The Chain Reaction is a fine metal album, from the exciting progressive French band Anthropia. The album has generated a lot of interest in the band with many glowing reviews. Sea of Tranquiity's Scott Jessup had the opportunity to interview the groups founder Hugues Lefebvre to find out more about his band and the new CD.
SoT: Hi Hugues, I have to say The Chain Reaction is one fine album, that hasn't left my disc changer. How have the reviews been so far? Hopefully many others will take note and give it a go.
Hugues: Hi Scott, and thank you for your nice comments on the album. We are really pleased with all the reviews so far, they are really good and encouraging. We have just been informed that The Chain Reaction was elected "Album of the Month" in RockHard April (biggest metal magazine here in France ), just like our first album The Ereyn Chronicles Part One. My band mates and I put so many efforts in the band, that it is really great to see and hear good feedback from the press, but also fans. Thanks everybody!
SoT: I haven't had the opportunity to hear Anthropia's first release as yet, how do the two compare?
Hugues : I think "The Ereyn Chronicles Part One" is a really good album with good songs and melodies. In my opinion there are still some "youth mistakes" on it, and I really paid attention to them when composing The Chain Reaction. I'm proud of this disc – because it is our debut album, and it's not so bad for a debut album :) – but I'm even more proud of The Chain Reaction. On TECPI, I played nearly all the instruments (except drums played by Damien Rainaud). On TCR, I only play the guitar and sing, because I finally found great musicians and friends to accompany me in the adventure. There is then more diversity in the arrangements, because they all brought their own touch to the music. We are now a solid team and I think you will hear it on the album.
Finally, TCR follows the musical direction of TECPI with more maturity, with the will to make "catchy prog metal".
SoT: What is your favourite track off Chain Reaction?
Hugues : I like them all! Because every song has its own style and atmosphere, it is quite hard to choose… Nevertheless, I'd say "The Tree of life", because it is a good sample of what the band can do right now. Also "The Torn Off Wing Of The Butterfly" from a private point of view, because I wanted to write this song for a long time, and I'm happy with the final result : it is a really non-conventional ballad.
SoT: How much interest has the new album generated, outside of France?
Hugues: During the last few months, we definitely focused on the French market. Like I mentioned previously, it received great feedback from all sides, so we are really confident in the "export" procedure. We will of course focus on the USA, because it is our second biggest fanbase (our former label Magna Carta being american) and also on the main places for metal : England, Germany, Scandinavia, Japan… It is a bit early to see how the band is perceived there, but the first foreign reviews are again very encouraging!
SoT: Can you tell us how you discovered Anthropia's others members?
Hugues : As you may know it, Anthropia was initially a solo project, and when I finished to compose the 11 songs of The Ereyn Chronicles part One, I decided to record everything by myself except drums. I played some rehearsals with Damien a few years before and he was already very talented and definitely had the "drumming" spirit. So I asked him to do the drums. After the release of this album, I was asked by the label to do some shows to promote the album. I had then to find 3 members quite quickly, and this frightened me a bit at that time :). Fortunately, the french riviera owns very talented musicians, and I found Yann Mouhad (guitars), and Nathalie Olmi (vocals) quite easily : I played with Yann in another band, so I already knew he was a fantastic guitarist, and I heard Nathalie with her own band In Vitraux. I was deeply impressed by her voice and I immediately asked her to join the team. I was later told by some friends that I should ask Julien Negro to play the bass ; he is indeed very comfortable with any bass and is also a great musician (he plays the guitar, piano, saxophone and sings). In 2 words, I am really proud of my team, they are among the best musicians I ever met!
SoT: How popular is metal music in France? The likes of Heavenly and Adagio amongst others, and newer bands such as Venturia and now Anthropia have given us some great music.
Hugues: To be honest, metal is not very famous in France… This is really sad because we have very good bands that would deserve more attention. That's why bands here really need to reach other countries to be able to continue doing what they like. To give you an example, when you "reveal" to someone in France that you play metal in a band, saying to that person that you are Satan himself would make the same effect on him. The bad reputation of metal here doesn't seem to disappear… Somehow I envy English and German people. I have the feeling that Iron Maiden and Helloween are nearly taught in schools there! :)
SoT: Do bands like yourselves get any radio play time, or do you have to rely on other means of media advertising and live performances?
Hugues: Well it might surprise you, but there is no radio sessions for metal at the national level in France. Fortunately there is a lot of local radios with very good sessions here. But Internet remains the best way to promote a band : web radios, but also webzines, video streaming (youtube), myspace… about live performances, we are currently working on acoustic versions of Anthropia songs : the result is really interesting ; it also permits to people not familiar with metal to get an access to our songs.
SoT: Who are some of your influences?
Hugues: I personally have a lot of different influences. Metal of course, but also progressive rock : Genesis (the one with Gabriel), Yes, King Crimson… I'm also a huge fan of Sting and The Police. Sting wrote so much great songs… I studied classical guitar for more than 10 years, so I guess it also influences my style of composing…One of the best classical guitarist I know is Roland Dyens. If you want to hear progressive classical guitar, hear this guy!!
SoT: I have always been a big fan of European metal bands, who are some of your favorites?
Hugues : I'm an absolute fan of Iron Maiden, especially Bruce Dickinson. I also appreciate very much Scandinavian bands like Pain of Salvation, Evergrey. Ayreon is also one of my favourite project/band, Arjen Lucassen always proposes very diversified music and it's really refreshing. But I also like American bands doing European music ! In my opinion that's the case of Symphony X that mix typical European metal with big powerful American riffs. I particularly like Angra too. The idea of mixing brazilian rhythms in NWOBHM is great!
SoT: It can't be easy trying to get overseas distribution, how is that going ?
Hugues : Well, we already get a little distribution in the US with The End Records and we hope to develop it at the maximum. As you may know it, we created with close people to the band our own label ADARCA RECORDS for Anthropia's releases. We are then searching for efficient partners in distribution, promotion, tour agencies… It is a lot of work, but we now control every step of the process, from music composition to cd fabrication, passing by artwork conception. Being at 100% independent is really appreciable, believe me! Besides we really believe in the band, and seeing the latest press releases about The Chain Reaction, we are very confident about the future.
SoT: It's probably not the best of times for many at the moment, especially with the current economic climate. It seems to be getting harder and taking much longer to get some music, I really hope bands and their fans don't miss out in the future because of the way things are. How do you see it?
Hugues: Of course, this is a really hard time for everyone and maybe even more for music business, because before the actual economic crises, there was already music crisis. In my opinion, Internet and mp3 will continue to develop, and cd will disappear little by little… It's quite sad, and I'm not Nostradamus, but some big structures begin to reduce seriously their cd department, and it won't go any better. Let's hope that Internet will be really regulated someday, so that artists would be remunerated for their work.
SoT: What are the future tour plans for the band?
Hugues : We are currently negotiating with tour agencies. Nothing confirmed now, but we are optimistic on the next events. Besides the band is really ready to kick asses on stage ! We already have some shows booked in France and especially acoustic showcases (more will be announced soon) . For us, gigs are the most funny moments of the life of the band so we are quite impatient to defend The Chain Reaction on stage, and we hope we'll be able to come to visit you in the US!
SoT: Thanks for your time Hugo, I can't wait to hear what Anthropia comes up with next.
Hugues: Thank you for the interview Scott ! We are currently editing the first video for The Chain Reaction, we won't forget to inform you when it will be available.
(Click here to read our review of The Chain Reaction)