Wednesday, January 2, 2019

interview: Bane

The melodic black metal band Bane in 2018 returned after years out of the public eye. The 2018 album is called Esoteric Formulae. Originally a band based in Serbia, nowadays Bane continues in Canada. Seeing that the band has a new line-up in Canada and a new album, this is a good moment to catch up and find out what’s been happening and what’s in store for the future.
It is good news that Bane is alive and that The Acausal Fire (2012) was not the last word on Bane.
Branislav: Hails! Really appreciate the kind words and support! It's always nice to hear when people have heard of the band before, hehe. And yeah, gotta admit that with a 6-year gap in between our last 2 albums, it was questionable at some point if we'll ever return with a new one! But I am glad we did. There was a lot of issues and complications during the writing/recording process of our third album, but now that everything has been taken care of, the band is steadier than ever.
Tell us about the members of the band.
Sure thing, the current line-up consists of Max Allard on guitars/backing vocals, who joined the band in 2013. On bass we have Stef Deshcenes, who has been in the band for a bit less than a year, and for the last little while we've been working with session drummers only. With an often hectic touring schedule, it's hard to find reliable band members who can commit 100% to the band, hence the constant line-up changes and involvement of session musicians.
Is it true is that the drums that we hear on the album are the real, live drums (no triggers, no sound replacement technology, no cheating, so on and so forth)?
Branislav: That's right! Everything that you hear on Esoteric Formulae is 100% organic. We had the pleasure and honor to work with Honza Kapak once again (whom some of you might know him as the drummer for Czech legends Master's Hammer), who was not only the producer and engineer of this record, but he also recorded the drums on the entire album. Being the owner of Hellsound Studio (located in a small village in Czech Republic called Cestice), he really took the time to do a proper microphone set-up and approach this the traditional way - which is to actually record the drums and use the takes which he played, rather than program it, or do a million edits and sound replacements in post-production. In my opinion, he did a tremendous job and honestly I've never been happier with the sound in general!
The Acausal Fire is from 2012 and Esoteric Formulae is from 2018. Why so long? Is it because Branislav Panić moved from Serbia to Canada?
Branislav: That was definitely one of the reasons why it took longer than expected, indeed. It was an adaptation period for me, and with other projects going on as well as my personal life, it was rather a tough few years to go through before being able to get back at it full force again. Luckily, I'm still in my twenties, so we're still good, haha!
Have you been working on the songs for a long time?
I wrote the majority of the music throughout 2014/2015, however before recording the album in 2017, I re-worked on some of the arrangements and lead guitars. It actually did me some good - to have had that distance in between writing the songs and recording them, as when I re-listened to them after a while, I was 100% sure that I wanted that material to represent our 3rd full-length album. The tunes did not sound outdated to me, nor did I get the feeling that I outgrew the songs. Unlike our previous albums however, I wrote and recorded everything myself (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards) except for the drums, of course.
How difficult has it been for Branislav to adjust to life in Canada? Was the situation bad in Serbia that he decided to leave for Canada? How is living in Montreal now? Is there a Serbian community in Montreal? Is Branislav still friends with the former members of Bane that still live in in Serbia?
Branislav: It was definitely a challenge, to say the least. Going from a fully furnished apartment to just one suitcase and one guitar, and flying to another continent with no guarantees whatsoever or family waiting for you on the other side was definitely a risky thing to do. The thing is, when I was a kid (at the age of 4), my parents had moved to Canada but ended up moving back home after a while. However, this allowed me to pick up both languages fairly quickly (French and English), so the linguistic part of it was not really a problem.
The real issue was rebuilding everything from the ground up - searching for a new line-up, getting to know people in the scene, buying the necessary gear (guitars, amps, recording software, microphones, etc.) took a while, as you can imagine. On top of having to work a day job for the first few years just to hold everything together and paying back some debts...yeah, tough times, haha!
Nothing bad per se happened in Serbia, at least not a single, major incident that motivated me to leave, but rather constant series of smaller events mostly related to the extremely difficult financial situation (of the country in general), and the incapability to create a decent career out of music no matter how hard you work or how good you are. This, however, pushed me to be even more driven to reach my goals and often made me think outside the box, practically forced me to figure out ways to made things work and turn problems into solutions. I am very happy and grateful to have had the chance to go through all of that, as every day I see people being ungrateful, taking for granted what they have and being lazy...and it makes me appreciate things even more.
Not sure if there is a Serbian community here in Montreal, as I am pretty much a DIY kind of guy - a lone wolf I guess you can say. But I do keep in touch with most of the old band members who are still in Serbia, of course. As a matter of fact, during the Summer of 2018 we had a 21-date European Tour and it was done with a Serbian line-up. It was a real pleasure to catch up with them and share the stage once more.
How did Max Allard join Bane? Do you feel like Branislav and Max share the same musical direction of inspiration of old Swedish melodic black metal? What can Max tell us about the music that he loves and what motivates him to play music?
Max: I met Branislav in a Montreal local show around 2012/2013, when he had just arrived in the country. We talked about our own musical projects and stayed in contact. When I heard Bane the first time I was hooked. I told Branislav that if he wanted to reform the project here, I would definitely be interested in filling in the 2nd guitar position. Being a huge fan of Dissection and Swedish Blackened Death Metal, I was hooked the first time I heard “In Endless Silence.” We do share a lot of the same musical inspirations, we both are huge fans of Swedish Black Metal, even though I am also a big fan of the 1st and 2nd wave of black metal and old school Norwegian stuff which is less Branislav’s cup of tea since he dislikes the raw production (for the most part) and prefers more polished stuff. We still have a ton of bands we like in common.
In regards to what music I like and what motivates me to play...well, I have a really wide taste in music. I love old-school Black Metal of course but also old Speed Metal stuff, I am a huge fan of Voivod. I'm also really into ambient, post-rock, Doom Metal. Old rock n’ roll too, classical music, blues, finger-style guitarists, and so on. The energy we get from the fans and the pleasure of meeting people with whom we share the same passion is probably what motivates me to play live music.
Stéphane Deschênes is the bassist of the band. How long has Stéphane been playing the bass and does he play other instruments? On a musical level, what does the music of Bane and Stéphane have in common that he decided to join the band?
Branislav: Stef officially joined the band in early 2018, so just under a year ago. He's been playing for almost 20 years, actually. He was the bass player in a local Melodic Death Metal band here called Obtenebris until they disbanded, then ended up joining Max's band Frostbite. He plays guitar as well, but more on an amateur level, as bass is his priority and main instrument. He has quite the collection of bass guitars, haha!
We just enjoy a lot of the same bands, mostly on the Melodic Death Metal spectrum - At The Gates, Carcass, Insomnium, etc...he's a reliable guy who has an immense passion for Metal, so it was not difficult at all to get along with him right off the bat.
Now that the album is out, has the band been playing shows in the Quebec area? My understanding is that Quebec has some pretty good metal scenes.
Branislav: Quebec definitely does have a good Metal scene, predominantly in the Technical Death Metal sub-genre. There's also a few good traditional Black Metal here as well, and a little bit of everything else in between. We've yet to play more shows and more cities in Quebec (and Canada in general), so we'll see to what extent people will enjoy our stuff, although I was pleasantly surprised to see our new album 'Esoteric Formulae' already make it in two different Top 10 lists of 2018 for bands/albums that came out of Quebec! We're really grateful for the support we got so far and lucking forward to expand in these areas as well.
BANE has definitely invested a lot of time, effort and money over the years to Tour as much as possible. Up to this day, we have played many shows, Festivals & Tours in 14 different countries - USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia & Hercegovina.
It is my understanding that the new album has some guests, too. There are people from Temple of Baal and Master’s Hammer, correct? Did the old albums of Master’s Hammer have an impact on Branislav when he was younger in Serbia?
Branislav: That's correct. We had 3 special guests on our new album. Giulio Moschini from the Italian machinery Hour Of Penance (Prosthetic Records) recorded a killer guitar solo on a track called ''Wretched Feast'', which we had premiered through Decibel Magazine. Being a huge fan of the band since their 2010 album 'Paradogma', I had contacted Giulio and simply asked him if he wanted to record a guitar solo, and after hearing the demo version, he agreed to do it. He's a tremendous guitar player and with his skills and technique, honestly, he was an obvious choice whom to contact in order to get the job done (as I don't see myself as a virtuoso/shredder/lead guitarist).
Amduscias, the singer of French masters Temple Of Baal (Agonia Records) recorded guest vocals for the song ''Into Oblivion'', which we premiered through Metal Injection. This band actually had a huge impact on me in the early BANE days (before even the first album), and it was a true honor to have him on BANE's new album. We've been in touch over the internet for years now, and I had always envisioned him to guest on one of our songs so really happy it worked out. We actually got a chance to meet in person not too long ago here in Montreal, so I gave him a cassette version of the album, hehe.
Last but not least was of course my good friend Honza, whom I've known for over a decade and whom I will forever be in debt to. He has helped me out so many times in the past that I can't even recall how many times. If it was not for him, I honestly don't know how I would have managed to keep BANE alive. In the more recent years, he joined cult Czech band Master's Hammer as their drummer (although he's a multi-instrumentalist and can play just about anything).
To be completely honest with you, Master's Hammer did not have such an impact on me as some may think, even though we come somewhat from the same region. They are definitely one of the most well-known and respected Slavic bands who have earned a cult status and following. While I like some of their material, I was born in the 90's, therefor I missed out on that ''first wave'' of older bands. When I started getting into Extreme Music in my early teenage years, it was mainly the US Brutal Death Metal scene that caught my attention (Deeds Of Flesh, Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, Disgorge, etc). Shortly afterwards, I developed a taste for Black Metal, but I was mainly interested in the Swedish scene (Dissection, Naglfar, Dark Funeral, Setherial, etc).
It seems like Branislav felt that Bane needed to make an album that would be a good comeback after these years of musical silence. It sounds good and it is a good execution of melodic black metal in 2018. How does Branislav feel now that the album is finished?
Really appreciate the kind words once again - thank you very much! Like most musicians (and artists in general) tend to gravitate towards their most recent work as being their favorite, it's no exception here. I can really say without any hesitation that Esoteric Formulae is my favorite work so far in terms of execution, composition and sound. The fact that we waited so long before being able to finish and release this record only made it that much sweeter.
The reviews and comments which I had read and heard, for the most part are quite positive, which is always a good thing. It's always nice to see that people enjoy what the band has worked so hard on, and I am really happy to have finally put this album out there. The feeling when I got the physical copies of the album was priceless, like the weight of the world has been dropped from my shoulders.
Where did you get ideas for lyrics for the new album? What is your process for writing lyrics? Does Bane promote a specific religious or political view?
Just like on all our previous records, the main topics when it comes to our lyrics are about Anti-Cosmic philosophy and Chaos-Gnosticism.
I always write the music first, and then adapt the lyrics simply because it's easier for me to work this way. I don't think that this method is better or worst than any other, but rather an individual thing which works better for certain individuals (such as myself), and less for others.
I have zero interest in politics, and refuse to live a life where any political situation has control over my thought process and actions. Therefore, I choose to remain unaffected by the past, current and future ''political climate'' no matter how ''good'' or ''bad'' the current situation can be, as it is a relative term and everyone has different opinions about it - what's good for one can be bad for the other. I do not discuss those matters with anyone as these topics are more often than not meant to manipulate people, creating opportunity for the opportunists to ''divide and conquer'', and I don't want anything to do with it. I have my own life to live, and I choose to do so through individuality. I am focused on achieving perfection through my own form of art.
Some bands act like the listener should have a certain perspective on politics and religion to understand their music. Do you feel this way?
Absolutely not. I have some beliefs, but they are not associated with any mainstream religion and I do not go out of my way to ''promote'' such. I do not feel compelled to share publicly what I believe in as everything I want/need to express are in the songs themselves, both lyrically and musically. Again, I am just a guy who minds his own business.
To sum it up, I do feel that music should be done and listened to for the sake of good music. Therefore, anybody who has interest in it should be able to listen to it. If they like it enough and go deeper in depth only to realize that they don't like the lyrical concept or ideology behind it, it's their right. I can't say, however, that I would care if they disliked it, or disagreed with it. I won't change my thoughts or opinions for someone else and do not expect from someone to change theirs because of me.
Where people can hear the album? You are on Black Market Metal Label, correct? What Bane’s plans for 2019?
Absolutely, you can stream our new album (as well as our old ones) on Bandcamp for the best audio quality. Alternatively, you can also stream the entire album on YouTube.
Yes, we've recently inked a new Record Deal with Black Market Metal Label, and we're happy to be a part of such an amazing roster. BANE will be touring throughout North America in the Spring and Summer of 2019, in support of the new album. Most dates will be in the USA, but there will be a few shows in Canada as well. We will begin with the announcements shortly into the new year.
If somebody wants to check out our merch, here's the link to do so.
Thank you for your time!
Thank you so much for the interview! For those who are on social media, feel free to connect with us. HAIL CHAOS!
-Branislav / BANE

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