Interview: JB Le Bail of Svart Crown

French death metallers Svart Crown are currently gearing up to release their brand new album Wolves Among The Ashes via Century Media Records. An extreme, no-nonsense, slab of modern death metal, the album serves as an excellent follow up to 2017’s Abrecation. A few days before Christmas, we got the opportunity to have a brief chat with frontman and founding member JB on the process behind the album and something he thinks new bands should learn to do on the road.

Svart Crown are gearing up to release Wolves Among the Ashes. How do you feel the response has been to the songs released so far?

I’m pretty happy about the reaction. For now, we’ve put out a more classic song in our style from the album although it has a different vibe in terms of rhythm and emotion. Overall, it’s been really good and I’m pretty happy with it so far.

This is also the first album to feature the reworked lineup. How has it been working with them?

It’s been pretty good. We’ve worked with the 2 new people before and to have them back is good. Some stuff has changed since those days and we’ve got better communication now so it’s going pretty well.

Was the production process behind the album, writing/recording, any different to previous albums?

There’s always the same routine in terms of creating the songs and putting ideas all together. I have my own process for that and collect my ideas and songs together. When I’m happy with it, I then share it with the others and see what they think. I’m not the type of guy who will turn up to the rehearsal space with ideas, I prefer to have more concrete plans and be way more confident in what I’ve created. I prefer to have worked on the song structures and have the harmonies ready before I show them.

On this record, I did a lot of work with the drummer this time around and came to the rehearsal space where we jammed stuff out and found the best ideas. We did all the preproduction at his place, him and I, which was different. During that writing process, two of the members quit the band as they were not really into it. That happened a few months before we were scheduled to go into the studio and I was in two minds as I’d done everything I could for the songs, but I felt as though it was not enough. We knew we could do better but didn’t really have any more ideas. When the two new people joined the band, they came in with fresh ideas which was really beneficial to the album. We were then able to add some more of the special little bits that were missing.

We tried to use all of our own equipment on this album as much as possible so that we could replicate our live sound. We wanted it to sound as organic as possible and we didn’t record with any triggers on the drums which helped us gain that. We used the same setup we have live with the guitars but experimented a bit with our sound. We used the Axe FX which made it way easier to get all the sounds we wanted for the lead guitars and arrangement.

What inspires you to write music?

Inspiration can be a difficult thing and at first you often can’t be sure that it’s going to prove to be ‘inspirational’. I typically tend to get inspired by a lot of natural disasters which can be both beautiful and terrifying. You really feel like you are nothing against nature and it’s really powerful and destructive. Those have tended to prove to be my main inspiration and I’m also inspired by a lot of art and pictures. I went to a museum in Paris and got to see the paining of the “gate to hell” which was really cool to me. That proved to be really instrumental in us creating the album artwork for this record. I’ve recently also started to be inspired by the Alien movies. In particular the most recent one with post-apocalyptic themes which I find fascinating.

What would you say is one thing bands should learn to do whilst on the road?

They should take care of themselves and be careful. Don’t party all night and make sure you get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can really kill you and being tired affects your emotions. You need to put your ego aside as much as possible, especially when you are supporting. I know it’s hard and people might not be nice with you, but if you keep your mouth shut and get what you need to get done on time, then people will be cool with you. Touring can be very tough and you have to deliver a great performance every night even though the crowd might not be that receptive to your music. It’s a delicate balancing act but ensuring that you take care of yourself and get enough sleep is key in my opinion.

Aside from releasing the album, what are the bands plans for the next 6 to 12 months?

The plan is to tour with Gost and present our new songs. Europe is first for us and I hope we have some more tours coming up during this year. We’re keeping our eyes and ears open for good touring opportunities and hopefully have some good things come our way.

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