travel a lot and expect to payback your road fees; it’s complicated not to put money from your own pocket when you try to make things in a correct way, entering a good studio, making a nice product, promoting your music and travelling far from your city. We just try to balance, and the merchandising is often a good way to help.
Jason: With the impact of illegal file-sharing on music sales, as a relatively young band, do you have any concerns about survival in what seems to be an increasingly difficult market?
Mateo: Of course it’s better when people buy our albums but we don’t really mind. It’s not a big deal to us if our albums are illegally downloaded; it’s another way to promote our music and to spread the word wider than we could have. Finally, we prefer to set some tours, when people really love a band, they will come to a show and maybe buy something. The most important is that they know our music
Jason: What does the future hold for Dwail? Is there more music in the pipeline?
Mateo: Well, we are currently writing the second part of the album and we hope to record it this fall.
Jason: Are you touring in support of the new album? And will we be seeing you in the UK any time soon?
Mateo: We have a show this summer with the hardcore legend Biohazard and we are setting some stuff for September, trying to cross our borders, but not the UK in the upcoming future. I hope someday we will come. If you know people involved let us know!
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Mateo: You can find us on the internet, we have two videos we made for Helter Skelter: ‘An Iron Hand In A Velvet Glove’ (here) and ‘District One’ (here) from THC part 1. Feel free to take a look and spread the word !! Thank you very much for this interview and sorry for my English!