Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Interview with Deos by Dave Wolff

Interview with Deos by Dave Wolff

Tell the readers of Asphyxium about the formation of Deos and describe the band’s music. How does Deos stand out from other bands based in France?
In 2012, Loic (drums) and Fabio (guitar) started playing together and were joined by Jack on vocals. They had a hard time finding a bass player and a second guitar player.
The first album “Ghosts of the Empire” was released on December 2015. On May 2016, we started writing the second album “In Nomine Romae” which was recorded between November 2016 and May 2017. During the recordings, we realized that the songs were good but we were missing some orchestrations. So we hired Harsh on keyboards. We sent the album to mastering at JFD studio with our buddy J-F Dagenais (Kataklysm and ex Deos). And we signed to Buil2Kill Records. “In Nomine Romae” was released on October 6, 2017.
Then we went on a series of concerts and tours to promote the album. We started writing our 3rd album in early 2020 then the pandemic came. The lineup changed, Cedric arrived as a second guitarist in August 2020, and we finished the composition and the recording. The mastering is again entrusted to our friend J-F Dagenais. We changed our label to Worm Hole Death Records. The release of our third album “Furor Belli” is planned for May 27, 2022. We made a tour at the end of April between the north of France and Belgium to present the album to our fans. And now we have signed with Ocularis Infernum Booking and Promotion.
To speak like our Master Lemmy: We are Deos and we play: Roman Extreme Metal! Deos is a musical peplum, we try to make our listeners and spectators travel to the heart of the history of Rome. We have always loved history and extreme metal (Death, Black and Thrash). So we decided to mix these three styles to create our music. We also incorporated some little touch of classical and folk music into our music. We have both the same and different musical tastes and our music is a reflection of ourselves. It's the same with our respective playing styles. Each of us has his own way of playing. When you mix all this together you get music from passionate people!
Our third album “Furor Belli” is a more raw and direct album than the two previous ones. This is mainly due to the new lineup. Cedric joined the band as second guitarist and we decided not to have keyboards anymore. So the music became rawer, more brutal and more direct. But it remains at the same time melodic. Cedric has fully contributed to the writing of the album since his arrival and his style has been perfectly integrated. His great rhythmic ability has elevated the martiality of the music, his playing style is perfect to bring out Fabio's lead parts. This album is a good mix of Black, Death and Thrash in an old school style. We are different from other French bands because we are the only French band that talks about Roman history! Our music is also a bit different from what is done in extreme metal, we are both very martial while remaining melodic.

Being that Deos is based in France, what sparked their interest in studying Roman history and adapting it as the band’s concept? To your knowledge, has Roman history been explored by other bands from France or other countries? How unique would you say your band is conceptually?
In the band we are all interested in history in general. The idea of Roman history came from our guitarist Fabio who is Italian. We found it original because very few bands deal with this subject. Most of the bands talk about Vikings, Celts, Devil, Middle Ages, Tolkien etc... Moreover the Roman history is so rich, there are plenty of subjects to exploit. From the foundation of Rome in 753 BC to the fall of Rome in 476, that's 1229 years of history to tell!
There are other groups that talk about Rome like our Canadian friends from Ex Deo or our Italian friends from Ade. There is also Dyrnwyn in Italy, and probably some other groups, but I don't think there are more than 15 of us in the world dealing with this subject. It's a pittance compared to the hundreds of bands talking about Vikings or Norse mythology.
Our originality comes mainly from our music. Ex Deo is more symphonic, Ade is more brutal Death and Dyrnwyn is more epic. Our music has more elements from black and thrash.

In what ways does the band combine death, black and thrash metal with folk and classical music to make their sound different from most contemporaries? What does each member bring to the band’s sound, and how diversified are your influences?
We are all big fans of Death, Black and Thrash, and when we compose we have no problem combining riffs from all three genres. Generally Cedric has a more Death and Thrash style and Fabio more Black with touches of Classical and folk music. These two playing styles combine perfectly. You have the powerful and solid Death/Thrash rhythms of Cedric associated with the Black leads and atmospheres tinged with classical/folkloric touches of Fabio. Then Loic manages to sublimate the whole with the right drum patterns. At the end Jack puts his bass lines to support either the guitars or the drums. As for the vocals, Jack varies his voice between death and black depending on the lyrics and the theme to give realism to the songs.
We are influenced by metal in general, black, death, thrash, but also heavy, power etc. We draw our strength from these styles, but not only. Some members like rock, some like disco, and some like classical music... There are a lot of different bands because our influences are multiple and varied. If we have to name some bands, we can say: Motorhead, Queen, Metallica, Pantera, Pink Floyd, Kreator, Rammstein, Emperor, Death, Lamb Of God, Rhapsody, Kataklysm, Iron Maiden, Ex Deo, Bolt Thrower, Slayer, Vivaldi, Paganini, Guano Apes...

How long has Fabio Battistella studied Roman history? Did he first suggest introducing it as the band’s conceptual theme? Or whose idea was it initially? In what ways did the band see Roman history could be associated with underground metal genres?
Fabio never studied Roman history, he just likes it since a very long time. And as we all love history we followed him. When the group was formed he already had this idea in mind and you could say that the group was formed around this idea. We all read a lot, which makes it much easier to come up with ideas for themes. Everyone is constantly coming up with ideas.
And as we told you before there are so many fascinating themes to explore in Roman history that for us it was, is and always will be obvious that these themes can be associated with extreme music. Our music can be violent, epic, melodic, melancholic, uplifting just like Rome was! So you see the associations are easy!

What aspects of Roman history are covered by Ex Deo, Ade and Dyrnwyn? Does Deos write about similar aspects or other areas of ancient Rome?
These three bands spoke about a lot of themes and to quote them all would be very long. If we want to keep only the main ones, there are the Punic wars, Julius Caesar, gladiatura, the great battles, Nero, the gods etc...
We have written on similar themes of course and also on different themes. We don't mind writing about a theme that has already been dealt with. There are different ways of telling things, you can have the point of view of one side, or the point of view of the other side, or you can describe it in a neutral way and only tell the facts. And because we have a lot of critical thinking, it allows us to focus the narration and the music so that the whole thing is striking!
In the end, for the same theme you will have different results, if only because of our different musical styles and personalities.

When Deos set accounts of Roman history to music, are those lyrics written from a third person or first person point of view, or do you do both viewpoints depending on the song?
The lyrics are either in the third person or the first person or both, depending on the content of the song and the result we want to achieve. For us it is absolutely necessary that the listener is transported directly to the heart of the plot! If he closes his eyes, he must be able to believe he is in the thick of the action.

Did anyone in the band see the 1981 movie Caligula, or other movies set in Roman history? If so, how accurate are those movies according to the band’s research?
We were partly inspired by this film for the track “Oderint Dum Metuant” which is on our second album “In Nomine Romae” released in 2017. Other films like “Gladiator”, “Centurion”, “The Eagle”, and “Il Primo Re” are good sources of inspiration for us, as well as the series “Rome”, “Spartacus”, “Barbarian” and “Nerone”. In all these works there are good things that challenge us and can inspire us and there are other things that do not necessarily correspond to the reality of the time and that we leave aside.

What books and/or historical programs on TV like the History Channel are the band immersed in that you would recommend to listeners interested in learning more?
Among the books we can quote “SPQR” by Mary Beard, “De Bello Gallico” by Julius Caesar, “De vita Duodecim Caesarum” by Suetonius, all the novels by Simon Scarrow, various comics like “Roma” or “Eagles of Rome”, historical shows like “Roman War Machine” by The History Channel, various studies and theses... As you can see there are so many different works! We could spend a whole day talking about it and we wouldn't forget!

Of all the movies and documentaries you watched, which have proven most informative? How about the books you have cited as inspirational?
We have watched a lot of films and documentaries and read a lot of books and novels. The ones we have mentioned as examples are the ones that have made the biggest impression on us. There are several factors that can hold our attention, such as the story, the style, the direction etc. We don't have any particular requirements, it's our sensitivity and our critical sense that make the selection. That's what's great about art and culture, everyone reacts differently!

How have your full length albums been received by fans, magazines and fanzines since you started releasing material? Do you remember any reviews in particular?
Our albums are getting better and better reception, we feel a rise in power and we are very happy about that.
When our first album “Ghosts of the Empire” was released in December 2015, the local fans and the local press reacted well but they were also slightly surprised by our style. Then our second album “In Nomine Romae” was released in October 2017 and it was better received than the previous one. We got good reviews from different webzines and we could see that fans from different countries were starting to rule well. And this time everybody was surprised to see that there was keyboard and orchestrations. Now with “Furor Belli” we see that new fans contact us, new webzines and magazines review and interview us and the reactions are even better than for “In Nomine Romae”. And again everybody is surprised by our third album because there is no more keyboard and orchestration and because the sound and the songs are more violent!

Are your albums produced and distributed independently or are you working with professional producers and distributors? When you record, is there any musical or recording equipment you use reflecting what aspects of ancient Roman culture you seek to capture?
“Ghosts of the Empire” was released on our own. “In Nomine Romae” was released by Buil2kill Records. “Furor Belli” was released by Worm Hole Death Records.
We use our own equipment, the same as we use on stage. The instruments used on the albums are the same as the ones used on stage, the same for the amps, the same for the microphones and the pedalboards. It's very important for us to try to have the same sound on the albums and on stage. We don't want to make an overproduced album that we can't reproduce on stage.
We always wanted to give the audience a quality show that would make them want to listen to our albums. They have to feel the power of Rome whether it's on CD or live!

Did releasing “Ghosts of the Empire” independently prompt the band to aggressively distribute and promote it and shop for labels? How many copies were you able to make and how long was it before labels started noticing you?
At the time (2015) we did all the promotion we could, it took us a lot of time but we wanted to make ourselves known, you don't get something for nothing. We were not ready to work with a Label.
We don't know how many copies we had made, we had promo copies and sales copies. But the album is almost sold out, we must have about ten copies left...
We have approached the labels for our second album In Nomine Romae in 2017.

Was your signing to Buil2kill Records intended to be a temporary deal? How well did they treat the band while you were with them? How has Worm Hole Death Records been treating the band since you signed to them? How much has distribution increased now that the band is signed?
Buil2kill Records gave us a contract for 1 album with the associated promotion. They allowed us to be distributed abroad. It's a small label but it made us take off. They did the best they could with the means they had but it worked pretty well and it allowed us to be credible and to gain notoriety.

In what ways do your live performances reflect what you do in the studio and the extensive amount of research for your songs? Do you express anything of a similar vibe to black and Viking metal bands?
All our songs have been thought and composed to be as effective as possible live!
The research is mainly about the lyrics and the theme, in live it's the music that has to be the most important! It has to be powerful to be able to captivate people!
When you come to see Deos live, you enter the Roman legion, you are transported to the heart of ancient Rome. We deliver powerful and energetic songs to the audience so that they can move, let off steam and go wild! And in general it works pretty well!
We don't compare ourselves to Black or Viking Metal bands. We don't try to do the same or better than other bands. We do our style, we are Deos and we play Roman Extreme Metal!

Does your vibe of being transported to ancient Rome extend to your stage presence? How much creative thought does the band put into stage wear and props? How much of a part does this play in your live shows?
As we told you before, when you come to a Deos concert you join the legion! Deos strives to be a band made for the stage, we create our songs in order to sublimate them in live, we want to create each time the best show possible and to make our music very visual, so it's capital for us to have elements that are in correlation with this fascinating period that is the antiquity, so when you come to a Deos concert, you will see on stage Roman standards, stage outfits etc... By the way, we have some surprises in store for 2023 in this regard!
It is also not impossible that one day, real legionnaires will join us on stage for an even greater immersion in our universe... It would be great if our friends of the Legio X Lorica Romana (with whom we shot the video clip of Primus Pilus) could be part of the show!

Do you have ideas in mind for the next full length, and do you hope to break into the US and/or European market by signing to one of the prominent labels from those areas?
We have already started to discuss the 4th album. Knowing the evolution we will have to bring on the sound, on the compositions, which themes we will approach etc... At the moment we are with Wormholedeath Records and so we are also signed with Wormholedeath USA and Wormholedeath Japan to be distributed worldwide. For our next album, we'll see what fate has in store for us!

Jack Graved: vocals, bass
Fabio Battistella: Guitar, vocals
Cedd Boehm: Guitar
Loïc Depauwe: Drums

-Dave Wolff

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