Ben D, founder guitarist and composer for Memories Of A Dead Man, answered some questions for the release of (re)M.A.Z.E.d.
Hello and first of all, thank you for your time. I let you introduce yourself.
Ben D (guitar): I’m the guitar player and the band’s composer since its creation in 2005.
What does Memories Of A Dead Man’s music represent for you? How does the band evolve with time?
Ben D: For me, music is an outlaw, this band especially because we talk about philosophy or psychology, I developed ambiences to progressively clothe the themes around our failures as human beings? The band evolved following periods we live, at the beginning we had an intense but melodic touch, where clean voice sometimes came. With time, things kind of reversed itself, clean vocals are the main part, and growl comes less. Maybe it will be totally different on the band’s next journey, or maybe there will be no vocals at all. Actually, this band is sort of collective, according to moments of life some people add their touch to the disc! It’s possible that some former members come back or new people join, it will depend of the song ambiences and tensions in our society.
(re)MAZEd, your fourth album, will be out shortly, how do you feel about it? More confident or anxious?
Ben D: Mainly confident but also a bit cautious, because it is different from the previous releases (after a 5 years break), we had to come back with anything else for me and this band. So those who loved our Black Metal touch will probably be disappointed but those who loved our Prog aspect will love it. We cannot please to everyone and I understood it since a while.
What does the album title mean? And how does the composition process happen? Was it different from the previous one?
Bend D: This album is some kind of pun about two previous records, Maze (with guests on every song, from Mike Armine of Rosetta to Yann Ligner from Klone) and V.I.T.R.I.O.L. which is a very special record for me and the band at the time. Those two releases had a very warm welcome. Remaze would mean shook, just like a society that constantly and uncontrollably moves, and the (re)M.A.Z.E. means (re) MAZE AREA ZONE EXTENDED.
Can you tell me a bit more about the album’s artwork? What does it mean?
Ben D: This artwork was thought two years ago, actually one of songs that we called the Decline (which is Ignition on the final version) talks about our society’s decline (it sounds easy now but it’s something I feel since 4 or 5 years, and when I see now how fast it is, I feel sad). So this artwork indirectly evokes our civilisation’s collapse to let place to purity, embodied by this deer (which is an utopian world of course).
You recently released a videoclip for the song Shapeshifter, why did you pick this one? What is the story behind the clip and the song?
Ben D : Yes, it is just released, we wanted to keep it for the album release. We recorded this clip at the end of december 2019, so it is a bit dated but it wouldn’t have helped our journey if we released it earlier. Shapeshifter’s theme is the influence of a person on another, here with the shape of a metamorph to illustrate better the fact of cornering anyone, sometimes in a vicious and violent way.
Your music was often labelled as Doom, Prog or Post-Hardcore, but what are your influences? It can be musical or not.
Ben D: We were immediately labelled as Post-Hardcore, but I barely listened to it at the time, I come from Hardcore and Fusion, or Death Metal at the beginning, or maybe Ambient stuff like Tool. Some indirect influences could come from movies soundtracks, I love Hans Zimmer for example, the mesmerizing themes that we find on suspense movies for example. But we currently have a common love for Prog influences with our new singer Thierry, and the Ambient side, the Post-Black that could sometimes be find in our ambiences or progressions on this new album.
The band’s watchword since 15 years is “We are Rocker’s who plays Metal in a Hardcore Band”, what does that mean for you?
Ben D: It was made to avoid labels we cannot or don’t want to have. When we gravitated in Hardcore or Metalcore domains, there is some kind of will to place bands, people in a box, a label, with close codes… and that doesn’t fit me at all since the very beginning, the melting was set and sometimes a song is more about Rock and another one is very extreme on the record. Why not?
I know that Covid-19 fucked up a lot of stuff, do you have plans to celebrate your fifteenth anniversary? Or maybe some will for the future?
Ben D : Of course this “pandemia” and this crisis are very hard… and that can last a bit. It turns our motivation down, that’s true, because we were progressing a lot before containment. So we are waiting, most of the shows that were supposed to happen are canceled or postponed in the best case. We still decided to release the album to move forward and I am already focusing on the next step that will be… more intense I think.
Do you remember the very first time you picked up an instrument to play? When and how does it happen?
Ben D: Yes, a guitar with my oldest friend, with whom I still play and who is a guitar teacher. We wanted to create a band because I had to stop sports because of recurrent tendonitis, so he had a guitar that I could try one evening at his home after high school.
Which was the very first Metal song you ever listened to? And which one gave you the will to create or join a band?
Ben D: It was The Trooper on Piece of Mind from Iron Maiden, and a song from Raven, a forty years old band (but I don’t remember which one).
What are your hobbies except music?
Ben D: Aperitif! To be serious, I like spending time with my other-half, I am captivated by cinema, nature, also animals. Psychology and philosophy that could help a bit more not to sink into obscurantism and manipulation that are strongly upon us.
Could you tell us some words about the French scene?
Ben D: The french scene is really full of exceptional talents, as in Extreme Metal (Black Metal is above all since a while) as in the new Djent/Screamo/Post Black scene, where new bands explode and are killers. Unfortunately there are too few french medias that help or support this excellent scene over the time.
What do you like when you play on stage?
Ben D: I like adrenaline, the energy you have to give to the audience and the energy you receive, sharing with the others (members of the band) and the public.
To which french dish could you compare Memories Of A Dead Man’s music?
Ben D: Some salty-sweet like curry pineapple chicken for example. It’s not for everybody, but when you love it you become “addicted”.
Last question: I let you create a tour with Memories Of A Dead Man as opener, and three other bands of your choice!
Ben D: Okay that’s easy, Tool/Devin Townsend (because he is my uncle of this scene)/Opeth and us. There could be a lot of different bills, but those three are amazing for me, for us!
(Well, I could also choose for example Killswitch Engage to hang out with Adam D that I love, Faith No More because of Mike Patton and finally Underoath because it’s a band that marked me in my evolution and that I still listen to).
Thanks again for your time, lasts words are yours!
Ben D: Thanks to you and your readers first of all. Keep supporting the scene (the French one to begin!) and the underground which really needs it with everything that happens nowadays. Consequences could be devastating for event actors and associations that give a lot of themselves, as well as for bands.