InterviewsJanuary 24, 201011,458 views

Despised Icon interview

By Alex
Despised Icon INTERVIEW

OK let's start out with the obvious, what happened to your van?

Alex: This tour so far the shows are great but everything else sucks. We just did Thrash and Burn a month ago, got our new work permits because we're Canadian we need work permits to tour the US, and apparently somebody screwed them up over at customs and we had to pay all over again. We had to get them faxed over to customs last minute so we had to fly in our sound guy from Toronto last minute. He was lucky enough to get all his valuables stolen at the airport, so he had to file a police report. And then we got to customs, took forever, but we finally made it across. So at least we're in the US right now and then two days went by and this morning I got woken up on the side of the road by Eric saying "Alright, everybody out! Our van just doesn't work anymore." So we were stranded five hours away from here in Wisconsin, had to get towed to the nearest dealership, obviously it's Sunday so everything is closed. So we just rented this van right here to be able to make the show and tonight we're just gonna backtrack five hours in the wrong direction and just cross our fingers that they'll be able to start working on our van tomorrow morning. We're never usually this lucky.

And we're cursed; every time we play around here something happens. Last time it was the last show of Thrash and Burn in Maplewood and our trailer lights just wouldn't work anymore. It was the last day of tour, "Ok, tour's over we finally go home, Canada, Montreal, yay!" And then we were driving at night, risking it, and then got stopped by cops. The time before, we had to go to the dentist because somebody's tooth was fucked. So basically every time we're in Minnesota something comes up but, whatever.

I see you guys don't have a trailer, so who's gear are you using?

Alex: I don't know.

Eric: We're playing with Through the Eyes of the Dead's gear.

Max: Yeah we're using their cabs and heads.

Alex: Grind's drums are actually pretty big, I don't know what he's gonna [do]. We only brought guitars and just a little bit of merch. Everything else is just in Wisconsin right now.

Shit, well better luck to you guys for the rest of your tour.

Alex: We've actually...

Eric: Been through worse.

Alex: Yeah, I was just talking to Eric earlier and I had forgotten that our first time ever in Minnesota, we were on tour with Deicide, and something happened with customs and only four out of six of us made it across. So our first show in the state we played as a four-piece, which was really awkward.

Grind: Oh my god, yeah.

Does any of this happen when you guys go to Europe?

Alex: No, Europe is classy.

Grind: Knock on wood.

Alex: Right after this tour we go home for a day and a half and then we fly over to Europe and then finally tour bus, fancy catering, sleep, and all that good stuff.

Eric: Good food.

Alex: Yeah.

When do you know you're big enough to start touring in a bus instead of a van?

Max: We only do our tours in Europe with a bus, that's the only time that we do it. Other than that it's too much money.

Eric: Depends on how much money you want to bring back home after the tour too.

Alex: At least half of this band doesn't work in-between tours so our only source of income is being on tour and doing this band so we have to save up here and there. But European currency, Pounds and Euros and all that, is worth a lot to us so that's how we could actually afford to do the tour bus thing over there.

Ben: But we share it with other bands.

Alex: Like those big double-decker buses. I think on this next tour (Never Say Die Tour) there are going to be three bands in one bus so the whole first floor is just a lounge to hang out and upstairs is ten, twenty smelly bunks.

What's it like headlining your own tour after having been on a big tour like Trash and Burn a month ago?

Alex: This is just show number three. So far we've never played any of these cities whether it be Buffalo, Minnesota today, or Aurora, Illinois yesterday...where was the first show?

Eric: Grand Rapids.

Alex: Grand Rapids, Michigan. Basically, Trash and Burn we played all these big towns and flashy places and this tour is basically us playing in states and cities that we either never been to before or haven't played in awhile so we don't play the same markets twice in a month's span.

Is this the final record on the Century Media contract?

Max and Alex: We have one more.

When your contract is up are you going to continue with Century Media?

Alex: We'll see. We haven't really put much thought to it. As far as I'm concerned we just want to focus on one thing at a time and right now it's this record. We're really stoked on how it came out, we're all really anal I guess, we're always over critical of everything we do and I think this is the closest we've ever been to being one hundred percent satisfied with anything we've done. You know, we've been in plenty of bands in the past as well and this is my favorite shit that I've ever put out personally.

Max: Same with me.

Alex: I'm stoked on everybody's performance, everybody just did their best.

You recorded all of your records with former member Yannick [St-Amand]. Are we expecting to see that all of your recordings will be done by him?

Max: He's so good the way he produces stuff, he's so anal with everything like if you're off...if you think you hit the note really on, and it's like this much off (figure gesture) you'll wind up doing it twenty times until it's perfect and that's the best because everything comes out perfect with him.

Eric: I mean, he's been in the band since the beginning and even though he's not in the band anymore I still feel like he brings something to the table every time.

Alex: He's part of the family.

Eric: Yeah, he knows how it should sound. He knows the Despised Icon sound, how it's supposed to be. Honestly, maybe we can try to have another producer for any other album but I don't think...

Alex: I don't see the point, I love working with Yannick, and I like hanging out with him, it's always good times. I've known him since 1997, he used to do live sound for my previous band and we've stayed in touch ever since. When time came to do this band I was like "Hey guys I know this dude that's just moving to Montreal. He's pretty bad ass, we should try him out." It worked out good for a couple years, and now he has two kids, got married, got a house, got a real job, all that so I wish him the best. We still stay in touch.

Can you divulge a little on why the record was mixed by Andreas Magnusson and not Zeuss?

Alex: Zeuss is awesome, everybody knows about Zeuss and he's worked with some of the biggest bands out there. It just wasn't what we had in mind I guess it's not so much that he did a bad job, he did a great job, it's just not what we had in mind.

Eric: We couldn't finish everything with him. He was on a tight schedule.

Alex: Yeah, he's really busy.

Eric: He was recording Hatebreed [on] the last day of our mix, and there was no time to rework the mix and the album so that's why we decided to go with someone else.

Alex: I had never heard of Andreas before, truthfully, and he [Eric] told me he worked on Miasma [by] Black Dahlia Murder which is an awesome record.

Eric: And the latest Born of Osiris.

Alex: I didn't want to take any chances but when Eric and Yannick were like "This dude's like Andy Sneap on steroids," I was like, "Alright then, let's do it." And it came out great, it sounds like a fuckin' monster.

You wrote most of the record while on the road, more than you have with previous records...

Alex: Yeah, it was our first time actually writing on the road.

How did writing on the road influence the way that the record came out? I know that a lot of the lyrics are about being on the road but music wise...

Alex: Lyrics are more like the repercussions of being on the road, like what all that does to your personal life back home. But as far as the music is concerned I mean we were a bit anxious at first we didn't know what to expect. It was our first time actually writing songs on tour and we didn't want to sacrifice the overall quality of the record just for the sake of putting out another record, just 'cause we're due. But everything went really great, the ideas flowed, everybody pitched in on this record more than on anything else we've put out before which is great it was really like a group effort, everybody has their word to say. Some of my favorite songs on this record were written on the road like MVP, or what else, we wrote Diva of Disgust in the UK, we did Made of Glass in the UK as well. Two thirds of this record was written either in November on the Never Say Die tour (2008) in Europe or on our last US headline in the beginning of this year and then we got home from that headline and started recording a week later, you know, working hard.

Sleepless was a really different song coming from you guys, how did you decide to put a slower song on the record?

Alex: It was Eric's idea.

Eric: Yeah, the song is pretty much a product of me and Steve. Everyone in the band, I think, likes slow type doomy bands like Isis and bands like that 'cause we listen to that sometimes on the road. Steve really wanted to do a doomy song on something and it allowed me to also work on some of my clean guitar riffs and stuff 'cause I used to play classical guitar at school. We just wanted to try something different. We had a similar song on The Ills of Modern man, Fainted Blue Ornaments; like the ending is super melodic and slow with clean guitars so, I don't know we just try to come up with different stuff...

Alex: Add new influences here and there on every record just so they stand out from one another. I'm not really as much into that doomy scene but I like that Sleepless track, it's depressing as fuck, it's good. Last year on this European festival run we did we got to play with Cult of Luna and we played with Neurosis and I watched both of those guys' set and it was just so good and I think that inspired us a little bit.

Ok so anyone who's read the lyrics to MVP pretty much knows what it's about. It's pretty straight forward. Have you ever gotten into any trouble with your MVPs on the road?

Alex: Uhh...


Ben: That's a good one.

Alex: God...

(Laughing) So yeah? Maybe?

Eric: I can't answer that 'cause I'm married.

Alex: I can't answer that.

Yeah we'll exclude you [Eric] from that!

Alex: Uh, you know...

Ok, we'll skip that.

What city has the best MVPs?


Ben: Oh shit that's another good question.

Alex: Yesterday and today are great in my book.


Alex: God, I'm an idiot!

Al Glassman left Despised Icon to play for Job For A Cowboy, are there any hard feelings?

Alex: Yeah, there are, but I'd rather focus on the positive things. We met Max our bass player through Al.

Max: We've been best friends for 10...12 years so it's kind of tough.

Alex: It's kind of rough, but as I said, we got this guy [Max] thanks to him and I fuckin' love Max, you know. He's awesome; he's an awesome bass player and a great dude. He puts up with a lot to be in this band, him being from out of town and all. Now that he's [Al] gone we got a better guitarist and that's that. It all worked out for the best 'cause like, I'd say, now more than ever we're more focused as a band.

Are you [Max] the only member that's not Canadian?

Max: Yeah.

Is it tough to be on the road with a bunch of guys who speak French?

Max: No, you know I think it's actually really cool because it's like I slip into another world (laughs) it's all French...the van's in kilometers, everything's in different units, it's totally different.

When you get home from tour is everything backwards to you?

Max: My English gets wicked bad. I think when I went into the van yesterday I go, "Where it is my hat?" (laughs). So my English will get bad, but other than that it's cool.

Eric: He's lying; he hates us.

Alex: Screw these Frenchies!

The next couple of questions are just random ones that people threw out at me.
What is... I think it's 'pou-tang'?

Band: Oh, poutine!

Max: (Laughs) Poutang?!

Band: (Sarcastically) Poutang!

(Laughs) That's how they told me to say it!

Alex: Alright, we're from Canada...actually we're from Quebec which is the only French province in Canada and one of the things we have going on back home is poutine (pronounced poo-tsin) which is basically fries with cheese curds and gravy on top and people eat it as a meal. It's fatty as fuck but it tastes great.

Eric: It's purely American I don't know why you guys don't have it.


Alex: I should get this rich investor and introduce it to Americans 'cause this is the fast food capitol of the world. I'd be rich!

Max: ...get a cart and put it in downtown Boston. (Laughs) "Poutine cart!"

Alex: And it's the type of thing, you know, like everybody's like, "You can only have a cheese steak in Philly."

Max: True Philly cheese steak.

Alex: So beware of imitations! (laughs) True poutine is only in Quebec!

I don't know anything about hockey but somebody asked me to ask you guys about the new line-up for the Canadians.

Eric: Midgets


Alex: My roommates follow hockey all the time, they're always like "this player, statistics, statistics, trades, blah blah." I mean us being on the road all the time it's just really hard to actually follow everything, so we just watch a couple of games here and there and between tours and that's that.

Eric: Actually the Misery Index guys are huge hockey fans and will just keep texting me stuff about hockey like, "Did you know that this player has been traded for your team?" and stuff like that. Like "Good luck in the playoffs!" and I'm like "Cool man, I just don't know what you're talking about." (Laughs)

Alex: You should ask Ion Dissonance. They're like the biggest hockey nerds ever.

Speaking of those guys I have not heard about them in awhile, what are they up to?

Alex: Speaking of which, I'm now roommates with two of them, Kevin the singer and J.F. the drummer. I constantly hear them working on their pre-pro shit and then I'm like knocking on the wall, "Turn it down fuckers!" But it actually sounds really good. It's a bit more like Solace, a bit more chaotic. They got more blast beats going on as well. I've heard almost every single track off the new record already, they're gonna start recording it in like a month or so. And I get to hear Kevin do vocal patterns with any random stupid thing that comes up to mind whether it's stuff like "determined to eat shit on toilet" and then actually putting real words to that afterwards, it's great.

What's up with that song 5-1-4?

Alex: 514, it's just a party song. We wanted to do a bonus track for the fans out there last minute. I was on the phone with Eric humming that last riff, the chorus riff, and then just put it together really quickly and it's just us and a couple of friends back home. Gabe, one of my best friends, who's in Vatican who used to be in Ion Dissonance, there's Kevin my roommate, Ben [guitar] who used to sing in Camilla Rhodes he does some vocals on that as well, and there's Elliot that big fat bearded dude from Beneath the Massacre he screams on that as well and it's just a fun track.

Eric: It's a real easy song it's like a breakdown from In the Arms of Perdition and another riff from Made of Glass that we slowed down...

Alex: No it's not In the Arms it's a breakdown from Made of Glass...

Max: It's Day of Mourning isn't it?

Alex: Wait, how does that fucking song go?

Band: (Vocal impression)

(Laughs) You don't even know your own song!

Eric: Day of Mourning

Alex: Yeah, it's inspired by the last breakdown of Day of Mourning and one riff in Made of Glass...

Eric: And then this new riff we came up with. It was made on purpose to have room for friends to place lyrics and sing over it. And 5-1-4 is the Montreal area code.

That's it. Do you guys have any last words to say to the people on Lambgoat?

Alex: Al flip.

Max: Wow.

Alex: Ouch.

Grind: Grind forever!



Post Comment
evil hero_ 1/24/2010 5:27:54 PM

there is true, honest-to-god, actual poutine in portland.

iatemygoat_ 1/24/2010 11:36:51 PM

Suzie, I'm a little dissappointed you didn't mention me and Eric interrupting this little interview to give all those guys clean Body Beneath shirts haha

baobab_ 1/25/2010 11:46:20 AM

Down-to-earth dudes. I met Alex while he was filling in for Ion Dissonance back in like..06? A full year later, I talked to him at a DI show and he remembered our entire conversation. I was really surprised.

xEMMUREGROUPIEx_ 1/25/2010 7:42:57 PM

these guys are all good dudes and so happen to be my fave band ever!!!

AaronForBattle_ 5/8/2010 10:20:54 AM

Yay, they came into the country the right way:) You guys should tell them spic off