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Alpha Blank's Maxime Soler: “As musicians, we don’t plan to write or compose. Ideas and songs just come to mind and we collect them all. In a way, we constantly create music.”

Interview with Maxime Soler from Alpha Blank
by Quinten Serna at 19 December 2020, 2:36 PM

The sacrosanct elements of music are articles that permeate throughout the ages and Alpha Blank bears no difference in their compositions. Metal Temple's Quinten Serna recently caught up with the band for an online interview.



Bonjour, et merci beaucoup for agreeing to this interview with Metal Temple. Having listened to your debut I can tell you in unabated veracity it’s nothing short of surreal to be doing this interview with y’all. As with every good story I think an introduction is the best way to start this off, if you could just give your name(s), and what you do in the band, then perhaps something interesting or unique about yourself—or not, no one will hold you to do so.

Chester (guitar) and Julien (drums) used to play in a cover band prior to Alpha Blank but decided to quit as their will of composing original material grew stronger. Quite soon they met Max (singer) who happened to sing and play guitar in a cover band as well and was eager to start a new original band. Sandra (bass) was the final addition to the team.

So starting off, Life In 2 Pieces, has an absolutely stunning quality to it, from the solo rhythm that preludes the band in To Survive to the fadeout of Spaceship Xploder, every instrument resounds in pure explicative detail and melds together into a magnificent soundscape; my question in regards is if you all had a solid idea for how you wanted your sound to come out before going into recording, or if it was just something that flourished as you got into the nitty gritty and tracking?

Thanks to today’s technology we’ve been fortunate to do a lot of pre production. Meaning we had many occasions to record, give it a rest and listen to the takes. We didn’t have a specific sound (as a specific album or production model) in mind when we started. It just shaped itself little by little.

The artwork behind your releases is equal parts regal and macabre (save for Like No One), what’s the story behind the artistic choice?

We’ve been working with a great design artist, his name is Julien G, from day one. He’s done all our logos, covers, banners… it was very important for us to find the right person to illustrate and visually define our music. Every single has its own design and vibe. As for the album cover it really sums up our prog influence and emphasizes the meaning of “Life in 2 Pieces.”

One of Oscar Wilde’s most famous philosophical motifs was, Life Imitating Art, his own words being, “Life Imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” One of the best examples that comes to mind—other than Wilde describing how poets paint London’s fog to be beautiful—is Aldous Huxley’s use of Soma in Brave New World which predates the first manufacturing of antidepressants by near 20 years. It’s pretty common that everyone ascribes songs to different elements of their lives, but do you think it goes beyond musical affinity and actually plays a role in influencing how we choose to see the world?

It's a very interesting question! Obviously our music and lyrics are mainly influenced by our own experiences. Therefore some topics might appear as rather common to the listeners. However, as you may have noticed, our songtrack is varied enough. It was one of our goals to offer different vibes through the album and not be stuck in one particular approach (as it happens too often in our genre…). In that way I think our songs can match different moods and help through different phases.

Myself regrettably, I have not known a great many French acts, when a conversation veers towards French based musicians the two names that spring to mind are Gojira and Édith Piaf. What’s the Metal scene like where you’re based, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of playing the type of music you do over there?

Ironically enough, one of the biggest Metal Fest takes place in France : the HellFest. Still… the whole Rock/Metal scene is an underground thing. Gojira is better known in the USA than in France.

What have been some of the most harrowing experiences on tour, or playing in general?

So far we haven't had any traumatic experiences as a band. Thank God!

Both of your singles (Dawn and To Survive) came out more than a full year before your album’s release. What was that period like building up fervor and anticipation for a full scale release?

Indeed, releasing single songs that early (before the album release) helped gather new followers. And we all know how important social media for emerging bands/artists is.

If you could have a conversation with any musician from any time period, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I think it would undoubtedly be John Petrucci (current dream theater guitarist). The discussion would revolve around his writing process. The way he develops his ideas, his inspirations. And how he manages to remember, by heart and with such virtuosity, so many music masterpieces .

How has living with restrictions affected your musical endeavors?

It wasn't easy for the band to cope with it at first as we have a work routine and meet regularly. However, we tried to make the best of it. For example, we did a “quarantine video” for the song “Spaceship Xploder.”

“What It Means” is quite different from the rest of the tracks on the album, still within your particular vein of writing though something that has a constant and relentless motion to it.

Indeed this song has more of an upbeat and “in your face” approach. While we naturally tend to compose mid tempos tunes. A great track to play live for sure!

What’s the difference between where you see yourselves 5 years from now, and 10 years from now?

I guess the size of our private plane?

What’s your favorite dinosaur?

Gotta be Triceratops. Discreet yet powerful enough.

What are some interests and hobbies you have outside of Alpha Blank?

With four members you get just as much different interests… (je te laisse trouver une suite!)

I know that Life In Pieces just came out, and to a warm reception at that, but do you have any future releases in the back of your mind or songs that y’all have been writing?

Well, as musicians, we don’t plan to write or compose. Ideas and songs just come to mind and we collect them all. In a way, we constantly create music: while practicing the guitar, humming in the shower, in the car..

Voltaire was known for a great many works with one of his quotes being, “It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.” Catharsis is a notion that comes up a great many times in music, how would you define emotional conductivity both in your work and in Metal as a whole? That is, how large of an impact do you think it has on music within the genre, as well in comparison to other genres?

Metal Music is quite different from most musical genres as the sonic/physical aspect is equally important to the composition. To us Metal, and its sub-genres, speaks as much to the mind as to the guts. There’s a visceral thing to it. You don’t find that in Pop or Hip Hop. That deep connection and catharsis through listening to an album.

What was your mission statement when you first started out, and has it changed any following your first release?

Our first and main objective has always been the same: playing live! We love composing and recording but we always put the live and touring aspect above all.

If in 20-odd years from now someone were to make a Biopic of your musical endeavors what would it be called?

“Endless Sacrifice” for sure.

If you were shipwrecked on an island and could only have one album with you, what would it be?

We have obviously different favorite artists but we all agree on “Metropolis Part 2” by Dream Theater. It’s a no brainer for us.

Is there anything that didn’t make it onto Life In 2 Pieces that you had wanted? And on the reverse of that was there anything that was a last minute addition which just fit perfect?

All the songs “made the cut.” We were very confident with our material. As a matter of fact, “Dawn” (our first single) was the last and fastest song we composed.

I want to thank you for your time in responding to this, as a parting notion is there anything you want to tell the people reading this article? Doesn’t have to be limited to the context of this interview or even in English, could be Sindarin if you know it, just so long that you all get the last word.

Thank you very much for this opportunity! We’re glad to share our passion and hope your readers will give Alpha Blank a try.



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