INTERVIEW: ARCHSERAPH

Archseraph are a symphonic death metal/deathcore band from Quebec city, Quebec. I spoke with vocalist Thierry about faith, new music and his background as a classical musician. 

Jeffrey: Hey, hope you’re doing well. I want to start this by you telling us your name and role in the band?

Thierry: Hi, thank you for your time! My name is Thierry and I’m in charge of Lead vocals and Keyboards for Archseraph.

Jeffrey: How long have you been doing vocals & playing the keyboard? Do you play any other instruments?

Thierry:  I’ve been playing piano since I’m 7, mainly classical music. For vocals it’s hard to say, but if you mean “Seriously”, I’d say I’ve really started when I got into college. I also play Drums, guitars, some bass and clarinet, which helps a lot in the writing process.

Jeffrey:  What are you biggest musical influences and how does that affect your sound?

Thierry: Beethoven, Grieg, Prokofiev on the “classical” side of things, and Hope for the Dying, Dir en Grey, DivineFire and Moi Dix Mois on the “Metal” side of things. Also, some Jazz and some Drum’n’bass… and Flamenco.

Honestly, I’ve had the chance to listen to all kinds of music thanks to my friends and parents, and it gave me a lot of ideas which I build upon when writing our songs, but Hope For The Dying, DivineFire and Beethoven are the biggest influences for the “Grand and Dramatic” part of our sound.

Jeffrey: What is the background of Archseraph? When did the band form and how did you guys meet?

Thierry: To be honest, Archseraph is a project born out of a comment made by Bassline/Parliament Owls guitarist Joey Martel who told me years ago that the music I wrote had “Too many notes”, that I was trying too hard to write something crazy, and that I was basically forgetting the music. It made me come back to more “Simplistic” stuff, but it was also a great exercise since it’s a bit trickier to make simple stuff sound awesome and different. 

Most of us met when we were younger. Guitarist Eli is a friend of mine since High-school, and was a fan of the band before joining.Drummer Alex is a good friend of mine too. When I was in high-school, I was one of the only (if not the only) keyboardist willing to play Dream Theater at some point.

He liked my style and although he was a year younger, had the guts to ask me to form a band with him during a music school trip. We went on to have different projects together, winning contests and stuff. He’s one of the main reasons if not the greatest reason why I’m at the point I’m at today.

 

Bassist William is actually a Funk/Rock bassist, a Rush and RHCP crack who also came to our shows. Turns out he liked us a lot, so when his old project went down the drain, we took a chance and asked him if he’d like to try playing metal (which he never did, he didn’t even listen to metal of his own volition). We all fell in love with his style and he liked how we approached music, so we decided to stick together.

Jeffrey: What is the meaning of the band’s name Archseraph?

Thierry: Alright, that one is a bit funny because at first, Me and Alex wanted to make a Christian grindcore band. It kind of was a joke, and the name had to be a bit ridiculous. Ridiculously intense. So, it came out like this.But then the band became a bit more serious, and when we wrote “Great Burning One”, I conceptualized the lyrics around our name. What is the Archseraph? It’s the Great Burning One, the greatest Seraph, it’s the world’s will, the world’s light and the world’s fire. It’s all our souls coming together as one to shine brighter than ever so we can fight evil. So that evil may not even look at us. We are Archseraph, and our friends and fans are also Archseraph.

Jeffrey: How would you describe your sound to someone who randomly stumbles upon your music and is curious what you sound like?

Thierry: We usually say that we’re “Symphonic Death metal”. Very melodic, quite a bit of variety on the vocals. Sometimes Groovy, sometimes straight-lined and fast. You’ll hear different types of metal throughout your journey with us, but I can promise you that our sound is intense and very often dramatic.

Jeffrey: Being the lyricist of the band, what are some of the perspectives you like to take when writing lyrics?

Thierry: I have different approaches when writing lyrics. I mostly take events in the Bible and write lyrics from the point of view of a character that may or may not be part of the story. In the case of “Alive”, it’s a battle cry from someone who has witnessed death’s defeat at the hands of Jesus. In “Nevermore”, the main line “If I ever would’ve known I never would’ve ever let you go” is what I imagine would be Archangel Michael’s regret of not completely removing the threat that is Lucifer now that he sees the grip he has on some people in our world. Some songs in upcoming works won’t be as biblical, but will still be Christian-themed.

Jeffrey: You guys released your debut EP Resurgence early this year. How was the writing and recording process?

Thierry: The writing process was the easy part honestly. Everything went super fast, I got those 2 am enlightenments and it just came together real quick. It was not my goal to make a concept EP at first, but it all just came together and made so much sense when I assembled the songs together, it made the lyrics super easy to write too.

Now, the recording process… where do I even start.

First of all, God Bless the guys at Silver Wings Studio for their love and patience.

We left Quebec early on a very rainy Saturday morning. We rushed as we were assembling our stuff in Alex’ Volks (a small one. We didn’t have Will with us at that point, so we jammed the Drums guitars etc. in the same car we were riding in) and finally left for Montreal. Upon arrival, we start assembling the Drums, and Alex comes upstairs, looking depressed. I’m like “What’s up man?” And he looks at me, super serious: “We left the Drum Throne in Quebec”. So, I look at him and tell him “Hey man, no problem, we’ll find one, just go set everything else and we’ll get on it”. 3 minutes later, he comes up again. He’s RED. “We forgot the cymbals.”I tried very hard not to laugh. It was funny yet not, but I’m pretty sure Alex was angry enough already. So, I call a music depot not far from there and get some stuff assembled. End up picking up some cymbals and a Throne, go back to the studio. About 7 minutes later, Alex comes up with a smile on his face, his hand hiding his eyes.

“The clutch for the Hi-hat was in the Cymbals bag”.

I couldn’t resist anymore. I burst our laughing, and just hurried with him to a music store to buy a hi-hat clutch. I was too shy to tell the store manager why just needed that, so I paid as fast as I could, and we came back to the studio. This whole story motivated Alex to finish everything fast enough to at least relax a bit during the weekend. He ended up recording everything in under 3h total.

With drums done, we record the Bass. Everything goes pretty well. Moving on to the guitars though, something goes wrong again. The guitar won’t stay in tune for some reason. We try our best, record part-by-part, but it just doesn’t cut it. By that time, I started having high fever and coughing, so recording vocals was out of the question. Nothing was done all evening.

Sunday morning, Jo at SWS calls a friend of his who’s a luthier. The guy takes a look at the guitar and starts laughing. Eli, question marks in his face, asks the guy “What is it?”, only to learn that the Bridge was installed incorrectly. The guitar was Factory-Fresh (or almost). Lucky us, he could fix it and we ended up recording the guitars all in one afternoon. I then came back 2 weeks later to do the vocals, which ended up being a pretty good idea considering how tough recording all vocals including back, harmony and layers can be.

After all of this I guess I can say “All’s well that ends well” but I can tell you that we will never forget that weekend!

Jeffrey: What’s the story behind the EP and what’s your favorite track from it?

Thierry: The EP is a 4-parts Multi-character story that can be interpreted in two different ways : From Alive to Nevermore or from Nevermore to Alive. Alive is a strong declaration of faith, Dying light is the resistance from the characters of “Alive” against the darkness, Total Eclipse is the fight for the light and against corruption and Nevermore is the regret of not doing enough, but still a victory as Evil is defeated… for now. I’ll let you do your own interpretation on the “Backward” version. My favorite song is Total Eclipse. It’s a very fun song to sing live because of the different emotions that I’ll have to put in my voice. I use almost all of my vocal range, the lyrics are some of my favorites out of all of our songs (currently 16 songs ready to be played live) and the piano parts are really fun to play, mostly that solo. I don’t think I could pass playing this song in any of our shows. Not before a couple of years at least.

Jeffrey: Being a faith-influenced metal band, do you ever get backlash from fellow Christians or non-Christians?

Thierry: I don’t think it really ever happened. I’ve received backlash about comments I’ve made or just because I said I was Christian (mostly in High-school), but the band didn’t seem to receive any negative attention in that regard. People who like our music just like it for what it is, and people who like our expression of faith find a comfortable niche with our band. I hope it can stay this way, as it lets us have greater reach and if we wrote music only for Christians, I feel our messages and intentions would be wasted.

Jeffrey: Would you mind briefly sharing how you came to have faith in Jesus?

Thierry: I’ve grown in a Catholic Christian family but never had strong feelings about it until I was 16. That’s when I started reading the Bible and I wore my Great-Grandmother’s rosary.

Although I’ve often been bullied in High-school, it seems like doing that just made it worse and it became quite difficult, but for some reason I’ve never felt like the need or the desire to hide my interest in Christianity. I felt something, or someone was right beside me and that it would all be okay.

That situation made it clear to me that, exactly because this was happening, the love and faith that I was reading about was necessary to this world. Although I do not declare any attachment to a church or specific movement, I openly tell people I’m Christian today and it often makes people curious. Young Christians in Quebec are rare, especially because of our elders’ relationship with the Catholic Church, so I guess it sparks interest in people when we tell them of our faith, and it gives us a greater chance to explain how we view life. It’s tough, but it’s an opportunity some people will never have because there are “Too many Christians” where they live.

Jeffrey: What next for Archserpah? You recently said you guys are writing and recording new music, how is that going?

Thierry: We’re actually done recording a new single and we’re in preparations for a new EP, a Lyrics Video and an Old-style Music Video. Also, some merch and other stuff. Everyone in the band’s been really motivated this year and we want to do as much as we can with this motivation so that we have a lot to show!

Jeffrey: When you’re not doing music, what do you like to do with your free time?

Thierry: I’ve been taking Massage Therapy classes, I’m an avid DDR player, LARP participant, I’m invested in provincial politics and I’m working on an eSports project with different people here in Quebec City, while also being a shout caster for different events on different games, mainly Rocket League, League of Legends and Overwatch. I also spend a good amount of time with my family. Me and my brother have been seeing each other a lot more recently and that’s a blessing I wouldn’t trade for all the world’s gold.

Jeffrey: You’re also a vocal coach, is that your full-time job?

Thierry:  As you might have guessed from my previous answers, it isn’t my full-time job, but when I’m done with college I’ll go to university in hopes of becoming an High-school music teacher. I want to give kids the same kind of support my high-school piano teacher Julie Lévèsque gave me when it seemed I was falling out of love with music. If you’re reading this Julie, thank you and God bless you.

Jeffrey: Awesome! That’s all the questions I’ve got for you today! Thanks for doing this! Any final words you’d like to share?

Thierry: Thank you for the great interview Jeffrey, and I want to thank everyone who’s been reading this. I hope we can bring you happy times and music that will help you through hard times. I hope we can motivate you to become even better people. I hope our music can mean something to you, and that we’ll get to meet everyone who’s supporting us, so we can actually say “thank you” in person. It would make me very happy. Give us your comments about anything you want, we will read them for sure!

 Also, feel free to like our Facebook page “Archseraph”. We put up news about the band there and I sometimes write a bit about life and faith. Thank you for your time.

God bless you all.

Check out their free song:

https://archseraph.bandcamp.com/releases

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ArcheraphBand/

 

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