1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?
We are four guys from France playing music since 2004 or so, and founded Mantra in late 2009. We are four members: Pierre is the singer, his brother Gabriel is on the drums, Matthieu is playing bass and Simon is the guitar player. We released two demos, one EP, and we are about to release out first full-length album, “Into The Light”. We try to create something new out of our experience of music and life.
2. How would you describe your musical sound?
We play a music with lots of contrasts. There are a lot of different atmospheres, emotions and sounds, sometimes within a song itself. Our music has always been a way to express our deep feelings, and like every human our feelings are not always the same. This brings color to our music. It is also progressive, in the way that it doesn’t follow the traditional structure for a song, and it often revolves around different ideas that evolve in time, just like any organism. Of course we’re classified as “metal” because it contains lots of elements from the traditional metal genre (double bass, heavy distortion, growls), but actually we’re just playing it as it comes.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
The songs usually explore a question, a theme, a feeling. These themes are proposed by one of us during the writing process. We then sit around a piece of paper and write down everyone’s feeling and thought about it. This means that the lyrics never pretend to give and answer to the question, or to tell a truth about a matter. We’re just screaming out loud how we feel about it. We wrote about the relationship a human has with his environment and nature in “Tribal Warming”. We wondered about global consciousness on “One” or the ways one creates things in “The Voice of Creation”.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name?
The band’s name was a critical subject. We tended toward the Buddhist theme because of the meditative, peaceful and mystic aspects we have in common. A mantra is a sentence or a melody you are given during a ceremony, and which you will keep inside you for your whole life, playing it on and on inside your head. A beautiful definition for the music we want to create!
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
The band’s work begins in the studio. It’s the place where the ingredients are mixed together, and it’s some really serious piece of work if you want to know. But once we’re on stage, we just let everything go. We want our shows to be a wild thing, a moment where everyone, the audience included, can release their inner self. The best shows we had where the ones where we felt really connected to the people listening. Sometimes we have the feeling to set them free! We had some great shows in Paris, playing in mythic venues like the “Divan du Monde” or dirty underground places like the “Klub” or the “Miroiterie”. But the best shows so far were at home in Bretagne!
6. Do you have any touring plans for the future?
We will continue playing all around France. The challenge for us now is to go abroad. We plan to tour in Europe next year. We are really looking forward to doing this! There is currently no plan to cross the Atlantic, but as soon as we have the chance, be sure to see us around!
7. The next album is coming out on Finisterian Dead End, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far?
At the time we met Laurent (Finisterian Dead End label manager), FDE was a small label from Bretagne, where we are from. We had sent him a demo and he said he was really interested in our musical universe. We talked about reissuing our EP, but since we already had some new material, we decided to produce a full-length album instead. This really gave us some fresh air! The label gives us the opportunity to have our CD in stores in France, and helps us in the promotion process. It really helps to know there are people on your side. He is a friend now.
8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of extreme metal?
Maybe it’s a little too soon to talk about worldwide feedback, this is just the beginning. We recently had our first publications abroad, and that’s really exciting. We are musicians and are not really good at communication, so until a few months ago, the world had never heard of us! But now we have people helping us, more and more people come to discover our music and are spreading the word, and so far they seem to like it.
9. Are there any other musical projects besides this band or is this a full time line up?
Mantra is our main project. We all have occupations besides music, and one band already eats up a lot of time. But actually there are a lot of other projects between us that will probably never make it to the stage, like one-evening experimental bands, such as ‘The Monkey Bastards” (maybe you can find it on Google) or “Black Moon Prophecy”, which is, like the name suggests, a black metal thing. Simon has a solo rock project called “Armunzen”. Maybe one day one of these projects will come out as a “serious” one, but there is no plan for the moment.
10. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
We already have plenty of ideas, and we know very well where we’re heading. We want to go deeper in the exploration of music, especially the rhythmic phenomenons and the universes they contain. Our music will become more and more personal, because we are currently moving away from our influences and adding bricks every day to our own musical style.
11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
We all have different tastes in music, but not all artists we like have influenced our music. The music from the 70’s made it to our sound, which has progressive elements coming from Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa or The Doors, for instance. In terms of metal, we like the classics, but Gojira is maybe the biggest inspiration, not especially for the music, but because it’s the first French metal band to have such success all around the world, and in a way they lifted up the whole French scene. We have higher standards than before, so not so many bands catch our attention, but among the ones we like you can find As We Draw, Hypno5e, Cynic, Porcupine Tree or Opeth.
12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Pierre lives in a farm lost in the countryside, so the wilderness is really something he likes and we often go there, to record some music but also to rest among nature’s energy. Gab is also a film editor, which helps in making video content for the band. He made videos we project during our shows. It helps to create the universe we want to put the audience in.
13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
We really want to thank ExtremeUndergroundMusicZine for giving us the opportunity to express ourselves here! The album will be released in June, for more information stay tuned on http://facebook.com/mantramusik !