“…you’ve found the right musicians when you realize that you don’t have to make compromises”
With their first full length released in April this year, Antonin, Paramnesia’s guitarist takes time out to talk with MR’s Jason Guest about everything from the band’s formation in 2005, changes in the line-up, the creative process, their inspiration and philosophy, and why it took 8 years to release their first EP.
Hi Antonin. Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on your new album (review coming soon). Paramnesia has been making music since 2005. Can you tell us about how the band formed and what it was that drew you together to make music?
Paramnesia was formed when I met Pierre, our drummer. We were still very young, and that was the first time I met him, we both shared a passion for black metal, and jamming once was all it took for us to decide to set up a band.
How has the band evolved since it began, musically and conceptually?
The band has evolved a lot, and so did we as we grew up and refined our tastes and ideas. The more we played together the closer we got to making music that was true to our vision. Concept wise, we always wanted to play music that would be true to our hearts. That involved a lot of writing, rehearsing and introspection. None of our first songs was ever released; we were never satisfied with them. We had to find the right environment for our music to grow; it took us time to find it. For us, the right environment was finding a stable line-up and being able to play live or record songs as we rehearsed them, without resorting to studio tricks or cutting corners.
Bassist Simon Barth and vocalist Thibault Bapst joined the band in 2012. Why did you choose to work with them? What did they bring to the band?
We met Simon through friends as we were looking for a bass player, and he himself asked his friend Thibault if he wanted to join us as a vocalist. Paramnesia had just reunited after four years without real activity, and with them we found the fore-mentioned stable environment we needed. We were lucky to find musicians that would adhere to our vision, and they quickly managed to evolve as an integral part of the band. I think you’ve found the right musicians when you realize that you don’t have to make compromises because of them.
Your first release was Ce que dit la bouche d’ombre in 2013 followed by a split release with Germany’s Unru. Why have you started recording and releasing material now rather than earlier?
We have been recording our material since 2005, from our very first song, but those were home recordings for us to listen to and we have never released any of it. I’m glad we didn’t, having those recordings helped us evolve and find our way. When we released “Ce que dit la bouche d’ombre”, our intent was to be able to evolve further by submitting our work to the public, but we also did it because we were finally comfortable and motivated enough to release something.
Why did you choose a split release? And why with Unru?
III was written right after I & II, we had originally planned to record it for the demo, but quickly changed our minds. For us, that song stood by its own, and could be developed further. We’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing it and playing it live. We met Unru on the road and I was impressed with their music, on top of that their band shares similarities with Paramnesia. We decided to make a split release together and I’m really glad with the finished result. Giving ourselves time to polish both the writing and the recording for III helped us a lot.
Can you tell us about the new album? How long were you working on it? Is it all new material or has it been in the pipeline for a while?
We started writing the album right after our 2013 tour with Deuil; we took a lot of time writing it and even more rehearsing it. For us IV & V have their place on this album and nowhere else, they complement each other and are the result of hard work towards our vision. We had a different approach with it, we wanted consistency and a bigger focus on atmosphere, and weren’t afraid to try new things to achieve this. We changed the guitar tuning, experimented with effects and vocals, and generally pushed ourselves further with every step we made.
What are the lyrical themes on the album? And where does inspiration come from?
We use the voice as an instrument, as a way for our vocalist to channel feelings that have their place in both his heart and our music. The lyrics themselves are unreleased, it’s part of this concept. What I can say though, is what inspires us. Emotions, the way we interpret them, our identity and the state of mind we can reach while playing our music. We have a very contemplative approach.
Is there a theme, a concept, or a philosophy that underpins the album?
There are many themes, and multiple facets of our philosophy. For us, it is a raw flow of emotions the listener can interpret as he wishes, but it could be said in many other ways. I think atmospheric music can be very abstract.
Your music is very emotional, very moving, and is simultaneously raw and aggressive while being very atmospheric. How do you work to balance this aesthetic across such long tracks?
I guess we simply do, it’d be hard for me to explain the process correctly. This is the result of years of rehearsing together, knowing each other, and working toward the same goal. The length in particular is simply something that grew over time, our first song was three minutes long, and from there the length simply kept increasing; it wasn’t that much of a decision as it was natural for us.
Did the recording process differ for the album in any way to your previous recordings?
Yes, our demo was the first real studio experience we had, so with each new recording we learned a lot. For this album in particular, the recording process was much longer, we had a lot of time to reflect on the sound. All of our recordings were done with the same person, and we work with him at every step, from recording to mixing and mastering. This helped us get the sound we wanted for the album, it’s dynamic and every detail can clearly be heard even though the material was far more distorted and atmospheric.
The artwork is incredible? Who designed it?
The artwork is done by Pierre Perichaud, our drummer. Also known as Business For Satan. The direction is his own and his guideline is simply to take inspiration in the music we make together. Of course he presents us his ideas before finishing the work, but he really doesn’t need to be restricted in the process. His drumming is an integral part of the band, and now so is his artwork. We could have picked someone else, we could have decided for a different approach (photography, or painting) but as soon as we got the first Paramnesia-inspired drawing from Pierre, it simply felt natural.
Across all of Paramnesia’s releases, the tracks are numbered rather than given titles. Why is this? Are they numbered in order of when they were written and recorded or are they in order of how they should ideally be listened to?
Technically, in order of when they were written. Ce que dit la bouche d’ombre was a new beginning for us, and so we opened a new chapter. If I was to make sense with it, I’d say we consider the support as a blank book for us to write in, for example I & II were made in a similar state of mind, so were IV & V, but they are different from I & II, and III stands on its own. They are all part of a larger picture in some sense, but they find their place on the support they end up on.
How does the band write? Do you all contribute or do you jam ideas out in rehearsal?
I usually write riffs at home, for a long period of time, and bring them to the rehearsal room when i have a rough idea of the song i want it to be. We jam until a basic structure is established, and expand on it. For me it’s like working with a core, and expanding on it. We have to stay true to the atmosphere and ideas that are first brought into the room, but they do evolve over time as everyone contributes to it.
How did you come to work with Les Acteurs de l’Ombre?
They contacted us after we released our demo, and they offered to release our album if we were to record one, shortly after that they offered to also help in the co-production of our Split with Unru.
What does the future hold for Paramnesia? Is there more music in the works?
There always is, even though for now there is less happening in the rehearsal room and more in our heads. I think you can expect something new by 2015.
Any plans for live performance? Will we be seeing you in the UK?
We already toured three times in Europe, and will do again soon. Sadly nothing overseas yet, I hope we make it to the UK someday. We are always very eager to play live in new locations.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Thanks for this interview. I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone that has supported us, be it on the road or on the internet. Cheers!