A talk with
WOUTER 'Noteleire' NOTTEBAERT (Bass)
MARTIJN DEBONNET (Guitar)
GUY COMMEENE (Guitar)
Dyscordia can be considered as one of the hardest working bands in nowadays Belgian scene, but only the quality level will lift this band to heights. Their new, second album “Words In Ruin” is finally released, so it’s time to hook up and have a spontaneous chat with some of the members of the sextet. My colleague Stefan reviewed the album which scored 95/100 points, so there is a lot to talk about!
Q: How was 2015 for the band? What were the highlights and were there any setbacks as well?
Noteleire: 2015 was in fact a great year for Dyscordia. We did a couple of cool shows and we were able to visit the Fascination street Studios in Sweden. My personal highlight was meeting Jens Bogren and experiencing how he works. Seeing him work on our album was awesome.
Q: The band also played a gig in Kortrijk (as a support slot of Avatar) where the mayor of the city joined the band on stage to take a place behind the drum kit. That’s unique and original, but at the same time indicates that a lot of people feel comfortable with the Metal from Dyscordia. What is the secret for this increasing success? How come so many people support and believe in Dyscordia?
Noteleire: I have no idea. I think it’s the combination of composing accessible, melodic songs with universal lyrics and great guitarwork. We also have a real vivid metalscene in Kortrijk, thanks to the Alcatraz metal festival and the numerous gigs everywhere around. There are a lot of clubs where you can do your thing. We have been playing music for several years now, we got to meet a lot of people, most of them have been sticking around and following us through those years, which is great!
Q: You also have a solid group of followers, named The Dyscordia Army, and that’s also very unique. I can’t mention a band that gets so much support from the audience and fans. Can I say that The Army results in a positive vibe, something that keeps you going, or do you consider them as friends that have the same taste and passion for music?
Noteleire: A lot of members of the Dyscordia Army have become friends, because they’re there everytime we play. Before and after the gig, we don’t hide ourselves in the backstage. We talk to them, have some beers together, simply have a good time. People appreciate that a lot. I think that’s one of the reasons why people join the ‘Army’. You get to meet a lot of interesting people that have the same interest … Dyscordia. You feel that on stage as well, they support us in a way we can’t describe, it gives us so much energy!
Q: Talking about the new album… We’ll start with a very easy question that might be a hard one to answer. What is the main difference between the debut album “Twin Symbiosis” and the new one “Words In Ruin”?
Noteleire: With Twin Symbiosis, we were still searching for an identity. It’s a great album, but there are quite a lot of different styles on it. You can hear the evolution on the album, looking at songs we wrote 5 years ago, and songs we wrote just before releasing ‘Twin’. Personally, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to make another record like that. We had to start all over again, making new songs, but in a way it went very well. I got really convinced about the new material when Piet started working on the vocals. He really makes the songs complete. Words in Ruin is a lot more mature and shows what we have in store!
Q: “Twin Symbiosis” was a concept album. How about the successor? Is there a kind of red thread, or are all songs individual tracks?
Martijn: It’s not a concept album like the previous album. It does contain a kind of read thread. The album is all about battles, but not in a ‘hero or epic’ context, it describes the more personal stories of people experiencing life and death on the battlefield. Anyway, the lyrics are so universal, so people can find something in there for themselves, just because it deals with personal experiences.
Q: The new album is mixed by Jens Bogren again, can I say that this cooperation was decided from the very first moment. He did a wonderful job on Twin Symbiosis, so never change a winning team?
Noteleire: Indeed. We always want a clean sound, with a lot of attention to details. In my honest opinion, there aren’t a lot of mixers/producers who can achieve that. Jens is one of my favorite mixers, I always admired his work. I had the opportunity to go to Sweden with Wouter and Stefan to experience how he works. He did a great job. It was definitely worth the trip. He even taught us how to catch pike.
Q: After listening several times to the new album, I must say that the songwriting evolved through the years. For example, the interaction between male and clean vocals is perfectly in balance now. Stefan (grunts) and Piet (clean) lift each other to heights, isn’t it?
Noteleire: They really do. We try to balance the two types of singing in every song. It works out very well every time, without falling into stereotypes.
Q: How did you start writing the new material? Are lyrics added when the song is completely written, or do you work on several levels at the same time?
Noteleire: As I mentioned earlier, we start making instrumental songs, normally the lyrics and vocal structures are added in the end. Sometimes we try to do something else, for example the song Twin Symbiosis (which was on the previous album) was constructed around an idea Piet had. We started with the lyrics and built a song around it. Piet still has a couple of lyrics and ideas up his sleave, so I’m sure we’ll be working like this again on some new material.
Q: How comes that “W.I.R.” is still an independent release? Strange that there is no interest from any label…
Noteleire: There was some interest in the new release, we even started negiotiating with some labels. But in the end we realized it was more interesting to release it ourselves. What we need is a good distribution, we already have a good promotor and a manager. Releasing it ourselves, we keep controlling what comes in and what goes out. It’s not an easy task to keep things under control, but up ‘till now we manage to keep everything going. Thanks to Stefan and Steffy, they help managing stuff so we can concentrate on our music, instead on administration and financial aspects.
Q: Every member of Dyscordia has a task to fulfill. For example guitar player Guy Commeene takes care of all merchandise and artwork. He created the artwork for cover and booklet, so tell us the story between what we hear and what we see?
Guy: You can see an angel on the cover, not a white one, but a black one. It represents the way Piet writes his lyrics. The general concept is the contrast between good and evil, positive and negative. It also refers to the phrase ‘rest on my wings’, somewhere in the album.
Q: Let’s talk about a few songs on the new album in particular. ‘Bail Me Out’ opens with a very heavy riff. I guess it’s the heaviest track of Dyscordia so far, and Tom Englund of Evergrey will be jealous when he’s gonna here this track! Give us some more details on this arrangement…
Noteleire: This is a typical ‘Guybanez’ riff, highly influenced by Nevermore and Evergrey. He’s really into Jeff Loomis and similar guitar players. We really wanted to have a dark and heavy song on this album. No-one better than Guy to come up with this kind of riff. The staccato riffing is done on a 7-string guitar, supported by some dark ambient keyboard tune. A ‘wicked’ combination.
Q: ‘Reveries’ was originally on the Reveries EP from 2010, and features the new album as well. Why a re-recording of this track?
Noteleire: This is in fact our first song ever written. We really wanted this song to be on the new album, because it defines how Dyscordia sounds. Three guitars playing in harmony, a solid rhythm section, a lot of different vocal lines, and a recognizable refrain. The song works out very well live, the middle (heavier) part always gives me goosebumps when I’m on stage. Definitely one of my favorites.
Q: There is still one more to go from the Reveries EP. Is ‘Realm Of Night’ a contender for the third album?
Noteleire: We did have some arguments about ‘Realm’, we really want to do something with this song. The riffing is a bit the same as in ‘Bail’, that’s one of the reasons we didn’t put it on Words in Ruin. I’m not to going spoil anything here, but I’m sure you haven’t heard the last of ‘Realm of night’.
Q: Another highlight is ‘Never Will’. I’m really impressed about the chorus line in this song, which has a very sensitive approach. Can I say that ‘Never Will’ will turn out into a Dyscordia classic song? A track that you will have to play on every gig?
Noteleire: I hope it will turn out to be a classic. Originally we recorded this song at a slower rhythm, but realized it didn’t do the trick. We deleted the tracks and recorded Never will on a more up-tempo basis, which resulted in the song you hear on the cd. We feel it has the right vibe now. The chorus line is very epic and refers to world war one. You can actually feel the soldier’s desire to see the smile of his loved one once again.
Q: ‘Sacred Soil Of Souls’ is also unusual. It’s played with a 12-string guitar and has a very nice lyric that pays homage to Flanders Fields, located in the area where you reside. I guess it’s a very personal song for Piet as well?
Noteleire: it sure is. He came up with this song and we thought it would work well with a very basic twelve string guitar tune. The simplicity of the guitar line is also its strength. It gives more attention to the vocals. We’ll kick in some bass when we play this live, and try to sing it with three. I hope it will work out nicely. The song tells the story of the soil in Flanders Fields, and everything that happened on it, and what lies beneath.
Q: Next one that I want to exemplify is ‘Words Of Fortune’. It starts as a ballad, and when you think that the song is finished, it really explodes while the pace is increasing! Awesome!! Is this the typical song writing of Dyscordia, adding unexpected parts in the songs?
Noteleire: Yes and no. We don’t make songs like this on purpose, it just happens. We always have the song in mind, not the arrangement or a kind of riff in particular.
Q: The final track on “Words In Ruin” is the Sonata Arctica cover of ‘My Land’. Why exactly this track, and I do wonder if it’s already released by Ouergh Records, as there seems to be constantly delay…
Martijn: The cover album and the song are released online, but there aren’t any physical copies yet. We’d very like to get one, but there seems to be a delay, yes. About the song, Fane came up with this one, he loves the early ‘Sonata’ work. We gave a nice Dyscordia twist to it, without changing a lot of the original song.
Q: Perhaps you already got in touch with the original song writers of ‘My Land’. If so, how was/is their reaction on your efforts?
Martijn: We didn’t get in touch with the original song writers yet, but we received a nice mail from their management containing very positive reactions and a permission to put it on our record. We’re very glad about it and we’re proud to be able to present this song on our album.
Q: Let’s take a look at the upcoming gigs. The band will play the official CD release show at De Kreun on April, 8th. 2016. What can we expect, what do you expect?
Noteleire: De Kreun is an awesome venue, the bands we selected are very cool, so we expect to see a good turnout and we hope to have a great after party.
Q: Supporting bands are Fields Of Troy and Thurisaz. Let’s start with the opener Fields Of Troy as they will present their new EP ‘Hardship’ as well. Was it the decision of the band that they have to open this special evening and occasion?
Martijn: Yes. We got in touch with Fields of Troy at the Devil’s rock concert. They’re a great live band and have just released a killer EP. They are the perfect opener for the evening. I’m sure the crowd will love them.
Q: Thurisaz are playing as well, although their musical style is a bit diverse compared with Dyscordia. How come they join as well?
Noteleire: We’ve known Thurisaz for quite a few years now, they’re good friends and first and foremost amazing live performers. In fact, they are doing us a favor. We’ve played their release show, you they’re playing ours.
Q: It’s cool that you support other bands from your area, that you give them a chance to bring their music to the Dyscodians as well. That’s how you get respect in the scene, isn’t it?
Martijn: Yes it is!
Q: Will the release show focus on the new album only, or will we hear tunes from Twin Symbiosis as well?
Noteleire: No spoilers here, I’m afraid. Come out to the show and you’ll see.
Q: The band will play a lot of nice gigs in clubs, pubs and venues like ‘5 Years Elpee’ in Deinze, Haunted Sky Fest in Holland, Skullfest … just to name a few. What is the main goal that you want to achieve? Is a gig in a club prior to going on tour for a few weeks?
Martijn: Our main goal is to reach as many people as possible. As we already have a good fan base in our own region, it’s obvious we’d like to play some more abroad. We already have some international shows in our agenda, but there’s always room for some more.
Q: Is it practical achievable to go on tour, as all members have their day time jobs, so it might be hard to hit the road all over Europe for 2 weeks or more..?
Noteleire: We’ll see what happens, when we do get the opportunity, we’re off! I’m sure we can manage things like this.
Q: The band is also scheduled on the Summer Breeze Festival in Germany. What a nice achievement! Do you know when you will play exactly as the festival is starting on August 17th, till August 20th. 2016 in Dinkelsbühl?
Martijn: We haven’t had any further details up ‘till now, but we’re on the bill, that’s for sure. And with a lot of other Belgian bands as well, Steak nr. Eight, Bliksem, Saille, Evil Invaders and Hell City. I’m expecting a big party there!
Q: Any other festivals in the running or options? And how about the Alcatraz Metal Festival? It would be a shame if the band isn’t on the bill this year!
Noteleire: That’s your opinion I’m afraid, not ours. We hope to get there in a few years, who knows. If Alcatraz is up for it this year, why not. Let Dyscordia grow, but don’t let it explode, that’s my idea. I’m rather sober about these things, without lacking ambition of course.
Q: Well, I’m sure that Dyscordia will reach for the stars in 2016 and that the new album will be hailed and praised by national and international press! Any final words to add?
Not really, we’ve done enough talking thank you ;-) . Check us out and let us know what you think about Words in Ruin, and maybe leave a post on our Facebook page? Enjoy the album.
Sloof: I want to thank you for your time and feedback. Also for the great album that you released as we will enjoy it at maximum volume! We’ll keep an eye on the band and we’ll drink a few beers afterwards the upcoming gigs!