Le Québec, tabarnak! – Interview with Saccage

Saccage is one of the most extreme bands that I have heard in recent years. With them it’s been sick love at first encounter, they have been among the bands that dragged me towards a crust/hardcore-influenced kind of extreme metal. They really mix the best of the best, all around. Before giving them floor I have to thank two people. First of all, Peppe of Amphist (looking forward for the new album, mate) for having made me discover this mindblowing Québécois band through Facebook. But mostly, if you’re going to read a well written and even better translated interview, with deep and detailed questions, it’s thanks to Salva, a friend who joined me in my fructuous scavenging in the moors of Bandcamp and of ugly music. We’ve got other big interviews in coming, but meanwhile let’s drown in evil together with Saccage! (Italian version here) [F]

There’s an awesome video in which you explain many things about you. Unfortunately it’s in french and we don’t understand anything but a few words of your language. Can you tell us what you said, so we can start from there? If I’m not wrong, you formed the band around 2006-2007? Right, the band was formed in 2007. In this video, created by a Montreal filmmaker as part of the project ‘TRVECVLT video series’ on the Quebec Province Metal scene, we explain who we are, where we came from and the motivations and spirit behind the band’s origins as well. Saccage was created in order to bring together the ideas of Black Death Metal Music along Crust, Grindcore influences and our own conception of chaos and evil. As for the video, a version with English subtitles will be released soon. My first language is french and I do speak English but not that often since Québec is place that basically only speaks french. Apologies to anyone who will notice some spelling mistakes and clumsy phrasing during this interview.

Le Derape Tabarnak came out a few months after your birth. How did you feel with your first seven minutes of music under the Saccage moniker? Were you still Saccage Nocturne? The band initially was called Saccage Nocturne but soon became straight ‘Saccage’. Mainly because we thought it just sounded better that way. The label who released it did a logo for us, and after a couple of weeks we recorded the demo in our drummer’s basement.

Between the demo and Death Crust Satanique four years have passed. Has it been a challenging work or you simply had other stuff to do in your life outside of Saccage? There was some line up changes after the demo, but we never really stopped writing new music. It’s just that we didn’t have a proper full line up to get in the studio. Once everything was set (the drummer, singer and guitarist moved together in a rural area close to Québec) and we had a permanent bassist, we finished writing the album quickly and recorded it.

One by now historical song you made is called Mötorcrust. Then I have to ask you: what have Mötorhead been for you? Have they been crucial for you to grow ”strong and healthy”? Motorcrust was one of the first songs we wrote with the stable line up back in the days. It’s mainly a song about driving fast under the influence of Satan and alcohol, with killer riffs to destroy everything in our path. You can see it as a metaphor to say that we have the strength of evil on our side, and that nothing can stop us.

Death Crust Satanique passed the hundred-thousand views on Youtube. Do you enjoy the thrill of notoriety? You became VIPs, uh? 😀 I don’t even know what is a VIP on YouTube, but anyways… it’s cool to see that this album kind of got a ‘cult’ status in the underground.

What does realizing a split represent to you? Does it unite you heart and soul with the other band involved? You aren’t among the many bands that do lots of ‘em. To this day, indeed, we’ve got just the one with Hellcaust. Doing a split is supposed to be something special, a collaboration to express a unique vision between various bands. I think it’s a good way to release some materiel that would not necessarily fit on a full length nor a EP, and to share a release with another band that you consider part of the family.

There’s also Vorace (which is probably the most typically crust/d-beat record of yours), which I think that might be too often overlooked, ‘cause it turns out to be one of your best works to date, for my taste. What is your opinion on that one and what did you have in mind when writing and recording in? Eventually, were you satisfied with the ending results? This album was the natural following to Death Crust Satanique. These songs were written around our first LP, but they were not completely ready to record them. It took time to release it, because I don’t like more than one a year, and then we had some line up changes right after our first one. It was in a way closure for the chapter of the 2010-2014 Saccage line up era.

Récidive: a record that stands between one disruptive debut and a resounding new album. How does it hold up in comparison? Do you still like it? Yes, it’s still a strong record and we got good reviews. The first press of the CD version was sold out less than two years of its release date. Still, we don’t play music to sell records or draw good reviews. All our albums are unique and stand for something in our discography. This one is what we had in mind at the precise moment, an archive from what did with Saccage in that time lapse. I think it should be the purpose of every musician or artist when you create something.

You’ve been around for a while now and you evolved impressively over the years, as a band. Death Crust Satanique sounded like if the band didn’t have a clear direction in mind yet (although it was impressive already… even the first Saxon record wasn’t completely coherent, but the actual Saxon songs ruled nonetheless!), but you matured and became more and more personal with the release of each new record. Khaos Mortem clearly shows that now you have a very clear vision in mind, also aesthetically. How would you comment this evolution? Khaos Mortem is the apex of the Saccage discography, the most mature album, where we took what we liked in all of our releases and dropped what we didn’t, to create something much more brutal and tight. All our albums are special to me, they are all unique. I think there is something strong in each of them, but like every true musician, in order to create something brand new you need to try and push further from the previous work in order to explore new territory.

The Khaos Mortem artwork features an infernal scene that portrays Porte St. Jean. It’s a place from your city! What is it about? Yes, the ”Porte St-Jean” are huge gates from old defensive structures of Québec. They were first built over 300 years ago and have been upgraded many times throughout history. They are kind of the core and the middle of everything in the city. A special wink to our roots and the place where we create our music.

Khaos Mortem recordings took four days, last Spring. For some, four days are too few. What about you? Was the last one in line with your previous studio experiences? We always record for approximately 4 or 5 days. We try to have a killer sound without giving it too much polish. We mainly take one day per instrument. We rehearse a lot between studio sessions so we are ready and tight to record them when the time has come, simple as that. You don’t need 14 days of recording when you know how to play your songs. I mean, when you go on stage and play your songs live, you are supposed to be ready and to know them. I feel it should be the same when you record.

Joel Grind is a big name inside of the extreme metal scene. Why have you thought of him for mastering the last two records? Which releases did he produce that suddenly made you understand he was the right guy for you? Joel Grind is a great producer and sound technician. We asked him to master our stuff and he immediately agreed. I think it’s cool to collaborate with various people, to bring a little bit of everyone in those recording.

You have a song aptly called Acouphene Funeraire. That’s a pretty original title! Being cursed from tinnitus myself, I hate its guts and because of this I’m left wondering what that song is about and which are some of its best lines and what do they mean. Would you elaborate this? Well, like you said, acouphene in french mean tinnitus, a complication and/or disease that is a perception of noise or ringing in the ears. This song is like an ode to the loudness. A way to express that our music, those guitars riffs, massive drums and unholy vocals can make you die of tinnitus. The power of the guitar feedback can break your eardrum, and so on. The music of Death.

saccage live

There is also a cover song which you stated as being a tribute to Nunslaughter. Tell us why you chose that song, what does that band mean to you and how do you think it influences Saccage. Also, since you love them so much, introduce Nunslaughter to those who aren’t familiar with their body of work and reccomend them some records to start with! Nunslaughter is old school Death Metal with some blackened influences and Satanic themed lyrics from the USA. The song that we chose to cover (Death by the Dead) has a special story for us because back in 2009, the drummer, vocalist and guitarist used to listen to this particular song so much because it was a perfect example of Death Metal and Black Metal with punk influences. This song was like a game-changer for us when we discovered it. On each aspect of Saccage, we try to choose things that represent us. So, when we toyed with the idea of our first cover in over 12 years, we immediately thought about this song. Again, it was a way to end a chapter and a tribute to this band and this particular song that influenced us so much.

Khaos Mortem came out on all kinds of supports: CD (for PRC Music), vinyl (for Torture Garden Picture Company) and tape (for Suicide by Cops Records). Personally, which format are you most attached to? Well the tape switched to Von Frost Coffins Record since Suicide by Tapes would not produce music anymore, but both are almost the same crew. For me all formats are important since listeners choose what they like the most. I really like LP version of our albums since it’s always special to see the artwork in a big format and the ritualistic gesture to put vinyl on a turn table. But CD version is always important too, it’s an easy way to share the physical release anywhere when you want to trade and give your music to people.

The name of the previous label (Suicide by cops) which took care of the tapes is real genius. In Italy, we’ve had some shocking events of people dying after unfortunate encounters with the authorities. Have there been anything similar in Quebec? If yes, did any of them happen to anyone close to you? I live in Québec, a middle-sized city in eastern Canada of a little more than 500 000 people. I would say that it’s usually pretty relaxed here. It’s not like Montreal, New York or even like you in Italy where there are a lot more people and some hard neighborhoods where police fight against people. I personally hate most of the police, not because they did something really bad to me personally, but because some will fuck around with people because they are bored… meanwhile we still have our share of pedophiles, rapists and other less apparent criminals they should focus on. I heard and saw a lot of police abuse and law enforcement trying to break peaceful public protests by using unnecessary force on people who were not violent, and also fucking racist cops story that harmed people just because of their ignorance and fear. Most of the policeman I met are fucking arrogant. I’m not saying they are all trash, but humans are humans… Give them a gun and power and most of them will act like shit.

To many this might seem heretic (particularly so for a band which plays such punk-spirited bastard music), but in Saccage I hear a specific attention to detail… what does experimenting mean to you? In fact, you’ve changed something in each of your works: Récidive is different from Death Crust Satanique and even from the latest Khaos Mortem! It seems like you don’t want to fall into clichès (as many do) and instead aim to be more exploring of all the depths and subgenres of punk and extreme metal that you can get your hands on to. From very different guitar sounds to very different songwriting styles/riffs and very different genres to influence you. Death Crust Satanique, for instance, sounds nothing like Khaos Mortem and they’re both quite different from Vorace as well, but all three are undoubtedly Saccage! We always try to keep our music homogeneous, to keep our own style of Blackened Crust and nasty Death Metal on each album. But when we sit down and start composition, we always put a concept first behind it. On the demo, it was the roots of the band, Black/Thrash Metal with strong punk/crossover influences. On Death Crust Satanique, its was strongly influenced by the Swedish Crust and the old school Death Metal scene while keeping our Black Metal roots. We started adding D-Beat drumming and more melodic riffs at this point. On Vorace, we continued on our D-Beat, ODSM and Crust punk path. We added HM-2 distortion, and tried to keep the composition simple to keep them really energetic and dynamic on the live aspects. With Récidive, we came back to a more Death/Thrash/Grind sound. Songs like Déchet Humanitaire, La Fosse Circulaire and Saute-Cadran are great examples of a more straight-forward metal sound. Less gang shout, more blast beat. On Khaos Mortem, it’s the first album that was really conceptual. We wanted to change our vision of the lyrics to be more misanthropic and dark as we are more like that now, and to bring a more blackened Grindcore edge to our Death/Crust sound, to create something even more aggressive than our previous stuff while keeping the elements that we love on our previous releases. We switched our tuning for the guitars, and add more growls and raw energy in the vocals. I see Khaos Mortem as a new chapter in the spirit of the lyrics and music after D.C.S/Vorace/Récidive. But overall, even if all those albums are different, we keep the same spirit and roots on all of them. It’s still the same vocals-and-riff driven approach.

You’re from Canada! Homeland of glorious bands such as Slaughter, Strapping Young Lad, Iskra, Voivod, Razor, Blasphemy, etc. Did Canada somehow made it into your music? Do you think you would play differently if you were from anywhere else? The Canadian scene clearly inspired us and yes I think we would not be the same if we were from another country. Also, the Québec scene influenced us a lot. I think that music is like a good wine with a precise cépage or a good beer with local hops. It’s the local flavor that gives them something unique sound-wise.

saccage band

Then, how is the scene in Quebec and Canada in general? Are metalheads and punks united or is there some kind of elitarian bullshit going on? What are some cool crust bands from Canada that you think everyone should check out (both old and new)? And let me foresee that you’ll mention Iskra as well! Iskra are good friends and they rip but this country is so fucking huge! They are from the West Coast and we are from the East Coast. Its like two different country. On the East Coast and precisely the Quebec Province (which is even more different because we speak french and the rest of Canada speak english) the scene is really good. I still think that here we have the biggest and most influential scene in all of Canada. Europe is so much better than America for the Punk/Metal scene, but we still have here a lot of underground festivals (Québec Death Fest, Earslaughter Fest, Messe des Morts, Varning Festival, Grind Your Mind Open Air and so on) and a lot of older bands and newer ones. In the Metal/punk scene of the East Coast , we have some close music friends and veterans that played with Saccage like Hard Charger, Mesrine, Monarque, Dopethrone, Hellacaust and so many others.

Let’s talk about languages. French! It’s not a very common language in music… despite its pretty ”musical” pronunciation, it seems like it doesn’t fit in almost any kind of music. France never had a remarkable punk scene (although something GREAT may be happening right now, so I may have to revaluate that sentence!) and few metal bands dared to sing in french… the only one that comes to my mind right now is H-Bomb. In spite of all this, it perfectly works for you! Tell us what motivated you to sing in your native language, what do you deal with in your lyrics and if Saccage is pronounced in the english/american way or is it ”Saccàge”! We always pronounce it in french, straight up like this: SACK-AGE, with the latter part sounding like the word “mirage”. It was clear since the beginning that we would always sing in french. And by french I mean, Quebec province french or Québecois. We are not from France and we are not Canadian by cultural identity neither. We are Québecois, and this is the spirit behind it. I always liked bands that bring a local aspect to their music, just like all the Swedish Crust bands that sang in their mother tongue and Norwegian Black Metal that have Norwegian Lyrics. For Saccage, vocals are harsh and heavy, so it’s not like if the listener is deeply into lyrical meaning while listening. They are more like an instrument where you listen to the vocals blending with the others playing music. After that, you look at the artwork, the name of the songs, the spirit behind them and you can understand what we want to share behind the music. I think that even if you don’t understand french, anybody can still feel the spirit of Saccage.

We thought you were 666% committed to Saccage only, but we found out that some of you play in other interesting bands as well (Atroce, where Alexis plays personified evil once again and kickXassXviolence)! What do you think of these and is there anything more cooking in the pot that we don’t know about? Québec is a small area and musicians here all know each other. We like to play different type of music and share ideas with various entities. In our bunch of friends we have bands like Atroce, Kickassviolence, Sedimentum, Névrose, Wounded Funeral, Outre-Tombe, Trépas, Délètere, Ultra Rapthor, Soiled by Blood, Survival Instinct, Paladin, Torturer and more recently Sulfure with ex-members from Culte d’Ébolas and a new project of War Metal is in the works.

From the outside, it seems like you’re just making music to enjoy yourself, to hear what you would like to hear in a record and to pay tribute to your influences. On the first record, for example, I hear lots of Immortal, a bit of Repulsion and a bit of Venom. And the ”Récidive” artwork even features logos and graphics taken from greats such as Venom, Doom, Iksra, Hellhammer, Bathory and others. Tell us more about your influences and your approach to songwriting. I mostly explained it on the previous question about the differences of sound on each album but to make it short and to name drop some bands of further influence I can think of early Aura Noir, Wolfbrigade, Wolfpack, Entombed, Toxic Holocaust, Nunslaughter, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Exhumed, Terrorizer and so many other bands. Mostly everything old school from Death, Thrash, Black and Grindcore styles.

You have changed some drummers over the years. Do you think that this contributed to your diving into the experimentation of different styles and sounds? Or has there been any personal/stylistic divergences between yourselves? Or maybe: is Saccage so wild that it consumed all the energies of whatever drummer was in at that moment? Haha, I don’t think so. We had fun when we played with each member, but roster changes sometimes are just a fatality. After almost 14 years in the musical scene, some members had openings with other bands, basic lack of time for music or just have moved on to new projects. It happens to everyone and every band but what is cool with Saccage is that the sound is so distinctive that a new member has a clear understanding of what we are doing and thus adapt their playing to the current line up. Everybody gives a little something different to the band, but the main commitment is to stay the same.

What was Dan thinking when they took this photo? His face is pretty remarkable! Mmmm. Probably enjoying the pit and the raw energy of the crowd.

Immagine

I see you’re wearing a Disma t-shirt in that photo. What do you think about the controversial events that saw the band vocalist involved lately? Well Disma is a good band when you think of its music as a whole entity, and their affiliation about the ex-Incantation singer has been put on the radar years after the release of the first LP. Since then, they changed the singer who had this affiliation so Disma itself has nothing to do with this at all. They still prove their point : solely playing ultra loud old school death metal.

Have you ever been mistreated in a gig situation? For instance, have there been any stupid or creative excuses for canceling your show or avoiding to pay you? Over 100 gigs, we always had good relations with bookers because we choose who we work with. We made a lot of solid contacts after all those years, so we always choose wisely with who we have ties.

How do you feel about being so eclectic as to being called to play both with D.R.I. and at a festival with Horna indiscriminately? I think that it’s a strength to be able to play music owning to many different musical spheres. Our music has so many influences, all mashed-up in a good way that both Punk/crossovers and Black/Death Metal lovers can enjoy.

Would you like to do a tour in Europe? Spoiler: We are supposed to travel in Europe from August through September 2020 with the help of the Neuronoise organization in France. Stay tuned.

saccage tour

The perfect death: cirrhosis, overdose or AIDS? Overdose, a straight and quick death.

To end this interview, relieve yourself: spit some insults and cussings toward nazis! Fuck all extremist scums. The only extreme allowed is extreme music. Silence suck! La dérape tabarnak!

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