You may remember that some time ago CroOZza wrote a little piece on a Canadian formation named Karkaos. They delivered this immensely intense piece of Melodic Death Metal, with elements of darkness, Folk and pirate atmospheres, as well as a bunch of other stuff. Stuff’s definitely cool!
Anyway, one thing led to another and before we knew it we got into contact with Veronica Rodriguez, lead singer in the band, who got some of her band mates to agree to do an interview with us. That’ll follow in a bit, but first let’s present you with a brief overview of the band’s history, to give you some perspective.
Karkaos started out in 2003, but for the first five years of its existence it was tough going due to line-upchanges and figuring out what the band’s sound would have to be. In 2008, the band wasn’t yet called Karkaos, but Sinister Vengeance, with lead singer and guitarist Vincent Harnois fronting the band and completed by a line-up of most of today’s members: Michel Péloquin (keys), Francis Tremblay (guitars) and Guillaume Vaillancount (bass), as well as Dominic Daoust (drums) who was later replaced by female drummer Pascale Phaneuf, who was herself succeeded by Normand Martel in 2009.
The name Karkaos came to be in 2009 and in that same year Veronica Rodriguez was asked to lend her voice to the band temporarily, which eventually, in 2010, turned out to be permanently. According to the bio, there was synergy and connection now and the line-up is now considered stable.
The EP In Burning Skies – to be reviewed by us later – came out in the fall of 2011 and we’ve served it to you before.
So, that gives you a rough sketch of the band’s past and current state. Interview time! CroOZza and I spoke to Veronica, Francis (Frank) and Normand.
DMB: Hi guys, to start off, let us thank you for your time and effort and for doing this interview. Please tell us a little bit about how Karkaos was founded and what the origin of the band’s name is!
Veronica: It is our utmost pleasure to answer any questions and I am very grateful for this opportunity!
The band was formed in 2003 by Vince (rhythm guitar) along with Frank (lead guitar), Mitch (keyboards) and Guillaume (bass). It underwent a few changes such as different band names, musical approach and technicality as well as members until landing with the current lineup in 2009. Prior to my joining, the band was officially known as Karkaos and it is a name that was conceived by Vince.
DMB: Veronica, you’re of Spanish / Latin origins yourself. How did you end up in a Canadian Death Metal outfit?
Veronica: That is correct; my ethnic background comprises of Argentine and Colombian origins. However, I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and with an open mind combined with a passion for music; it is how I ended up in a Death Metal band!
DMB: I think I’m right if I say your music can be classified as Melodic Death Metal with a strong symphonic side. But then again in songs like Lie for a Lie there are also some Folkish / Piraty elements. Who brought the band’s music in this direction and what are your main influences?
Frank: First of all, while composing the songs, we try not to have a specific genre of Metal in mind. Anything that sounds good and fits well is welcome. That’s the main reason why, in our compositions, you may find various styles, though, not being able to name one particularly. Each member of the band listens to different types of music; I listen mainly to Power / Folk Metal, Veronica is into Death and Power Metal, Vincent likes Death Metal, Guillaume and Michel are into Metalcore while Normand is a bit more into Heavy / Thrash Metal.
Norm: Most of the musical ideas come from our guitarists, Vince and Francis. Our musical direction is pretty natural and Karkaos is the “sum of all its members”. We are six with many different influences and I think that is the reason why our music is so varied. My drumming was influenced a lot by Pantera’s Vinnie Paul. I am a fan of most of the classical Metal bands such as Maiden, Priest, Dio and Helloween. More recently bands that have also influenced me are In Flames and Killswitch Engage. I have always loved Metal music but I like so much other stuff, like Pink Floyd, Rush, classical music, etc.
DMB: In Burning Skies is your first EP and your first musical output too since your foundation in 2009. How has the writing process been and why have you decided to release an EP instead of a complete album?
Frank: We decided to do an EP instead of complete album for now due to some stability problems in the band’s line-up – which were fixed by the arrival of both Norm and Veronica. The absence of Vincent Harnois for a year also was a hard moment for the band in terms of song writing.
Recently, the main objective was to popularize the band’s name and we needed a release for that. That’s why we decided to go for a big EP (6 songs) instead of a complete album. Also, I think these 6 songs mark the early moments of the band. Some way more complex and mature songs are currently in the writing process.
DMB: Most female singers in Metal bands today are using clean singing to form a counterpart to the male screaming / growling. Fortunately, Veronica, you’re one of the exceptions who is more focused on the guttural vocals and does this excellently. Where / how and how did you learn to do this?
Veronica: I never took lessons and it was something that simply came as naturally as clean singing.
And this genre of music is perfect: it offers me a vast diversity of vocal pitches. I was aiming for something powerful and aggressive: a combination of high to raspy cleans as well as gutturals. It makes sense to me to apply it for such an extreme – lyrically and sounding – type of music.
DMB: There is clearly a lyrical concept behind In Burning Skies. Who wrote the lyrics and what are the intentions / messages?
Veronica: Since my integration, I have been the one writing lyrics with some input provided by Guillaume, our bassist and Vince, our rhythm guitarist. I had also rectified the earlier content written by Vince as he had a message, but just couldn’t find the right words.
A lot of it is based on my personal experiences, struggles – I try not to make it so obvious, so that others going through similar situations or simply through their own rough patches in life can relate. My integration to the band had also occurred when I had gone through quite the life changing experiences. The moment was just perfect: ideas just flowed.
The words are very spiritual – I believe that for one to improve or to be able to carry on with their daily battles, you need to find confidence and nourish your spirit. Then the rest flows: your mind and body react. The idea of fire and ashes, in any culture is a sign of being reborn, to have conquered, to have been refined… An improved “you” that you achieve through experiences. My mother told me, as you grow older, you grow wiser and for the better.
DMB: You have released a nice music video for The Tempest in November. How has the shot been and do you plan to make another video?
Frank: Shooting the video for The Tempest certainly has been a lot of fun. We had a great time with the Octopod Prod guys this day. I’m pretty sure everyone in the band is willing to repeat the experience.
Norm: This whole video experience was positive and we will surely shoot more videos in the future. I do not know if there will be another video for the EP.
Frank: Actually, we’re planning another video shoot which should be released before the album.
DMB: It’s like you know where we wanna go with this! Even if the EP was just recently released, we’re positively surprised and already hungry for more! So how are the future plans for another EP or a debut album, and what about live shows or touring?
Frank: Even before the EP was released, we already had a thousand projects in mind. We’re already working on new songs and planning new shows this year.
Veronica: While simultaneously thinking about our next album. Recordings should take place between end of 2012 and early 2013.
Frank: You can then expect a full release by the end of 2013 or maybe even before if everything goes well.
Norm: Our plans are to give Karkaos exposure with In Burning Skies, to give shows here in Canada and as far as we can. We want to release our first album in 2013. Some new songs are already written and we are currently developing new ones.
Frank: I really think Karkaos’ name will be refined with that album, so you can expect something bigger and better. For now, we have a couple of new songs and we’re going to start the recording by the end of 2012.
Our next show is the 16th of March at Petit Campus in Montreal. Currently, we’re planning a small Quebec / Ontario tour for this summer as well as some other shows in Metal festivals and more.
Who knows what’s gonna happen from now on, we have a lot of projects in mind and we’re working hard to reach our goals. The best is yet to come for this year and the next ones.