Hi Steven, thanks for taking some time to answer some questions for “The Metal Observer”.
To start off with, tell me a bit about the history of NEURAXIS, as well as how you became involved in the Metal scene.
Before I joined the scene, I was like every Metalhead: going to shows and buying CDs in stores. I started to play guitar at 17 years old, in that time my life was pretty chaotic and I was in lack of self-identity. I listen to rock since I got the “Back In Black” album from AC/DC in 1981, I though it was the heaviest music and I was scared to be possessed because of the image of the group but also the crap that my mom and other people says about Hard Rock and Metal music. But I started to understand that rock and Metal has something different from the other style of music: the attitude. Anyway, when I got 17 years old, lots of things changes in me. First, I lost my virginity (thank god I was ready for that for ages!) and after I move on my own in an apartment. Back in time, I was living with my mother in Blainville and at 16 I decided to switch to live with my father in Pointe-Calumet. I moved to Laval (Pont Viau) to work as an electronic technician in a climatic captor/sensor company. I discovered the Rock en Stock/Dutchies, CKUT 90.3 and of course the Foufounes Electriques. I go out in the weekend all by myself (I was a very lonely guy, solitaire) at Montreal to see shows, buy CDs and see guitars at Steve’s because back then the sellers doesn’t care about to let me try one. I was in a 1 1/2 apartment, playing guitar all the time after working. Eating Kraft dinner and Daisy rice all time to spare my cash to buy stuff, by the way I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs at all! Then at 19 years old, I lost my job and I decided to move to Granby where my mom lives. I shared 2 years an apartment with my mom/step father and my brother. Then I was getting more involved in Metal music by playing with other people. I made a cover band, playing METALLICA/SEPULTURA songs. I joined WINDS OF WAR then got kick out a year after but it was a very nice training. So I decided to do MY own band. I compose with friends and I made my band under a shitty moniker. There was not lead guitarist and not vocalist, so I was doing everything on my own but I go fed up with the scene up there. I move to Montreal and it then I got really getting in the scene and trying to do my own thing like NEURAXIS and Neoblast.
Over the span of NEURAXIS’ three releases, there has been significant progress and change, is this something you do consciously, or does it just happen?
Well, at the early time of NEURAXIS, I was more into Metal and strictly Metal stuff, especially Death Metal. I wasn't listening to other kinds of music except Heavy Rock, Thrash and Speed Metal, which are in the same family. I have to admit I was limited in influences and style but I met lots of people such as Felipe Quinzanos who listen lots of cool stuff like Paco De Lucia/Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin. While doing NEURAXIS, I joined for fun a Folk Rock Punk band called HANG OVER. It opened my mind to many level. I realized that I could appreciate other kind of music beside Metal and Rock. So I decided to play different style of music for my self, years after years few elements got into NEURAXIS and what's not goes on the shelve. When the shelves were to crowded of riffs, I decided to do some projects that are way different from NEURAXIS...
Recently NEURAXIS has been a little on the quiet side as far as recording is concerned, do you have anything in the works?
We have plenty of riffs and songs parts but nothing completed like a full song, only segments. The reason why we don’t go in the studio is we got busy with shows and tour and also I got into a depression. The "Truth Beyond...." recording took a lot of juice from me and also I was saturated with the business side of NEURAXIS and Neoblast. I have the feeling that I can't cope with it anymore, it was overwhelming me and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I never had the chance to take a break and I take things for everything very seriously, maybe too much. Since I moved to Montreal I never stopped to do stuff here and there and adding other task here and there, doing bands here and there. There was too much “here and there”. I learned lots of things on me such as determination and persistence but also laziness and there was always a voice in my head that I have to do more and more, I'm always in challenge with myself, it was crazy. I was working in clubs doing booking, lights and DJ. Going out all the time, party and acting crazy, sometime I do stupid things because I was too drunk or stoned. I was on the edge and I was hungry to do anything, I though I was invincible that I can do whatever I want, I just can't help it because I want more! So all this have an impact on my creativity, I lived some very dark moment that I can't describe how weird and hectic it was. “Passage Into Forlorn” and “Truth Beyond” are my exutory of all my fucked up and messed up moments but there was not only bad things that influences me to compose but also great things such as the guys I play with who gave me strength to continue and to do a better person of me. Back in time I was a total bitch, I was stubborn and very edgy as a leader. Since our last studio recording which was in 2002, NEURAXIS had a problem finding a drummer because Alex got a tendon problem in his arm and it was hurting him big time so we had no choice to find a session drummer. I founded Etienne because he was playing for DISEMBARKATION on Neoblast rec. I was in touch with him a while ago by email concerning one of my projects, AXIOMIZED. When Alex told us that he cannot continue to play drums for a while, Etienne was the first guy in my mind but the other guys have also other drummers to suggest so we checked around and see which one would be able to play the drums parts of Alex. If you know, Alex was a fucking good drummer, one of the best in Montreal after Flo (this is my personal opinion). Etienne fill the slot perfectly and even more, he surprised me a lot, I never though he was that good and such a great guy! Anyway, he's helping us and we don't know for how long because he's also playing for AUGURY which is more in the vein of what he like to play, extreme Progressive Metal. Right now, we don't know what we going to do, either taking Etienne for the next recording if he can or finding a drummer who would be able to fit in the band permanently which it's not obvious at all!
You said that your recent activities sent you into a depression, how did you manage to get out of it?
By giving away what I can't do anymore and killing few things like excessive party and consummation (weed and alcohol). Supposedly my intentions were good but not enough for few things, especially in Neoblast which I gave so much energy in it and getting dissed down so easily by some who don't know a damn thing in music industry but also they weren't wrong in a certain way because I was doing so much stuff that I was missing few things here and there. You know, people remember more about the negative side of yours and this brought me down. I'm not a business man, I'm too kind and it's not the way it should be, at the end I got fucked and there is no one to blame except me. During the summer 2001, I was on verge to quit everything - I was just fed up about all the crap and bad lucks, I had the feeling that I have to fight for every inch when I move forward. During that time, I had a girlfriend and we were talking about getting a serious life together. I was talking to some people, I express my feeling a bit too much and to too much folks and this gave a negative reaction around me. I got labeled as a LOSER because I was thinking to quit almost everything, of course this gave a negative vibe about Neoblast and soon folks thinks Neoblast is crap and so on. That was a big mistake of mine, I know it but what can you say, I'm a guy who can't hold stuff in me anymore and I explode, it came out pretty chaotic and this is the result why NEURAXIS is on Galy. In the mean while, my ex partner Jerome who was in France for about years was planning to come back and willing to help me out with Neoblast. He's better than me and he has way more energy than me, I gave him Neoblast because I know he love challenge but also he's motivated. You know, Neoblast is older than NEURAXIS, the name because Neoblast was just a name for representing NEURAXIS for Booking and stuff. I had the name a long while ago for a band but it fits better for a company. Now Neoblast is stronger than ever but it's too late with NEURAXIS, this is life man...
Getting back to your new material, even though you don't have any complete songs, do you have any idea what it's going to sound like? Will it be different from "Truth Beyond..."?
It will be a progression like from "A Passage To Forlorn" to "Truth Beyond...". There will me more elements, more dynamics and more fucked up changes and tempos. We will be what we're good at it, fuck peoples minds up! heheh! I think this new recording will be more mature, more structuralized and more vivid. Of course we will make it sound more that "Truth..." because we will use St-Amand again, it's mandatory! Both poles of NEURAXIS diversity will be again, re-initiated! No one will catch it at first listening but there will be some groove and other different stuff as usual. It's not that we will be more complex, heavier or more faster. It the way we going to use all those elements to make our music more diverse and surprising. This is the way that NEURAXIS works, there NO COMPROMISE! It will take the time it will take...
You just re-released two of your older records, “Imagery” and “A Passage Into Forlorn” as a 2-1, how come?
First of all, our 2 releases are sold out and discontinued. Second, NEURAXIS is with Galy now. And third, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NEURAXIS.
You just celebrated NEURAXIS’ 10 year anniversary with a west coast tour and a show in Montreal, how did that go?
Yes in fact we were on the road for 16 days in west Canada this march. It’s our first Canadian tour and it went great, we had lots of fun and we meet cool peoples. Everything is positive for us because we had a great crowd response at every show, it helped to spread the name big time! After the tour, we took few days off to recuperate and we blast with the Montreal show, which is one of the best shows we had. It was so sweet to come back home and see 250 folks in a small club just to see us. You know what, it worth spending 10 years of your life for all this even we still don't make a living. It's in our heads that we get rewarded, nothing can replace or forget all this, and it’s a buzz that touches us straight to the heart.
How did the tour compare with your recent European tour?
Well, Europe was more fascinating because we got across 10 countries and that means lots of different cultures. In Canada also there is something special because we always wanted to tour the gigantic and beautiful country. There are some folks who know us for ages and where expecting us to come so it's hard to make a comparison. Both tour were amazing and brought us so many good memories that make us so happy, it's more than satisfaction, it's a statement! NEURAXIS never had it easy, it took us so many years to archive a single thing that most band would get it earlier but you know what, NEURAXIS had it at the end and no matter how long it take to get it. Maybe we stump inch by inch but it's a concrete and massive move, we never fold back and this make us stronger all the time because we don't leap like a lot of bands. Anyway, those who leap they often collapse because of the radical change and that install instability. NEURAXIS is quite stable even with a session drummer. We know that if we're having issues, we will all survive and get along with it no matter what...
Is there the possibility of Etienne becoming a permanent member? If not, do you have any ideas as to who could?
I have no idea because we respect Etienne a lot and we don't want to push him or to force him to play with us. At the moment he's cool to play few shows for us but eventually he might not available in the future because he has a job and also AUGURY who will do shows and maybe tour so it's complicated. In my heart, I wish Etienne could do both bands but it's up to him and we respect his decision. That doesn't mean that he will never play for us or whatever, it's just that for now he has plans on his own and we don't want to interfere. The drummer who could replace him must be versatile and fast, it's not simple and we cannot afford to take a less competent drummer at this point. So the band might take a break for a while unless we find the proper drummer that can fill the spot.
Tell me about your latest deal with Willowtip Records, as well as the deal with Morbid Records.
We know Jason Tipton from Willowtip since our East US tour with CEPHALIC CARNAGE back in 2001. We met him in Pittsburgh, I think he booked us or had something with it. He's a hardcore cool guy and he showed interest in NEURAXIS, which is great because we had no idea who we could deal for USA since NEURAXIS is no longer with Neoblast. The deal with Willowtip is an exclusive license for USA only, since we don't have a major distribution and promotion in USA. Jason suggested making a huge package that include all our 3 first album plus bonus tracks and live footage on 2 CDS. This will make a big boost for NEURAXIS is USA and it will cool for the new fans who never heard about NEURAXIS before. With Morbid Records from Germany, we gave them the exclusive license for Europe and Asia with our last album "Truth Beyond...” We thought that Morbid is one of the most productive label of their genre, we know they will spread the word about us and they do well in promotion. They help us to put a feet in Europe which we never had the chance in the past with Neoblast and also they hooked us up on a European tour which is great. The only thing I'm wondering is will they keep their promises and not hiding stuff from us?
Outside of NEURAXIS, you’re involved with quite a few other bands as well; give me a basic rundown all of them.
Yeah, most of people that surround me know that I'm a slut because I play in several bands and projects. It doesn't come at the same time that I play in many bands. It's been years that I play other stuff on my own and not using them because it doesn't fit with NEURAXIS so I kept them (riffs and segments) in boxes or shelves. But with years of storage, some riffs stacked up together (they grow) and forming songs, then it evolves to get a name at the end. IDIOTPATHETICS saw the light almost 5 years ago, it's a mixture of Metal with Groovecore and Emocore. I started to jam with Bruno, ex-drummer of SEISM (now drummer of WAR PIGS, OZZY/BLACK SABBATH tribute band). We never found a bass player to fill he slot so Bruno left the band and I decided to move in Granby with my old friend that I use to play before I move to Montreal. This band is special for me because it's not for doing shows or whatever, it was for fun and to record an album, nothing more. URBAN ALIENS, this band is fun and we don't mind to mix everything, there are no boundaries. I formed this band with 2 members of WACKY PACK (André et Filippe), Nick (ex-MINDS) and Joel (ex-DEMENCE). I always wanted to make a punk band, once was with Alex on drums but since he was busy with IN DYING DAYS, NEURAXIS and DESPISED ICON (this is way before he got his tendon problem by the way); I have no choice to find someone else on drum and since WACKY PACK is jamming in my local and the band lost their bass player, I offer them to play with me. Oh yeah, I'm also in WACKY PACK as the vocalist.
URBAN ALIENS will record their first album pretty soon. With the same line up (U.A.) we had another band called THE FACIAL CUMSHOTS, this is the idea of André of making a silly band to support BLACK TABOO, we have recorded a song with them and we're their session musicians for live show. Almost 2 years ago I broke up with my girlfriend so I decided to adopt few other projects such as LEXIVIAT and HANDS OF DEATH. LEXIVIAT is a ferocious Death Grind band, which I play bass and do vocals in. The last band I just get into is HAND OF DEATH right after NEURAXIS finish touring Europe, autumn 2003. I'm the lead guitar in this Metalcore almost Deathgrind band. Oli (ex-BODY BAG, leader of HOD) approached me earlier in 2003 to help him up to fill the slot for their Maritimes tour but finally their lead guitar (Ian) can make it but shows that he might leave one day, so I was prepared to join the band already. There is some bands I've been part of who don't exist anymore such as GREEN THE GREY (with Brian now with GHOULUNATICS and Annik), this band is like IDIOTPATHETICS but before it exist, alternative Groovecore Metal band with female vocals: just imagine L7/HOLE with more guts and dudes. PANDORA (with Annik, again) is the continuity of GREEN THE GREY but way softer, more girly because I was the only male in the band (No wonder why the band broke up). I have another project but way more personal and I do it almost solo is AXIOMIZED. It's mostly classical guitar with lots of other elements such as keyboard, female vocals etc. There are also heavy parts but the backbone is mostly based on classical guitar. It's a very emotional project that will take the time that it takes. When it will be ready, I will record an album. Some will saw it's a mixture of OPETH with Classical music and JEFF BUCKLEY. I'm shy to play some AXIOMIZED because it's a very personal thing, usually I play alone in my room when I feel nostalgic or sad...
Outside of all of that, you also run Neoblast Records, tell me about any new activity with the label, new signings, etc…
As I told you before, it's not me who runs the label anymore. I'm still involved with Neoblast for public relation and helping out Jerome. Our last release is TVANGESTE, a Black Symphonic band from Russia, very impressive! Earlier this year it was BIG IRON from Texas, very good production and the music is in the vein of PANTERA mixed with Nu Metal.
Being so heavily involved in the Montreal Metal scene, you get to see a lot. How do you think the scene here compares to other scenes worldwide?
Hehhee... I don't consider myself as a scene connoisseur, I have my own opinion about the scene that's for sure. Since I'm in BCI (www.braveconcerts.com) for about 10 years, I have witness lots of stuff, learned and shared also good things with musicians from all around the world. My experience with NEURAXIS while on tour helped me to understand a lot and have an idea on what a scene is based on. I won't get into details because it will take hours and space but sure thing, MONTREAL is a very healthy scene and I don't understand why we don't get the recognition that Montreal deserve. We have the bands, we have the crow and we have the tools to make it one of the prestigious scenes of North America. What I know is we don't have the industry like international label, media and other thing that make Toronto known because without that, Toronto would be nothing! I have also something to say, the fucking borders is something that kills the scene by refusing bands, making them pay a stupid work permit and to tax their merchandise! I understand if it's PINK FLOYD but for underground bands like NEURAXIS for example, it's robbery!
What unsigned band out there do you think deserves more attention?
I know more bands that don't deserve to get signed than the one who deserve it. Some bands that are signed to indie label like Galy worth more than most of bands I know on Metal Blade for example. AUGURY and DESPISED ICON are bands that will be something in the near future.
What releases did you really enjoy from 2003, and what have you been enjoying/anticipating for 2004?
It's been a while, I don't buy CDs since I'm always broke so most of time I listen to the promos I receive. The band that impressed me a lot is STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND project. There is also DIMMU BORGIR that I like because I saw them so many times but since they kicked Nick out, I don't think their next album will be as good as the last one. To be honest, I’d rather listen stuff from here and support them than other bands from outside who don't give a fuck about our scene. I expect something very good from MARTYR and a new band I have forgot to mention are DECSEND INTO NOTHINGESS.
That's the end of the interview, thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions! I'll let you end with anything you'd like to say.
Thanks to you Mark for your time and patience, same for Alex and Val from “The Metal Observer” Germany! I don't know what to say, I never say that much in an interview! I wish for so many things, not for myself but for the humanity because we're on a verge of a point of no return and I'm sad to see that lots of corruption and shit walks this earth. War, pain, suffering and misery is increasing just for one goal: power for those who don't give a fuck about earth and what live on this planet. Soon, our creator (some of you call Aliens) will come back and take it back because we don't deserve to live on this planet! We just make it worse by killing the nature and all their species! We are a disgrace and it makes me sick to know that most of humans don’t realize what's life mean, they rather get face on a TV screen looking AMERICAN IDOL and shit like that, you losers! Ok, that's it for me, I'm outta here! BYE!
1997: Imagery (CD, Neoblast)
1999: In Silence (MCD, Promo)
1999: Virtuosity (MCD, Promo)
2001: A Passage Into Forlorn (CD, Neoblast)
2002/2003: Truth Beyond… (CD, Galy/Morbid)
2004: Imagery / A Passage Into Forlorn (CD, Galy)
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