You´ve heard this before. One guy, influenced by Black Metal milestones gets into writing, arranging and recording songs without any outside influence, a one man band if you will. Phase two; years go by, the musical influences expand, others join in, suddenly it feels like something primal at first is now mutating into something more advanced. Lille´s Verlies can be placed into this narrative, an underground phenomena that wants to stir and create from the very soul. I massively enjoyed their debut album “Le Domaine Des Hommes”, released earlier this year via a special cooperation between Hypnotic Dirge Records and Throats Productions. I caught with band leader N. (whose real name shall remain unknown within these digital halls) to find out more about this lifesaving album of his, the widespread musical inspirations employed on the record and a new video soon to be released. Furthermore, new drummer M. joined us at the end of the interview, sharing some wisdom of his own.
Good day to you N. I´ll say this right off the bat, if feels a bit eccentric to address someone by a single letter. Do you mind sharing your real name? It´s fine if you´d prefer not to break the mystery hehe!
N.: Hi there. Nice to answer your questions. Let’s say that N. is my character inside Verlies, so to you, I can say it clearly, but to your readers let’s just keep N. as the single letter to name myself. It’s also a pun with another of my pseudonym in some other projects, so it is easier to keep it like that.
Fair enough. Then let´s start! You´re practically spearheading the musical vessel known as Verlies, and you´ve just released your debut album through official channels. What can you tell me about the band, its purpose, and the statement intended with “Le Domaine Des Hommes”?
N.: Verlies was a one man project from its start. At the beginning, it was just me trying to get into music, learning to play with my instruments, learning to record stuff and learning to live. As simple as that. But then, some people joined me. I guess they found something in the compositions, in the writing, that pleased them. And I thank them all for what they brought into this band. They brought something to my vision of life, music-wise too, and we shared a lot, even if I still was and still am the only real “head” on top. “Le Domaine Des Hommes” was supposed to be a lifesaver album. All the work and the writing was an outlet, as I was a young and dumb guy when I started it. When I achieved writing it, things were quite strange… since we started playing live in 2013, it happened to be a lot more than just a hobby, and I really am aware of what it brings to me right now: a new outlook on my life and life itself.
That sound´s quite profound. So the album, has there been any media output regarding the release? I haven´t seen that much, I guess I´m asking if feedback on Verlies comes from underground circles, since you´re not the most visible band on the planet?
N.: Yes, there have been some reviews, people talking about it. Most of them are webzines that got into Verlies’ music thanks to my two labels, but there was no “big” recognition since the digital release in 2014. But with live experience, we reached a new audience, and It was really a good thing for us to have feedback on our performances.
How come you´re releasing “Le Domaine Des Hommes” all over again? I´m guessing Hypnotic Dirge Records and Throats Productions saw some potential in the album? What made you want to work with two labels located on the other side of the world?
N.: In fact, re-releasing the album with the two labels was not the original choice. I wanted to make it all by myself. Pay for the pressing, and then try to spread everything all by my own means… but as I said, I was young and dumb (maybe still am), and did not understand that it was a work too hard for only one guy, studying and working at the same time. Some small structures tried to get me into their roster, but it was nothing serious.
So I tried to contact some labels. Only one answered me, and it was Nicolas from Hypnotic Dirge Records. We first had to build a bond between us, as he is one of the few guys that are really trustful in this kind of things… and then Edgar from Throats Prod. reached me because he really liked the music and wanted to release it too. All I did is to make them get in touch. So we three decided that it was a good thing to make it happen. And it may be the best choice I did so far.
I´ve categorized the album as “Avantgarde Black Metal”. Regarding influences, I imagine that Black Metal is only one source you go to, once commencing songwriting. Care to share some of your musical inspirations? I definitely heard some jazz and progressive flair too.
N.: This is one of the questions I get quite often. At first, I wanted to make some Black Metal. It was nothing more than that. I was 17 when I started to write Verlies’ material, and the only bands I listened to were deep, dark, full of despair. I wanted to transcribe those feelings. I wanted to make the darkest music ever made. But as it is quite obvious now, I did not manage to do so. Or only partially.
Black metal is what has brought me into a music-making process. As a musician, my first and only wish was to write something like this. Something that I used to listen to. I wanted to make some music that I would enjoy to listen to as well… and that’s why there are so many influences in Verlies. I do love, or hate (I don’t know anymore) Black Metal, but I also love many different things, even outside Metal. Blues, Jazz, 70’s rock, hip-hop, ambient… I wanted to put many things I like into this record and the following records too.
The band´s lyrics are exclusively in french, is that correctly understood? May I ask if this was a conscious decision from the beginning? If so, why?
N.: Yes it is, indeed. French is a beautiful language. I am upset that so many French bands choose to write their songs in English, instead of their mother tongue. I was like these bands in my first attempt to write lyrics. Then, I discovered Gris and Sombres Forêts. It fucked me up. It was beautiful, well-written, poetic as fuck. I was stunned when I read the lyrics from “Veux-Tu Danser”.
The last track on the album, “Luna Liquor”, how did that one fit in? It´s pretty different from the rest.
N.: I don’t really know what to say about it. To me it fits perfectly, because it is the song that concludes what I had in mind.
It was written at the same time I wrote “Nouvelle”, and those songs are, with the first version of “L’Abîme du Guide”, the three songs that I kept from the really raw demo I recorded when I was 17. It sounded like shit. But this song, “Lunar Liquor”, it was part of something bigger, and I wanted it to end the album, as it always did in my head.
So I wanted to get your perspective on a few things. Regarding the music industry, do you have any thoughts on how it is shaped today with bands all over the place, digital consumption, easy access to recordings on your laptop etc?
N.: I can say a lot of things about it. The home-studio recording, the free sharing websites and digital consumption is what make the new bands exist nowadays. It is more difficult to choose something good among the great amount of new material, and to raise it at the same level as we raised our icons back in the days, but, if we manage to get through it, it is way more satisfactory. Most of the bands I listen to were discovered through blogspots, p2p, forums, etc… and it was great and still is great.
Bands that tend to spent a shitload of money on production, promotion, and all that kind of stuff tend to just be too arrogant and loose the main point of what they are supposed to do: good music.
Take for instance: most of the bands from HDR, Throats and many small labels tend to leave their music free. And people, the audience, are more willing to help a good band that allows them to download their music instead of the ones who force them to buy it. It is as simple as that. I know some guys do not share my/our point of view, but then again, we’ll see in some years where they will be, what they will think about it.
Downloading and digital stuff is part of our musical world. If we don’t get into it… then again, we’re heading into a wall. I don’t really give a damn about music “industry”, because what really matters right now is what we get into our ears.
Tracing back through time before the new millennium, Metal music had some distinctive lines like Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal, Doom Metal, Industrial Metal…basically the extreme metal forms. How do you see these genres, or any genre of Metal for that matter, progressing? Are the lines getting too blurry to the point where the music doesn´t make sense anymore?
N.: You know, there will always be changes. Some people will tend to be more “old school” and will only like some special kind of stuff, I won’t blame them. But I don’t want to be that guy who blinds himself. I like the good old death, black metal, hardcore, but I also tend to look forward and see what will come next. Extreme Metal isn’t what it used to be anymore. We have shows every week in our towns, in different sub-genres, we have the choice. I guess that 20-30 years ago, it was not the same thing. Maybe it is for the best, maybe for the worst… but seriously, I don’t care.
Since there´s so much output of bands, the ones who “make it” successfully become fewer and fewer, especially new ones. Are there any bands or albums of late, regardless of success rates, that have influenced you?
N.: I guess that we join on this point. For the metal influences… Of course. They are countless, but for the most important: Opeth, Burzum, Gris, Sombres Forêts, Pensées Nocturnes, Alcest (only the second one), Peste Noire, Agalloch, Altar Of Plagues, Ghost Brigade… and many, many others.
Alright. Let´s get back to album related matters. Correct me if I´m wrong, but are you guys not shooting a video for the track “Maladie”? When is that due to be released?
N.: The video shooting is over. For now, we wait for the video montage by Nelson R. Draegon, the director of this video. He did a great job, and I already had the pleasure to see some footage… I don’t want to be pretentious or anything, but I really think it will be awesome and… most important thing, is that you don’t have to wait so much. It will be ready in the next few weeks.
Verlies isn´t exactly a band that plays much live. You´re scheduled to play in your hometown on 28.november. Is this supposed to be the proper release show for the album or is this just a local show?
N.: Mmh… I don’t think it will be a proper release thing. Since the physical album is out for 6 months now, it would be nonsense to pretend we are going to make a special event for this…
It’s just a great opportunity to get back on stage now, and more than everything else, to introduce our new band member M. behind the drumset. We are really proud to have him with us, as he is really one of the best drummer I had the pleasure to play with. We, with T. and V. are really excited to play live again, especially with this kind of great musician.
How do you feel about playing live? Furthermore, is there a vibrant scene in Lille, with bands and live promoters doing concerts together?
N.: Yes we do have a good scene in Lille. Different genres of Metal, different approach of music. Some bands are well known like Loudblast, S.U.P (but I dislike it), Glowsun (some psyche-stoner trip that is AWESOME), and less-known bands like Hats Barn (our last drummer Psycho sings in it), Sunstare, Edremerion, Lappalainen… Different genres, but a living scene that is really interesting.
From the very beginning of our live experiences, I always had apprehension about getting on stage. Now we are more experienced, we worked a lot on our new songs, on the visual aspect too, so I guess we are finally ready. For sure.
So what does the future hold for Verlies? Have you written more stuff already or would you refrain from rushing things?
N.: Speaking of new material, it’s not a secret anymore, we started recording the second album. It takes a lot of time as we all have other projects around, and we don’t all live in the same part of France, but I hope we’ll manage to finish it before the end of the year. It’s something new for us because we decided to do it all alone, except for the drum parts (we record the guitars, bass guitar, vocals and do the mixing at my place). But it’s really exciting to go forward. I can’t say that much… except it will be more powerful, more progressive, more black metal… more everything. But I guess every band is more enthusiastic about the new material they are preparing. New thing seems always to be the best thing.
So… in the nearest future, we want to play more on stage, and I hope we will. We’ll finish the second album, we’ll try to get things in order… and when everything is done, when we are a little satisfied by our actions… start all over again.
Thanks for your time and for taking the effort to answer my questions. You have the last words!
N.: Thank you for your time and concern. I’ll let M. have the last word, as he is right near me. Do you want to add something?
For more info about Verlies, check out their Facebook page here
Extreme Metal Voyager review can be read here