At last, a tribute interview to BURIAL VAULT !!! One of the first French death metal bands together with Mutilated/Abyssal, Mutilator, Cemetery, Broken fear, Sepulchral… coming from my area (Brittany)!!! After a rehearsal tape, and a demo they happened to split up for several reasons which remained unknown to this day. Still they are to be considered as one of the most talented death metal bands from the early 90's. I think that they could have gone quite far if it wasn't for their split, 'cos their potential was huge! And now, after a long time since the band's heydays , I got in touch with Fred (drums), who was very happy to dig in the past to tell us more details about BURIAL VAULT, and also to be featured in Psychopathological zine! But the honour is mine!
01 - So, are you ready fred ?
Wait, I'm just getting comfortable for the come back of Pychopathological zine… Let me some time to open a beer, and I hope I am able to find all the good answers to your questions in my memories. (Psy: Bloody alcoholic fred! haha)
02 - First and foremost I am really eager to know what were the exact reasons for your band to split up. Please tell us why, at last !
I can(t really figure what were the exact reasons for Burial vault to split up since years. Indeed, there was quite a good feeling between the members. It wasn't just like a couple of guys happening to rehearse once a week in a crappy rehearsal room and then make some music, hell no! Besides the different line-ups, there was definitely more than that. We were real friends hanging out regularly (even with the older band members) drinking beer, talking about everything, especially about music and the way we should lead Burial cault's musical orientation. So when we decided to end the story in 1993, I happen to think nowadays that it was a mistake (especially because the reasons are very stupid). We started to find our own style (a kind of more structured death metal, yet less brutal), and to find more good opportunities for gigs (real venues in front of a real audience), when Antoine was asked to join another band called Powertrip. This band happened to tour much more than we did at that time, and its reputation was way bigger than ours. Still, their style was quite different from Burial vaylt's (they were heading toward the likes of DRI and the wave of Crossover HC). So, we, the other Burial vault members would not really understand what happened to him. Even though Antoine would have liked to be active in both bands, we would seriously doubt about him. We then decided to make a break and to give a go to a new band, without Antoine… But this new band never saw the light of day. And even worse: Antoine didn't even stay with Powertrip!!!
03 - Burial vault was one of the forefathers in the French death metal scene in the beginning of the 90's. And I recall you had quite a good reputation, even though you were still at the demo stage. Did Thrash records (Fra) offer you a deal????
That's true to say there were not that many death metal bands in France and especially in our area at that time. There were metal bands for sure, but we were the only one doing death metal. You can figure out that it was not an easy task to start for us, 'cos people wouldn't take us seriously. To give you an example, the guys owning our rehearsal place (CCM in Brest) would put us in a very small room (circa 8 square meters!) which was not even supposed to be used as a rehearsal room!!!! So when you had the drums, the amplification…there was no place left for the singer! Then, when we started to get a small reputation in the death metal scene, we saw some changes happening. We could finally play just like the other bands (the ones playing rock), in a real room, with enough space, a mixing board, etc. That's even the CCM crew which put us in touch with the guys organizing the Loudblast gig in Carhaix in 1993. True, the way people looked at death metal bands had changed. They started to understand that it was a musical style on its own, and that we deserved a chance… We also did all our recordings at the CCM (reh, and demo). I think the band didn't live long enough (feb.91 until june 93) to be able to get a deal with any label.
04 - How did you use to proceed with the composition? How do you look at your demo nowadays? How many copies did you sell? What about the feedback you had from bands, labels and fanzines (positive and negative)?
Well, that's mainly Antoine who handled the composition (music and lyrics), but as in many other bands, the other members could eventually give their ideas about the writing and the arrangements. This we would do mainly during the rehearsal.This famous demo'92 "the call of afterlife", I still find it quite good. There are some good parts very "brutal death" oriented with very deep vocals from Antoine. Then you add some keyboards here and there to make it even darker and then you get a quite typically death metal oriented demo, not that different from what happened in the scene at that time.Still it wasn't an easy task to record it. As told before, we did it at the CCM in Brest (also our rehearsal place), and as I mentioned it earlier, people would not think we were serious at first. So the sound engineer wouldn't listen to us to know which result we would like to have with our sound. He had never heard of death metal before us! No wonder why we asked to get the whole thing mixed again a couple of months later in order to get the sound we wanted. The distribution was mainly done through the underground especially with the zines and bands we were in touch with. We sold our demo mainly to people at gigs and from the Brest area (I hope you bought it as well ronan! Haha!). The feedbacks were generally very positive and even better than what we expected. But I have to admit that not so many bands were playing in the same category (death metal) at that time, indeed there was not that much of concurrency. The scene started to get flooded with death metal bands maybe 2 or 3 years after us and they thus made the whole scene saturated.
05 - Before the demo, there was actually a 3 tracks rehearsal tape which you happened to distribute from hand to hand. I think the overall production was ok for that time. What kind of gear did you use for the recording?
Something very simple : we used a good old tape recorder, no mix, only pure juice, a concentration of energy! A kind of macrobiotic version of Burial vault! Hahahaha! But on the cd you got from me with these tracks, I actually erased all the parasitic noises thanks to my computer. In a way I did a kind of remix by adding some more bass to the whole. That's why it sounds so 'ok' to your ears! Indeed it's kind of different from the earlier version! Haha!
06 - Your musical background originates in the early 90's, when many death metal bands started to pop up everywhere. But sadly, many of them lacked of inspiration and originality. This was luckily not the case with Burial vault, you guys had a real feeling. Do you agree with me?. For our readers who don't get the chance to know you, could you eventually tell us the bands which influenced you to play such a style?
You're perfectly right on this one. Death metal died at the same time it was born. Let me explain you: it was certain that the movement wouldn't hold for long. There were way too many bands playing the same shit: same death metal, same rhythms, same way of singing, and so on. The lack of originality in the death metal scene killed it. The pioneers of the genre stayed but might have lost some of their prime intensity. The others simply vanished and were simply forgotten. Thinking now about bands which inspired me to play such a musical style, I might speak about the ones I supported live, like Death, Deicide, Gorefest, Napalm death, Loudblast... just to name a few of them.
07 - During your short career, there were a couple of line up changes. Please tell us more about that topic. After your demo, the rehearsal tracks were less brutal and more mid tempo based, with some doomy parts and a couple of melodic solos, and the whole was very well constructed by Antoine. But don't you think that the newer members in the band contributed in these straight changes as well?
After a while, when Wilfried arrived, there was 2 main composers. This used to make Burial vault's music more melodic yet still very catchy, at least according to me. I don't regret this musical change. As I told you before, death metal started to grow tired, one had to find a new originality. In a way, the line up change was positive, even if it was not something we wanted at first…. Some fresh blood was helpful to make freh mueic. We devided to start from zero again with the band and write new lyrics closer to our vision of the world: no more satanic or horror based lyrics. We wanted to explore new topics like the misuse of power by the police in "to protect and to serve" (the American cops' motto!), poverty and hunger in Africa in "while they die", the questioning of oneself in "my cold hollow"… To cut it short, the lyrics were more concerned and interesting than before, to my taste (and these were new topics in our scene and style at the time).
08 - I recall I was very excited to see you at your rehearsal place on the Saturdays afternoon, because you would play some covers of Death, Incubus, Gorefest, Carcass for me! Don't you ever regret that time?
I think that if you want to go on in life, you should not look back too often… I don't really fancy the nostalgic thing, you know. What we've done was yesterday, and what I'll do tomorrow is much more interesting to me. Still, one can always look back from time to time… and what I happen to see in those moments is just a bunch of friends gathering in the week ends around a common passion: Music. What's great with music is that you can gather people together. One can never stay untouched by music, 'cos one shares, one criticize, one gives its opinion…One lives through music. So if there's something I might regret from that time, it's for sure that. To live through music.
09 - Otherwise, I know you played many whows in Brittany, and shared the stage with some bigger acts like Loudblast. Don't you ever had some opportunities to play in other parts from France or even abroad? What are your memories from this gig at the Stella bar with Asshole and Shud?
We didn't do that many gigs in the end… Our band was short lived, and because of the line up changes, we always had to start the whole thing again in rehearsal with the new members. We lost quite some of our time in the rehearsal room. This said, it allowed us to grow better on a musical level and thus being able to deliver very good shows in the end. The Stella gig you're referring to was our very first live apparition (like your first time in bed with a girl! Ha) and obviously nothing happened the way we would have liked it to happen. We were quite stressed and I think the crowd felt it. I remember quite well this evening. It was our common friend, Yann who organized it. Good job for his first organization. And about the guys in Asshole and Shud, I recall them as being pretty nice dudes and skilled musicians, I happened to stay in touch with them afterward.
10 - Did you keep in touch with the other members of Burial vault ? Did they keep on playing music ?
After the band split up of burial vault, I eventually moved to another area. I met other musicians and would help them out for a couple of gigs… So I lost the track of the other members. But I think they surely kept on playing music, be it in completely different styles than Burial vault.
11 - After the band split up, you played in HardCore band. Could you introduce it to us ? Why this musical change ?
In 1995, I happened to get in touch with our very first guitar player, Max. He used to play music for fun in a band. I went to see them rehearse. They had their own songs, but would also cover the Red hot chili peppers, bands in that vein… But it's only a couple of days later that Max got in touch with me again, he wanted me to join in the band, 'cos the drummer left. I said Ok, give it a go. And 2 months later we gave our first show under the monicker No place for soul, the adventure was about to start by then! Our style evolved toward something which pleased us all. A mix of hardcore, low-tuned guitars and samples. I stayed with them during 5 years and released 2 maxi cd's which sold very well. I got good memories from that time. I played very big shows with them (Out, Mass hysteria, Watcha…) For me, death metal died in 94/95, that's when I skipped it and started to listen to new things. It was hard for me to listen to anything else but death metal back in the days, I think it's a pity to stay closed in the same musical style, because one ignores many good things by staying like that.
12 - Fred, you were supporting the scene, because of you being the editor of Anthropomorphia zine. What were the bands you interviewed and the ones you got a good feeling with, on a personal level? Did you like my zine, and the one of Yann Le Guenic editor of Necrobestiality zine, which was the first zine in Brittany?
True, I did this Anthropomorphia zine, and later another one called Dementia. I could interview many bands like : Demigod, Pyogenesis, Samael,Gorefest, Incantation...I eventually started to be friend with Jimmy from Altar (Swe) and also Dave from Human remains. Otherwise, I think that a zine, be it good or not, always deserves to exist because it gives the right support to the scene it is supposed to represent. I liked your Psychopathological zine, maybe because of its humorous touch (on purpose or not) which so typically yours, Ronan. Necrobestiality zine was certainly the best around in Brittany, a good french written zine with many issues. Yann really knew how to make the underground move with his zine: his radio show, the busses to go to the bigger concerts, etc.
13 - Well that's the end of the interview. But don't worry, I'll burn you the video of the gig at the Stella bar as a trade against the great cdr you gave me with the reh tracks. I hope it will remind you of the good old days. I hope that Burial vault could make a reunion for a private gig between alcoholic friends. Thanks for the support and see you.
Sure ! If Burial vault does a reunion show, there will be floods of beer! hahaha! Thanks for having brought back the memory of the band during an interview, I am eager to see that video… Good luck to you… I see that metal keeps on running in your veins. Kenavo Ron'!!!Fred
Interview : Kanz-Noz