Previous Unexpect Interviews
The Gauntlet: How's the tour (and the Midwest in general) treating you?
SYRIAK: Seeing that it's our first incursion into this territory, I should say the people's reaction is quite good! The difference of this tour is not due to the place we play but to the bands line-up. The 2 bands we're touring with ( Foxy Shazam & Tub Ring ) are not issued from the same scene so it makes for a quite unique mood and a most diverse crowd. We're all linked together by a kind of inherent weirdness present in each of the bands. Eric Nally ( Foxy's singer ) is the incarnation of oddness, you have to see them live…anyway, it was a unique experience and we'll be looking forward playing in the Midwest again…humm…Chicago's pizza…
The Gauntlet: What are your touring plans after the current tour?
SYRIAK: We're working on finding more tours to join and there are a couple of stand alone shows already planned for the moment…NY, Quebec, Toronto, Hamilton, St-Hyacinthe, the Trois-Rivières Metalfest… I think there's an extensive Canadian tour brewing for next Spring and we'll try to get on the roster of major metal festivals coming up…In other words, we want to spread the word and play everywhere we can…so everyone, if you know promoters willing to book unexpect, don't hesitate to contact us through our website ( www.unexpect.com ). Don't be shy…we don't bite unless we're asked.
The Gauntlet: As the only really 'metal' band on the bill, does it seem as though the crowds are enjoying your sets or are interested in learning more about the band?
SYRIAK: Since most people liking the two other bands have a fondness for the strange, they always seemed to find something fitting their tastes in our music ! Their reaction was positive and it was cool to touch base with another scene. Since the promotion has been more focused on Tub Ring, there wasn't a lot of metal heads present at the shows, so it was good to see that we could appeal to a public not used to such "metallized" eccentricities ;)
The Gauntlet: I've read about Unexpect's (Artagoth's) origins in the thrash group Unexpected, which seems very much at odds with your current style. What inspired you to shift towards the style that you play today?
SYRIAK: It came naturally with the arrival of each new member. And since everyone in the band has always been a close unit, every musical discovery is immediately shared with the rest of the clan. Everything we like is incorporated into our music, so you can imagine that with 7 people, it gives a hellish blend of variety.
The Gauntlet: What were your original goals for Unexpect, and how have they changed since, if at all?
SYRIAK: We always wanted to do music without compromises. So, that didn't change. We don't create weird music for the sake of being weird; it's the normal result of opening yourself to everything without leaving any door closed. Fact is, our music must be a kind of historic addition…explaining myself : The preferred goal would be to add up new influences without forgetting the past. So instead of changing completely from album to album, the selected formula is a kind of ever-growing metamorphosis.
The Gauntlet: Between each release so far there have been significant periods of silence. What caused these, and how did they affect Unexpect's progress?
SYRIAK: The major crisis which caused such a long period of absence was the departure of old time members and friends Zircon, Elda and Merzenya. Exod ( who was playing the drums at the time of Utopia ) swapped position and became the keyboardist, so the main problem has been of finding a stable replacement for the drums. Chaoth and Leïlindel, being already part of our social entourage, were the logic and wise replacement but it took nearly 2 years to find the good drummer for us. Competent and polyvalent drummers were scarce in our region, so we've been cursed with a long period of time of relative inactivity; always starting and re-starting from the beginning until we found Landryx sometime between 2003 and 2004. wE_Invaders was released so that people don't forget that we were still "active" and not dead yet. It was recorded with session drummers, but it was unconceivable that there would be an official session member in the band. We're all close knitted together and create music with an artistic vision in mind…so having a paid mercenary in our midst wasn't an option for us. But I guess it's been in our favour since we're now set for a long ride all together and the chemistry is better than ever.
The Gauntlet: Chemistry in any band is important, but particularly so for a group with so many members. Did you know all of the band members before they joined or only through holding auditions?
SYRIAK: When I came in the band in 1996, it was supposedly as a replacement for a show and I knew Artagoth only by reputation, since he was kind of the local area's guitar hero ( I was 16 ). Exod, Merzenya and le bateleur were childhood friends from classical music school and Elda was an acquaintance. Later on, I came to know Chaoth in one of the regular ( and so numerous ) party he was holding at his house. I heard him play bass for the first time, and fun thing is that I was under the influence of mushrooms so…you can guess I was more than impressed by his 23 fingers ;) He was using techniques I hadn't even heard of before and I was completely flabbergasted. So when came the time to find another bassist, the choice was quite obvious. Leïlindel became a friend of us before she joined the band. We knew her, because she was the girlfriend of a musician friend who made Artagoth and me sing in his totally delicious musical project Caraan ( which never saw the light yet…). We became friends rapidly and went to see some of her contemporary dance performances. When we heard what she recorded for Caraan, it was the ultimate proof that she was bound to be our new female singer. The only one we didn't know before he got into unexpect was Landryx. He was playing with some friends of us in another musical project, and when we heard of his prowess we gave him an audition…you know the rest ;)
The Gauntlet: And while on that note, Unexpect appear to be much more of an ensemble cast than one with a main 'mastermind'. Do you think this a fair statement, or is there an actual band leader?
SYRIAK: You're pretty right about that. We see ourselves more as a collective of musicians than a sole vision of a mastermind. We all pour a part of our mind into the music and it'll always stay that way. Of course, sometimes, someone has to cut a decision and conclude the final word, but it's not always the same person. It depends on the mood of the day. Usually, the main structure of the music is composed by Artagoth, Exod or me. I also do a lot of the arrangements, details and realization stuff in the studio... Everyone can compose for every instrument and we like to give ourselves challenges to overcome.
The Gauntlet: Aside from the nature of the music, your lyrics are also quite unique--who writes them, and how are they inspired?
SYRIAK: I am the main perpetrator lyric wise. Artagoth wrote Megalomaniac Trees and Chaoth, The Shiver, but usually, I'm the word spinner for unexpect…lyrics, mailing list, website texts, etc. As for the inspiration it's quite hard to point a finger directly at the source since it's really on-the-moment writing. A kind of controlled automatism. I start with a theme in mind and I just let my mind wander in surrealist frenzies. But the chosen words always have to stick to my main idea, so while it may seem like I'm just completely confused, there's always second meanings and each word is present for a reason. There are some exceptions of course…when it's pure delightful vocabulary madness…existing for the sole beauty of words…but most of the time, there IS an explanation for each sentence…although it does not necessarily follow a linear time scale. I want it to be just like a human mind function. Somewhat random but still organised. Well…it would be long to explain everything, but I have in mind to write a companion book to our lyrics someday ;) But again…it would kill a bit of the mystery, so we'll see…
The Gauntlet: Unexpect clearly put effort into your appearance and presence, so how significant is the visual aspect of Unexpect (i.e. the live stage show and exotic dress)?
SYRIAK: It goes with the music…we want the visual appearance to be different. Since the visual aspect of a band is directly tied to the music and the images that it will brought forth in listening sessions, there must be a connection. I know it's kind of a bonus and may seem trivial to some people, but I wanted our looks to be working along the line of our music. It shall never take more place than the music though. If the music is consistent, who cares about how we dress? I see it in a kind of theatrical way…we're doing representation and as such, we're only puppets presenting the music in the flesh. Mere conductors for the notes and feelings expressed in our creations.
The Gauntlet: What does the songwriting process of a typical track look like?
SYRIAK: It's always different, but it usually begins with an offering coming from me, Artagoth or Exod. We then find parts on our own, present them to the band. We get together and express our ideas…each day see someone different take the lead. It's really chaotic but it works. Some ideas are ready, others are jammed and there is studio experimentation of course.
The Gauntlet: How did starting in Quebec affect or influence the direction you took with Unexpect, and what do you think of that local scene today?
SYRIAK: I don't really know if being in Quebec affected our sound or not since we've been influenced a lot by European bands. I assume that having assimilated a kind of European touch while living so far from its source may have caused this kind of divergence we're now presenting. It's hard to say, being directly standing in the bath…but speaking of the metal scene in Quebec, I must say it's really special to have such a living and active scene with all those bands who don't sound like each others. That's one of the particularities of the scene. Everyone is trying to do something different, and the goal is not to emulate the other but to stand out from the lot. There's a lot of good bands here worth listening to : Augury, Martyr, Despised Icon, Neuraxis, Quo Vadis, Ion Dissonance, etc. The list grows on and on and on…It seems like everyone you talk to has a band ! And another thing is that it's not restricted to metal…there is such a diversity in Montreal that it's astounding! Every musical style is represented with originality and I could list a page worth of excellent bands, all-styles included !
The Gauntlet: What sort of bands did you listen to growing up to be inspired to write the music you do, and what are some current favorites?
SYRIAK: To make a short list, some of the bands we were listening to in our beginnings are : Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Death, Cynic, Deicide, Dark tranquility, In Flames, Moonspell, At the Gates, Dissection, Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Amorphis, etc. Currently, some acts that I like includes : Aphex Twin, The Mars Volta, Ulver, Peccatum, God Speed You Black Emperor and so many others…
The Gauntlet: If you could put together your own show bill, either personal favorites or similar acts, who would be on it?
SYRIAK: Emperor, Cynic, The Mars Volta and unexpect with an electronic set of Aphex Twin in the middle ! The ultimate diversity Tour…
The Gauntlet: What are Unexpect's plans for the next couple years? And after that?
SYRIAK: Keep on creating music, living from it and spread our wings to stretch them over the world…and perhaps establishing my home in an abandoned cookie factory with my pet vultures…who knows…that…and growing some nice tentacles…
The Gauntlet: And in closing, what would you like to your fans and audiences to know about Unexpect, or is there anything else you would like to say?
SYRIAK: Thanks to everyone who support the avant-garde scene ! It's not easy to pierce and make its way through the obstacles when you decide to create your own path and its you, people, who make it possible for us to continue…thanks for your inputs, feedbacks and positive energy...ok…now I'm going to crouch in foetal position and sing lullabies to the unborn children swimming in the recess of my cerebral mass…See you on the road and cheers !