Because every day another band records another song. Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck. Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm. Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.
The Unconscious Mind play that multidimensional, take-no-prisoners kind of pissed prog annihilation with periodic melodic tendencies. Their debut recording, Where Philosophers Fall, clamps over your windpipe like a velvet tongue over a jawful of snarly, razor teeth. Albums like this shouldn’t come out of bands with less than two starter records (that nobody really takes seriously, even the diehards who say their really the best records) and a transitional record or three. Phenomenal piano and bass lines trade off snaking underneath all the deafening per-crush-ion and the sheer riffing tonnage. The Unconscious Mind target the gut and the intellect simultaneously, and they hit more often than they miss. There’s a lot to unpack here; it’s possible to complain about a lack of diversity between songs, we suppose, but that would miss the wealth of ideas processed within each piece.
Decibel dropped a line to guitarist, backing vocalist, and primary composer Simon Cléroux to find out more about the inner workings of yet another strikingly killer band hailing from that island of Frenchiness (Montréal, Quebec) in that sea of Americans-who-need-passports (Canada). Get a listen to the album (streaming at Bandcamp) while you read what he had to say about band collaboration, performing live, and living with the album’s technical guru.
There seems to be a lot of heavy music coming out of Montréal. Is everyone doing their own thing, or is it more of a close-knit group of musicians supporting each other?
The Montréal scene is incredible; it must have something in the water cause every band is doing their thing, but supporting is important in the scene and people of the Montréal metal scene must be more collaborative ‘cause it’s underground and it’s fragile.
How did the members of The Unconscious Mind first get to know each other and start playing together?
We are a bunch of friends for a very long time and started to play some music. I was the most metal guy in the [group] and I have converted Simon Gauvreau and Louis Paul Gauvreau ([they are] brothers) to come to the dark side of metal. And I met our ex-drummeur and our present keyboardist Michael Racine in a total nowhere situation. We just began to jam with each other some Immortal and Dimmu Borgir covers and began to start some real and original compositions with our own style. We got a new drummer who is not on the record but, wow, I can’t wait to begin our next album with this guy (Charles-André Brodeur); such a beast at the drum. [I met him] at college.
What experiences/emotions/goals drive the music you make?
For my part, it’s that I really enjoy making that kind of music, and I have to. I have to express my negative energy and give it away with a crowd of people who enjoy it and drill their head off with some headbanging and a circle pit. I do it for myself and for [other] people. It’s oil that [keeps] my engine running.
Are the songs on Where Philosophers Fall the product of mainly one songwriter, or does the band work collectively on song content?
I will say mainly me and my keyboardist Michael Racine. I will compose a whole song and show it to the other guys and we just begin to play it, same for Michael’s compositions and same for the lyrics. But our next album we will completely change our way of composition ‘cause we want something more collaborative with each other, make some band songs and not just a song of one person. “My Deadly Sin”, “The Mirror Of My Punishment”, “Tale of Creation”, “Beyond the Black Star”, “Dream Jailed”, “All End”, “Where Philosophers Fall” are all my compositions and “After Illusion”, “The Demon Inside Me”, “Another Dying World” are Michael’s compositions.
How did you first get in contact with Max Côté and start working with him? What role did he play in the formation of the album?
I just contacted him by email cause I really like the sound of the production of his project, Hand of Despair. He was super [psyched] about our project and it was a full pleasure to work with this guy. He one of my close friends right now and we are roommates now, by the way. He [had] creative ideas for the album and he finds exactly what I have in mind for the sound of that album.
Has The Unconscious Mind been primarily a live act, or primarily a recording project so far?
I will say live cause we just release our first album and we have done lots of shows in Montréal in the past. It takes like 5 years to release a real record. But now its very [close to a 50/50 split between live act and recording project] ‘cause we can't wait to work on new stuff for our next album and we are very excited about it.
It seems like playing a show full of your music would be exhausting! How long are your live sets? Does it take a lot of stamina?
We did our official album launch in Montréal at ''Les Foufounes Électriques'' and we played our full set at this show. Its was the first time we played this set and, yeah, it was really hard at the end ‘cause the final [song] is the more technical song, ''Where Philosophers Fall'', but we really enjoyed that show and we planned to do more long shows like this one if we have the chance.
Are members of The Unconscious Mind working on other types of music as well?
I have another band named Derelict (technical death metal) and I have my solo project, more progressive like Devin Townsend stuff. Michael Racine has a very classical inspiration and has a solo project too, and Charles-André Brodeur, our new drummer has a power metal band named Kemilon.
[The writer of this article wishes to state plainly that, while he doesn’t necessarily regret taking a copious shit upon Mr. Brodeur’s other project in an earlier issue of Decibel, he apologizes somewhat for his harshness and hopes that his recognition of Unconscious Mind’s kickassedness assuages the situation at least a little bit.]