Interview with The Occult
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up in a musical household so music got me at a really young age. My grandmother was a classical pianist so I couldn’t help but absorb all that music growing up. Being from Hellenic descent, I also got exposed to traditional Greek music, which in retrospect, was almost proggish at times. That certainly shaped my ears in an interesting & unique way. Eventually, rock music entered my awareness and once I saw the One video By Metallica it was over. I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. If I didn’t have music as an outlet I’d be killing politicians probably haha.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I enjoy immersing myself in art, whether it’s literature, music or film. Anything that might awaken the fire to want to go create something. Sometimes it’s the music in the film, sometimes it could be a line in a book that ends up being a seed for a song or songs even. It really comes from anywhere.
How long has your band been around?
The genesis of the band was in 2011 when I started writing all these songs but it took a long time to get the lineup we now have today.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Montreal, Canada. Montreal is a weird city, it’s like people from around the country come here to “make it” and the people that grew up here leave to go “make it” somewhere else. It’s strange how that happens in the exact same city. I suppose when you’re coming here with fresh eyes, the whole world is open so you don’t have that jaded, “been there done that” perspective. Things are definitely more exciting when you’re not contaminated by habit.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
I was on the phone with ex-bass player Gianni Berretta (House of Dusk/Beware/Mercy Mother) and we we’re trying to find names for our bands. I was reading The Occult by Colin Wilson at the time and just blurted it out while we were on the phone and we both laughed knowing that that was the name.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
There’s been a couple of cool ones recently for sure. I remember us playing recently and people singing the words to songs they never heard. That is, once the chorus came in for the 2nd time they got the just of the melody. Seeing people’s lips moving to words you wrote is a huge mindfuck in the coolest of ways.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Metropolis (now called M-Telus) is a really badass venue with a rich history. I think I saw Slayer like 10 times in that venue. To play there would be incredible.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
If Peter Steele, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley or Chris Cornell were alive it would be with their respective bands for sure. I would love to play/tour with Metallica, Life of Agony and Warrior Soul.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Find your own voice. Learn from the masters. If you’re a guitar player, learn all the 80’s Metallica and Megadeth stuff. I mean, if you can play the tunes off And Justice for All and/or Rust in Peace, you can pretty much play almost anything haha. Learn from what moves you would probably be the best advice I could give. If it moves you then read/listen to everything that that artist has done while continuously searching for your voice. That’s the best way forward I’d say. Advice to my younger self would be to stick to it and be consistent.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Buy Bitcoin the year it came out so you would have been retired by now and not have to work shit day jobs haha. Definitely would have told my younger self to save every penny.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That’s a hard one, to be honest. I mean I like some songs more than others at times, but that can change depending on the day. We all really enjoy playing It’s Amateur Hour because it just hammers live. It’ll probably be a single down the line and certainly a live staple for the unforeseeable future.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We don’t really get requests per se. It’s more that the crowds, at the last couple of shows, start chanting things like “one more song!”. The problem is we didn’t have any more material hehe. So we ended up picking random songs from the set and playing them twice.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
A lot of the songs start with the vocal melody which apparently isn’t the norm. I know a lot of bands come up with the vocals last but I tend to do them first. There’s the odd occasion where I jam out riffs and then put vocals on top but a lot of the time it’s vocals then everything else.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I don’t know if there’s a singular message. Some songs are certainly political, like Occupy Unite, but then you have songs like In This Night, Death Doll, etc that are just fiction.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Not really. We all get along pretty well so there are no issues there. If you have a goal and you’re all heading in that same direction, perfecting the live show or world domination or what have you, then the unit works towards that.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We just recently got added to a gig in our hometown where we are playing with a band called Wednesday 13. While that’s certainly cool the venue we’re playing at, Foufounes Électrique has got the band just as excited cuz of its rich history. The fact that Trent Reznor, Kurt Cobain, Devin Townsend and Peter Steele stood on that very stage is fucking mind-blowing to say the least so we’re pretty stoked to be playing there Oct 4th of this year.
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Music Video - “Into This Night” -