Sometimes there’s a gig every day of the week in London but, unless I can clone myself (and my bank account with me!) it’s nigh on impossible for me to attend them all. A few days ago, though, there was one gig I was determined not to miss: Evyltyde, Alwaid and Forged In Black were playing ‘The Fiddler’s Elbow’ in London. To cut a long story short, I befriended Marie Perrier, vocalist and songwriter of French Gothic Metal band Alwaid and without the research that typically precedes my interviews I casually asked her a few questions about the band.
So more than an interview, what follows is a spontaneous conversation that just happened to be recorded for posterity. Happy reading!
I’m intrigued about the band moniker…I think it has an Arabic sound to it. Is this the case? What is its meaning?
Marie: Yes, it does. And there’s a reason for that. It’s the name of a star as named by Arabs, as are many other stars. This particular star is found in the Draco constellation…..Draco means dragon….and the star is in the eye of the dragon.
That’s fascinating. This is not the first time that Alwaid has played in England, right?
Marie: No, its not. We’ve come on a regular basis for the past three years. I think we started coming when we were promoting our first album [“Lacus Somniorum”], which came out in 2014. So once or twice a year we come back.
For you what’s the best thing about touring outside France, your home country?
Marie: Well, people are more interested in Metal music….everywhere else but France. [shrugs] In England, in particular, people are so friendly and there are better live venues for small bands like us. In France, if you’re not a big band it’s very difficult to find a proper venue where to play….if there is a venue, there’s either no backline or some technical equipment missing or no sound technician… In England there’s more of a live-band culture and we can sense that in the audience very much. Also the way the audience reacts here is much more lively and enthusiastic. At least those are my feelings.
Speaking about France, I have the impression that French Metal tends to be dark and melancholic. Maybe it’s just me but I wonder what you think on this…..
Marie: You’re right, it’s really is so. Considering the size of the country in France there’s a relatively small Metal community. You tend to have the same people turning up for concerts and there’s no publicity in the popular media…..it tends to be a rather intimate community.
Until little over a decade ago there was a similar situation in England but then things seemed to get better. You referred to your first album….but what about your most recent album…..you appear to tackle some interesting themes within it. Can you tell me more?
Marie: The album is called “The Machine & The Beast”…….
When was it released?
Marie: May 13th. So it just came out about 2 weeks ago. It took us 3 years to complete and I think during that time we’ve really grown as a band. So the album does sound more mature. It’s more coherent but, perhaps paradoxically, there’s more variety in terms of atmosphere and ambience. It’s not a concept album but there’s a general theme running through it. The machine and the beast represent order and chaos, the different poles that come into contradiction and the conflicting urges in humans.
I believe it’s an ancient Greek philosophy that says progress arises from chaos. Do you subscribe to that?
Marie: Yes. And the structure is one of a cycle. So in the album I made it in a way that each song embodies one step of civilization. The first one is creation, then its progress, then glory, and then slowly conflict arises and then there’s the fall, decay and oblivion. And then there’s recreation. So, as I said, it’s all like a cycle.
I suppose a bit like a phoenix rising from its own ashes. How come it took so long after the first album to come up with a follow-up?
Marie: We had spent a lot of time touring to promote the first album. For most of the year-and-a-half after its release we had a lot of concerts. We tried to get out of France and out of Belgium….because we live very close to Belgium and it is easy to get there. In fact we had managed to go to the uk for the first time, to the Netherlands for the first time. We tried to promote it as much as we could. The writing of the new songs took a little bit of time because we really wanted to make them more….finely crafted. Eventually we entered the recording studio in late October 2016 and we finished recording in the beginning of January. Since then we were working really hard on all the tiny details. We were very ambitious with this album and we didn’t want to leave any details to chance.
Are you a perfectionist by nature?
Marie: Absolutely. [laughs] We wanted it to be perfect, and it takes time for that.
Tonight I heard you sing some verses in French. Can you tell me more about that song and why you featured French language lyrics?
Marie: The song is ‘Sang Noir’ (Black Blood). It’s about fearing one’s own origins, the hidden things you might have inherited and which might resurface one day, so it just made sense to turn back to my own linguistic origins – English comes quite naturally to me when I write a song, but I used to write poetry in French when I was younger. The verse in French is spoken at a very emotional moment in the song, and the emotion is more genuine to me with the shift of language. The song is about embracing otherness; I also liked the fact that otherness would be experienced by the audience, usually used to hearing most songs in English.
And how has the reaction to the album been so far?
Marie: Really good. I’m really happy with it. I must mention that before the album came out we had asked people to help us make it and we made a crowdfunding campaign. That was quite successful and we were really impressed by the support that everyone showed us. So we are really grateful for that and we would not have made the album that well without the support of all these people. In fact many people that we had met here in England contributed so we are very grateful to the English people as well.
So what do you have planned from this point onwards?
Marie: Promoting the new album, because now that the songs are there we want people to listen to them and to let us know what they think. So we are doing this mini-tour around the uk, 4 dates covering London, Birmingham, Manchester and Oxford. We’re playing in Paris on June 11th. Then we’re going to rest a little bit during the summer….maybe have some holidays. And then we’re going to actively look for more touring dates in September. We want to go to places we’ve never been before. We want to hit Germany, the Netherlands again because we’ve only played there once or twice….
I suppose The Netherlands is the ideal market for your kind of music…..
Marie: And it’s almost the birthplace for the kind of Metal that we are playing…so I assume there would be people who are interested.
And fans can always check your FaceBook page for updates on where you will be playing, right?
Marie: Yes, absolutely. We are very active on FaceBook…..well I am very active on FaceBook. I try to reply to everyone, even those who just drop by to say ‘hello’. I have many FaceBook friends and I’m always very happy when someone says ‘hello’ and tells me how they came across our music and our band.
All signs your hard work was worth it…..
Marie: Yes. We don’t want to make music just for the sake of music and for ourselves, we want to share it. I think that an opinion we share amongst all the band members, that music is meant to be shared and to be widespread as much as we can.
You talked about plans…we also have a music video in the making.
Presumably its going to be taken from this new album, right?
Marie: Yes, but I’m not revealing the title yet.
So keep an eye on our FaceBook page. We also have our own homepage and we have a Bandcamp page from where fans who cannot come to our gigs can order merch online.
Can fans also order the new album from this Bandcamp page?
Marie: Right now there’s nothing online because we saved it for our crowdfunding contributors but there’s going to be very soon.
So any of you fans want to find out more about Alwaid, you know where you have to go…
– Text and all live photography: Chris Galea –