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JF Degenais (Kataklysm)

Interview with JF Degenais from Kataklysm
by Elina Papadoyianni at 06 April 2006, 1:23 AM

The Canadian Death Metal band Kataklysm, officially formed in 1991 and still running, released the smashing new album review.asp?id=1394 (Nuclear Blast Records) and managed to draw once again the attention of the Metal scene worldwide with their extreme and powerful sound. Here comes an informative and pleasant interview with guitarist JF Degenais, who, apart from being a musician and producer, could easily see himself as a happily married family man with children… Anyone interested?

Hi JF, how are you?

I’m fine, thank you, and you?

Doing alright. How many interviews have you done so far, concerning the latest album?

Ah…quite a lot…but that’s cool! (Laughs)

Well, we could talk about something else if you like…We could turn this into a gossip/style cheesy interview like what’s your favorite food, favorite movie, etc.

(Laughs) Oh well, you are the boss! I’ll answer the questions, I don’t mind…

I could but then I would have problems with the actual boss, like what kind of interview is that?, so…

(Laughs) Yeah, I guess…

Ok, seriously now, have you taken a look at the reviews and comments concerning In the Arms of Devastation? I mean they are quite awesome…

Yeah, it’s been quite impressive for us ’cause actually we expected good reviews but not that good… Very surprising!

And the grading between 9 and 10 out of 10!

Yes, and the thing is I still feel this is not the best yet, like the scores are full scores so it is very surprising for us but we were very happy about it of course. We are very curious to see now what the fans are going to say about the new album.

If you say you can do better next time, we should anticipate for the amazing…

(Laughs) I hope so! I mean when we did this one, it came up really naturally, we spent quite a lot of time on it, but still it was a very spontaneous record and I know if we work harder we will make it even better next time. We’ll see, we’ll see…

When do you actually realize that an album is ready to be released? That everything is the way you want it and it is ready to go?

Mmm… well, as soon as we are done, usually one funny thing that happens is we always think which are the best songs. I mean when we write songs we say ok, this is going to be the best, no that one is going to be the best and at the end of everything, when the record is all done and ready to be shipped at the label, we are like shit!, there were songs we thought weren’t that good and then came out amazing in the album and then we end up changing the song order at the very last minute. Like two days before we ship the record and say ok, let’s make that one the first song and put that one later in the album and stuff like that. (Laughs) We always rearrange stuff last minute.

Besides the guitar playing, you are behind the writing and recording process and Maurizio \[Iacono - vocals], apart from the vocals, writes the lyrics…

Yeah, I do quite a lot on the writing and recording and Maurizio writes the lyrics in Chicago. We live quite far apart but it’s cool the way we write. We record the music on MP3s and then we send it to him, so he can write the lyrics at home. So, at the studio, we haven’t heard anything before, we say whoa, this is cool!.

So actually you are pretty clueless on how vocals will match with the music…

Yes, exactly (Laughs). But this is cool ’cause it makes the music so much better at some parts with the lyrics and stuff…

Although Kataklysm has been characterized as a promising Death Metal band, so far it’s been quite underrated. I believe with the new album things will change and you will get the recognition you truly deserve.

Hopefully, hopefully… (Laughs) We’ve been doing this for so long now, I mean, for us it’s a passion. We are the type of band that books the rehearsal space once or twice a week, we drink a few beers and we write the music and that’s the way we like it. Hopefully, other people like it too; I mean we are not so much after success. We just hope the band gets big enough so we can still keep on living from music and be able to keep playing. But I think that as long as people like our music, we will keep playing.

And each album comes out even better…

I think that we try to push the boundaries on every record, We do stuff that we didn’t think possible to do, like on the last album we did direct support for the Danzig Tour and it was incredible. We never thought we could tour with bands like that, or last summer we played at the With Full Force Festival in Germany; we were like 4-5 bands playing before Iron Maiden and this was like unbelievable for us!

And you were performing for how many people?

50,000 or something…


Yeah, I still show the pictures to my friends and they are like this is unreal! (Laughs)

Here’s a question you must’ve heard a lot! How come Morgan Lander from Kittie participated in one of the new songs, It Turns To Rust?

In every album we try to add a different guest musician on the CD, like last time we had Peter Tagtgren from Hypocrisy. We wanted to have Canadian friend as well, like Morgan because we are good friends with the girls from Kittie. We may not be huge fans of their music but it was important for us to have them on the record. It was good thinking.

Really powerful vocals…

Yeah, she can scream! When she came to the studio, she started screaming and the vocals were man, there is a lot of power! (Laughs) I was very impressed!

You have a pretty cool tour coming up…

Yeah, it’s gonna be cool! We start with the No Mercy Festival with Cannibal Corpse and after that in the end of April we have the tour with Bolt Thrower and later on, in May, June and I guess July, will be at the Metal Crusaders Festival with Vader and Destruction.

How do you feel about your tour mates?

It’s going to be fun ’cause we are friends with all the guys and we haven’t seen them in a while, so it’s gonna be great!

And then of course you have arranged to come to Greece…

(Laughs) I really hope we can make it ’cause every year we try to and for some reason it doesn’t work, like it gets cancelled or the timing is wrong. But we’ll try really hard to make it this year and I know that in September we are booking a headlining tour and we wanna go everywhere and hopefully Greece we’ll be one of the countries we’ll play.

That will be great!

I think the problem is that we have to fly there ’cause it’s pretty far to get there with the tour bus and it’s quite expensive for the promoters, but I’d love to make it this time!

What is the most unexpected thing that has happened during a live show?

Oh, there are always stuff that happen! (Laughs) Every night there is something different, there is always chaos for us! If people see the DVD we have on the European version of the new album, there are a bunch of stuff added with crazy stuff going on! (Laughs)

And which country has won the prize for the wildest audience?

I would say for us, the best part of the world to play would be Germany… Germany, Austria and Switzerland are like the totally crazy places we have played. Even places in Eastern Europe, like Yugoslavia, have been pretty cool for us, but I feel that the German fans have always been there for us since the beginning and they are still there, 15 years later. It’s quite amazing!

Greece is pending though, so a live here might change your mind! (Laughs)

I think so, because many other bands like, Nile and Misery Index, have told us it was amazing!

Isn’t there an autobiography coming out?

Yes, Maurizio has been working on it for a year and a half, but it’s the first time he does something like that and it takes him quite a while to put the pieces together… but he has a writer friend and an editor that check the way he writes. It will come out probably the next year or the year after, something like that.

What about winning the Canadian Indie Award for Best Metal Band?

That is another thing that took us by surprise last year (Laughs), because here in Canada we are a quite famous band and we have a lot of support from the local fans and the thing is that we never got any recognition whatsoever from the Canadian industry people. They do not seem to realize that there is an extreme Metal scene in Canada, they do not acknowledge it and this was actually the first time they did something to honor what bands like us do for the music scene in the country.

It was about time then, I’d say!

(Laughs) Yeah, I mean we got the phone and they told us guys, you’ve won an award! and we were like what? and we were very surprised by that but we couldn’t actually go and get it ’cause we were on tour at the time, so we had to send one of our friends to get it for us. It’s very nice, it looks like a gold record or something with the award we won and it’s pretty cool like how did I win that?…

Hmmm, my own cool award and it looks good on my wall…

\[Laughs Loudly]

Give me a Top 5 play list of the first albums that come in mind.

Let’s see… I am into more traditional Metal like Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast and stuff like that. Generally, early Maiden stuff… Actually I love one record I got recently, it’s the new album of Muse…


(Laughs) Yeah, not very Metal but it is very spacey and I love the freaky production, the electronic stuff etc…

Well, my friend, as long as you don’t say Britney Spears, we are fine… (Laughs)

(Laughs) Oh no, no, no… I like the last Hypocrisy album a lot, I’ve been on tour with them and I really liked their music and also the Stormblast reissue from Dimmu Borgir, very cool and what else… I am a fan of music in general, I like many albums. It’s very odd for me to put the Top 5, I think…

Ok, cool, let’s move on! Have you ever thought where you would be or what you would be doing, if you hadn’t chosen a career as a musician?

I don’t know… I don’t have that much interest in anything else rather than music in my life right now, but I would say I’d probably be a family man, raising kids…


Yeah, get married and stuff like that. A family man!

And for a job?

Well, for me my second career is recording. I’m in the studio business, so that could be a possibility for afterwards when the band is over. But all the other guys in the band have other talents; I know that Maurizio is studying Law Enforcement and Stephane \[Barbe - bass] is an accountant and between the tours he works for an airline company in Montreal and Max \[Duhamel - drums] works in construction, he is a carpenter and he is very good. Actually, when we were relocated not so long ago, he did all our floors and stuff; he is awesome!

That’s great! I’m impressed!

Yeah! (Laughs) It’s nice!

Thank you very much for your time!

Thank you very much for the interview and maybe you could find someone in Greece to book us!

I’ll do my best! (Laughs)

Ask the promoters to book us somewhere in September ’cause we are putting our tour together!

Ok, I’ll see what I can do…

I don’t know if that sounds any possible but anyway, it was nice talking to you!

Same here, enjoy your evening and hope to see you soon in Greece!



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