Guitarist for French instrumental progressive metal/post metal three-piece, Maudits, Olivier Dubuc chats with Pana Markides about the band’s debut self-titled album, which came out this year.
By The Hard Baroquer
Fans of post metal and progressive metal will appreciate the music created by Maudits, formed by ex-members of The Last Embrace (Olivier Dubuc, Christophe Hiegel and Anthony Gillet) in 2018. With music that is ambitious in scope, mature in style and atmospheric in tone, throughout the record there’s a lot to appreciate from the newly formed band made up of metal veterans. Clearly they are not ‘cursed’, as their name suggests, but quite blessed with talent.
The three-piece’s debut self-titled release is a well-crafted collection of death and doom metal riffs, post-rock atmosphere, technical drum work reminiscent of Gavin Harrison’s subtle touches as well as blastbeats where needed, and groovy bass riffs to tie it all together. Maudits is a journey from the apocalyptic to sheer elegance. The members have been playing together for years now, and it shows.
And much of what makes Maudits a great post-metal/progressive metal album comes from Olivier Dubuc, the band’s riffmaster. Olivier chatted with THB about the new album and how they’re promoting it; about balancing a day job as well as a band; and what the future holds. Dubuc revealed that there’s lots for fans to be excited for: Maudits plan on releasing an EP soon, and song writing is well under way for album number two. Read the interview below.
Maudits is out now through Klonosphere and Season of Mist.
Tell our readers the story of Maudits
Maudits was formed at the end of 2018. We rose from the ashes of my previous band The Last Embrace (TLE).
We all used to play together in TLE, with Anthony since 2009, with Chris since 2013. So we have known each other for a long time. It was a terrible wrench to split this band because I put so much in it during the 20 years I was in the band. At the time of the split all my life was a kind of chaos… Everything l I was trying to build fell to pieces and I felt literally cursed.
About the name: ‘Maudits’ is the French word for ‘cursed’, So I created this new project to express my pain and to ward off bad luck.
Everything l I was trying to build fell to pieces and I felt literally cursed.Olivier Dubuc, Maudits
Has 2020 been a challenge for Maudits? What your focus been for the year?
Yes, it has been a real challenge until now. Because we had, and actually have, to promote our album under strange conditions with all this mess. No live gigs, months of lockdown etc. This year we have been focussed on working hard on interviews, we have made two videos for the songs “Maudit” and “Verloren Strijd”.
We also have written 90 percent of the next album during the first lockdown in France which happened between March and May. Although, our passion is still intact, and we keep the faith for creating new music.
We also have written 90 percent of the next album during the first lockdown in FranceOlivier Dubuc, Maudits
A lot of elements in your music remind me of Porcupine Tree, Mastodon and The Ocean. Who would you say are each of your musical influences, and how do you incorporate those influences into your music?
Yes, Porcupine Tree clearly influenced us. Chris, our drummer, is a big fan of Gavin Harrison [drummer for Porcupine Tree and King Crimson] and In Absentia is one of my favourite albums of all time. Everything is perfect on this one: production, riffs, melodies, arrangements. I’ve listened to this masterpiece so many times.
Mastodon is a more recent influence too, mostly the Blood Mountain/Crack the Skye era. Their music is heavy, technical but always catchy and never boring. That’s the side of progressive music that I enjoy. Like the three first The Mars Volta albums too, for example.
Speaking of major musical influences, I should add the English doom metal era of the 90’s with Pentecost III and The Silent Enigma by Anathema; The Angel and the Dark River and 34.788 % by My Dying Bride; as well as some post-rock stuff like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and finally some strange black metal bands like Kriegsmachine or Oranssi Pazuzu.
Outside of recording music or touring, what is your routine?
I wish I could do recording / writing and touring for living but it’s not the case. But it’s okay, I have a day-job as a guitar-seller and during my free time I listen to a lot of music, I do sport twice a week… a normal life basically!
Talk about the song writing process… how did the album come together?
The process was very simple. I brought almost all the riffs and melodies, sometimes a song structure, then we worked on arrangements in rehearsal.
Chris and Anthony are awesome with their instruments (better than me to be honest!) and very easy-going, easy to work with.
They brought a lot of energy and impulse on the album and their contributions were priceless. Moreover, we worked a lot with my dear friend Emmanuel Rousseau, who did all strings arrangements, session keyboards and electronic stuff.
Emmanuel helped us as sound engineer to record almost all the guitar and bass parts on this studio (Whitewasteland). Finally, we recorded all the drums parts at the Henosis studio with Frédéric Gervais who took care of the mix and mastering too. He did an awesome job, and we are very pleased with the final result!
The opening track, “Maudit” is a real epic experience! Is there a challenge in composing a 13-minute long track? How did it come together?
Honestly, it came very naturally! We used to compose and play very progressive and long tracks with The Last Embrace.
The real challenge is to captivate, to catch the attention of the listener all along and to keep it interesting from start to finish. I humbly think that we succeed with this song. “Maudit” sums up perfectly all the elements which define our musical approach and that’s why we put this song as opener !
The real challenge is to captivate, to catch the attention of the listener all along and to keep it interesting from start to finishOlivier Dubuc, Maudits
What did you set out to achieve in writing Maudits?
We wanted to achieve our own path, with sincere commitment and passion. We needed to express our sincere feelings and “release the pain”, so to speak.
Was there a theme or idea that was in mind?
Yes. From the start, I had in mind the concept of bad luck and misfortune. As I said, my personal life was a bit shitty at the time and Maudits was a kind of therapy. So, some of the titles of the songs and all the artworks wraps around the idea of being cursed.
The artist Dehn Sora and my own sister, Melle Ocytocine, took care of all the designs brilliantly with drawings and real embroideries. So, they embraced perfectly this concept and the final product is amazing.
The band went for a self-titled approach to naming the album, which to me indicates bold a statement of intent when artists use this approach. What did you want the title to convey?
We choose the self-titled option because that’s our first album and we assume that the word ‘maudits’ and its meaning embrace perfectly the climax of our sound. That’s almost the same title as the opener “Maudit” and for us this song resume perfectly our musical approach, so no need to look further.
What is it about writing instrumental music that draws you to it and what challenges are there when it comes to composing?
Honestly, the instrumental approach came naturally. We never considered adding vocals because we didn’t feel it necessary musically speaking.
Moreover, we’ve known each other for a long time and we didn’t want to break this good human chemistry between the three of us.
Instrumental music is kind of challenging because no one can hide behind a singer. But in our case, it was kind of liberating. Possibilities are limitless in terms of song structure, texture and melodies. We are happy with that.
Instrumental music is, kind of challenging because no one can hide behind a singer. But in our case, it was kind of liberatingOlivier Dubuc, Maudits
Looking at the technical elements to your music – how important is it for the band to be a technically masterful as possible and how do you achieve this? Is music theory something that you consider in your song writing?
The technical side of our music comes from my bandmates Chris and Anthony. They are brilliant musicians and they can do everything with their instruments. I’m not as good as them and I’m more focus on creating good riffs and melodies, finding the good atmosphere for our songs. I know nothing about musical theory, I just follow my instinct.
The overall technical side of music doesn’t matter for us, as long as we can express our creativity and play what we have in mind.
What can fans look forward to from you in the coming months?
We will keep on promoting our music, answering interviews and stuff. We are going to film live performances in several different configurations; we are going to record a new EP with totally revamped versions (more atmospheric /trip hop /dub mood) and we are going finish demos for the next album! So, we’re going to be busy!
What can fans expect at a Maudits live show?
The best we can offer as a trio! I am going to play directly all the melodies and do all the ambient stuffs with my guitar plugged in a loop pedal. We also are going to use some violins and keyboards samples but not that much. We will have some video projections behind us, with visuals and artworks from the album.
Your favourite gig/concert you’ve attended (as a fan)
Anathema for the Eternity tour in 1996. I’m a big fan of their Doom/Death /Gothic Era and it was the first time I saw them. It was a gig at a small venue in Paris but unforgettable to me.
What’s your album of the year so far?
Empty Body by Spook The Horses. A great mix of post metal, industrial music, noise rock and hardcore energy.
What piece of gear/equipment you couldn’t live without?