Decasia’s newest LP, An Endless Feast For Hyenas, is available April 5th on Heavy Psych Sounds. Their previous one, The Lord Is Gone, was released on More Fuzz Records so spoilers: we know them and appreciate them! For those who don’t know them, they are a French power trio, and, disclaimer, friends of mine. We gathered for a long interview (original audio available in French) and you will find my words after it.
Transcription in English
Mr. Momo: We’re with Decasia for their new album, A endless Feast for Hyenas which is out on April 5th on Heavy Psych Sounds. We are with Max (guitar and vocals), Fabien (bass) and Joe (drums). So, can you tell us a little bit about the story behind this new album? The theme, the music, the sound, the inspirations. How did it all come about?
Max: Well yeah, we hadn’t recorded an album since the Lord is Gone in 2017. We thought we were starting to get a lot of new material to start putting together. To start looking for a new album and a new record. So we decided to go to Joe’s house in Auvergne and take our old sound engineer Thomas de Fraguier with us for ten days in Auvergne. And we said to ourselves, let’s lay the foundations for eleven tracks, including two interludes, in the middle of the Auvergne, in the barn, which was converted into a studio for the occasion. With the control room, in the living room, next to the fireplace. It was cool. We had no time limit. Except for the ten days, but otherwise we could do what we wanted, work when we wanted. No stress.
Joe: The idea was to be able to tweak the deadlines, the songs, we record them. We’re with the fourth mate Thomas who’s going to be able to give us feedback on the different arrangements that we were able to start writing. We had the majority of the songs really finished. We had a clear idea of what we wanted to do. There were some songs, we thought well, it will be worth it to be able to refine them, to finish them during those ten days.
Mr. Momo: Is there a theme on the album? Is there a particular thing you wanted to explore or was it really on inspiration? A little bit of doing what you wanted to do?
Max: There were several inspirations. It’s a whole thing. We didn’t say to ourselves: “Well, we want to go for this or that idea”. It’s really a function of what we had composed before, of the jams we had done. And then here and there, we already had two or three songs we did after The Lord is Gone that were still in the same idea, in that shade, like Hrosshveli’s Ode and Laniakea Falls which were already in that system. Then we continued and we thought, well, let’s put all that together and give it a coherent whole.
Fabien: And what we also wanted to do was to make the tracks a bit shorter than on Lord is Gone, where the tracks were still quite long. And we wanted to have things a bit more concise too. And so, in this album, it varies quite a bit. There’s a first track which is quite short, quite punchy and we try to vary. To give a bit of a dynamic to the whole thing, not just within the songs, but throughout the album.
Joe: Seeing that on Lord is Gone, we had done big, fat, prog tracks, we thought we’d try to do the opposite, to see what happens with this kind of format, knowing that we hadn’t done them much. You see, on the first EP, we had a few shorter tracks, but not too many. So we wanted to try to think about putting other constraints in the compositions and also to place the voice a little better in different ways than every time we approach the songs. We try to say to ourselves, what haven’t we done yet? Or what haven’t we done yet and especially what do we want to do? And that’s why some of the tracks are shorter, with much faster tempos than on the previous EPs.
Fabien: That was kind of the objective.
Max: To expand the area, exactly, the range of possibilities, the field of possibilities.
Mr. Momo: And so that was the recording in the barn. That was in 2019.
Joe: Yes, that’s right.
Joe: Late 2019.
Mr. Momo: So, what’s happened since then?
Max: We took a long time, we took a long time to do the cover. I’ve redone some of the tracks too. I redid almost all the vocals during the lockdown. So I was in Pantin, in the studio and I did the vocals. We exchanged ideas about what we could improve. We redid some guitar reruns and added some little bass lines. We added shakers, things like that, so we’ll say we took our time to develop it. In May-June 2020, we started receiving the masters. And then exchanges, we made versions, different versions, so all that took time. It was something…
Fabien: And then the covid didn’t help either because we did everything remotely. It wasn’t possible.
Joe: To mix remotely. We were each in different places and mixing remotely is just hell. It took a long time, it was pretty frustrating. Thomas: It was a little bit hair-raising because if you don’t have the jargon of sound engineers, you try to put words to what you want to hear. So it’s always a little tricky. It’s easier when you’re face to face, if you’re in the same room. That’s what we could do for Lord is Gone because he was the one who mixed Lord is Gone and we met at his place through the mixing. So it was a bit laborious, a bit long. But it also allowed us, as Max said, to refine some things. So that’s cool. We were also able to go a little further and in fact, we waited to finish the mix and the master to start the cover. So we didn’t do everything in parallel. We did one thing a little bit after the other, that’s why it took a little time.
Mr. Momo: And then you decided to put a little more effort in the promotion by associating with NRV Prom, Angie from NRV. So how did that come about?
Max: Well actually, we wanted to contact her because we saw that she had worked for Grandma’s Ashes and that they had a great promo, a great product, a great press relation. We often saw them on social networks, finally we thought that it worked well, that she made a great job. And then we contacted her, we sent her the masters. Then she saw that it was in her thing, in her register, she liked it. And then we met at Supersonic on September 8th, when we played the last time at Supersonic. And then it took. And then we started with her. And it’s true that since she’s been there, it’s really opened doors for us. It also whips our asses because we have someone behind us. To say, guys, it has to do and it has been done. We don’t think about everything. Even if there are three of us, having a fourth person is really interesting at this level.
Fabien: Then we also wanted to push as it was the first album that we released. We said to ourselves, let’s do something with it and see how far it could go. And it’s true that the fact of working with her, clearly, it pushes us. It pushes you to death and so much the better. Combining that with the label, it feels good.
Joe: Well yeah, we felt like we needed a hand. And then she works with Stone from the Sky, who are good friends of ours, and they’re gonna play with us for our release on May 19th at Supersonic. So we were looking for someone we could get along with, who could really tell us things and who could also become a friend. You see we can be quite close, and then work together. So we also contacted Floriane from SHAKE Promotion who we know well at the time, when she was in Paris. We had also discussed with her during the Volcano last year. But then, we thought that it would be better to have someone who is in the Paris area to be more reactive, to see each other directly, easily and to exchange more quickly. So we decided to work with Angie and we are very happy.
Max: It’s cool and it’s the Swiss army knife in the sense that she helps us with the pictures, she helps us with the reviews and sends us the questions for the interviews.
Joe: It allows us to focus on the songs without really doing other stuff, you know they’re more our core business. Between our job and the band, it’s all that. Sometimes, it can be a bit complicated, it’s when you release an album, there are a lot of things to think about and everything. And there, we are not full time Decasia.
Fabien: And we don’t have his look either.
Joe: We don’t have the contacts, we don’t know how to do that. All this is not our job, we are a bit of a handful in this.
Mr. Momo: That’s why it exists. But it’s not the same job, that’s clear. And so the album comes out on Heavy Psych Sounds, no small feat, bravo for that. I think all our listeners will recognize it. How did it go about signing with HPS, did you approach them directly?
Joe: Yeah yeah, that’s cool. It was kind of a funny story. We had been in the top five top ten, we had started to make lists on labels when it started to say well let’s get some labels and we sent a first email to them, they have a special demo address, we had sent the typical email. And in fact it took us six months to realize that the email had never arrived because I think their inbox is full and in fact when we went back over it, we had some small leads but nothing conclusive. So you know, we started to give up, we thought, and it had been almost five six months, we started to beat around the bush. It was starting to get a little tricky. And by reviewing all the emails that we had sent to try to make reminders, to see if we had forgotten anything, we saw that the email did not go through of course we said fuck, shit and we tried our luck again via the basic address. And then the mail went through and we received a reply from Gabe the week after I think on ten days. He found it interesting, he listened to it again and then we were able to exchange in video together, then ask him questions and everything. And it happened quite naturally and quite quickly. He was quite attentive to the release dates. We told him we would like to release it at this time… He gave us total freedom on the artwork and all that. So that’s cool. You know, they usually do gatefolds, and we didn’t plan to do a gatefold at all, so we did a printed insert instead. Something nice and he really gave us total freedom in that. So that was pretty cool. It was a little bit of a fluke and then it was pretty natural.
Max: We had a nice little lead with the guitarist of Kadavar who started his own label Robotor Records and with two or three very, very nice bands, and he was interested. And then finally it didn’t happen because re-Covid, because other things. More time. But in any case, we arrived on that. It’s true that we had given up a little bit and it arrived like a messiah.
Joe: It was really a few weeks before we said OK, let’s stop looking, let’s go and do it on our own. So it’s kind of funny. And we might not have done splatter and stuff like that.
Mr. Momo: And how would you say that you have evolved as a band since Lord is Gone? Between you as a band, on your way of doing, on your way of playing?
Max: I think we’ve accumulated more influences. We’ve opened the book. We’ve opened up the spectrum. Mostly, we haven’t stopped at just psychedelic music. But there are really new doors which are opened and of the blow, we nourish ourselves of full of things. And this is also felt in the jams. You can feel it in the new compositions that are going to come too, where we try to test a lot of things.
Fabien: And then, when we arrived in Paris, it’s true that we were really into stoner. After all, what came from Nantes, in a way, it’s the logical continuation. And when we arrived in Paris, we quickly met Below the Sun for example. So, big, big stoner orga here, and Lord is Gone was more or less oriented like that. And we wanted to detach ourselves a little bit from this stuff. Not so much from the scene, but more from the stoner universe in quotes. And as Max was saying, all of a sudden, the different influences started to play their role, in addition to our desires. What we were saying earlier about the shorter songs, etc.. And more easily accessible too, because a long song is ah, you have to play it! So we evolved a little bit like that too, trying to take a little bit of a counterpoint.
Joe: Then what’s cool is that we’ve developed our practice of our instruments. Fabien is starting to play synths. The album we’re about to release, it’s also been an opportunity for us to try other things in terms of instruments, to mix different instruments. Max also progressed a lot with his voice. It brings other possibilities in terms of composition, that is to say, Ok, we can do this, we’ll try to do that and then, it allows us to inject that into compositions and to make a lot of songs with different styles, different influences and try to have a really wide range. We’ll always do a little bit of rock, of course that’s what we like. But then, it will always be tinged with different influences borrowed from the left, depending. But we’ve always done different songs each time. We’re not like ACDC who are always going to do the same style, so I think it’s going to continue to evolve and so there’s always going to be a little bit of this side of us doing songs that we like with influences that we want at the time and then there’s going to be inevitably songs that are a little bit more edgy and songs that are a little bit more krautrock and songs that are a little bit more classic rock, for example, or blues.
Max: That’s what we like too, that’s what we like to do, the eclectic side. And then touch everything, get out of our comfort zone too.
Fabien: Afterwards, we let ourselves be carried away a bit. When we make a jam that seems good to us, we try to make something out of it and the influences just come in.
Joe: You see, before what we did, we did a lot of instrumental jams and then we put the voice on it. And now, we’re trying to figure out how we can get the voice to be part of an instrument from the beginning, and that we can rely on the jams where there are already vocal parts that interest us and bring them directly from the beginning of the composition and that it becomes part of the composition process, which we didn’t necessarily do before. And so, it took us quite a bit of time, just to integrate it into the composition process, we have to think about the voice. Rather than saying well, it happens at the end.
Max: Yeah, we also try to do less patchwork of riffs. That also gave us this very prog side before. It’s true that now we said to ourselves that we try to find a common thread in each of our songs too.
Joe: How do we make riffs variations, how do we make it evolve and how after, the voice is going to gravitate around verses, choruses, the thing like that, a little catchy and so it’s other constraints that we put in the composition palette and so, we, it also allows us to renew ourselves, not to fall into the straitjacket, to do always a little bit the same thing, the easy way. So it puts us in difficulty at times. But I think that’s how you become a musician, a complete musician.
Mr. Momo: A more structured approach to composing.
Fabien: Yeah, yeah. Especially to work, to exploit a riff, instruments, an influence.
Joe: We’re getting stronger, we’re mastering our instruments better, whether it’s the vocals or the guitars or whatever it is. And so we’re trying to push the sliders and the limits even more.
Mr. Momo: If you could name two or three references, album or artist that influenced you a little bit on An Endless Feast for Hyenas, what would they be? One each.
Joe: The first three Motorhead. Up to Ace of Spades. I love Motorhead in the sense that they took something from the blues that everyone knows and pushed it to the max. He’s always claimed to be rocking. Fu rock n roll, you know. Except that after a while, it drifted into ultra powerful stuff. But he still has this catchy side, with a really present voice and really worked riffs. And I find that even in the drum approach, you know, there are things that I like and I find the stoner scene is so vast, that there are so many possible influences. I really like this approach. It would have to be that Motorhead had, on its first albums that was very differentiating from the emerging scene, even if there were big influences and big inspirations, they did it their way. Yeah so I would do a package of three early Motorhead.
Fabien: I think I would have gone to Grand Funk (Railroad) only. Very groovy as it should be, a bass that takes you along too. And even when you look at the singer, he’s determined.
Joe: In terms of mixing, we really have Grand Funk in mind, in the sense that in Grand Funk the bass is almost as strong as the guitar, and it doesn’t mean that it’s going to eat up the guitar. And then the singing guitarist, he’s there and he manages to drop some killer grooves and have some nice choruses, some nice stuff without the voice being really secondary. That’s the kind of stuff we really appreciate, without wanting to copy and paste. But that’s the kind of trio approach, as long as it can be Nirvana, Motorhead or Grand Funk that we like.
Max: To be a little more modern, I would put a little Oh Sees, the whole California psychedelic garage rock scene where the energy is there and at the same time new riffs that are a little bit alien that come out like that. Yeah, it will be a panel of all that, this 70s, as we say, with this mix of modern garage but psychedelic in the sense energy, psyche, fusion. And then you sail on the wave, you don’t stop. Earthless for example could be a good thing.
Fabien: The best example in the album is Skeleton Void on that level. We try to draw some parts that are “simple” and at the same time some parts that make you fly. One of the longest tracks on the album too. It’s not for nothing.
Mr. Momo: Any final words on anything you want to share on the album, anything at all?
Max: Well play it really loud. Play it very, very loud, make the neighbors scream. It’s a whole sequence that we wrote down. It was mostly before, before the covid. With the covid period, it’s coming to an end… It’s not bad that it’s coming out now, it’s finishing the loop. And there are some new things that are coming too. And that’s it, we’ll leave you for the next part.
Mr. Momo: Will we hear any new stuff for the release concerts?
Max: Maybe in May if we warm up, maybe a little…
Joe: We have three or four songs that are starting to take their final shape. But we need to work on them. We need to see where we’re including a little bit of the interludes that we have on the album or that we’re revisiting, the interludes that we’ve done, it’s themes that we’ve taken from certain songs and played back at different tempos. And so, there are certain songs that we try to work like that to have a little bit two versions and to include them in the set. So, in the future shows, there will be an architecture of set a little bit different from what you could hear the last times. And then? Well, if we warm up as friends and if we have time, we might do one song, maybe not two. It might be a bit ambitious to do that.
Max: We liked to rework it in fact, these interludes, we talked about renewal, we talked about testing things and now we start to settle. Sometimes there are only drums voice or keyboard voice or there will be passages like that we come to put of the contrast. As it is not only a big slobbering during 40 minutes of set there is a journey, we try to pose a little, like in the album.
Joe: The new thing this time, Fabien will bring his synth if we are hot. I mean, we’re going to start having him on stage more and more, so it’s going to start giving us ideas to really give an interesting architecture and relief to the show. You see, the goal is that it’s really a show and that we can actually have several shots to go through a lot of emotions and that we tell a bit of a story through the set. So this will be a little bit different from the different sets you’ve seen. What’s next? For the next part, we hope to tour a lot. We have two tracks that we didn’t put on the album, that we decided to keep and then, we will maybe make an EP with these two tracks that we kept and the new tracks that we are composing.
Mr. Momo: Decasia, An Endless Feast for Hyenas, released on April 5th, tomorrow on Heavy Psych Sounds, and in release on April 8th in Nantes, at Michelet, and on May 19th at Supersonic in Paris.
Decasia claims to be more a rock band, however large is that definition, than a stoner band, and it shows on this LP. For those who are familiar with their older work, particularly The Lord is Gone, the change can be felt with shorter, faster, less progressive songs on the one hand, but also more cohesive songs, revolving around a few musical themes – even if there are still songs that take this more progressive and psychedelic approach, like Hrosshveli’s Ode or Laniakea Falls. Globally, there’s a more focused approach to songwriting, even if the album touches a wide spectrum of styles. The distinctive Decasia sound is still there, with a very aquiline guitar, very groovy and funky bass put to the front (which I lobe, go bass), and hectic drums. The voice is also notably more elaborate.
Most of the songs were tested live before being recorded, so those will not come as a surprise for those who’ve seen them often such as myself, but Decasia also have included interludes in the album (and in some songs), more relaxed times that give some breathing space to an otherwise quite frantic album. You can feel the songs have been perfected over the years and that there has been a lot of work done to get where the band wanted to go.
The melody is often very catchy, picking you up and making you swing your head left and right without really realizing you are, but it’s really the variety of ambients that will keep you wanting for more. Some of the bridges and transitions are the best I’ve heard in a while and will make you heart swell (4:04 on Sunrise, can’t get enough of it).
Well, as the band says, very loud, dancing in your living room, or while partying!
The album was recorded in the middle of Auvergne, in the barn of the parents’ of one band member, transformed into a recording studio, back in October 2019 (and if the songs are still the same on the album, a lot of work has been done on it since!).