Etienne Sarthou, guitarist of the Black/Sludge Metal band Deliverance, accepted to answer some questions for the release of Neon Chaos in a Junk -Sick Dawn, their third album.
Hello and first of all thank you for your time! How would you introduce the band Deliverance without using the usual « Metal » labels ?
Etienne Sarthou (guitar): With great pleasure, thanks to you! It’s not easy to present us without using the usual terms… I’ll go to the cinema domain: our album is like a movie made by Jodorowsky and Kubrick, all bathed in a waking urban nightmare. Deliverance is an introspective band, crushing, oppressive but also luminous and mysterious at the same time.
Where does the band’s name come from, and how do you relate it to the music you play?
Etienne: It’s the movie of the same name that made me want to call this band Deliverance. I love its ultra heavy atmosphere. We don’t know anymore what is real and what is the domain of fear, imagination, even madness. I think that this uneasy side fits well with what we do.
Your third album, Neon Chaos in a Junk -Sick Dawn, is about to be released, how do you feel about it?
Etienne: We feel great! ? We’re really proud of this album in which we were really unleashed in every way.
How was the composition process? As well as for the lyrics?
Etienne: I usually work on song ideas on my own and when I have something that seems interesting I propose it to the band and we try it during rehearsal. I write very regularly, as soon as I have ideas in mind, so the writing process for the album is a kind of continuous work which only stops when we consider that we have all the necessary tracks for the record. In the case of this new album, the writing must have been spread over about two years I would say. Then, Pierre writes his texts starting from what the pieces that we all put down together evokes him.
We notice from the first track some modern elements in your oppressive mix, how did you manage the balance between the two universes?
Etienne: I guess by « modern » you mean the synths and other keyboards we used. It’s funny because from our point of view it’s the opposite of modernity. Contrariwise we were looking for the 70’s side with these sounds that we like very much in Pink Floyd or The Doors among others. In the same spirit, that’s also why we recorded this album mostly live : drums, bass and guitar were recorded all together in our rehearsal room for a more authentic spirit, even « vintage » I dare say. We really wanted to make a strong link with this fantastic period of Psychedelic and Progressive Rock, while mixing it with our Black Metal/Sludge and Doom elements.
How did you go about creating the artwork?
Etienne: It was pretty complicated! We did a lot of tests, a lot of research to get this result. We never really managed to capture the essence and complexity of our album with the visuals we had in front of us. Then finally we found this photo from our friend Mathieu Piranda (who is also the photographer of our other album covers), that graphic designer, who is my wife, Pauline Talarn (also graphic designer of all our other creations) put in shape and bingo! It was all good. But it took us several months to get it right and to agree on this cover which we are really happy with. It perfectly represents the album and where Deliverance is today.
On Neon Chaos in a Junk-Sick Dawn, we notice two extremely long but also more experimental tracks, how did you decide to keep them so long instead of making two shorter ones?
Etienne: Odyssey was one of the first tracks I worked on for this album. And I realized as I was working on it that each time I was missing an extra passage to close the loop and finalize the track. The ideas followed one another to finally end on a track that was actually quite long ? Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by long tracks: for example Echoes or Shine on your crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd, Fool’s Overture by Supertramp, Telegraph Road by Dire Straits… These are tracks that I’ve been immersed in since I was very young. For me these songs are masterpieces, really epics and I realize a real dream by succeeding in writing myself songs of this kind, and in a successful way I hope! In any case for me this kind of track should not be shortened or diluted to be better digested. It is to be taken as it is in order to immerse oneself in the particular atmosphere that emerges from it.
What inspired you for the lyrics and the vocal diversity of the songs?
Etienne: First of all, it’s the music that guides us towards this or that voice. When we start recording a track, we do some tests to find the right intention, the right tone of voice. Because our songs often have quite clear changes of voice. Fortunately Pierre has a fantastic vocal range and our possibilities are very vast!
You have recently signed with Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions, how did they convince you and accompany you for the release of the album?
Etienne: We’ve been talking with Gérald for a lot of years now and we’ve been keeping an eye on each other’s activities. When I sent him this new album, after some time he answered me by message that he loved it and that he wanted to work with us. We are obviously delighted to be part of this prestigious label, it is a team of passionate and motivated people and it really speaks to us! The conditions for the release of this album are really excellent, we feel really well surrounded.
Since 2020, the world is suffering from Covid-19. How did you live the different periods of restrictions as a band? Did the pandemic have an impact on the album?
Etienne: We didn’t live very well this whole period, both from a personal and collective point of view for the band. Not being able to defend our previous record on stage really frustrated us, and listening again to our new album (and reading some of the reviews of this one), I think that this whole period had to have an influence on this record. That feeling of oppression and searching for light is a pretty good representation of how I felt for two years. But it’s really now that I realize that this album had to be impacted by this covid period, even if some tracks were written before all this mess…
Do you already have plans for the future of the band ? Whether it’s for live dates, or even something else?
Etienne: Yes, we are definitely looking for dates but I’m confident it will happen. This year, with the Hellfest in particular, a lot of people realized that Deliverance was a real force on stage and we are really ready to fight. We just signed with Metallian Productions for the booking of our dates, so expect to see Deliverance on stage in 2023!
What is your view on the current French scene? And what about the international scene?
Etienne: There are a lot of good things everywhere, even if personally I sometimes regret that the great mastery of some musicians is often mixed with a certain lack of will to shake up the current codes. In Metal in particular, there is a kind of classicism: everyone stays a bit locked in his niche and I think it’s a pity because music feeds on the unexpected and on « searching for something else ». I’m still a metalhead at heart but I’m generally passionate about Rock in the broadest sense and these last years Indie Rock or Psyche have really been tremendously productive and avant-garde. As for the French scene, it is rich and very interesting in many ways!
What are the bands of the French scene that you think you absolutely have to listen to in 2022?
Etienne: The first one that comes to my mind is Regarde les Hommes Tomber. It’s really a fantastic band!
Is there an artist you would like to collaborate with? Whether it’s for a track, an album, an artwork…
Etienne: We haven’t really thought about it. The process of creating an album for Deliverance is first of all a personal research, in which we are really between us with little room for an outside person. But that doesn’t mean we will never collaborate with other musicians, we’ll see. I’d love to collaborate with an artist I like. Just off the top of my head, I think Mike Scheidt from Yob‘s voice could be amazing on Deliverance.
If I asked you which French dish you could compare Deliverance‘s music to, which one would you choose? Why would you choose it?
Etienne: Oh boy, I find it complicated to illustrate what we do with food! The dish would probably be too complicated haha ? Maybe we should have a complete menu with hot, cold, salty, a little bit of sweet and wines with complex aromas to have a picture as true as possible of what we do.
Last question: which bands would you like to tour with? I’ll let you create a tour with three bands, plus Deliverance as an opener.
Etienne: A tour mixing Yob, Oranssi Pazuzu, Cult of Luna and Deliverance would look pretty good, wouldn’t it?
Thanks again for your availability, I leave you the last words!
Etienne: Thanks to you for this interview and for the support!