Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Jeff. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Scarred were formed in 2003. To begin, can you tell us about how the band formed and what it was that drew you all together to form and start writing as a band?
Jeff: Hello and thank you for this interview. We formed the band in high school basically, just being kids and liking metal and wanting to play together in a garage. We were all buddies and had known each other for years. The only active members from the founding days are our drummer Laurent and myself. We had a lot of line-up changes during those years and it was in 2007 that we realized we wanted more with the band then just play in a garage and do local shows.
Jason: Your first album, New Filth Order, appeared in 2009. How did that album mark an evolution in the band’s sound since its inception?
Jeff: New Filth Order was a collection of the songs we’ve written up to 2009. It marked a very specific time in our lives and the abilities as a band. We were starting to incorporate more death metal and black metal elements into our sound. We simply wrote songs that were balls to the wall from start to finish which makes N.F.O. quite demanding to listen to since it’s full throttle all the time. Our sound was much more Thrash Metal orientated back then. Nowadays we are still rooted in Thrash metal but we’ve opened our sound for other styles and we’ve become much better technically now than we were back in 2009. Today’s material takes a slight progressive edge every now and then.
Jason: Who would you say were the band’s central influences back then? And how much of an impact do they have on the Scarred of 2013?
Jeff: Most of the influences back then are still the same today really. We have become much better musicians and we have a much better understanding on how to combine different ideas and keep the songs interesting. Pantera, Morbid Angel, Machine Head, Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah just to name a few. We’ve also started to incorporate a lot more black metal influences, adding a whole different spectrum to the overall sound of the band. We don’t really limit ourselves with styles. Our only concern is to write dynamic songs and each style of metal or riff has a different dynamic.
Jason: Gaia/Medea is a great album (Ed: our review is here as part of a Klonosphere roundup). What was it that you wanted to achieve with the album?
Jeff: First of all thanks for the compliment and the great review! We just wanted to write the best metal album we could write at the time. We’ve read every review of the N.F.O. album and took all the constructive criticism into account. The only goal we’ve set was to attract a label with this album to help us promote the band and simply get to the next level and we were fortunate enough to have attracted Klonosphere.
Jason: Can you explain the album title, Gaia/Medea?
Jeff: The album title is about the two title songs that embody the concept of the album. It isn’t a traditional concept album with every song being part of the album’s story but rather a concept between the first and last song of the album. Gaia is representing Mother Earth and in this particular case the Gaia theory in which it is said that the Earth is a big self-preserving organism, while Medea is Horus’ wife who ended up killing Horus and her own children. The Medea image is also used in the Medea thesis saying that every multicellular life is essentially suicidal. We liked the idea of Gaia regulating the humans with natural disasters, slowly but surely spiralling out of control and turning into Medea because humanity isn’t able to stop and preserve the planet.
Jason: Is there a concept behind the album? If so, how did this concept affect the writing and structuring of the album?
Jeff: The concept of the two songs didn’t really affect the writing of the album. The two title tracks were kind of written together and share ideas and melody lines as to make them fit together while the other songs just fit the regular sound of the album without having gone through a specific progress because of a concept idea.
Jason: Who writes the lyrics? And where does inspiration come from?
Jeff: Most of the lyrics are written by our drummer Laurent and myself with the occasional lyric by our singer Sacha. I draw inspiration from movies, books and even personal stuff at times. Writing lyrics can be very therapeutic but we always try to write our lyrics in a way that the reader/listener can relate to and maybe see their own story in it.
Jason: Did the lyrics affect how you approached writing the music or vice versa?
Jeff: We usually write the music first with already having a few ideas on how the lyrics will fit the song. After we’ve written the lyrics we adept each riff again, sometimes by changing accents on the drums but sometimes also by changing melody lines or entire riffs that fit the vocals much better.
Jason: You’ve obviously spent a lot of time working on the album. Is it all new material or is their material on there from New Filth Order or before perhaps?
Jeff: There are songs like ‘Idiosyncrasy’ or ‘Empire of Dirt’ that we were being written when we released the album in 2009. Actually ‘Idiosyncrasy’ was played as an encore at the release show of our first album, New Filth Order. We never truly stop writing so some ideas might be older but if they sound good why not use them?
Jason: How have the tracks on the album evolved since you began writing for it? Were there any that were re-written or saw a significant overhaul since they first appeared?
Jeff: There were a few changes after we did a preproduction during which we recorded the basic structures of every song. It allowed us to work much more on details and to see if parts actually work as planned or not. The song ‘Medea’, for example, has changed quite a lot after the preproduction where we noticed that we needed to change a few riffs in the middle of the song. Most of the song intros and outros were written in the studio where we had a few effects to play around with.
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?
Jeff: It’s a mix of both. Most of the idea’s and riffs come from a trio consisting of our guitar player Yogy, our drummer Laurent and myself. We all work on some ideas at home, small little riffs and such and then we meet in the rehearsal room and jam things out. We try combinations of riffs and usually find new ones or improve the riffs by combining them etc. You never truly know if a riff or rhythm is good until you play it as a full band.
Jason: Scarred is a very technical band. How do you work to balance your creativity with your technical ability?
Jeff: We always like to give ourselves a challenge when writing songs. Try to find riffs in that next level but we combine technical riffs with really easy and effective ones too. It just adds another dynamic and keeps the songs interesting for us to play. We all listen to bands and solo artists that have amazing technique and inspire us to try and write music that is both interesting and catchy. We don’t use technique for the sake of it but rather as a tool to create the ideas we hear in our heads.
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork for the album? How does it relate to the music?
Jeff: The artwork is mostly based on the concept of the two title tracks, ‘Gaia’ and ‘Medea’, depicting both personas and what their story is about. We are really happy with how it turned out and got some great feedback on the artwork itself. It actually helped us gain new fans that ended up discovering the music after seeing the artwork.
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?
Jeff: The artist is Drazen Medakovic, a childhood friend of our guitarist, Yogy, and he has been a fan of the band for many years. Yogy always showed us a few of Drazen’s drawings and we loved his style and so we asked him if he’d be interested in doing the artwork. Yogy, Drazen and I got together one afternoon and we explained to him the entire concept behind Gaia/Medea. He immediately started drawing on the spot. We totally trusted Drazen and gave him pretty much all the liberty over the design. Actually some of the designs in the booklet we didn’t get to see until it got sent out to be printed. He did an amazing job and I’m sure a lot of bands will be interested in working with him in the future. He’s currently studying art in Holland and we wish him good luck with all his future endeavours. We will surely keep working with him in the future!
Jason: How did Scarred come to work with Klonosphere? And why did you choose to work with them?
Jeff: We sent out our album to a few different labels and were hoping for positive answers like most bands do. Guillaume (guitarist of Klone and Label Boss) and I got in contact and we set up a little meeting in Luxembourg during their Tour with Gojira. I got the chance to talk to him about the band, the concept of the album and our future plans. Once he got home from touring he contacted us and said that Klonosphere would be interested in working with us.
We liked the non-typical approach of Klonosphere since we have total artistic control about what we want to do and where to place ads, which tours to do etc. Klonosphere is really respected in the French-speaking countries and is starting to make a name for itself in the European scene for signing very high quality bands and giving them a chance to get bigger and reach the next level. We’re really proud to be a part of that family of talented bands!
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?
Jeff: I think the only way for a band to survive and live off their music is constant, relentless touring and merchandise sales. Bands don’t really make money on CDs any more. You could consider recorded music like a business card helping to introduce you to fans, bookers or/and venues. In my opinion a band needs to shine live. Set up and play killer shows and that’s what’s going to help you spread the word.
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?
Jeff: We don’t really think of survival with our band since we don’t live off music at the moment. We all have day jobs to pay our rents and help us finance the plans that we have with Scarred. We still have quite a lot of work to do before we could even think of making the move and quit our jobs and just do music. It’s a dream that we hope to realize with a lot of hard work.
At the moment we basically just want to get our music out there. If people want to download our songs, fair enough. We’d much rather be listened to then just be forgotten about. Now if you really want to help the band, tell all your friends about us, help us set up a show, come to shows, buy a t-shirt!
Jason: What does the future hold for Scarred? Is there more music in the pipeline?
Jeff: We’ve recently started writing for our next album. Nothing really fix yet, just trying out different combinations of riffs. We have a lot of great ideas already so we’ll start to work on those songs more seriously. We also have a few lyric ideas and maybe another general concept for an album design and such but it’s a bit too soon to talk about it yet. But there will be more Scarred in a little while!
Jason: Are you touring in support of the new album? And will we be seeing you in the UK any time soon?
Jeff: We recently just did a small French tour and have a few festivals planned across Europe but we try to tour more extensively in 2014. Trying to get ourselves onto a bigger tour as a support and hopefully come to the UK too. We are currently looking for smaller venues or organizations that might be interested in setting up shows for us in the UK, so if any of you reading this know people that set up shows, talk to them about us and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! So yeah we are trying to set up a small UK tour by ourselves and hopefully be part of a bigger tour as an opener!
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Jeff: First of all thank you for the great review and giving our band the opportunity to promote themselves in the UK with both the review and this interview! Please check out our website www.scarred.lu where you can find everything you might want to know about our band. Hopefully we’ll see you guys on shows soon and share a few pints! Cheers!