Interview with Shoi (Guitars)
London’s De Profundis have always been a band to challenge the status quo when it comes to metal music. They’ve always played with passion and merit, even though I had a tough time absorbing their latest opus, Kingdom Of The Blind. I talked to Shoi about that, as well as the writing/recording, lyrics and the discovery of water on Mars.
Let’s start with an introduction. Tell me a little bit about the band and how you guys got together. What were some of your influences starting out and how do you think the band has progressed since then?
Shoi: Craig (Vocals) and our old guitarist Roman got together through the internet and started putting the band together. I joined roughly a year after, the band got in touch through an advert I’d put on the internet. They had already been through a number of line-up changes actually in that year. The line up with Craig, Roman, Aleksej (ex.Bass) and myself ended up recording the first album, Beyond Redemption. The band started out thinking they would be a doom band, but I wasn’t ever into doom apart from listening to Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. I have always been into faster and more technical music. When I joined, the band had written most of the first album and when I started injecting ideas it was already moving away from doom. After the first album we decided to not block ourselves in a genre, but see what everyone in the band has to offer in terms of ideas and take it from there. This is why De Profundis is a difficult band to label. We all like death metal and black metal but also a lot of other types of music out there and it shows when we write a song. Right now from a musical point of view; we are exactly where I always hoped the band would be, which is to play intense music whilst remaining melodic.
The new record is called Kingdom Of The Blind. Before we get into the lyrical topics, let’s talk a little bit about the album in particular. Compared to your previous EP Frequencies, it seems like you’ve gone a bit heavier and more technical and I find there are less melodic atmospheres than on the previous release. What was the reasoning behind that choice?
Shoi: That’s an interesting point of view. Actually the EP and the album were written and recorded at the same time. We decided to pick what we thought were the more direct and less melodic songs for the EP, while keeping the more progressive ones for the album, so its interesting to hear you say that. But yes, we decided to go heavier generally as a direction partly because when Roman left and Paul joined we had another guitarist with a very similar vision of what death metal should sound like. We have reduced the number of atmospheric breaks because we didn’t want to become a cliche of ourselves. In the past, every song had to have a clean section or something of that nature. I can see from the reviews that the atmospheric passages have more impact because they are short, to the point, and unexpected.
Tell me a little bit about the writing and recording process for Kingdom Of The Blind. How long did it take and where did you record it? Are you satisfied with the final result? What was the atmosphere like during the recording process?
Shoi: We started writing the album around early 2012, and the first song we wrote was “Beyond the Threshold.” Unfortunately halfway through the writing it became apparent that we couldn’t carry on working with Roman, so we split with him. Paul joined us on a tour to help us and out and then we offered him the job. The moment we started writing together everything went super fast and we finally had another guitarist in the band that was on the same planet as the rest of us. We recorded the album at my studio and then mixed it in Paris at the Studios Davouts with Fernando Lopes who did our last two albums. So all in all, the whole process took about a year from writing to recording. The reason why this album took so long to come out is because we always planned to release the EP first and then shop for a label for the album in order to maximise our media presence. In all honesty, the recording process was one of the easiest as we were all on the same page. The line-up now is even more fun, we all get along very well and have the same vision and level of professionalism.
Lyrically, Kingdom Of The Blind is about our shadowy puppet masters. I’ve gathered that much and I’m sure you’ve read my review stating my beliefs on the subject. But in your words, exactly what is the concept and ideas behind the album? What are your thoughts on the reality of the situation?
Shoi: The idea is simple. We are more and more blind to everything around us. Politicians can just can carry on lying to us when we all know that there is no magic wand. We’ve stopped thinking for ourselves, and only when someone makes a big deal on social media about a certain topic, do we actually have an opinion. Even in the world of metal we are blind to the fact that a lot of the music out there is rubbish. How else can you explain the sucess of BabyMetal?
What are some some hobbies and things about you guys that we wouldn’t guess from the music and band pictures alone? What kind of people are you outside of De Profundis?
Shoi: Well, where do we start? I am a member of the English Defence League as the token brown French guy. Craig is South African and trying hard to bring apartheid in the UK, and as an example; he tends to lock me in a separate room during rehearsals. Paul (Guitars) who is of Irish/Iranian descent is studying Theology to become the next Supreme Ayatollah. Arran (Bass) is a young Basil Fawlty and Tom (Bearded Drummer) is acting in a movie called, “Father Christmas, the Early Years” (Smiles)
Joking aside, none of us really have much time outside from music, and apart from Craig, we all are professional musicians. Most of us teach music and play in other bands. Paul and I have an Iron Maiden, Judas Priest & Black Sabbath tribute band, while Tom plays with a Iranian pop artist. Arran has another metal band called Seven7 with the live guitarist Jeff Beck and he is also in the official Madness Tribute act. We are lucky to be making a living with music, but it would be nice to make more of a living with De Profundis as this is our true calling.
Let’s talk about your recent shows and tours. What are some of your most memorable moments on the stage and what are some of your least memorable?
Shoi: Well actually, our tour of Spain contains the least memorable and one of the most memorable moments of our career. It was bad because the shows were not promoted properly and one venue closed down two days before we were supposed to play. Our rented campervan suffered some damage, and it was a long way down and back from Spain to the UK. Yet it was memorable, because the last show of the tour turned out to be awesome. The show was in Oviedo in the North West part of Spain and we had driven seven hours to get there. We were tempted to go home actually when the third show was cancelled. Anyway, we’d turn up at the venue, the promoter was one of the nicest guys we’d ever met and he’d done his work. There was a really good turnout and we slayed that evening. We were asked for two encores! This sums up the life of a musician, and it’s a roller coaster ride!
Do you think that mankind will ever be able to rebel against these overlords, or will the planet be devoid of resources before then?
Shoi: No we are too worried about losing the little we have, so we will just carry on accepting the fact that most of us are getting ripped off and the harsh reality that only a few select people control all of the wealth in the world. Back in the time of the French Revolution, common people revolted against the monarchy and nobility because they had nothing to lose; but now most people have acquired some wealth and social services, so they don’t want to lose that and feel that these overlords are actually looking after them. Personally, I think that human stupidity and wars will get us all killed long before global warming or the end of resources.
I’m sure you’ve heard, but they’ve found fresh water on Mars (and the scientist who discovered it is indeed a fan of metal, so I’ll raise my glass to that) which also might mean that there’s oxygen there as well. What are your thoughts on this discovery, and do you think it could change what we know about the universe and the origins of mankind?
Shoi: I have always thought that it is highly presumptious of the human race to think we are the only intelligent species that inhabits this vast universe. Civilisation might have existed before and still does, so who knows if Mars was inhabited at some point. It wasn’t that long ago that we thought the Earth was flat. So in five-hundred years time when people read about us they’ll think about how stupid were we to believe that there was no one else. Now as for finding water on Mars which may mean future trips to Mars, then that is exciting and its about time we ventured a bit further out. The last great space mission was back in 1969, so put that in perspective. We put a man on the moon roughly seventy years after the Wright brothers invented flying and now its been nearly fifty years since and we haven’t done anything all that exciting in regards to space travel. But to finish off about potentially finding out other civilisations, it would be a complete game changer for humanity. Suddenly all of these pity religious squabbles will mean nothing, because there would be someone else in the universe who could potentially be a lot more powerful than us.
Thanks for making a really thorough record that takes quite a deal of time to absorb. I have a lot of respect for your skills and talents. I think you’re one of the best undiscovered acts out there right now and you need promotion. Regardless of the fact that I had a bit of difficulty getting into this one, you guys deserve the world; because you’re real musicians, playing honest music that you believe in. We don’t get that much anymore. – Eric
Shoi: Eric thank you for those kind words. You are right, De Profundis is a band of real musicians writing music and not trying to push a gimmick. Its a tough angle to have in 2015 but it is the only way we believe music should be presented. Thankfully there are people like you that understand the value of real music, so yes, please spread the word!
Buy directly from the band here: http://deprofundis.bandcamp.com/